Salta, Argentina – Cable Cars and Frozen Children


Route Cafayate, Argentina – Salta, Argentina (RN68)
Distance 188Km
Travel Time 3 hours
Road Conditions Good Tarmac
Weather Sunny, Cold
Terrain Qedebra & Mountain Valley
Food and Petrol
Accommodation Hostal Condor Pass, Salta


I was looking forward to Salta. My brother had told be about it once. We were expecting the accommodation situation to be far better than we’d experienced in the last few towns, but again we end up looking for a place for two hours. The fact that it’s local winter holiday season doesn’t help, but hostels here are relatively expensive (120Pesos+) and on average seem to be pretty dirty.

We check in to Hostal Condor Pass for 150 Pesos a night and this gets us an un-heated room with shared bathroom, the luxury of dressing our beds with sheets and covers ourselves, and the all-important bike parking space in the corridoor. For a 10 Pesos extra, you can even rent yourself a towel. And for another 20, you can use the kitchen. Hmmm.

People don’t seem to be fully in touch with what’s going on around them during the frenzy of afternoon foot-traffic. I had to cross the narrow pavement and up the little step into the hostel doorway to get the bike in; if you thought that people would stop for a minute to let me proceed or move around another way to get by, you’d be wrong. One guy actually put his foot under my spinning back tyre whilst trying to squash past and then tried to complain at me… you have got to be joking!


Aside from that the town is quite tranquilo and has some very nice spots, especially towards the centre of town around the main square.


There’s some really beautiful architecture and sculpture on show.


And we do find some really impressive graffitti!



We visit the Museum Arqueología de Alta Montaña at the main square. The exhibition is rather small but interesting none the less. There’s some information about Incan life culture. However the highlights here are three Incan mummified children dating back about 500 years. These were buried at near 7000 metres altitude on the Mount Llullaillaco volcano (alive if I understood correctly) in sacrifice ritual and their bodies are therefore extremely well preserved. The down-side is that, for preservation of the mummies, they only put one on display at a time so you’d have to visit three times in several-month intervals to see them all – a bit disappointing.

There are also quite a few parilla restaurants which look really good – they bring a small BBQ to your table and you can take it from there. The best value ones (very much frequented by locals it seems) are toward the east of town, on the main road going south past the cerro with the gondolas (cable cars) going up the mountain.

Talking about the cable cars, we decided to go up the hill with them one day. We had to wait in front of the building for half an hour because the place was closed for some reason. Then we entered, paid our 60 Pesos each for the return trip and proceeded to wait in the queue for about an hour until it was our turn to board the half hour trip upwards. It was painful! Well, needless to say, we walked down the footpath on the way back, which took us 20 minutes. What a waste of money that was.


Content that we’ve spent enough time here, we leave Salta the next day.