Cerro la Cruz, named after a cross near its summit, is the easiest mountain to climb from Tafi del Valle. It's just one of the peaks in the Cerro Pelado range which is located directly south of the village.
It takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top of Cerro la Cruz from the village. Leave town by taking Av Peron heading south and cross the bridge. Continue for about 250 metres until you come to a track leading east and follow this. At the top of this track there are signs indicating the way to the cross, which comes into view soon afterwards.
There are excellent views of Tafi and the surrounding areas including El Mollar and the large reservoir from the cross. No one in Tafi knew the exact height of Cerro la Cruz, but Tafi itself is at 2100 metres and we estimated Cerro la Cruz to be about 2300 metres.
From Cerro la Cruz the path continues to the top of Cerro Pelado, and all the way on past the reservoir to El Mollar, 15 km to the south. We followed the path for about 20 minutes from Cerro la Cruz until the fog came in thick and fast and we had to turn back.
El Mollar is another town located in the same valley as Tafi del Valle. It's not so charming as the latter, though.
Anyway, it's good for a quick ride and for the views of the valley.
Belgrano street comprises the main shopping area in town. Craft stores, groceries, pharmacies as well as restaurants and bars are lined along the avenue. In summer, during the high season, it's the best place to see and be seen, though the traffic is very heavy and disorganized.
Los Menhires # 71, , TAFI DEL VALLE T4140AZA
El Portal de la Villa is a nice restaurant in Tafi del Valle, specialising in regional specialities such as locro, empanadas, humitas and tamales. Beyond this, there's not a huge choice on the menu, so instead of a full meal, we would eat a few starters here at about 6pm when feeling peckish, and then cook our main meal back in the hostel at about 9 or 10pm.
The empanadas here are excellent, but our favourite dish was the sijitas (not sure of spelling), with similar fillings to empanades but wrapped in pan arabe. We had never seen or heard of these before but chose them on the waiter's recommendation and they were delicious, they went very well with cold beer.
Confiteria del Sol, located right in the centre of town, at the top of Avenue peron, was the nicest cafe we found in Tafi. We had breakfast here each morning of our stay, as well as a snack and coffee every afternoon after our hiking. It's a combined cafe and bakery with a limited menu, but excellent coffee, bread and medialunes, and very friendly staff.
El Mollar is a small village, located about 15 km south of Tafi. It lies at the foot of Cerro Nunorca and near Dique Angostura, a picturesque lake, which can be seen from Tafi, and where you can fish and wind surf.
The main attraction in El Mollar, other than the lake, is the Parque de los Menhires, which contains remnants of an ancient local civilisation, in the form of decorated stones. These have been collected from the surrounding area and are now on display in a park in the centre of El Mollar. (They were previously beside the lake, 5km east, and are still there according to our guidebook and the tourist office in Tafi!)
Were you to chance upon the stones randomly you might not think much of them but thanks to the helpful information boards in the park you get a better understanding of their significance. They were produced almost 2000 years ago by groups living in the area. The park costs 3 pesos to enter and is located on the main square in El Mollar, off Avenue Menhires.
There are irregular bus services between Tafi and El Mollar and you may find yourself stuck here for a long time waiting for the next bus. Alternatively you can hike back 15km along the road to Tafi, as we did, or, if it's a clear day, you could go on the mountain path via Cerro Pelado.