Cycling from Tilcara to Purmamarca
One of my favourite memories of Tilcara is cycling Ruta 9 as far as Purmamarca. This was a 50km round trip along the Quebrada de Humahuaca, one of the most beautiful areas in Argentina, and travelling by bike gave us the opportunity to see close-up the fantastic scenery on this route.
The highlight was the seven-coloured mountain in Purmamarca (there are really about 70 colours!) though the scenery on route was incredible too, especially around Maimara where you can see the famous "cerro la paleta del pintor" (painter's pallet mountain). Ruta 9 is a busy enough national road, though you can travel off the road in sections near Maimara.
We hired bikes from "Tilcara Mountain Bike", run by a friendly local, located 100 metres below the bus station on Avenue Belgrano. The bikes were excellent, and we were also given helmets, a map and locks. The owner speaks English, and he is very friendly and helpful.
Phone: 0388 155008570
Tilcara (2461m) was founded in 1586 and bears the name of the tribe that settled there many years ago. The town is known for its handcrafts market (on plaza Prado), its cultural life with its various museums (archeological museum, museum of the sculptor Ernesto Soto Avendaño, art museum of the painter José Antonio Terry and the modern-art museum Irureta) and the ruins of the precolumbian fortification Pukara.
The Pucará de Tilcara (The Fortress of Tilcara) is testimony of an agricultural community that has the guts and the ability to defend themselves from the attack of the Incas and other tribes. Remainders of the past - pucarás, paintings- are scattered all around. It's important to visit the fortified town of Pucará and the Botanical Garden of Altura. It is also recommended to visit the ecological houses and the Graganta del Diablo (Throat of the Devil). This fortress was inhabited by Omahuacas, 900 years ago, but the Tilcara were the ones that built the pucará ("fortress") in an strategic area, 80 metres above Rio Grande.
"First Quechua village of the Quebrada"
I did not have the time to stay long in the town but I loved the dusty streets, the market where I bought all my "souvenirs" for my folks in Belgium and also this fantastic painting on the house!!!
TILCARA : MAGNIFICENT MOUNTAINS
Olga, Sebastian, from Buenos Aires, and I went looking for a guide to take us hiking.
Well, we were unable to find the guide. He was probably drunk from last night's party of Carnaval.
Apparently, Carnaval had not really ended in Tilcara.
We decided to head out hiking by ourselves. There appeared to be yet another 'La Garganta del Diablo' (The Devil's Throat) to check out.
If we find it, we find it. If not, we would still have a nice day hiking in the mountains.
We asked several locals along the way and soon, had to start climbing up the side of a mountain.
The view behind us was truly fantastic. We could see the meandering river in the wide river valley, with the red, ochre, purplish mountains by the side.
A few German tourists passed by and two explained in English how exactly to get to the 'Garganta', which I translated for Olga and Sebastian. It was a waterfall, as it turned out. We had not been sure. Could be a cave, could be whatever.
We walked along the canyon for a while, hopping across the tiny river here and there and finally, arrived at the waterfall. No one else was here. It was great.