Salta city and around

Salta is one of Argentina's most charismatic and historical cities; its colourful past is tangible in palm-filled plazas lined with crumbling 17th-century buildings, such as the plum-coloured Iglesia San Francisco and the handsome colonial Cabildo. Its fine museums chart the city's fascinating past,
and the amazing finds from an Inca burial on remote Mount Llullaillaco. Salta's tourist infrastructure
is well established, and agencies offer trips south to the beautiful Calchaquí Valley, where oasis villages are timeless retreats, and there are splendid wineries around Cafayate. You could take the train to the clouds into the dramatic Quebrada del Toro, or take your time to explore the ancient archaeological site of Santa Rosa de Tastil. Head further west into the shimmering salt flats, and discover the ancient way of life of the
puna
(high-altitude desert).

Salta city is worth at least a couple of days of your trip. It buzzes with life in the mornings, comes to a complete halt at lunchtime and comes alive again at night. Balmy evenings are perfect for wandering the streets to find live music played with passion in the local
peñas
of Calle Balcarce. Or sample the superb food such as the
locro
,
tamales
and
humitas
for which Salta is famous, as you quaff a glass or two of fine 'high-altitude' wine grown in the Calchaquí Valley. This region is rich in indigenous culture, and you can buy the characteristic blood-red Güemes ponchos, as well as other handicrafts, in smart shops around the main plaza, or in the Mercado Artesenal. Sit in the atmospheric plaza cafés at midday to get a flavour of Salteño society: from elegant aristocrats to businessmen having their shoes shined, farmers from the outlying campos chewing coca and crowds of indigenous teenagers. The city is particularly lively in the second week of September, when the Fiesta del Milagro is celebrated with a huge procession uniting the population in an ancient
communal act of superstition: parading the Christian figures which keep Salta safe from earthquakes
.

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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