Tag Archives: tilcara

Northwestern Argentina, in Video

25 May


Tilcara, in Photos

14 May

The view heading up to Garganta del Diablo

Towards the top of Garganta del Diablo

A drainage ditch...or awesome water slide off a cliff

Scenery above Tilcara

La Albahaca Hostel, Your Place to Stay in Tilcara

13 May

Rarely do you get to stay in a place where you feel so welcomed and at home that you have trouble leaving. There will always be the 5-star resort that is so luxurious that you need to be clawed away from the king size bed, or the friend’s apartment that you wish you could stay in longer just to be with people you know. Yet it’s much less common to find a hostel and feel so at peace that you want to stay around just to be there. In my short time in Tilcara, I was fortunate to find one of those places.

My friend Leo recommended La Albahaca Hostel, a short walk from the bus terminal in the small village. Walking towards the center you take the first right on Padilla and walk uphill (go at an easy pace if you’re not acclimated to the high altitude) and on your right you eventually come to the friendliest lodging in town. There you’ll be met by either Dani or Pablo, both transplants who didn’t grow up in the village, but came a long time ago and wound up staying.

For $30 ARS a night you get Internet, breakfast, a clean bed and terrace to take in the view, but also the buena onda, or good vibes in the place. As I walked in the door it felt like I was watching old friends talk, but the same thing could happen to you after spending a night there. Immediately I was pulled into the conversation and offered a round of mate, the first I had been offered on my trip, making me feel right at ease. The hostel is small and simple—don’t expect spa treatment. Yet the treatment you receive from the staff and most likely from the other friendly travelers who are passing through is more than compensation.

Tilcara is the kind of place you go to in order to relax, forget about work and troubles, and just enjoy nature. You can head up to the terrace where you get a magnificent view of the Jujeño mountains, or walk up to Pucará, a reconstructed Inca fortress. Another option is climbing up to the Garganta del Diablo and checking out the waterfalls. The nice thing about the village is that it’s in the middle of many attractions in the area, like Purmamarca and Iruya.

Dani and Pablo are quick to offer advice and give you their recommendations on the best peña in town or a cheap place to eat. The kitchen is small, but you can also cook your own meals there and eat in the dining room or lounge area, enjoyed in company by the staff. Music is usually on the in background, and since many Argentinians frequent the place, you can usually see mate being passed around and join in a conversation about soccer, politics, movies, whatever.

I can honestly say that I was seriously contemplating spending another night in Tilcara, simply because I was so comfortable in La Albahaca and with the guys. As I left the hostel to head further south, Dani and Pablo gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek (customary between men in Argentina) and it genuinely looked like Dani was sad to see me go. That was a first for me.

If you’re visiting Tilcara and want a place to say, I highly recommend La Albahaca, and guarantee that you’ll have as rewarding of an experience as I did.


(0054) 0388-15-5855994

Peace and Comfort in Tilcara

13 May

Tilcara, in the Province of Jujuy

I got off the bus in Tilcara tired and out of it. As usually some random guy who hangs out at the bus terminal grabbed my bag down and then asked for change, but I wasn’t having any of it. “I already gave a tip to the guy who put the bag in,” I told him, and he grudgingly followed me for a few steps before returning to the bus stands. A bit annoying, but I was back in Argentina and the ride in had been interesting. From the border in La Quiaca we rode smoothly until a police checkpoint in Tres Cruces, where everyone had to get off the bus, take their luggage and wait to be checked. As a tourist, I only had to show my passport and move on.

Weaving in and out of a state of sleep, we passed from high altitude plains through valleys with towering desert-mountains on each side. Now in the Province of Jujuy, I was delighted to colored mountains of a range of shades, running streams and tiny villages specked sporadically along the highway. I was wondering at what point we would pass the Quebrada de Humahuaca, until later realizing that the Quebrada is in reality the whole stretch of road. Mountains of red, green and yellow stained the skyline and made for a lovely trip.

The view on the way up to the Garganta del Diablo

Now in the small village of Tilcara, I walked up the road from the bus station and took the first right, walking uphill in search of La Albahaca, a hostel my friend Leo recommended to me. Once checked in and having taken a very necessary nap, I took off for a hike up to another one of the natural wonders in Argentina called “Garganta del Diablo.” I had underestimated the elevation of Tilcara (2,500 meters/8,200 feet above sea level) because I had just been much higher up in Bolivia. But once on the hike I was quickly winded and forced to stop every so often to catch my breath. In fact, on the way back down I stopped a couple of times and had my vision go out slightly of focus.

The hike was very pretty and allowed me to take in the scenery around Tilcara, though I never made it all the way down to the waterfalls because I was losing sunlight, alone, and the wind was picking up (as it always does from around 3-6 pm). Back in town I could see just how peaceful and infectious this place was. Smiling faces greeted you as you passed in the street and the laid back attitude gave a sense of ease which a city will never have.

Tilcara is nice because unlike some other small towns nearby, there are a number of restaurants and peñas, or folkloric shows, which can keep you entertained at night. But of course, the main idea is to come to a place like this to relax and unwind, rather than go out looking for a cool bar. On the first night I checked out La Peña de Carlitos in the main square with two porteños, and though it was interesting, a lot of it might be lost on someone who does not speak Spanish, as it was mostly story telling.

The center of Tilcara

The second day took me to Purmamarca and the Seven Color Hill, truly a beautiful sight, though village itself is a bit too touristic. Later I checked out Pucara, a reconstruction of an Inca fortress towering over the valley below—clearly an important spot. I would have stayed another day in Tilcara just to relax, but alas, the call of the road was too loud to ignore, and I moved on. But I highly recommend visiting this village when passing through northwestern Argentina, and if you don`t know if you`re going to make it there, make an exception.