After enjoying our time in the city of Salta we were looking forward to getting out of town for a bit. The drive down was about 3 hours but passed incredibly quickly as we first made a stop for some of the best empanadas we’d had on the whole trip, although they did turn out to be a little smaller than we first thought… Following lunch the last hour of the drive also offered some absolutely incredible views, and we saw why there were so many tour buses parked up and taking pictures!
Even half an hour out of town, the bodegas (vineyards) started to appear on the side of the road. Needless to say this was exciting stuff for us! We arrived at the extremely cute small town of Cafayate and headed to try two campsites, however they were both shut as it was deep into low season. We ended up in the only campsite which was open at this time of year, and a little steep at around £6 a night but we were out of other options. We ended up enjoying our stay there so much we spent a week!
Later that same evening Joop & Jutine arrived, and we celebrated what would be our last night together as they had found out they’d need to get to Uruguay in only a few days to ship their van home! So we celebrated in style with a few bottles of incredibly good and cheap bottles of Argentinian white and also red! The only downside of this was that the next day as they left we were pretty lazy for the entire day… however we fixed up with a local staple of more empanadas! The house of empanadas in town offered 12 of these goodness-filled pastries and half a litre of wine for less than a fiver, so we visited it countless times!
After recovering from our overindulgence in wine we decided it was time we should go and visit some wineries for ourselves! The beauty of Cafayate is that there are a bunch of bodegas right in the middle of town so we don’t have to worry about driving anywhere! For today we just decided to visit two vineyards, the first one was a little more like a shop than a tour. We had a tasting (for £1!) and enjoyed the wines, even more so when we found out it was £2.50 a bottle! So without too much hesitation we bought 6 bottles, three reds and three whites.
On the way back we passed another vineyard which looked beautiful next to the campsite, so popped into that one for another tour. We not only preferred the wines here but also enjoyed the tour they gave as it showed more of the process of how the wine is made. Admittedly, by the end of the week we were sick of the tour part of these visits but the first one we found interesting! We also got a mix of goats & cows cheese to clear our pallets between tasting which felt very fancy! So we stocked up with some more wine and headed back to camp, to quickly check our allowance for bringing bottles back into the uk…
The following day we did the only thing we knew to do, visit another winery! This time though we went for lunch, as the tours were every hour and the setting for lunch was absolutely stunning coupled with a clear blue sky. The food itself (risotto and lomo saltado) was as good as the wine so we spent a good few hours enjoying a very relaxing end to our trip! That night we decided we owed it to ourselves to try the traditional Argentinian camping experience. Having found some charcoal and cardboard under our parilla (grill) we went to town on the hunt of some meat. When we got to what looked like a corner shop the meat option looked uninspiring, however then the guy behind the counter asked what we wanted it for. When we told him it was for a grill he opened up a huge fridge behind him full of cows and cut us an incredible cut fresh!
Armed and ready with some incredible wine and what looked like an incredible cut of steak, we headed back and started to grill. Thankfully it was a huge success and we achieved a flame grilled rare steak which was out of this world, and also only cost £6 for a good kilo. We’ll definitely remember that next time we’re looking at a steak menu in the UK!
We woke up to a pretty interesting sight the next morning, a guy riding a horse coming into the campsite. Then we overheard him speaking in loud Australian English trying to get the message across that he was looking for a place to stay. Not a sight we see every morning on this trip we soon were sat down chatting with Cowboy Joe! An Australian with an incredibly interesting story of riding all over the world taking troubled horses and improving their behaviour. He’s ridden about 20,000 miles so far and is aiming to be the first person to ride 25,000 miles solo!
It made us realise how easy living in a van was compared to what he was doing! He slept on the floor in a sleeping bag on the campsite, and literally only had a bag and a small bottle of water for his whole trip, and a very limited Spanish vocabulary! We spent a few days eating and drinking and hanging out with Joe as he had to stay in town a few days to feed up his horse before leaving on the next stint of his journey.
For our last vineyard we opted to go for one a little out of town. While it meant we were limited to a tasting and not having too much, Mikey didn’t mind driving and we headed to Las Nubes where we had the best experience we’d had in Cafayate. The tour was brilliant, but more importantly the wine was delicious! Coupled with the setting meant we could have easily spent a full day here had we come earlier. We filled up the van with the rest of our allowance and headed out of Cafayate, down to Mendoza for more wine but not without a windy stop beforehand…