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The word quebrada means ‘broken valley’. The Quebrada de Humahuaca is a mountain valley that has been in use as a cultural route between the Andean highlands and the plains for over 11,000 years. It is part of the original Inca trail. People in the small towns still speak Quechua and Aymara and often take siestas in the afternoon!

The town of Humahuaca is at the end of the quebrada at 9880 feet above sea level and about an hour drive from Purmamarca.

We wanted to be there by noon to see Cabildo’s Clock at the town hall in the main square. A carving of Saint Francisco Solano pops out of the clock to bestow a blessing on the town. There was quite a crowd amassed to receive the blessing.

Very long video as the Father doesn’t move fast.
Heroes of the Independence Monument pays homage to the Northern Argentinian Army who fought a total of 14 battles in Humahuaca during the National Independence War from 1810-1818
The native chasqui (Incan messenger) Pedro Socompa transmits the news of freedom from atop the monument (although some people from the region say the statue is of Diego Viltipoco, an Omaguaca chief who helped in the battles against Spanish loyalists)
The original monument.
We found a fun Che Guevara-themed place for lunch.
No entry if you’re in a bad mood!
Kris found the local dark beer.
Portions here are huge – we should have shared

From Humahuaca we drove 24 km to the Hornocal mountain range. The road was gravel, steep and very twisty.

Gravel road, city tires, gutless rental car. We gained over 4000’ up this road. Fun drive!
4,350 meters (14271 feet) above sea level. A personal best for Kris and Dave.

Soroche, or altitude sickness is a very real possibility this high in the mountains. We have definitely noticed the altitude since being in Purmamarca. Just climbing a flight of stairs makes us huff and puff! The last time we were at crazy elevations in Peru, we were offered coca tea to prevent/treat soroche. Dave did not like the ‘loopy’ feeling the tea caused, so this trip we decided to buy some coca candies in the market.

At the top of the ‘fun’ road is a vista over the Hill of 14 Colours

That path was only 700m to the second viewpoint but the last part is incredibly steep and really hard work at this altitude!
Hike out was definitely worth the view.
The hill back out. Steep and at ~14000 feet. Lots of rest stops for us!

Colours in the rocks – light red (iron), dark red (zinc), blue (cobalt), green (copper)

Simply put, an outcropping formed from accumulation of different sedimentary rocks from a time when the region was underwater about 600 million years ago
Cactus giving the finger to the world.
Vicuñas at the side of the road.
Another random Independence monument – Kris thought he looks like the black knight from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. “Tis only a scratch!”
We’ve sailed over the Tropic of Cancer, slept overnight at the equator and now we’ve driven over the Tropic of Capricorn.
Tropic of Capricorn monument
Us on each side of the “line”.
Huge stone llama as a entry point to a tourist trap ceramics store
They had llama so of course we had to go over and say hello.

Dinner tonight was at El Meson, said to be the #1 restaurant in Purmamarca (who decides these things?). It was a set menu with a few choices for appy, entree and dessert. Everything was really yummy.

Local bbq beef rib with amazing spices.
We’ve been drinking a lot of Malbec. 2021 is very new but still incredibly good.
We were offered a Blue Gin cocktail from the distillery up the road. The waitress swears it is the best gin in Argentina! It’s blue until you add tonic water then it turns purple.

Tomorrow we head up to a salt flat over the Lipan Slope, for those of you who know motorcycle bucket list roads.

One comment on “Argentina Day 15 – Humahuaca & Cerro de los 14 Colores

  1. grace shaw says:

    Love the colors in the hills. The vicuna are very handsome..a camel relative? Take all of those Blessings,, Love, Mom

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