Do Cry for Me Argentina
BY Bryan Van Gorder
January 03 2014 2:52 PM ET
La Comarca Hotel
La Comarca (LaComarcaHotel.com.ar), located just a short walk from town, offers guests a bathwater-warm heated pool and a great on-property restaurant featuring local wines and cuisine. Designed as a hamlet of small casas, cabañas, and lodge buildings made of local materials like cactus, poplar, clay, and stone, the property seamlessly blends in with the colorful hills around it.
Located about 80 miles from Purmamarca, the Salinas Grandes, massive salt flats, are an incredible, awe-inspiring sight; the dazzling white landscape seems to stretch to infinity. I was glad to have brought sunglasses because the glare is intense. However, even repeated slatherings of SPF 55 sunscreen did little to stave off sunburn.
En route to the salt flats, hairpin turns wind uphill to the Cuesta de Lipán, the highest point of the trip, where the views are simply breathtaking, quite literally. At an elevation of more than 13,000 feet, the air becomes noticeably thinner and altitude sickness is a real possibility. (Slower movements and deep breaths can help with the lightheadedness.) Another point of interest north of Purmamarca, the Pucará de Tilcara is a partially restored pre-Incan ruin that is accessible to the public and also features a small botanical garden of indigenous cactus species and a museum of local found artifacts.
From Tilcara, arrange for a trek across the base of the Quebrada de Huamahuaca with Caravana de Llamas (CaravanaDeLlamas.com). The animals are cute, though my pack animal companion was at times about as easy to guide as a wobbly-wheeled shopping cart. Perhaps she suspected I’d eaten that picante in San Salvador.
Remotely located, the Hotel Huacalera (HotelHuacalera.com) successfully blends its Spanish colonial-style exterior with modern, individually designed rooms and contemporary art displayed in the hallways and lobby. A spa, solarium, and restaurant featuring ingredients from their own dairy and vineyard make a stay well worth the detour