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From Cafayate we headed north on a dirt road through stunning, mountainous and dry countryside to……I have absolutely no idea.- Our goal was a small town called Cachi, but there was only public transport part of the way and the traffic was so sparse that hitching promised to be a hot, dusty and very long wait.

On the bus to the small town that shall not be named, we met a gregarious young Aussie bloke and his travelling partner from Holland. (Tom and Mileau)  Once in this small town the four of us spent some time negotiating a cheap private ride to the next one with the bemused locals.  The next town was called Molinos and was less than inspiring- kind of a dusty flat conglomeration of nothing much in the midst of the only square 5km of this road without lovely outlooks towards the coloured landscape… the only bus left the next day for Cachi but we wanted to escape Molinos after 1 hour. A local guy advised us that a tiny town in between Molinos and Cachi was beautiful and could be reached that evening for a small price. That is how we landed in the town of Seclantes, 2 hours before sundown.

On the ride in I was dreaming of a campsite with a fantastic parrilla (bbq grill) and a mouth-watering butcher.  As luck would have it, such a campsite existed and so did such a butcher (think large hunks of non-descript sections of cow hanging from hooks).  The town had stone streets, a particularly beautiful plaza with palm trees and a view across the nearby landscape and a friendly country feel. We quickly arranged to camp while the other two (who had recently commenced a travel romance) checked into the cute local hotel before coming to join us for our meat fest.

We seasoned the huge hunk of steak Argentinean style (salt liberally, and serve with a salsa of parsley, garlic and oil) and surrounded it with roast veggies, morcilla (black sausage) and chorizo. Quite the operation, and during the cook up we played some guitar, ploughed through plenty of cheap wine and chatted to some affable swiss blokes who joined us. After creating two fires (one to feed the coals of the parrilla after it started to die) we finally ate a scrumptious meal at about 11, about the only time we truly managed to have dinner at the appropriate time in this country.

We made it to Cachi early the next day and found a cosy hospedaje with a rooftop terraza with views of the mountains, a quaint little courtyard and a kitchenette.  Cachi is a charming, clean and friendly town with a scenic backdrop of mountains and agriculture.  After a small wander around town we decided to do precisely nothing at all. By the evening, and after plenty of sun-soaked relaxation at the hospedaje, we managed a token effort at being tourists and walked up a nearby hill to a cemetery in the fading light.

The trip to Salta (the capital of the north) was one of the most beautiful thus far and we played musical chairs while taking photos from every available vantage point. Salta is a brilliant city. Fabulous street food (lomitos, locro, empanadas), sprawling green parks, tree lined boulevards and beautiful old buildings throughout the city give it a unique atmosphere. There is a mountain a short walk from the city centre with fine views. On the way up we saw a rare sight: Argentineans doing exercise somewhere other than a soccer field.

Apart from this short hike, we didn’t do much else for a few days there apart from wander around town enjoying the ambience and stopping for frequent snacks and coffees.

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