The Heart of Northwestern Argentina
Salta is the gateway to some of the most spectacular and diverse landscapes of South America. And at its heart is the Plaza 9 de Julio, where there is so much to see and do, even if you just sit in one spot for a few hours. More on the Plaza and its many delights at my very unofficial website Sunsets in the Plaza 9 de Julio, followed by the gathering glow of light that spreads over the buildings at night.
Jujuy – Salta: La Cornisa, a scenic route
‘Ruta 9’, or La Cornisa as it is called also, is the former highway between the cities of Jujuy and Salta. I highly recommend driving this road at least one time going to or coming from the North. It is a narrow and winding road and will take more time than the modern freeway, but it is a beautiful drive (and yes, we are on holiday).
We took La Cornisa coming from Tilcara/Purmamarca and turned off from the highway at Jujuy and followed the signs for El Carmen. In the beginning surrounded by soft rolling green hills with the Andes Mountains in the background. After 20 km’s we reached this sleepy little town and made a stop on the central square stretching our legs and drinking a coffee. The square has some nice buildings and a church with a remarkable altar.
Outside El Carmen it became busier on the road, but it turned out that these people were going to Embalse de Cienaga (a man made reservoir). After this lake the road was climbing and became very narrow and for many km’s was as broad as one car and looked like a bike path.
We saw more and more trees, which became a tropical forest turning into an Argentinean yunga (jungle) with all kinds of green, crooked trees, bushes, ferns, mosses, wild creepers and flowers. The road didn’t have straight parts for 40 km’s and is winding around trees and sometimes we were driving through tree tunnels.
We didn’t see any village or farmhouse, but there were horses and cows walking on and along the road.
After highest point - the Abra de Santa Laura at 1600m - the landscape changed dramatically and we were descending along slopes with just grass, shrubs, cactus and sometimes a single tree. After passing another storage reservoir we reached the ‘civilisation’ again at the village of La Caldera.
We turned off in Vaqueros to San Lorenzo, but if you are heading for Salta it is just another 10 minutes.
La Cornisa (Ruta 9 between San Salvador de Jujuy and Salta) is about 80 km’s.
Although narrow and winding the road is completely paved.