Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Salta, Argentina to Salinas Grande

The drive from Salta, Argentina to Salinas Grande -- the high-elevation salt flats -- shows the great diversity of climate and views available within a day’s drive from Salta. Our guide and driver, David Martinez, took us through humid forests with mossy trees, past reservoirs, through desert landscapes and over a pass 13,700 feet above sea level. (David is a terrific guide, and he can be reached at dalemartinez00@hotmail.com.).

Permamarca is set among multicolored rock, and is a good stop to buy an inexpensive hat to protect you later from the intense sun at high elevation. Around the square, people sell various clothing items and other wares, mostly woven. Stores sell some higher quality things, including llama and alpaca sweaters. We enjoyed a first-class lunch at Hotel La Comarca. The dessert ranks among the best we’ve ever had.

In addition to the natural curiosities were a couple of man-made ones. It seems bizarre that a couple of the towns have their necropolis on hills with open crypts overlooking the living. (Pictured at right; click to enlarge.) On the other hand, the ancient tradition of the region included burying ancestors in the hills.

We continued on past Purmamarca. Our photos attempt to show the elevation gain all the way to 4170 meters. Then a couple of shots at the salt flats. The one of me in Allyson’s hand is NOT manipulated. I just stood behind her about 30 yards and David tried to line us up with no shadows in the intense light.

We stopped in Tilcara for the night and next morning, which is the subject of my next post.

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