The colours and shapes of the Quebrada de Cafayate

Sedimentary madness in the Quebrada

I have a confession. When I went to the Grand Canyon on the tail end of my gap year, aged 19, I was such a brat that on the way there, I moodily declared: “So what, it’s just a big hole”. Cringe. This was mainly to annoy the very keen group of German girls on my minibus who wanted to stay there an extra day. This would have meant missing the gay pride parade in San Francisco and nothing was getting in my way of that. Still, to call the Grand Canyon a big hole is up there on my list of “Oh God, did I really say that?!”. There are plenty more, I assure you.

It was our trip to the Quebrada de Cafayate in Argentina that spurred this memory. The quebrada is often likened to the Grand Canyon and the landscapes of Utah. We first passed through it on the bus on the way to Cafayate from Salta. It took us by surprise, contrasting incredibly with the dusty hills of Salta and seemingly coming out of nowhere. We decided to book a tour to explore it further. Here’s our trip in photos.

The Locomotive, Quebrada de Cafayate

First stop was this interesting rock formation. Our guide asked us what it reminded us of. Can you guess? It’s a locomotive.

Wild landscapes of the Quebrada de Cafayate

The surroundings were beautiful with textured and colourful mountains in all directions.

The Obelisk, Quebrada de Cafayate

This formation is called the obelisk. It’s by the side of the road so you pass it en-route to Cafayate from Salta.

Mars or Moon rock, Quebrada de Cafayate

As we walked, I came across this stone. It’s how I imagine the surface of Mars would look.

Quebrada rock layers

One of the most striking things in the Quebrada are the layered, multi-coloured mountains. They vary from subtle pastels…

Layers of ancient rock in the Quebrada

…to bold purples and reds.

Rock layers at the Quebrada de Cafayate

This is how they looked up close. It really brought our old science lessons on sedimentary rocks to life.

Garganta del Diablo, Quebrada de Cafayate

The penultimate stop was the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat).

Scrambling into the Garganta del Diablo

It was a lot of fun to scramble through.

Wild lick of the Garganta del Diablo

And the colours were spectacular as we delved inside.

Offerings to Pachamama

Last up was the Ampitheatre, a natural concert space in the Quebrada. We were particularly lucky as an event was being held there that day. Before the show, people made offerings to Pachamama.

Concert in the mountain, Quebrada de Cafayate

The concert included a local band who played one of the longest pipes we’ve ever seen. Food was also on sale including a delicious cheese pita for us vegetarians. It was a great end to the tour so we suggest checking for events before you go.

Back of the Devils Throat, Quebrada de Cafayate

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Useful information on the Quebrada de Cafayate
We went on a tour of the quebrada with El Balcón Hostel where our friend Erin was staying. It lasted around four hours and cost AR$80. Ideally, we’d have liked to hire a car and explore ourselves but that would have been more expensive.  Another option is to hop off the Salta-Cafayate bus at the Garganta del Diablo, which is a designated bus stop. You can then explore for a bit yourself before getting on the next bus that goes past. With this option, unless you wanted to walk a lot, you would only be able to see the Garganta and the Amphitheatre (which are the highlights in our opinion). [/callout]

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  1. says

    I adored the colours of the quebrada de cafayate! I went on a day trip with friends who invited me from the hostel and I really couldn’t ask for a better day! Wandering a climbing rocks that glow a deep red! Loved it! Great photos! Apparently I can’t post via mobile because it is too short. Who knew there was a minimum word requirement on posting
    Chrystal McKay recently posted..Crying My Eyes Out in ThailandMy Profile

    • Victoria says

      It looks like your mobile was lying as both comments are there! We loved the quebrada – it really took us by surprise.

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