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We drove west from Purmamarca on Ruta 52 up the Lipan Slope to 13,681 feet on a very twisty turny road. We are moving slowly again today because of the elevation. I think the coca candies are helping. They taste like gritty honey-flavoured herbal cough drops. We are still huffing and puffing walking on flat trails though.

The Lipan Slope – at least this one was paved.

Salinas Grande is a 212 km2 working salt flat (as opposed to the Salina Chica that we visited a few days ago…) The lake is at a continental divide between both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. At 12,467 feet water evaporation occurs relatively quickly and the salt is many feet thick.

Low grade salt is scraped off the surface of the lake and loaded onto trucks.
Salt piles go into huge bags that go onto trucks.
Heavy loads that now have to go over the Lipan Pass.
Interesting salt crystal shapes
I could make some good margaritas out of this!
Canals are dug to get higher grade salt – it takes about 10 months for the water to evaporate, leaving behind table salt-grade crystals.
The water in the canals is 100x saltier than ocean water
Dave said it was VERY salty when he tasted it!
Llama sculpture made out of salt.
The buildings at the visitor area are all made of salt, including the mortar
Salt bricks
Even the picnic tables and chairs are salt.
Had to buy some salt rocks for our grinder at home!

Then we made the several hour drive to Salta (again) and checked into our hotel. Our room at the Legado Mítico is called El Caudillo, or The Leader and is named for Martin Miguel de Guemes, a military leader who defended northwestern Argentina from the Spanish royalist army during the Argentine War of Independence. The hotel is a renovated period house in the colonial sector of Salta. It is lovely and perfect except for the really creaky wooden floors and staircase! There is no sneaking around this hotel!

Our rather extravagant room key!
Our gorgeous balcony in Salta. It was nice to relax for a bit!

Tomorrow we drive to Cafayate.

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