We left Puerto Iguazu on a miserable rainy day (lucky we had seen the falls in beautiful sunlight the day before) and were bus-bound once again on our way to Salta in northwest Argentina. Arriving early in the morning, we walked the quiet streets to our hostel, appreciating the colonial architecture that the town has preserved with buildings dating back to the 16th century.

Salta_009Salta_005Salta_011Salta was the southernmost region of the Inca empire and we visited the Museum of High Altitude Archaelogy (MAAM) where amongst various artifacts displayed there are three children mummies that were discovered at the 6700m high site of Mount Llullaillaco.  The Incan culture was a little extreme and they sacrificed these “special children” as an offering to the gods during or after important events.  The poor things were dressed in the finest of jewels and clothing, participated in a lovely feast held in their honour before being fed alcohol and sent to the mountaintop to be sacrificed.  Due to the conditions at the top, their bodies were incredibly well preserved and it was totally creepy staring at them but also fascinating.  I was going to put in a photo of one of the mummy kids but decided that is too weird so instead here is Will with a beer called Salta from Salta:Salta_007We viewed Salta from high in the sky, taking a ride on Salta’s cable car (we will be cable car pros by the time we get home!) before continuing to look around, viewing various colourful churches throughout the town and enjoying the main square (especially the pigeon statue – I have never seen so many pigeons on a statue before)!Salta_031Salta_014Salta_020Salta_034Salta_016From Salta, we arranged two day-trips to other regions of northwest Argentina.  We took a beautiful 3-hour drive north of Salta to Quebrada de Humahuaca a narrow mountain valley identified by the incredible variations of coloured rock throughout.  The valley was used by the Inca Empire in the 15th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site (I swear half of South America is though)!Salta_070Salta_073We first stopped in the town of Purmamarca, most famous for Cerro de los Siete Colores (The Hill of Seven Colors).  The contrast of colours is really incredible and you will see this hill on postcards EVERYWHERE in the region!Salta_044Salta_060Salta_067Continuing on we hugged some large cacti, chatted with some llamas and visited some restored ruins before arriving at the town of Humahuaca.  I don’t know if I am just stupid but I really didn’t think of cactus plants as being like wood but they sure are and in this region the wood is used everywhere – doors, roofs, photo frames… they love the stuff.Saltax_007Salta_095Salta_090Salta_117We walked around the town, admiring the view of the mountains and valley in the background while we chewed on some coca leaves – sold everywhere and used by everyone to combat altitude sickness and just for the hell of it I think.  Personally they don’t taste all that great but they probably do help a bit, especially for bad stomachs (quite often a side effect of the altitude) – it is very common to have coca tea. Salta_110Salta_109Salta_101Salta_115For our next day trip we were off to Cafayate, 190km from Salta city.  The drive to Cafayate was absolutely stunning and in many ways it reminded me of outback Australia but on some what of a larger scale.  We stopped at different points along the way, admiring the rock formations and different colours as the sun moved over the valleys.Salta_121Salta_147Salta_150Cafayate is a wine region and we stopped at Bodega Domingo Hermanos for a tour of their winery before a tasting.  The region is famous for Torrontes, a sweet white wine largely produced in the area due to the climate.Salta_161Salta_158Salta_159Following the winery visit, we were left with some time to look around.  We went to a local icecreamery where I had white wine and red wine flavoured ice cream while Will tasted some made from cactus.  I can’t say either of us were thrilled with our ice cream choices (should have settled for choc-mint) but it had to be tried.  Salta_162Salta_153Salta_154On the drive back we continued to stop and take in the changing scenery which really was incredible throughout.  Looking at the landscape you can really appreciate how much has changed, where water once flowed and how it shaped the surrounding Earth.  It’s hard to imagine what people may be looking at in thousands of years to come.Salta_168Salta_186Saltax_023



Iguazu Falls was one of the “must-see” destinations for our South America trip and it certainly didn’t disappoint.  We traveled by bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, the small tropical village where most people visiting the falls spend a night or two (if we were cashed up it would have been the Sheraton Iguazu hotel with panoramic views of the falls but no such luxuries for the backpacker)!  Nevertheless, we enjoyed the humid change in the weather after being in BA city all week and with our friends Segal & Gal from Israel (some of the nicest Israelis you’ll meet), we enjoyed some grilled surubi (a local fish) for dinner at one of the many restaurants along the main road.

Arriving at Iguazu Falls the following morning, it could almost be likened to arriving at Disneyland – multitudes of tourists piling in, the passenger train ride to take you to different areas of the falls, but rather than Mickey Mouse they have food crazy creatures called Coatis (explained further below)!Iguazu Falls_004Iguazu Falls_002We had decided to visit the Argentine side of the falls only, mainly to avoid having to get a visa or paying any reciprocity fee to visit Brazil.  The Brazilian side is known for its full panoramic view of the falls whereas the Argentine side is made of platforms at different levels throughout the falls, allowing you to basically be standing within the falls at various points.  As we commenced on the walking track we came across signs warning us that monkeys and coatis were throughout Parque Nacional Iguazu and these warnings were complemented by some disturbing photos of coati scratches as well as fantastic cartoons of the coatis in action.Iguazu Falls_005Iguazu Falls_006Walking along the balconies, it wasn’t long until we had our first coati encounter and thanks to the signs we were slightly scared it was going to rip us apart but it just continued along the railing, looking rather harmless (not so much the case later on when Will was carrying two empanadas and they hunted him down!)Iguazu Falls_015Arriving at an opening with our first view of the falls, it really is absolutely incredible, breathtaking, beautiful – basically any cliché descriptive word you can think of could be applied here.  The roaring sound of the water and the enormity of the falls consume all of your senses and we stood in admiration at that first viewpoint for quite some time before continuing for a closer look.Iguazu Falls_018Iguazu Falls_037Iguazu Falls_019We walked down to the river’s edge where we boarded a small boat to take us right in to the centre of the falls, know as the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat).  As you board they give you dry bags for your belongings and you soon realise why as the powerful water absolutely saturates everything around you.  It was hard to keep your eyes open as the water poured down and I found myself laughing hysterically as water sprayed in my eyes and nose and ears – we were really wet!Iguazu Falls_075Iguazu Falls_085Iguazu Falls_080After drying out a little, we continued walking the boardwalks around the falls.  It was strange feeling safe and sound on the boardwalk, knowing that if you were just a metre to the other side you could be washed away.  The scenery surrounding the falls is just as beautiful as the falls themselves, incredibly green with large palm trees and hundreds of butterflies flying around.  The sun was shining which was great as it created many of the famous rainbows that hover above the falls.Iguazu Falls_102Iguazu Falls_105Iguazu Falls_129Iguazu Falls_057We took photo after photo, competing against the hoards of Argentinian tourists that surrounded us.  It seemed like every time you looked up, there was some different angle or area that you hadn’t seen before resulting in basically a million photos that look pretty much the same but it’s just so hard to not be continually amazed by the panorama.Iguazu Falls_117Iguazu Falls_138Iguazu Falls_150Finishing our day, we caught the train to the top of the falls where a boardwalk across the river takes you to the very centre, directly above the Garganta del Diablo.   The volume of water falling down at this section is incredible and the roaring sound it creates gives you a real appreciation for just how powerful the falls are.  Having now witnessed it for ourselves I think it is something that everyone should try and see in their lifetime.Iguazu Falls_157Iguazu Falls_159Iguazu Falls_180