If you have some time to travel in Argentina after your Spanish Classes in Buenos Aires, one of your options out of many, is to travel to northern Argentina. It’s an option I can certainly recommend.
In the first place because here, in the province of Salta, you can experience one of the most idyllic train rides in the world. The ride takes you up to 4,200 meters and you will literally ride through the clouds. The trip departs from the city of Salta and takes 217 km (135 miles). Travelling through the Andes at 35 km an hour you will slowly see the impressive scenery change.
The one minute you see rock formations the other minute snow-capped mountains. The horizon seems endlessly far away and the train will often be the only moving thing around.
The journey lasts a good 16 hours and passes through many tunnels, bridges and viaducts. The railway overpasses itself to make up for the terrain’s unevenness. The views are amazing and you will often find fellow passenger pressing their noses against the window to gaze outside.
The train stops twice. The first time at San Antonio de los Cobres and the second time at La Polvorilla viaduct. At the first station you will be welcomed by many locals selling snacks, clothes or handicrafts. The second stop at the viaduct is where you will learn why this train got its name ‘Tren a las Nubes’ (train to the clouds). The train has a bar and restaurant on board. Also there are medical assistants to help out in case of altitude sickness. There is even entertainment; guides that provide karaoke.
Coming back to Salta city, it is time to explore a bit. Salta – nicknamed Salta La Linda (beautiful Salta) was established in 1852 and attracts many travelers in Argentina nowadays because of its location in the Andes and its colonial architecture. The city is surrounded by mountains, vineyards and deserts and you can eat an endless amount of empanadas accompanied by regional wines. The vineyards around Salta city are one of the main attractions for tourists. Salta is known for its relaxed attitude; the city runs at a slower pace than Buenos Aires. It is not a boring city however; Salta is also a good for a bit more action. There is plenty of trekking through the mountains and water rafting to do.
Being in the North of Argentina heading to Cafayate – a small town at only 165 kilometer from Salta – should definitely be on your to-do-list. The Cafayate region is a big producer of wine. Most vineyards offer free tours and tastings. In the area you will find some beautiful colored mountains, truck loads full of peppers and random lama’s crossing the streets. Most people know the area because of its award winning Torrontés wines, but for Argentine people Cafayate is all famous for a big folkloric festival every year in February. Worth a visit is the wine museum but also the wine tasting at bodegas. Another highlight of northern Argentina are the desserts around Cachi, which makes for an amazing four hour drive with excellent scenery. A day trip to Cachi leads you through high altitude dessert with big cactuses and amazing colored rock formations.