The landscape of northern Argentina along Route 40 and the Inca ruins of Quilmes

April 18th, 2016 

Travel in northwestern Argentina along the route 40, among beautiful landscapes offered by Quebradas (narrow valleys between two mountain ranges), like Quebrada of Las Flechas and Quebrada of Las Conchas, before visiting the Inca ruins of the old settlement of Quilmes.

Ruta 40
The Quebrada of Las Flechas (of the arrows) is a sort of split between two parallel mountain ranges, where the rock layers that make up the mountain walls are inclined towards the sky, resembling arrows.
The Quebrada of Las Flechas is located south of Salta, near Cafayate. During trips to Puna de Atacama, this quebrada represents a very nice stop to have a rest and enjoy the beautiful landscape.
The arid, almost deserted environment of this region of Argentina, at the foot of the Andes, is the ideal habitat for small cacti living on sandy soil.
Very spiny cacti taking advantage of some shade offered by a bush.
Quebrada of the arrows Quebrada de las Flechas
Photos of Quebrada de Las Flechas, where the rocky layers look like arrows toward the sky.
Lobivia Lobivia cactus
More miniature cacti probably belonging to Lobivia genus.
Route 40
Ruta 40 Argentina
More pictures of Quebrada de Las Flechas and the surrounding landscape. The road that goes through this paradise of geology is the famous Ruta 40, an important communication route that extends for over 5000 kilometres, along much of Argentina.
Gymnocalycium Gymnocalycium in Argentina
A cactus probably belonging to genus Gymnocalycium (perhaps a Gymnocalycium spegazzinii), showing small, almost ripe fruits on the top. If you want see cacti during their flowering time, you should plan a trip to Argentina at the beginning of the rainy station, which is usually October.
San Carlos Borromeo church
I visit the church of San Carlos Borromeo, in the homonymous village...
Church in Cafayate
Cafayate Souvenir shop in Cafayate
...before arriving at Cafayate with its church (showing the traditional colonial architecture) and the typical white painted low buildings.
A few kilometres away from Cafayate, a trip to the Quebrada de Las Conchas should not be missed: a picturesque place where rocks of an intense red colour have been shaped by water and wind.
Window rock
In the Quebrada de Las Conchas the rocks have such special shapes, which are often called by name. This in the center this photo, you can see the Window Rock.
Quebrada Las Conchas Northern Argentina landscape
Quebrada Las Conchas
A short walk through the Quebrada de Las Conchas reveals a surreal landscape made of rock formations with an intense red colour.
Penguin rock
The Penguin rock.
Roads in Argentina
Montagne colorate
North-western Argentina
The spectacular views you can see along the main road connecting Salta to Cafayate, in the northwest of Argentina.
The Amphitheatre cave comes out as a big split on the mountain side.

The interior of the Amphitheatre cave, so called because it is used for concerts and other special events, thanks to the acoustics produced by the walls.
Amphitheater cave
Not far from Cafayate, in the province of Tucuman, the archaeological site of Quilmes is definitely a must-see place, housing an ancient Inca settlement.
Quilmes (Tucuman)

The archaeological site of Quilmes stands at the foot of a mountain and houses ultra-secular cacti that may even have seen the bloody battles between Incas and conquistadores.
Quilmes archeological site
Photo of what remains of the Quilmes houses: in fact, the archaeologists agree that the buildings consisted merely of low perimeter walls, while the roof was made of animal skins or straw covering only the area used to sleep.
Quilmes ruins Quilmes (Argentina)
Photos of the ruins of Quilmes in northwestern Argentina.
Quilmes valley
From the top of Quilmes, at the point where the fortresses stood, you can admire a panorama of the immense valley below.
Community mortar Mortar
Walking through the ruins of Quilmes, it's not uncommon to come across old tools such as the "community mortar" (left photo) or the single mortar on the right photo.
Cactus wood
A cactus skeleton. Cactus wood was one of the main building materials.
Cactus skeleton

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