4 Reasons to go to Cafayate

We spent 9 nights in the Andean northwest of Argentina, in the provinces of Salta & Jujuy (pronounced “hoo-hooey”). You saw David’s post about the Salinas Grandes and my post about hospitals and cactuses.

Here is David’s map that he made to accompany his notes about the area:

We enjoyed time in the Quebrada de Humahuaca, visiting Tilcara (which has the Pucara ruins and a waterfall hike) and Purmamarca (a day trip from Tilcara with access to Salinas Grandes, the 7 Colored Hill, and the colorful market). We also visited the city of Salta and the Quebrada de Las Conchas/Cafayate.

We weren’t actually planning on going to Cafayate at all but after talking to people in our hostel and seeing pictures, we changed our itinerary to head south and see what all the fuss was about.

Cafayate has 4 main draws:

  1. A spell-binding 60km drive through a reserve with rivers, sandy hills, and dramatic vistas
  2. The desert conditions are perfect for winemaking so there are many vineyards to visit
  3. A series of 7 waterfalls that you can “hike” up to
  4. La Casa de Empanadas – a restaurant with a lot of delicious empanadas


Panaroma in the Quebrada de Las Conchas

1. The Quebrada de Las Conchas is the name of the whole quebrada (pronounced “kay-bra-duh”, meaning ravine or gorge), which includes the Quebrada de Cafayate. We went on a 6 hour semi-private tour in a car with a guide and two other people, which cost $700 pesos/$46 US for the two of us.

The layering shows different geological periods. There were so many colors!

We did the whole tour in only Spanish and understood mostly everything. At the end of the day, we saw several foxes!

Some of the features looked like sand drip castles

2. We visited 3 different wineries – Nanni, Finca las Nubes, and El Esteco and sampled wine at all of them. Cafayate’s famous wine is a white variety called Torrontes, which comes as dry or sweet.

Sunset at El Esteco

Finca las Nubes won us over because they were up on a hill overlooking town and the mountains. And there was a cute dog who decided he wanted to nap with us.

He came down and laid next to David, pawing him

3. The series of waterfalls just outside of town are listed in our guidebook as “the local community will try to make you hire a guide…” which made us skeptical. After searching TripAdvisor, we decided to hire a guide (“$30 pesos per waterfall”). We were very glad we did because the trail wasn’t very clearly marked and was a little dangerous.

By the end, we were literally rock climbing up, which was equally fun and terrifying. We also decided to go whole hog and swam in the very cold 7th waterfall.

David disappears into the chimney

4. La Casa de Empanadas had small empanadas for $14 pesos each with 12 different varieties. You’ll hear more about this in a blog entry about food, but if you go, they are delicious.


We got tired of traveling (mostly tired of planning) and almost cut this whole region out of our itinerary, but we’re really glad we didn’t!

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