Cerro San Bernardo, stunning views
San Bernardo Hill (Cerro San Bernardo) is one of the main attractions of Salta. The top of the hill has a height of 1458 m. It can be reached by a winding road, a steep trail with more than 1000 steps or quite easy and comfortable by a Swiss made cable car.
We walked from the city center to the station nearby San Martin Park, which has a kind of Jugendstil architecture. We bought our tickets (just 10 pesos one way) and took the cable car. The ride took ‘ages’, but we made it to the top of the hill, almost 300 meters above the city. We found a table at the terrace of a cafeteria and had our lunch, while enjoying the stunning views of the city with the airport, the road to San Lorenzo, the Lerma Valley, the green hills nearby and the Andes Mountains further away.
Later we walked around the lush green area on the top with some local crafts booths, artificial waterfalls and streams and the viewpoint, which is flanked by a statue of Christ and a huge cross next to a statue of San Bernardo.
We decided to go back along the trail, which as a matter of fact is a Way of the Cross with its 12 stations. The trail itself goes through a forest with some shadow and exists most of the descent of steps with some short parts of a ‘normal’ trail. Once we were back in the valley - just behind the Statue of General Güemes - a sign told us we just had finished a ‘1070 steps descent’, which was tough to do. Almost unbelievable seeing some locals running to the top !!
One way ticket: 10 pesos; round trip 20 pesos
Opening hours: daily 10.00 am till 7.45 pm
See also website.
"How to overload on empanadas"
Quite simply eat then for at least two meals everyday!
We arrived in Salta after a rather emotional farewell with Ingrid and 18hours on a bus, and not being fed properly - according to me anyway. I am sorry, but two biscuits and a cup of overly sweet coffee at 8am does not fill a hole until 1pm. Then again I can have a stomach the size of the Grand Canyon.
At Salta bus station we were attached, not in the literal sense, by lots of hostel people (I now know how a Zebra carcass feels with the vultures)- I just needed food - wimper! We finally decided on staying at La Morada, a cheap crowded, but quite friendly hostel. I have to admit it was like playing squashed sardines, and Salta isn´t the coolest of places, so nights were pretty hot, sticky and a bit niffy!
Salta has a wonderful main plaza, Plaza 9 de Julio, with some super cafes around it, including the Van Gogh, but my favourite was the one infront of the archaeology museum (not the one attached to it though), and I can´t remember the name. But it sells super fresh lemonade, orange and grapefruit juice, and fantastic picada platas, selections of meats, cheeses, tomatoes, olives and bread - lovely. As with BA, Sarah and I spend a lot of time chilling out here, soaking in the atmosphere and sunshine, and trying to gear ourselves up to ´doing stuff´.
On the Monday we did stuff - hooray! We went up to Cerro San Bernardo in cable cars - v exciting, especially when they played rather cheesy Argentine versions of elavator music. The views from the top were superb, across the whole city to the mountains beyond. It was rather hazy, but you can get a wonderful idea of the size and beauty of the Andes. The top of San Bernardo is a bit too landscaped, with sculpted waterfalls and gardens, but it is pretty, and is quite a nice place to chill - as the person doing yoga was so obviously telling us!
After the equally exciting trip back down we made our way to the anthropology musuem. This holds an absolutely fantastic collection of indigeneous ceramics, and they are beautiful; the shapes, colours and even textures applied show the artistic greatness of the native cultures, it is just such a pity that it has been subject to such discrimination for the last few hundred years, here´s hoping things are changing.
"There are Stripey Mountains in Argentina - hooray!"
On the Tuesday we went on a tour to the Quebrada de Toro, a beautiful gorge snaking its way through the Andes, to Santa Rosa de Tastil, and pre-Incan fortress. We were picked up at 7.30am by our guide Roberto, a friendly if slightly nervous chap, and headed up into the mountains. The mountains are amazing, the colours and textures and so varied I am hardly able to give words. The reds, oranges, whites, browns, blues and blacks, all contrasting vividly - I hope that my photos give them justice. The ride was a bit scary, the roads were not great initially, and there are a lot of sheer drops, but it adds to the experience.
Santa Rosa de Tastil is located on the crown and sides of a small mountain in the gorge. On arriving it did not look particulary impressive, as the surrounding geology is so rocky the site merges into it. But reaching the top of the hill and seeing the mass of structures spreading before me, I realised the scale of the settlement. At one time 2000 people occupied this barren windswept place, with only cacti clinging to the surrounding mountain sides. It seems like such a desolate place now I cannot imagine a thriving community. The buildings themselves were contructed from massive granite boulders, being upto 2-3 courses high, and quite small. There were entire ´houses´ dedicated to the dead, as excavations revealled. It really was a fascinating place, well worth the visit, although I have to admit on the trip back to Salta I fell asleep - sorry!