Argentina - One of my favorite countries


I already enjoyed visiting Chile a few years ago and since then looking forward to Argentina. I knew this will become a great trip as Argentina has so much to offer in scenery and its different climates. Also, I knew its only possible to visit a small part of the huge country. For sure this won't be the only time I will have been in Argentina.


In total, I spent about 7 days in Argentina.

This morning I arrived in Buenos Aires, coming from Uruguay on a two-hour ferry trip and I will have a flight this evening to Salta. Salta is in the very northwest of Argentina and has a salt lake at 4200 m above sea level in a mountainous area and many more attractions. But more on that later.




Flying to Salta to the Salt Flats

After disembarking the ferry I went for my first Argentinan beef steak (yes, the best meat in the world along with Uruguay) in Buenos Aires and bought a Sim card. Unexpectedly it's not easy to make a sim card work in Argentina. Buying a Simcard is easy but there are not many stores that can activate and do the KYC thing. A complicated process.

My flight to Salta was in the late afternoon from the domestic airport, within the city center of Buenos Aires.




Haha... I'm just another stupid tourist (How NOT to rental car route planning)

After arriving in Salta I had to pick up the rental car and at that point, I was glad the car agent asked about my plans in Salta. Probably he knew how stupid some tourists can be and I seemed to be the next one. My plan was to make a loop in the north of Salta, up to the 4200m above sea level Salt Lake and then drive down along a route called “Route 40”. 

Its not prohibited to drive there, but, I would never ever do that.

He informed me that it's not prohibited to drive there but he would definitely never ever drive there with the kind of car that I rented. The road is going all the way up to 5000 meters of altitude. It’s a gravel road up there and has many curves, which can become highly uncomfortable when driving at that altitude. Also, there are not many other cars driving that route at all. The risk, of me getting stuck up there for whatever reason is tremendous.



That’s when I changed my plan and my route to have a more comfortable and safer trip. 

And in aftermatch, I'm glad that I did it that way. All I can say so far is -  I'm NOT built for fast ascends to these heights. High altitude sickness got me already in Chile and this time it wouldn’t be any better.

In Salta, I spent the night in a hotel in the center. It's not a big city, with one big mall, it's laid back and easy to navigate.



Day 2 - Driving to Purmamarca near the Salt Flats

The goal of today was the town of Purmamarca. The road to Purmamarca in North of Salta leads through narrow passages through a long stretch of forest and sceneries on a lake. Slowly but constantly the road leads upwards and gains in altitude. The drive lasted for about 3.5 or 4 hours.




The next bigger city on the way to Purmamarca is Salvador. Had a walk through the city.



I arrived in the afternoon in Purmamarca. 




Driving to Salinas Grandes (High-Altitude sickness incoming)

From there I continued immediately to the Salinas Grandes, the famous salt flats in Argentina and located at 4200 meters. It’s the counterpart of Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flats and Chiles Atacama desert. 

The drive is spectacular and it doesn't feel look like being up on such heights, although somehow the scenery and the sunlight are different indeed than anywhere else.




Up to 4200 meters within one day

Salta was at around 1000 meters above sea level and the ride up from there to the salt flats at 4200 meters within one day was too much for me. At some point, it started with small confusion, dizziness and headache and got worse little by little with every meter. 



The highest point is at 4200 meters, even though the salt flats are a bit lower than this, the headache and sickness remained – and got worse. Even coca tea (which the locals recommend to cope with high altitude) didn’t help much as it was too late and should have started drinking that tea earlier.




Visiting the Salinas

At the Salinas, I had to either walk out from the mainland the 800 meters on the salt flats or be there with my own rental car (or on a tour). Since I was not sure whether I may be allowed to drive with my rental car in the salt, I asked whether the guide can take me with the motorbike, but that did not work. The Argentinan visitor behind offered me to take me with them into the salt lake.



Outside there are rectangular pools that serve for the demonstrations of how the flats work. They are filled with groundwater (salt water). The salt layer is 1 meter thick. The desert is 212 kilometers wide. 

After 1.5 hours up there I needed to go down again from these heights as the headache got worse and worse.




However, I had to go up to 4200 meters over the mountain top before I could go down to the hotel at 2200 meters. 

High altitude sickness is severe stuff

The ride to the hotel took 1.5 hours and towards the end, I felt much worse than miserable. This day was almost over and my only remaining challenge was to eat a few bites of pizza. Later in the evening, my condition slowly improved again.




Day 3 - Continue to Tilcara and then  back to Salta

Got up early in the morning after sunrise. In Purmamarca there is a small village and in it, a path to drive through by car and go to the mountains called the "mountains with the 7 colors".



In the town itself, there is a viewpoint. The town is littered with restaurants, souvenir stores and other small stores. Very much designed for the masses of visitors, but very pleasant to walk through there. 

The scenery is simply unique.



Visiting Tilcara

I continued further north to Tilcara. Initially, I planned to visit Humahuaca and its mountain areas, but that required driving up again to 4000 meters. And after the misery I experienced yesterday, I gave that a pass.



 After Tilcara I drove back to Salta and arrived in the evening.




Day 4 - Salta Cable Car and city

In Salta, there is a gondola (swiss made :) ..) lift to the highest hill of Salta.




The city is not very big and easy to get around. Also very pleasant on foot and there is a lot to see. Later I had to get back to the airport for flying back to Buenos Aires.




Day 5 - Back in Buenos Aires

Yesterday in the afternoon I flew back to Buenos Aires to see the city. 

Had now the next 2 days time for it - and to eat a lot of steaks and Palermo area was a good place to stay for that, with many restaurants around everywhere. 

The whole day was dedicated to sightseeing in Buenos Aires. The city is huge, and the best way to get around is the metro even though Uber worked very well too and was cheap too.

Center with this Obelisk, near the Plaza de Mayo. There is this shopping street called "Florida".




Walk through Plaza de Mayo, the Catedral Metropolitana and Museo Histórico Nacional del Cabildo y la Revolución de Mayo




There's a river, lake, access to the sea, whatever, with an old ship (Buque museo fragata). This is some kind of ship which belonged to a former president.




San Telmo

Old cobblestone streets, stores, restaurants. It is a traditional place in Buenos Aires. 
They even have their own chocolate and biscuits which are famous all over South America.




Day 6 - Visiting Caminito

A nice street museum and a traditional alley. Although it is only two blocks, Caminito is full of restaurants. Not a must-see but still good. A very touristy, very commercial place, but worth visiting.

Footballer Diego Maradonna was here to celebrate when he won the world cup in the last century. That's one major marketing fuss to attract tourists.




Day 7 - Going to Bolivia now

Time to leave this great country for the moment. Only a matter of time though until I will come for another visit.

Flight to Bolivia this afternoon.


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