just back from the NW - recommendations & hopefully helpful tidbi
Replies: 1 - Last Post: Jan 22, 2013 9:21 PM Last Post By: roberto1938
Jan 19, 2013 7:31 AM
just back from the NW - recommendations & hopefully helpful tidbihey all,
I thought I'd post this in case it might be helpful to anyone else.
First: high season is not playing around. Neither is the inflation. Accommodations, food and travel on this trip all cost way more than we thought.
BUS FROM BsAs to SALTA:
-We took the Admiralte Brown 19-hour semi-cama (best they offered). I ordered online -I speak spanish- to have one less thing to worry about once we arrived. The ticket was high (1600ish pesos for 2). Bus was 2 hours late getting into and leaving from Bs As.
-If you can, sit on the top level. We sat on the bottom and smelled the toilet the whole way. Boo.
-dress warmly. For reals. It was freezing cold, which is apparently a common problem.
-they give you lots of food, so don't worry about bringing snacks.
-seats were pretty comfy
-We were in and out of Salta a few times. The Info booth at the bus station was helpful -though, again, in spanish.
Hotel/low end: We stayed at El Argentino for a few nights. Pretty standard issue hostel. Internet/kitchen/fan; doubles and dorms available. Not too far from the centro at all. Good value for a bare-bones hostel, though twice someone tried to get into our room in the middle of the night. I'm sure it was a drunken dark mistake, but a little startling.
Hotel/higher end: we got fancy and went to Bonarda, which was gorgeous. In low season it's affordable for how nice it is (300/double), in high season it's considerably more (500/double). Super nice. Very helpful people. Nicer breakfast with actual protein (not just bread and jam)
Souvenir shopping seemed to be among the best/nicest here for our whole circuit. Selection and prices were very competitive between stores, and some more unique stuff than your standard Pachamama statues and llama keychains.
Finally, on our last night, out of sheer fascination and much hilarity, we broke down and went to the MegaPena (on Balcarce, good luck missing it) because it seemed to be packed with Argentines every night. Also because it is called the Mega Pena. Well... it was like the Medieval Times of penas. First: ASK ABOUT THE COVER CHARGE ($50pp, folks. our fault. we should have asked) and the food was awful. The dancing and music acts were great. There were 6 disco balls. I don't know what else to tell you. We have many photos and a lingering digestive problem.
Stay at Malka if you can. It is expensive. It is also worth it. Make a reservation.
Ask around for the Mercado Municipal to buy produce and food for incredibly cheap prices. Most hostels in AR seem to have their own kitchens for you to use. Great way to cut back on the high costs.
There aren't too many set-menu places, but there's a fantastic one on your way from the bus station to the main plaza. It will be on your right, set back from the road a little bit. Often a sandwichboard sign in front on the sidewalk. Owned by a former miner who is friendly and super interesting. His wife makes the food, which is cheap and delicious. Get the set menu lunch/dinner, then get the cheese empanadas to go. It's like macaroni and cheese in pastry. Delicious and cheap ($24/dozen)
Pena Altitud had excellent music, but a surprise cover charge on the bill at the end of the night. There is a dancing gaucho who shows up who was also our remis driver to the Salinas Grandes. Awesome.
We had planned to rent bikes, but the only routes that were recommended to us were hikes we had already done. Sort of a bummer.
One of the hikes in question is garganta del diablo. LP says you can swim in the pool, but this is not true. In fact, they REALLY don't want you to swim.
Stayed at Milmahuasi. Super friendly. A dinner is available most nights. It will be communal, healthy, local, sustainable, and reasonably priced for the tourist season.
There are a few well-traveled hikes that are totally worth it (to the vista and to San Isidro).
Just did a day trip here to walk around a little and catch a shared remis out to the salt flats. Warning: the main remis dispatcher dude quoted me $80 pp. We shared the remis with 2 Argentines. At the end of the ride, when we all paid, I noticed the Argentines were paying $70... so that's what I paid too. The driver was fine with it, didn't seem to realize that the dispatcher had given me the special foreigner rate.
Did the simple hike, which is easy and beautiful. This town is lovely, but it really reminded me of ski resort towns in Colorado. Stores are very expensive. Can't speak to the food b/c we packed an empanada lunch to save $. There's an enormous craft market on the main plaza.
We splurged a lot on this end since everything was so expensive anyway and bus service is a little more infrequent. Rented a car in Salta (from Avis, no strong recommendation for/against). Gorgeous drive down, great to stop for pictures and exploration.
Hotel: We stayed in Hostal Del Valle. This place is very nice. Beautifully kept up. The solarium breakfast area is incredible. There is one drawback to this place and that is that (in many rooms anyway) there is no real door to the bathroom. it's a sliding plastic thing. Bid farewell to pooping in privacy while you are here.
Casa De Las Empanadas is worth the hype. Enjoy.
El Rancho was a solid choice. I highly recommend the vacio. HIIIIIGHLY.
This visit got blocked by The Dakar, which meant that at 9pm we learned that the road from Cachi to Salta would be shut down (for days?!) at 8am the next morning. So all I can say is that we stayed at Nevado de Cachi, and it was fine. We had an afternoon beer and some canneloni at the cafe across the street from the bus station - usually a highly suspect location, but this place was great.
That's it. Enjoy. If you can, buy your bus tickets early to get seats 1, 2, 3 or 4 for the awesome front-row-mezzanine seats to each bus ride. Enjoy the wine and the incredible scenery. If you have psoriasis, you are screwed (very dry air).
Jan 22, 2013 9:21 PM
1When traveling, by bus especialy, always carry mentholetum to avoid toilet odors. One drop on each nostril and smells becomes inconsequential. Once in Argentina, eight people near me asked for a few drops. I saved their day....they thought I was the best human being (:
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