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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ruta 40, Cachi - Payogasta - Poma …

Day 1107,
120 215 km since the beginning og the journey
Route: Cachi – Payogasta – Poma – veel 20 km põhja suunas – jälle tagasi - Payogasta – kaktuste park - El Carril – Salta (285 km)

In the morning the plan was clear – it was made several days ago already. Plan A. To drive to the mall town of San Antono De Los Cobres by 2 pm. The reason - at that time on March 1, there was going to begin the carnival. And then the next day - again down from the mountains to reach Salta on March 3 to see the Salta Carnival. In theory entirely possible because from Cachist to Cobrese was supposed to be directly 101 km and along the road - 144 km. To take off at ten in the morning, one should reach there around two o'clock. Or a little later.

For the road conditions are not completely ordinary, as the road will be, of course, the famous Ruta 40 again, and namely that part of it which has is the highest mountain pass - 4972 m high Abra del Acay. For a long time that has also belonged to the category "must visit - must see" In fact, of course, totally unscheduled Plan B came into use.

Plan B meant that if there was some kind of problem, then the priority was to reach Carnival of Salta by March 3, all other places could wait. The Salta Carnival is enough famous and enough big to arrange other issues accordingly.

Could start moving a little after 10 in the morning and the first part of the road northwards was a completely normal dusty gravel road. Even a couple of vehicles were met at the beginning.


Next, there are a few snow-covered mountain peaks next to the road.


The road here runs along a river-bed.


Then there is a sign - Puente del Diablo, Abra del Monumento National Acay by the road.

First I drove past but having covered about 100 meters - thought it over and made up my mind to find out about the place. Not to regret later for not taking time and therefore having missed interesting issues.

The distance to the object is about 350 meters along a side road and then you reach an open pace with an information board. And the story is sufficiently clear- that without a guide it is not allowed to climb down there and from January to March visiting is prohibited anyway.

But how do you leave having come already as far as that! And what about still looking a bit over the edge to have an idea what there is.

An unmarked footpath takes down to the canyon and that`s the only way.

The canyon is beautiful, of course. With steep slopes.

Some place looks like in case of falling down it is really problematic of getting up again. Makes one think it over. The instinct of self- preservation also reminds - probably nobody will come here before the end of March, so that's enough, maybe there are also the stalactites, but now is the time to climb back up. And drive on.

Next the road turned narrower and higher, and then by the road there was a relatively fresh sign with the information that the further road is closed because of the rock slides. It was no wonder at all considering the rain during the last weeks. The last two river-crossings were carried out without the necessity to take off the belt of the ventilator, but the bottom of the river was covered with loose stones, and there was also no desire to get stuck there.

It was already half past one, 74 km to Cobres and half of this distance in the mountains, and Abra de Acay was 1400 meters higher from the present place.

So nothing to do, a bit dull to drive 65 kilometers back along the same route, but those warnings about rock slides surely have meanings. The way back passes quicker, there's no need to stop so often, the gravel road will eventually come to an end, and then it goes back through the Cacti Park.

The sky is blue, but in front the fog or clouds look like a gray wall. So much of the sunny day. The fog is just where the hills begin.

Good that it is not this kind of fog that you can see only a few meters ahead.

Then the asphalt road ends and descending from 3300 meters back to 1200 meters is waiting ahead. GPS offers a good picture of the shape of the bends, and how long they last. Makes no sense to talk about the speed, the first gear is perfectly fit to ride down the hill.

Briefly remember to take some pictures, but in general, most of the attention goes to the road, because of the large trucks moving there. After the long descent the fog gets sparser and the thin rain lasts a few tens of minutes. By eight past seven in the evening I have reached Salta. The main thing is - to see the Carnival.

01/03/2014 GPS trail

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