Today your ultimate destination is the agreeable town of Cafayate, centre of a thriving wine region. Arriving here is a pleasant way to reintegrate into the modern world.
Leaving the Puna behind, you’ll travel up to the last high altitude pass (4,000m), with views over the pumice field and flocks of vicuña – one of just a few sightings of animals on the trip, save for domesticated creatures in the villages. From here it's downhill for over 2km of elevation, descending through canyons and gorges. The temperature rises and the rugged scenery is speckled with giant cacti and framed by multi-coloured mineral-infused mountains. Pass through small communities and then, below 2,000m, vineyards will start to appear.
Visit the 18th century church at Hualfin, the first major wine-producing town in the valley. You may also have the chance to visit Quilmes pre-Columbian archaeological site, which tells the story of the expulsion by the Spanish of the Quilmes people and their enslavement in Buenos Aires. Some residences and temples have been reconstructed on this large site, located at the foot of steep cliffs.
Enter the Calchaquies Valleys and continue to Cafayate, passing some pretty villages with colonial-era houses. Upon arrival at your hotel in Cafayate, you’ll say goodbye to your driver/guide and trusty 4WD vehicle.