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We had an early start today which means the light is good for photos and heat hasn’t built up yet. The morning started off a bit chilly but we were sweltering by the time we got back.

Our tour guide today is Jose, a new employee and not one of Fido’s sons as expected. Jose is a Sáltenos, Argentinian born in the province of Salta. His father immigrated from northwestern Italy, as did many other people in Argentina. Jose has travelled a bit himself which is rather unusual for many of our guides. He claims his English is self-taught, mostly by watching FRIENDS on TV with Spanish subtitles! He was an excellent guide and we had wide ranging conversations from local food and diet, politics, economic conditions and world travel.

Cuevas de Acsibi means ‘place of fire’ due to the red colour in the canyon rock. The cave is on Fido’s property and he offers tours for home stay guests.

Just over 8km up the canyon and back
There were a few rock scrambles along the canyon
Patterns in the sandstone
Water makes for such interesting designs.
The small cave system at the end of the canyon – squeezing through tight spaces!
In the cave
A rock protrusion in the cave that looks like a heart!
After the hike, Jose set up a lovely picnic lunch at the entrance to the canyon
Homemade chorizo sausage, quinoa patty, local olives, eggplant and local goat cheese. All incredibly good and with an unbeatable view!

After our amazing lunch with Jose, we loaded the car and headed back to Salta. The road is gravel, has lots of curves and gets as high as 3457M (11300 feet) above sea level.

In the high altitude mountainous desert of the Parque National los Cardones we learned about the Argentine Saguaro cactus – the park was formed to protect the cactus. The word ‘cardones’ means thistles. Supposedly, the roots of the cactus are the same height as what you see above ground!

It is a federal offence to cut down a cactus, leading to not just a hefty fine but possible jail time! Lots of local handicrafts are made from cardones wood – we would need a certification that they came from an already dead plant in order to bring them home!

The cordones grow only 1-2cm per year. Look how tall that one is. Very old (the cactus, not Kris).

Cordones are one of the few plant species that are dioecious, having separate male and female individuals. Mostly the simple ones are male and the females are branched and complicated.

One of many scenic parts in the park. Had we stopped at them all we’d still be driving a month from now.
At the summit of the Cuesta del Obispo (the Bishop’s Pass) – another crazy mountain road
Tiny Capilla San Rafael at the summit
Llamas on the side of the road.

After descending the Cuesta for what seemed like forever, the rest of the drive back to Salta was long and slow and kind of boring.

Tomorrow we have some time to explore Salta, including seeing a mummy at the local museum.

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