Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Friday, March 28, 2014


Days 1122 - 1123,
03/16/2014 - 03/17/2014,
120,746 km since the beginning of the journey,
Route: Humahuaca - Coctaca - Iturbe - Iruya - Iturbe - Casillas - Iturbe - Tres Cruces - Abra Pampa ( 279 km)

The small town of Iruya lost between the mountains.
But let`s start from the beginning. The visiting of Coctaca began quite promisingly, the GPS showed that the corresponding "Coctaca Ruins" were totally there, and the road taking up to that place was at the beginning almost in perfect condition.


And by the first major road splits there was even a signpost. But further - no more signposts. So, after 10 more kilometers it seemed that the right place should be somewhere close, in about a few kilometers away, but only rocky trails took to the right direction.

This means that in the meantime, these tracks were not taking to the quite right direction, but in the long run one could get still closer. So you turn and drive and then drive back as well but still in the long you make some progress.


And then the path suddenly turns over into a full-size football square.

And then the route reaches the central square. The Central Square is usually recognized by a white church. There is nobody in sight, complete silence. Only cacti further on.

And when just once to turn to the righ, and having passed a couple of houses to the left again, then the path - that takes out of the town- is found. Simple.

Another half- mile, and then the right place should be just next to the road. And so here it is. The earlier information described it as a very big place, and practically had not been restored. About 500 years ago these stone walls had been rectangular walls made of stones and the plants that grew between the them didn`t freeze at night thanks to the fact that they absorbed solar heat in the daytime.

Some of the walls were higher, some lower, but all had survived for more than five centuries. Ok, some of them perhaps not so well, but some still have perfectly vertical walls.



View southwards at the Humahuaca valley. The way back is easier. You drive essentially along the same road and in some places shorten the route too little. Still, bare land and not much possibility to get lost.

I had drawn a circle on the map around Iruya a long time ago already. I think a year ago, or maybe even earlier. Do not even remember where I got the first information from. That there is such an interesting beautiful village between the mountains, and 200 different varieties of Andean potatoes are being grown there. Majority of the information was from Google of course but in a camping at Salta I managed to talk to a person who himself had visited the place.

 The information about the place was different. Like – the road is ok and the road is not ok. And on dry season and in case the road is passable – there is a bus to Iruya. And the fact that there are a couple of river-crossings waiting ahead. And the river is not very deep, just drive fast through – everybody does so! The map confirmed that there on the road is indeed a river.

The reality was simpler, the riverbed existed indeed - but practically there was no water at all. Just wiped the dust off from the tires.

And yet one thing was sure there is only one road taking to Iruya and back. Everybody agreed to that issue.


The highest place, located at an altitude of 4000 m - Abra del Condor.

And then downwards again, 19 kilometers. Wideness.



The first look at Iruya, that's exactly like on the postcards. A small village between high mountains.

Iruya church "La Iglesia de San Roque y Nuestra Sra del Rosario" was probably built in 1753. The original roof was made of hay but the current roof is from 1926, and the floor of the church from the year of 1943.


The streets are steep, and this car afar is not moving, but it is it is just parked in the middle of the road of the old town. Nobody is disturbed because of that, nobody is trying to pass it as the road ends in about 20-30 meters. And this kind of situation can be met in several places. Your need to park somewhere is accepted.

Above the street gets increasingly steeper and narrower, and finally there is only a meter wide footpath. Getting higher one reaches the cell towers and next to them there is a viewing platform. Offers a good overview of the town.



Further on there is another unique natural formation in the middle of the riverbed.

On the way back.


Sunset in the Andes.

This is an overnight place in a square between sale stands and railway station in Iturbe. Before in the village looking for something to eat, I asked where I could spend the night, and the answer was that anywhere I liked, even right there in front of the kiosk.

The kiosk was a room of about 2x3 meter, where one could buy the either cabbage, biscuits or different drinks, but if one wished a proper “sandwich”- it was prepared. The "sandwich" was half of a white bread and between it - an Argentina-like huge piece of meat, plus tomato and onion. The best place for sleeping seemed to be behind the sale counter. More peaceful. Meaning that in the morning you open the back door of the car and can make coffee peacefully without people walking around.

Iturbe former railway station.

In the morning I made an attempt to visit another 4500 meter high mountain pass named "Abra de la Cruz's", but having covered 35 kilometers it turned out that the road was closed and the only option was to go back along the same road.


And meanwhile, there were countless cattle gates on the path and all of them closed. So you stop, come out of the car, open the gates, go back to the bus, drive 10 meters, come out of the car, watching that the bus will not start moving itself to some direction, go to the gate, close the gate, check that the gate is properly closed, go to the bus and drive up to the next gate. And so on and on. There are not any llama in sight, only a few farms next to the road.

When driving back I gave a lift to a local who was surprised to see a car with an Estonian number plate and somebody here driving voluntarily back and forth at all. I could take him and his horticultural products to Iturbe. His destination was Jujuy but the distance -160 km was too far and besides I had made my plan to move to another direction.

Northwards, towards Abra Pampa the road is decent and dust-free again.


Before Abra Pampa there is another noteworthy intersection. Both of these roads are only of local importance, besides tourism.

 In Abra Pampa I learn at the gas station, that there is no diesel today and that I should come back tomorrow, "Mañana." If tomorrow, then tomorrow. Then I managed to find wifi to find out what other issues of interest could be found in this region.

GPS trail 16-17 märts.2014


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