The drive from Cafayate to Cachi is via Route 40, a 180km winding track of dirt and sand and dust and rocks. This was no place for a rented Fiat Uno but our little amigo Oscar refused to bow to logic and ploughed through with typical Italian gusto! Dave was very proud (though very tired by the end). But the reward for our effort was a visit to one of the highest altitude and secluded wineries in the world - the Colome´winery, about 50km from Cachi and another 20 odd km away from the nearest road and town.
At the end of that track is a hidden paradise, where vines more than 150 years old grow in blissful isolation from pollution, parasites and prying eyes. At our 'closed door' dinner at Casa Felix in Buenos Aires, we were lucky enough to try Colome's magnificent Torrontes and silky smooth Amalaya red blend of malbec, cabernet, syrah, bonarda and tannat. We tried those again at our onsite degustation, together with their 'Vino Mysterioso' (a torrontes-sav blanc blend you can only get at cellar door or in their restaurant) and their Malbec Reserva. Dave still dreams about that Amalaya and Libby has big plans to import Colome´ Torrontes direct to East Sussex!
Cachi itself is a small town, nestled high in the Valles Calchaquies. The views from the hilltop cemetery are great but the real delights lie in the drive back to Salta via Routes 40 and 33. The drive starts with a winding road to Payogasta but we soon hit the 14km straight that is Recta Tin Tin, running through Cardones National Park full of huge candelabra cacti. Oscar then pulled uphill to Piedra de Molino before plunging down the valley via a steep and tight dirt road through the Quebrada de Escope.
This really was one of the great drives of Argentina and Dave has grand plans to return with the boys on dirt bikes one day - a warm thought to keep in mind before heading back into Salta to prepare for our midnight bus to the border and the prospect of subzero temperatures when we tried to cross into Bolivia!
Mr and Mrs T x