From Chile to Argentina over the Paso Jama

Salta Travel Blog

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Reflections on the lake
It was a relief to finally be leaving San Pedro, just way too touristy and expensive for my tastes. While I was there I met a couple, an American man and his Chilean wife who had returned to San Pedro after first visiting there 33 years ago, they even stayed in the same hostel, which is still owned by the same woman. From everything they said, it sounds like San Pedro was an amazing place 33 years ago, unfortunately not so much anymore.
Past San Pedro towards the border with Argentina there is essentially no traces of life, it is so desolate that the immigration matters are actually handled in San Pedro rather than at the border, 160 km away. The scenery consists mostly of barren mountains and empty plains. On the Argentinian side of the border there is a customs post but little else for quite a ways.
Salt flats on the way
There were a few random houses here and there and believe it or not, they actually had solar panels to provide electricity, almost surely provided through government support. The scenery continued with some salt flats and some small lakes complete with vicunas and some birds. As the road continued it began to drop and the desolation of the high altitude zone changed into colored  rock canyons and hillsides of all different shades, from reds and greens, all the way to purple. After Purmamarca the scenery stopped and we reached Jujuy, a dull and boring city about 90 minutes from Salta. The rest of the way to Salta was actually on a four lane highway through an industrial zone with nothing of interest.
Some of the colored rocks near the gorge in Pumamarca
Salta itself was pleasant enough with a very European feel to it. There is a very interesting museum on the discovery of mummified Inca children sacrificed on top of Volcan Llullaillaco. The body of the fifteen year old girl that is on display is perfectly preserved due to the -20C temperature and dry air at the top of the 22,100 foot inactive volcano. The prefect condition of the body is almost haunting as it looks so life-like that if you thawed out the remains she would live again. It is amazing to think how the Incas could climb a mountain so high with only what was available to them at the time, none of the high-tech mountaineering gear used to today. There is another museum on the history of the northern part of Argentina with many interesting artifacts from the pre-Inca times all the way up to the time of independence and the present day.
I was looking forward to taking the famous Tren a las Nubes (train to the clouds) but unfortunately that has not re-opened as was previously scheduled. With no public transport past San Antonio de las Cobres I couldn´t continue south to small and extremely isolated town of Antofagasta de la Sierra. Instead, I will have to settle for visiting Chilecito before continuing south to Mendoza.
mika0marg says:
hey i saw some web sites that recomended going to a town called cachi that is located in the region for instanse
talks about this town a lot. did you hear about it when you went there and if so what are your thoughts about it?
Posted on: Jan 10, 2009
MarcoBona says:
Hola Andy, ciao from Marco (Popayan y Ciudad Perdida),
Ahora tu estas in Argentina ! Yo estoi siempre trabajando. :-(
Posted on: Mar 17, 2008
Biedjee says:
San Pedro was not only an amazing place 33 years ago, it was also an amazing place 9 years ago. I am sorry to read it's been spoilt by tourism.
Posted on: Mar 11, 2008
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Reflections on the lake
Reflections on the lake
Salt flats on the way
Salt flats on the way
Some of the colored rocks near the…
Some of the colored rocks near th…
Desolate mountains on the way out …
Desolate mountains on the way out…
Salt flats and vegetation
Salt flats and vegetation
A high altitude lake on the Chilea…
A high altitude lake on the Chile…
Some salt deposits and a small lake
Some salt deposits and a small lake
The colored desert at the Argentin…
The colored desert at the Argenti…
The few buildings near the Argenti…
The few buildings near the Argent…
The cathedral on the main plaza in…
The cathedral on the main plaza i…
photo by: wvijvers