Tag Archives: Northwest

Train to the Clouds and beyond

The most amazing tourist train in the world that takes you to the clouds, at 4200 meters high. A classic and a must when visiting Salta!


Much has been told about the famous Tren a las Nubes, but not many know the story of its name. Although one may think that it was given due to the magnificent ascending tour, according to Luis Borelli, an Argentinean journalist and writer, the name was given after a steam cloud that was captured on film by two cameraman that traveled on board in the 60s, before the train was a tourist attraction.

The story goes that while stopping at La Polvorilla viaduct, the train discharged steam which remained under the wheels floating in the air as a cloud just for a moment, because of the low temperatures of the region. Hence: the train to the clouds, a very graphic image kept for posterity that would make anyone wonder about the veracity of its name.

It doesn’t matter if the name comes from steam or from the clouds themselves that seem to be closer and closer as the train goes up in the sky. Since 1972 it has been running, taking tourists from all over the world.

Today the train provides comfortable seats, broad windows to enjoy the landscape along the way, and conditioned temperature. There are restrooms, speakers and screens on board.

There are two options to choose from when planning your excursion:

BUS + TRAIN + BUS: This option includes a bus trip from the city of Salta, going across the National Route 51 and passing by the towns of Campo Quijano and Gobernador Solá up to El Alfarcito. At this stop, you will be provided with a rural breakfast with local fresh products, all handmade by the local communities from the area. Then, the bus trip will continue along the Quebrada de las Cuevas and the Muñano plain towards San Antonio de los Cobres.

At this town, you will be taken to the train station where you will finally go on board the Train to the Clouds that will take you on an hour ride to the La Polvorilla viaduct, an imposing work of engineering from the last century, at 4200 masl.

After 30 minutes, the train returns to San Antonio de los Cobres where you will take the bus back to Salta. On the way, a last stop will be done at Santa Rosa de Tastil where you may visit the historic museum and handicrafts fair to meet and support the local artisans.

ONLY TRAIN: For those who prefer a shorter tour, you may go straight to the San Antonio de los Cobres station and take the Train to the Clouds for the one hour ride (22 km) to the La Polvorilla viaduct and back. This option does not include San Antonio de los Cobres in/out transfers.

No matter which option you choose, it is advisable to book your tickets in advance. Below you will find the train´s operation days for 2018:

If you would like to ride the Train to the Clouds, please contact your Kallpa Executive and ask for available dates.


GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Passengers must show their passport and printed ticket voucher.
  • It is advisable to bring warm clothes, to have a light dinner and good rest the night before to make the most of this fantastic experience in Salta.

BUS + TRAIN + BUS:

  • The bus service leaves at 7:05 hs from Salta city bus terminal and arrives at 12 hs to San Antonio de los Cobres station to board the train. The bus back to Salta leaves San Antonio at 16:15 hs.
  • Transfers from/to Salta city terminal are not included.

ONLY TRAIN:

  • Passengers should be at San Antonio de los Cobres station at 11:45 hs or before. The train leaves at 12 hs.
  • Transfers from/to Salta city are not included.
  • Distance from Salta to San Antonio is 160 km. Approx. 3 hs car ride.
  • Train ride total distance: 44 km.

 

Rural tourism in the Calchaquí Valley

In Kallpa we would like to foster rural community tourism; a different, accessible and responsible way to travel, where the traveller finds himself within authentic cultural scenarios that leave a deep trace.


More and more travellers are looking for a different kind of trip, to go beyond only observing and to be able to take part of something, to learn by experimenting on their own. Knowing places, sharing activities, knowledge and lifestyles with rural and native communities is becoming the new way of travelling.

That is why responsible rural tourism has been growing so much in the last years in Argentina, triggered by the cultural exchange and mutual respect between local people and visitors, providing also a local growth and development opportunity.

Since 2011, Salta is the pioneer province in Argentina to embrace the rural community tourism. Twelve local communities from the Calchaquí Valley are involved in a cooperative organization self-managed by low resources families of farmers and artisans, opening their doors to share different activities and experiences with visitors from all around the world.

On their own words, not only they offer regional artisanal products but also community rural tourism services, a real country life experience. “We practice and promote fair trade, a tourism that respects everyone´s culture and that is responsible with our society and friendly with our Mother Earth and the land that we live in”.

The cooperatives proposal main goals are the cultural exchange and the enjoyment of the landscape. To join the communities on their everyday lives and activities, to share the farming and artisan professions, to sit and chat generating an enriching interchange. Their infrastructure is their own family and communal habitat. Homes, roads and places that belong to their communities, families and local scenery, which they gladly share with visitors.

Travellers willing to visit any of these communities and to experience rural tourism in the Calchaquí Valley may expect to take part of daily farming activities, visiting artisans, and cultural and outdoor strolls or rides. They may learn to cook regional dishes and using a mud oven, knowing about local traditions, taking care of a flock of goats, learning about grapevine and artisanal wine making, visiting archaeological sites, trekking among the hills, learning craftworks like pottery or using a loom, sharing a religious festivity, among others. Trekking and horseback riding activities are on short and easy circuits guided by local people. These last almost 3 hs.  

Regional gastronomy is an important character of this experience, specially for the half day activity with lunch. Visitors will be able to taste and also elaborate along the local families typical dishes such as empanadas, locro (meat and vegetable stew), tamales or humitas. Also desserts like anchi (a sugary corn and lemon cream), cayote pies and homemade cheese with sugar cane honey. Wine tasting is also available in certain communities.

Communities involved in the cooperative organization open their doors to visitors willing to experience unforgettable moments shared with ancient cultures in natural and beautiful scenarios. A one in a lifetime experience and a knowledge and lifestyles true interchange.

Contact your Kallpa executive for more information about the communities and to book a half day experience, including an activity and lunch with one of these hardworking communities.


NOTE

  • Available options: Half day experience, including an activity and lunch with local family. Full day experience including overnight at a local family home, full board and activities.
  • Communities are assigned to travellers depending on their availability and the activity that the visitors would like to take part in.
  • It is important to book the experience in advance, so that the community families can be prepared for the visit, and also for the visitor to read the Ethical Code of Conduct that will be provided.

 

Northern Carnival, an eccentric celebration

One of the most beautiful popular festivities in the Northwest welcomes visitors from everywhere into a cultural experience of rituals and tradition.


Every year between February and March, Roman Catholic countries around the world celebrate carnival before the liturgical season of Lent. But there’s no carnival celebration like the one in Humahuaca Gorge in Jujuy. A colorful, noisy and joyful mix between the Spanish conquistadors inherited traditions and the Pachamama (Mother Earth) rituals of our northern native people.

Courtesy Secretaría de Turismo de Jujuy

The celebration begins the weekend before Carnival. Troupes from the surrounding towns arrive in Tilcara for the “devil’s” disinterment: a small doll (pucllay) in the shape of the devil that symbolizes the sun, responsible of fertilizing the soil (Pachamama). Then, the troupes and its musicians and dancers in colorful and bright costumes begin the parade through the streets, marching and dancing to the rhythm of traditional music. People gather and join to celebrate, dancing and drinking until sunrise.

After a week of rejoice, on Carnival Sunday celebrations end with the devil’s burial at the same place where all began. Until next year, the devil will rest under ground along with alcohol, coca leaves and cigarettes as offerings for the Pachamama.

Courtesy Secretaría de Turismo de Jujuy

An event where religious faith and paganism merge. Popular rituals and myths, fireworks and costumes, dancing and drinking, music and tradition. Anything goes for a week of fun and eccentric celebration; an unforgettable cultural experience.

If you’re planning a trip to Argentina’s Northwest, we recommend visiting Humahuaca Gorge in Carnival. Contact a Kallpa Executive for next year’s date!


 

A DAYDREAM NORTHERN GUESTHOUSE

For people looking for a nice place in the north to stop by for a couple of days and rest, Finca Santana offers a unique ambience of privacy, seclusion and tranquility in the heart of the Cachi Valley, in the Calchaqui Valley.


10 km away from Cachi town and 170 km from the city of Salta, 10 hectares of centenary trees along the Las Arcas river make home to this lovely guesthouse with only 2 bedroom cozy suites. Contemporary and indigenous art, neutral colors and furniture can be found as thoughtful details at every corner, from the library with a fireplace, the drawing room, dining room, outdoor patio and veranda. All framed by the amazing views of the Andes and many mixture of cacti all around.

Guests at Finca Santana will enjoy a gourmet breakfast, including homemade jams and marmalades, honey and eggs from a local organic farm and a variety of handpicked natural delights from the guesthouse´s own garden, filled with vegetables, aromatic herbs, walnuts, alfalfa and beans. All the products are 100% organic and environmentally friendly.

Lunch and dinner can also be arranged if you don’t feel like getting out of this quiet realm; and at 6 pm you may taste local wine and cheese.

What makes Finca Santana even more special and unique is the hospitality and warm welcome of Adriana, its owner. She is an ethno-photographer, handmade textile producer and designer who creates beautiful locally-inspired throws, tables mats, rugs and fabrics at your disposal to bring a piece of north back to your home. Adriana will also be delighted to prepare a picnic basket for you to go visiting around.

When visiting the north in Argentina, you can’t miss this little piece of heaven amidst the spectacular surroundings of the Calchaqui Valley.