The drive from Salta to Cafayate in Argentina was like traveling on another planet for me. All you see is a constant contradiction of what you would expect. The dry desert like air and rugged landscape totally exposed to the blazing sun, spattered with succulent plants and trees? I felt hypnotized as we drove through Quebrada De Las Conchas, the wind worn mountain range on Route 68 from Salta to Cafayate.
The name itself means Gorge of the Shells which prompts me to think of white sand beaches and hear the sway of the ocean. That in no way describes the scene as you drive through stacked red rock formations unexpectedly spotted with lush green cacti. No ocean in sight here.
Unless you consider the aquifer that is far beneath the parched weather beaten atmosphere. This oasis under the earth is what punctuates this sun dried rusty landscape with shocks of lush green growth, a stunning contrast.
The highway winds through the craggy hills preparing to deliver The Frog (El Sapo), The Friar (El Fraile) and The Obelisk (El Obeslic). All rock formations carved out by the weather to create natural attractions. First we need to pass Garganta Del Diablo or The Devils Throat. The name evokes feelings of fear and anticipation and let me tell you this devil did not disappoint!
Inside the crevice the rock walls were close and shot high into the sky. Moving further inside toward the back of the throat the layers of rock curve and arch.
Route 68 is to date my favorite road trip. Along her lonely highway nature shines like I have never seen or experienced before. What struck me on this day trip to Cafayate was the metamorphosis in the weather in just a couple of hundred kilometers. Dry desert to acres of delicious vineyards, parched mountains dotted with plump cactus and green foliage. The effects on this trip were spellbinding. I can’t wait to travel this stretch road again.