To the north of Argentina resides Salta, known for the beautiful landscape, wine, and indigenous residence. After a 22 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires, I was greeted with a down pour of rain, typical of their rainy season. I sought shelter under a tree, with five other locals and waited it out.
The plan for the short while I had was to seek out many of the tours that explore the neighboring regions. Fortunately, the bus provided not only transportation, but also, several recommendations! Stop #1: Cafayate.
Already the pace was much different than Buenos Aires; rather than returning from the discos at 7a, I was just waking up to hop on a bus full of eager tourists. Cafayate is considered wine country, but even more interesting is the stunning landscape on the drive down. The two hour trek presented rolling green mountains, fields of tobacco leaves, colorful, jagged rock formations, and cactus covered deserts. I was now understanding why so many told me Salta was a must for my trip.
Once we arrived in Cafayate, we tried a few wines and headed to the main square in search of food. Between the rich, savory empanadas, milanesa napolitana (fried meat with a blanket of melted cheese and tomato sauce) and incredible bife de chorizo (steak), I suspect I’ll be returning home a couple kilos heavier… No bueno…
If that wasn’t enough, we topped off the meal with ice cream… Wine ice cream! They offered both the red and white variety; I had both! Me encanta Cafayate! (I love Cafayate!)
Once I returned to the hostel, I slept off the wine buzz and joined some other travelers on the patio. The question was, “What’s next?” The answer was horseback riding in the country side! Two British girls indulged the group with their experience of horseback riding followed by a typical Argentinian carne asado; stacks of meat, vegetables, and endless cups of wine… I was sold!
All that the girls told us was true! We were greeted by an eccentric Argentinian man, likely in his 60s, whose life consisted of horseback riding, catering to tourists, drinking wine and eating like a king on a daily basis. Following breakfast we went on a 3 hour horseback ride through the country side. We ate fresh figs, straight from the tree, trotted through a dried out riverbed, and learned how to gallop properly from proper Gauchos (cowboys).
Once we arrived back at the ranch, I had a glass of wine in hand within 10 minutes of dismounting. The following two hours consisted of glasses of wine that never went dry and plates of meat that never went empty. Rosemary roasted potatoes, egg-plant salad, grilled corn, tender, succulent tenderloin, smokey, charred spare rib, and plump sausage. Just as you thought you were finishing your last piece of meat, another promptly appeared. Heaven!