My dear Lola,
When something is not working out as expected, it is just because you’re doing something wrong. So after almost a month traveling around Argentina, I decided to spend more than 3 nights in a row in the same city.
That is, I started having this feeling of being doing, for a few days, all what I just wanted to avoid when I started the trip; to become a tourist rather than a traveller. So, in order to enjoy both the smallest daily pleasures and Argentina’s traditional life, I began searching for any volunteer position that would let me stop to write you and enjoy the Argentinian culture and its “asados” as it deserves.
Finally, Tilcara, Antigua Tilcara hostel and Bella Flor restaurant ended up being the solution.
With almost more tourist accommodation than inhabitants, Tilcara is one of Calchaquí valley most tourist towns. And there, right there, the Antigua Tilcara Hotel & Hostel and the restaurant Bella Flor are located, where I will settled for the next 15 days and will be helping in the bar.
A hostel and a restaurant focused on small details and the closeness to the customer. The hotel has only 10 rooms and a 8 beds dormitory that serves as the unique hostel room. A communal kitchen and a spectacular continental homemade breakfast make any traveller delight.
The hostel also offers volunteer positions (subject to availability) announced both in workaway for those wishing to make a stop along the way in the north of the country.
The restaurant, where I’ll be volunteering, is less than 200 meters from one of Tilcara’s main attractions; the city’s Pucará. It offers a wide range of local products cooked for all requests and needs; for the carnivores ones, vegetarians or even the newly discovered; vegans.
Find out more on: The ultimate guide to travel for free
Leaving the work aside, with unpaved streets, adobe houses chaotically ordered and the traditional Easter procession as the main attraction, which gathers more than 3,000 people each year, Tilcara is presented as the perfect place to settle and to discover the Quebrada de Humahuaca villages that surround it; Iruya, Purmamarca, Humahuaca, etc.. Located a few kilometres from the town.
Its thousand of trails leading to places as spectacular as the “Garganta del Diablo”, the “Cerro de la cruz” (where you can enjoy a magnificent sunset from) or the little path between colourful mountains heading to Huichaira’s little town, where a small museum photography is hidden.
Walking path to Huichaira’s little town
The Devil’s throat (La garganta del diablo)
The trail, about 2 hours walk, is characterized for the lack of shadow and for its steep climb of about 5 km in length. So when hiking it do not forget to bring plenty of water and get protected from the sun.
On arrival, a spectacular canyon and a small icy water waterfall welcome the visitors after a long walk. Moreover, the wonderful views of the gorge obtained along the way can not be ignored, especially on the way back down.
The Cross hill (Cerro de la cruz)
A small 15-20 minutes climb from where to enjoy the best views of Tilcara, Pucará and part of the Quebrada de Humahuaca to Maimará, a nearby town where to find the “painter’s palette”, another geological formation, such as “The Hornocal“, although in smaller proportions.
The archaeological site of “el Pucará, considered a National Historic Monument, is a defence fortress built by the Tilcaras, an ancient indigenous tribe that named the town. Nowadays, it is fully restored, on the ancient original remains, following old texts and footprints found on the ground.
While some claim the restoration has not followed the organization and design of the antique buildings faithfully, it is definitely a well worth a visit when visiting Tilcara to learn more about the northern Argentina history.
Souvenir’s shop at the entrance :)
Undoubtedly, Tilcara becomes a perfect place to stop and relax for a few days before continuing the journey to the south of Argentina. Don’t you think?