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Today we drove through the Quebrada de los Conchas (Gorge of Shells or Shell Ravine). Geologists have found sea shells and other fossils in the rock, proving that the area was once under water, then forced upward when the Andes were formed 90-60 million years ago during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.

There are numerous incredible rock formations all along the quebrada. We stopped a lot, and took about 5 hours to make the 200km drive.

Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat Canyon) is a huge crack in the cliff.

El Anfiteatro – a natural amphitheater carved into the cliff

El Sapo (the Toad) – a little bit of imagination is required for this one!
El Obelisco – a naturally formed obelisk
Las Ventanas (the Windows)
Los Castillos (the Castles)
Amazing red rock at Los Colorados
Natural caves at Los Colorados
Desert plants
Don’t try to hug a cactus – those spines are sharp!
Roadside lunch at La Yesera – empanadas and pan casero (homemade bread) $5.
We found a friend. Dusty pawprints on Kris’ semi-clean pants, but a really good purr.
Umm, I like carne empanadas…..
We see the head of a terror dog – Zuul the Gatekeeper from the original Ghostbusters!
More amazing scenery

The Calchaqui Valley is the 2nd largest wine producing region in Argentina. At 5521 feet above sea level, the area has a very particular microclimate, with warm sunny days and cool nights, allowing the production of small grapes with high concentration of sugars.

White Torrontes grapes are mostly grown in Argentina and are affectionately nicknamed ‘the liar’ – the wine smells very fruity and sweet but tastes dry and tart.

We stopped by Piattelli Vineyard for a short break before checking into our hotel in Cafayate. The bodega feels very much like a Tuscan villa!

Costco sized?
Malbec Tannat on the Piattelli patio.

Our hotel, Grace Cafayate, is just outside of town on its own vineyard.

Our villa at Grace Cafayate.
At this place you’re not allowed to haul your own luggage.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear fruit can be eaten right off the plant
Wine tasting room. We did a tasting in 100% Spanish (and understood about 60% of it!)
From left to right: Torrontes (white), Rosa, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tannat. Went from tasty, to mmm, to oh yeah, to heck yeah to OMG. Not a bad one in the bunch.

Tomorrow we drive to Seclantes for more views and an interesting house stay. We may or may not have internet for a few days.

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