Going to Tucumán

 Sometimes when we are in a new country, the places we get to know depend too much on the tourist guides. According to the city maps most of my students bring, Buenos Aires is reduced to the city center, San Telmo, Retiro, Recoleta, Palermo, maybe Colegiales and Belgrano.

The same thing happens with the country as a whole.  The Patagonia isBariloche and Calafate. One has to go to Iguazú, but what about all the other incredible places in Misiones? Salta Capital and Cafayate are the places to go in the northwest, but there is so much more to do there!

Well, that´s why we’re starting our tourist section today (inspired on our own trips across our country). Today it’s Tucumán´s turn.

Tucumán is a little “provincia” in the Argentinian northwest, to the south of Salta.  It´s tiny but it has a lot of personality; in just a few kilometers, the landscape and the weather  change completelly. I´m going to describe the part I know best, the “Tafí del Valle” area, located in the northwest and bordering on Catamarca and Salta.

Tucumán is divided by a mountain chain called “Aconquija”. On the east side, there is a jungle and the weather is very humid and warm. On  the west side and in just a few kilometers, things change and lianas become cacti. There, you will find “los Valles Calchaquíes” (the Calchaquíes valleys), an amazing landscape. Most of all it’s a very special place because of its traditional indigenous culture, its music, and food.

If you want to get to this area, you have to go San Miguel de Tucumán (Tucumán´s capital) and take the “Aconquija” bus line on the bus station. The “Aconquija” bus will take you across the jungle, straight to the Valles Calchaquíes. The trip is absolutely amazing, so you should take a seat by the window!

Your first stop can be Tafí del Valle, a town between green mountains and cloudy tops. Eat lot of cheese there! (Tafí is famous for its homemade cheese production). After Tafi, you can go to the drier Amaicha del Valle. In the lovely Amaicha del Valle, you can visit “Los Zazos“, a smaller town, and walk until “El Remate”, a beautiful waterfall between the mountains. The road until El Remate, surrounded by a precipice with a river below, has the mountains on the horizon, the cacti, the little houses and a stong organic smell that is not easy to forget. After Amaicha, you can go to Quilmes, where the ancient Quilmes natives used to live. It´s an amazing archaeological and also political site. The Quilmes archaeological site used to be exploited by a corrupt businessman but a few years ago, the site was rescued by the area inhabitants (the living Quilmes ancestors), who are now  taking care of the area.

To the north of Amaicha, there is another small and charming town called Colalao del Valle. It containes, vineyards, a more humid climate, and a little town square full of birds. And just 8 kilometers away is El Pichao, a town of 200 inhabitants, with its unspoiled archaeological site with such an incredible vibe.

It´s not difficult to travel around the area and since it´s not a “gringo” destination, it´s not expensive at all. There are thousand things to say about every tiny little place in Tucumán. More important than reading is having the experience by yourself!