Leaving Argentina

Our last few days in Argentina, before entering Bolivia, were spent driving from Salta to La Quiaca.

Our last 375 km of road in Argentina

The drive offered us the viewing of a unusual set of armed angels (Erik, take note…), some time spent in one of Argentina’s Unesco World Heritage Sites, and a good preparation for going back to Bolivia.

Starting with the last issue: the north-west of Argentina is the poorest part of the country; the closer we got to the Bolivian border, the poorer it appeared to be. This part of Argentina is also at a decent altitude, 3,400 m, and around La Quiaca – the border town – the landscape looks very much like the Bolivian altiplano. La Quiaca itself had a Bolivian feel to it, although the upside to its Bolivian feel is that we had our least expensive meal in Argentina. Btw, La Quiaca was cold: at eight in the morning, the outside temperature read -4 C, 24 F; Thank goodness for our down comforter and heater, the folks sleeping in tents next to us, were very, very cold.

We were driving from Salta to La Quiaca to pass through the Huamahuaca canyon, a Unesco Wrold Heritage Site. Along our drive we stopped in Uquia, a very small town that has become “famous” for its series of 17th century armed angel paintings in the church.

The inside of the church with the armed angel portraits along the walls

The paintings were done by a local artist of the Cusco school, and one theory claims that the angels are armed so they can protect the local population against evil. Be that as it may, it is rare to see Gabriel carrying a harquebus…

Harquebuses and wings

Stylish armed angels

Slightly further to the north of Uquia is the most famous part of the the Quebrada Huamahuaca (the Huamahuaca ravine): the town of Purmamarca. The Lonely Planet writes, in its very own style:

Little Purmamarca, 3km west of the highway, sits under the celebrated Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors), a spectacular and jagged formation resembling the marzipan fantasy of a megalomaniac pastry chef. It and the surrounds offer a memorable range of hues.”

Not sure that Purmamarca deserves this over the top culinary description; but it was certainly pretty.

View of the “hill of 7 colors” driving into town

K admiring the marzipan…

We knew that the Humahuarca ravine, or canyon, was a Unesco World Heritage Site. What we didn’t know was that Argentina has eight of these sites, and that we had now visited every one.

The eight sites are:

Los Glaciares #
Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis: San Ignacio Mini, et al
Iguazu National Park
Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas
Península Valdés
Ischigualasto / Talampaya Natural Parks
Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba
Quebrada de Humahuaca

Each and very one is spectacular. And each and every one deserves the designation. We have had a great time in Argentina and wish we could spend a few more months (years…) there, but Bolivia awaits.


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