Calchaquí Valleys. Valley in Argentina, South America

Calchaquí Valleys

Valley in Argentina, South America

. Photo © Debraj Ghosh

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Calchaquí Valleys

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. - Calchaquí
	Valleys
. - Calchaquí Valleys. Photo by Debraj Ghosh
Calchaqí Valleys is a geographical area of over 311 miles long, it's characterized by towering mountains along the entire length. The Valleys are circular and cross the Valle de Lerma (Wikipedia Article), Valley Calchaquíes, and deep gorges of great renown. The classic tour, called "Tour of the Valleys" is completed by a crossing of about 311 miles.

Distance from Buenos Aires: 826 miles

History

The name, which originated from the Quechua language, has several meanings: “Great Lake”, “Grave of Sorrows”, or “The People of Capac”. As the oral tradition holds, “Capac” means “wealth” and “abundance”, the most accepted translation is “The Town who has everything”.
It is also known to Cafayate (Wikipedia Article) as “the land where the sun lives”.
Cafayate - Salta - Argentina -
	Calchaquí Valleys
Cafayate - Salta - Argentina - Calchaquí Valleys. Photo by Jose Borelli


Quebrada de las Conchas - Calchaquí
	Valleys
Quebrada de las Conchas - Calchaquí Valleys. Photo by AHLN

The Route

There are two ways to make the journey by means of using your own car or by bus.
There are also daily excursions to the main destinations, by traveling around the whole Valley. Along the way you can admire the beauty of these multicolored hills and discover small remote villages in the valleys, as well as houses made of mud and straw.
Also, from the vehicle you can see decks or terraces for growing corn, oats, peas or beans on the hillsides surrounding the route.
The touristic circuit of the Calchaquíes Valleys offers many attractions, among them are the diversity of its landscape which showcases architecture, culture and traditional festivals of their people.

The route can be done in an average of two to three days at least by car. This can be done from both directions; starting with the Quebrada de las Conchas Cafayate, or the Quebrada de Escoipe to Cachi. For this tour you can start it by Calchaquíes Valleys of San Miguel de Tucumán on National Route 38 to Acheral, which takes Provincial Route 307 to begin the climb. By bus there are several tourist companies that offer tour packages for this trip. Even though the trip may be slower than in a private car, this medium is recommended for those who want to visit the most popular places and want a more relaxing trip.

Places you can visit during the tour:
  • Archaeological Museum Calchaquí "Rodolfo Bravo"
  • Museum of Vine and Wine
  • Bodegas La Rosa
  • Bodegas Etchart
  • Ceramics factory Cristofani
  • Quebrada de Cafayate and Quebrada de las Conchas


Vegetation

The vegetation in this area comes from the montane forest. It also has plenty of laurels, willow, walnut, peach trees, poplars, and some conifers, though many of these are of great antiquity.

Fauna

You can find animals like: Guanaco, Puma, Red Fox, Chinchilla, Bobcat, and Vicuña, among many other endangered animals.
The number of birds you can find possibly exceed one hundred. Among the most common are: Condor, Eagle Blackberry, Hawk, Woodpecker, and Partridge. Among the reptiles you can find the Ututo lizard and snakes like the False Coral, the Coral, and Rattlesnake.

Weather

The weather is usually hot and dry, and has high levels of solar radiation, low rainfall (200-400 mm) and precipitation with snow on the high peaks.
As for the temperature, this will differ depending on the altitude and latitude, usually ranging between 68 °F and 77 °F with maximum temperatures of 95 °F in summer and minimum of 41 °F in winter, lowering the values to the North Valley.

Precipitation

  • Hail: Eventually occurs.
  • Frost: Late frosts usually occur until early October.


Quebrada del
	Obispo - Calchaquí Valleys
Quebrada del Obispo - Calchaquí Valleys. Photo by Damien Roué

Best Season to Visit

Throughout the year the region belongs to the environment prepuna, that is a vast, semi-desert characterized by the presence of valleys and gorges dotted extensive cardonales and cacti several meters high.
In the Valles Calchaquíes, there are also numerous archaeological sites, remnants of ancient periods of splendor.

Celebrations

In late February or early March, the famous festival of Serenade to Cafayate is celebrated for three days, this is the traditional folk festival in the city and one of the most important in Northwestern Argentina, with the participation figures nationally renowned.

At Easter (March-April) are the much anticipated “misachicos,” they are colorful religious processions mixture of Christian and pagan rites.
Also worth mentioning are the festivals celebrated in early October in honor of the Virgen Del Rosario, a local patron saint, from which an image which originated from the 1740s is preserved in the cathedral.

Recommendations

  • It should be noted that in summer, usually during the afternoon, the Cuesta del Obispo, one section of the road leading from Northwestern Argentina, becomes cloudy, obstructing the view of the landscapes and photography opportunities.
  • Pack warm clothes to keep warm. It usually snows in winter and in summer it is normally rains.
  • In the case of any emergencies, it is worth mentioning the solidarity of the people who pass the course, they are always ready to help with any urgency.


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    Author: Steffanie Paredes. Last updated: Jan 28, 2015

    Pictures of Calchaquí Valleys

    Quebrada de las Conchas - Calchaquí Valleys
    Quebrada de las Conchas - Calchaquí Valleys. Photo by AHLN

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