Red Rocks and Wine Tasting: Cafayate, Argentina

Red rocks and desert. Doesn’t sound like the right conditions for a wine region, does it?

Wineries Near Cafayate, Argentina
Cafayate Wine Region

The name Cafayate, another of Argentina’s winemaking regions, doesn’t quite have the same ring as Mendoza. But there’s something about the sandy soil — good for irrigation control and filtering – that finds expression in the local grapes, including the local white wine varietal of choice, Torrontes.

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Discovering Family in Argentina

Q: What’s the proper way to greet family you’ve never met before?

A: In Argentina: with kisses, warmth — and a heck of a lot of steak.

Earlier this year, with a visit to relatives in Argentina only days away, I received my first email in Spanish from my grandmother. This may not sound noteworthy, but the fact that she wrote it in her mother tongue transformed it for me from a simple letter into a welcome to a part of my family I hadn’t known before: the Argentine side.

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Patagonia: Hitchhiking the Wild West of Argentine Wine

Patagonia: the home of otherworldly landscapes, uplifted granite, glaciers, unrelenting wind, and the toughened skin of a Pinot noir grape. At the region’s northern reaches, where fabled mountains yield to desert flatlands, there are wineries.

Vineyards in the San Patricio del Chañar Region
Vineyards in Patagonia, just near Neuquen.

We couchsurfed and hitchhiked our way to find them, and when we did, we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had them virtually all to ourselves.

Adventurers, read on. For those of you interested in the details of do-it-yourself wine touring in this area, read Patagonia Wine Tasting, a How To.

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A Little Bite of Buenos Aires

When we poked around Buenos Aires earlier this year, our food quests were focused not only on understanding Argentine cuisine but also seeking out various ethnic cuisines that we hadn't encountered much while traveling the Andes and Paraguay. A couple of times a week, we’d head out with a restaurant recommendation, a gigantic map of the city, and scribbled notes as to our bus route.

We often got lost. We always ate. And we discovered something.

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Audio Slideshow: Northwest Argentina, Road Trip Style

northwest argentina

Some places are best suited to road trips. They speak: move at your own pace, get lost, stop off in small towns, have the flexibility to enjoy whatever experiences might come your way.

The area around Salta and Jujuy in northwest Argentina is one such chunk of perfect road trip territory. Listen and watch the audio slideshow below to find out why.

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Three Vignettes: Beautiful Everyday People of Northwest Argentina

In a future incarnation, we will run world tours that seek to deliver extraordinary travel experiences through encounters with ordinary people. And when we do, a road trip in Northwest Argentina will be one of our first stops in South America.

After stumbling upon a dazzling gaucho festival on the first day of a week-long road trip, we figured our travel karma would have run out. Instead, our journey across the valleys outside of Salta featured interactions with engaging people open to odd encounters.

Here's a taste.

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The Pre-Incan Ruins of Kuelap, Peru: Why to Visit

Pre-Incan Ruins of Kuelap near Chachapoyas, Peru

The Incan ruins of Machu Picchu outside Cusco, Peru grab the lion's share of that country's travel press. But before the Incas stormed through this region in the 15th century, there were actually some other clever people living in Peru. They built an impressive city and lived in circular houses on a mountaintop in the north, near the town of Chachapoyas (meaning “People of the Clouds”).

The ruins of Kuelap, the citadel they built in those clouds.

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Road Trip Northwest Argentina: Where Gauchos Go To Party

As our rental car began to drift atop a layer of windblown sand, I grabbed hold, down-shifted and noticed the hills around me were swirled in a peppermint twist. All those Ruta 40 signs in Argentina finally delivered on an implied promise: you’ll be impressed, and what once captured your imagination will now claim your full attention.

But it wasn’t the fabled Route 40 of Patagonia that would provide the exclamation point on our time in Argentina. It was a week-long road trip across the quebradas of Northwest Argentina, where chilies dry in the midday sun, llama comes served with wine pressed just down the road, and gauchos hold harvest festivals in the hills.

Road from Salta to Cachi
Landscape in Northwest Argentina

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