First 24 hours: Salta, Ar­gentina

The An­dean high­lands are home to huge peaks, sweep­ing Puna and some fine food, but it’s the colo­nial city of Salta that will leave you truly breath­less, says Daniel Neil­son

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents - Be­fore you ar­rive

It’s not just the moun­tains of the An­des that take your breath away – ex­plore colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture and sweep­ing Puna in Ar­gentina’s hip north-west

‘ Salta la Linda’ (‘Salta the Beau­ti­ful’) is the charm­ing and en­tirely ac­cu­rate so­bri­quet given to this charis­matic city in north-west­ern Ar­gentina. The colo­nial buildings around its size­able cen­tral plaza set the scene for one of the most in­ter­est­ing and, yes, joy­fully aes­thetic cities in Ar­gentina.

De­spite its some­what An­dalucían ap­pear­ance, Salta is the heart of An­dean Ar­gentina, a re­gion char­ac­terised by its moun­tain cul­ture, which has more in com­mon with Bo­livia or Peru than cos­mopoli­tan Buenos Aires. This spirit is summed up in its food, in par­tic­u­lar a hearty stew called locro, typ­i­cally made with meat, corn and An­dean pota­toes, found through­out this re­gion.

But it is per­haps mu­sic that de­fines Salta more than any other as­pect, and it is heard ev­ery­where. A visit to a peña, an evening of mu­sic, food and wine, is an es­sen­tial part of any visit. Brush up on your Sal­teña folk­lore by search­ing out tracks by groups such as Los Chalchaleros, Los Nocheros and ‘Chango’ Spa­siuk be­fore­hand.

Be sure to also bag a win­dow seat when fly­ing in. From the air, you’ll be able to see the 50 shades of red that paint the An­dean foothills that sur­round Salta. Be­yond – out of the left-hand-side of the plane, look­ing west – you’ll be able to view the 6,000m-high snow-capped peaks of the An­des proper, and the arid Puna, the beau­ti­fully re­mote, high-al­ti­tude plateau that rises up to meet them.

At the air­port

Martín Miguel de Güemes In­ter­na­tional Air­port is about 8km south-west of the city. All flights from Europe and the USA go via Buenos Aires, (BA) which is a two-hour flight away. Note that most do­mes­tic con­nec­tions ar­rive via the cap­i­tal’s Aeropar­que Jorge New­bery, just over 40km from BA’S main Min­istro Pis­tarini In­ter­na­tional Air­port (known as Ezeiza), so fac­tor in a cou­ple of hours’ tran­sit. Salta’s air­port is small, so de­lays and large queues are rare, and there are plenty of ATMS.

Get­ting into town

If tak­ing a taxi to the city cen­tre (about ARS140/£6), book one from a kiosk at the air­port rather than hail one from out­side. Trans­fer Salta (trans­fer­salta.com; in Span­ish) has a shut­tle ser­vice ARS97 (£4), while the Corre­dor 8A bus goes from out­side the air­port (stops 108/109); ARS12.50/50P.

Other ways to ar­rive

Buses in Ar­gentina are ex­cel­lent. There is an ex­ten­sive net­work across the coun­try, and ser­vices on board are very good, of­ten of­fer­ing a full meal with wine, a night­cap, a tablet with en­ter­tain­ment on it and, if you’re lucky, bingo. A full cama (bed) or cama ejec­u­tivo (ex­ec­u­tive bed) ser­vice has al­most hor­i­zon­tal beds; book with Flech­abus (flech­abus.com.ar; in Span­ish).

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