Northern Córdoba province

Stretching north from Córdoba city are two parallel chains of mountains known as the Sierras Chicas, with wonderfully wild landscapes to explore. There are two main routes north offering quite different pleasures. Head up Route 9, named by the tourist board as the Camino de la Historia, to visit Jesús María and the Jesuit estancias, the cultural highlights of Córdoba province. Hiring a car is the best way to really enjoy them, as you can stop off at the more attractive villages in the hills and stay at rural estancias too, such as luxurious La Paz in Ascochinga or, if not, the local minibuses are clean and efficient. North of here, Route 9 leads to the Reserva Natural Cerro Colorado, where there are extraordinary pre historic paintings in red rocky landscapes, or further northwest, the old Camino Real, now Route 60, leads you to quaint unspoiled villages where you can hide away in remote estancia San Pedro Viejo. The alternative route north along the Punilla Valley (Route 38) takes you through depressing built-up tourist towns, so keep going until you reach the pretty little mountain town of La Cumbre, which offers spectacular paragliding, golf and the laid-back, friendly villages of Capilla del Monte and San Marcos Sierras nearby are great bases to explore the mountains.

The region's most interesting rural landscapes lie between these two valleys, where there's a beautiful and surprisingly unspoilt land of rolling mountains, best explored on horseback from the traditional rural estancia, Los Potreros, just an hour from RÍo Ceballos in the valley. You could easily spend a week here and not exhaust the places to explore. Birdwatchers would be entertained here too, though keen twitchers should head east to Laguna Mar Chiquita, a lake the size of a small sea, which is a paradise for migratory birds. See, and www.cordoba (both with English option) for help with planning.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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