Horses, Rafting, Steak and Wine... Hello Argentina

Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
Trip End Aug 11, 2012

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Where I stayed
Ferienhaus Hostel, Salta
Salta Rafting Campsite

Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hello all from country number three, Argentina. We've not been here very long and already we've been horse riding, rafting, zip lining and I've had the best steak I've ever eaten. We likey Argentina!

Leaving Bolivia involved a couple of hours of yet more dirt track roads until finally we reached the boarder. The crossing was slow and uneventful and once into our new country the roads were the first highlight... tarmac!!
After an hour or so driving we were told that we had just crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and shortly after we reached our lunch stop, which was marked by a giant stone llama. It wasn't an intentional stopping point, but how can you ignore a thirty foot llama? The llama was actually the entrance to an awesome pottery and souvenir shop where Alex couldn't help herself and picked up a bracelet. I was tempted by the stone pint mugs but held off after considering the weight implications. Dull I know!

We arrived in Salta late afternoon and split off into our dorms. I´m in a six bed dorm with Alex and the girls. The boy-girl ration was a bit off but it was fine and just meant I had to go find something else to do or sit facing the wall when they needed to change. We´re all good enough friends now that they don´t mind sharing with a boy.
For our first night in Salta we had a brief tour around the city and went for dinner at a beautiful Argentinian restaurant. The city was very modern and we felt like we could have been anywhere back in Europe. Both the city and the restaurant were such a contrast to the place we'd been on our last night in Bolivia. Unfortunately though I was very sure that our meal wasn't going to cost £1.50 anymore.
When in Argentina I am fully aware that one is to try the steak, so for dinner me, Lachi and Amy shared a parrilla, which is basically a mixed grill, Argentina style. It came on a hot plate, with hot charcoal underneath and was piled high with different cuts of steaks, sausages, black pudding and a cut of offal. I tried the offal but wasn't keen, so I just ate the rest, which was stunning! I ate far too much. Monday night was also Lachi´s birthday and so after dinner Claire and Dave took us on a long walk across town to the area with all the bars. Eventually we found a place and had a couple of beers to get us in the mood for a little more karaoke. Alex and Ali sang Journey - Don´t Stop Believing, whilst Jill provided the backing dance (she had lost her voice). Lachi then sang a few properly before me and him sang a beautiful rendition of Land Down Under.

On Tuesday morning we set out to the Sayta Ranch for a spot of horse riding. Dave the driver had been raving about this place so we all had high expectations, and it didn't disappoint. On arrival we were greeted and had a good hearty breakfast where we tried dulcé leche for the first time. This is a lot like caramel and very sickly (Rachel, you'd love it). After breaky we were kitted up and introduced to our horses. I have never ridden a horse before and so had no idea what to expect. Thankfully though they were fantastically trained and probably used to idiots jumping on them and thinking they're John Wayne (not that I did of course). Still, I seemed to pick it up pretty quickly and was soon walking and even trotting off up the paths. Alex of course had done it before and so jumped on and looked very at home with style and grace. I'm pretty sure my confidence was more due to the skill of the horse, but I did get praise when we got back for how quickly I picked it up, so I couldn't have been that bad.
The tour on the horses lasted around three hours and the scenery we passed through was beautiful, with mountains on one side and fields and trees on the other. At one point we stopped and were allowed to try cantering. We did two runs with the guide along side us on the first and then on our own for the second. I focused all my effort on holding onto the saddle as my horse did the hard part, but it seemed very quick and was awesome fun. By the end of the tour I had decided that I like horse riding, but we'll see whether I do it again or not.

I thoroughly enjoyed the horse riding, but what came next was truly my favorite part of the day. Once back at the ranch we sat out in the garden and we supplied with some beautiful red wine. We sat here and had a glass or so whilst building up an appetite with the smells of the BBQ drifting over. Finally though we were called to the table and presented with a stunning spread of food, and that was just the side dishes. There was roasted pumpkin, salad, herbie aubergine, potatoes, sweet potato, corn, and plenty more. These were delicious in the their own right, but then came the good stuff. First there were some very meaty sausages and black pudding and these we followed by huge cuts of perfectly cooked fillet steak. Seriously, they were amazing. And what´s more, it just kept on coming, I think I had at least four steaks. Whilst all this was going on we realised that the wine kept on flowing too, and no one ever saw their glass empty before it was topped up again. We were all very happy customers. I know that I´m waxing lyrical about this place, but it is definitely up there as one of my highlights of our trip so far. Needless to say, everyone was reluctant to leave Sayta Ranch, but I´m pretty sure everyone did with a big red wine grin on their faces.

Wednesday morning everybody woke up a little subdued, but nevertheless we were up and out on Jack and heading to the Salta Rafting resort for a day of adrenaline filled fun. This should shake the hangovers. The drive to the resort passed along Cabra Corall reservoir, which produced some stunning scenery. Shortly after arriving at Salta Rafting we were presented with some very fetching attire. The sleeveless wetsuits were more than flattering and the fleeces, orange jackets and bright yellow helmets finished the look off perfectly. Nobody cared though as we all looked a daft as each other. Our group was split into two boats of six and once on the water it became apparent that the aim of the morning was to see who could soak the other boat more. Also in in boat crew was a buoyancy aid in the shape of a golden retriever. These dogs were extremely cute and were there to jump in after you if you fell in. They had also been trained to stand in the middle of the boat and shake themselves on command whenever they were soaking. Very funny! The rafting took around an hour and a half and included six or seven rapids of categories three and four. Before the first though we were taught the usual safety drills as we drifted down he quiet start of the river. Our boat leader also used this time to point out some of the wildlife, rock formations and some fossilised dinosaur footprints. No idea what type of dino they were from but they were definitely there and pretty cool to see. Along the route we also go a glimpse of some more condors, but these were high up on the cliff faces, but still impressive. The rapids themselves were brilliant fun and everyone got soaked as the waves came over the sides, the front and from everywhere else. Nobody fell in though and so when we were out of the rapids we were told to jump in ourselves so we could float down stream for 5 minutes and swim back to the bank. Claire wasn´t so keen and so i gave her a helping hand into the water. I´m sure she would have been grateful afterwards though as it was really good fun and very relaxing just bobbing along.
Once back on dry land we were herded onto a bus, given coffee, hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits and driven back to base for a BBQ lunch. Unfortunately the BBQ wasn´t as good as yesterday´s, but i still managed to eat far too much red meat. Does anyone know how to look out for symptoms of gout?

After lunch there wasn´t much time to relax before getting kitted up for the canopy zip-lining. Directly above the campsite were four long zip lines that stretched from one side of the valley to the other. The final line finished about 50 yards from our tents, but first we had a 20 minutes hike up the side of the valley to reach the starting point. The harnesses are fitted with a wheel the supports you on the wires from your stomach area, so that when you´re hanging you´re in a sitting position. Your left or right arm then grips the wire (we had reinforced gloves) to keep you going straight and once you were sat in position they gave you a push and off you went. There were a few nervous faces in the group but no screams as they were pushed off the edge, not even from me. As we flew down the wire we seemed to pick up quite a bit of speed and the views below and to the sides were amazing. I went last out of the group so it was good fun coming back into camp and flying right over people below. Excellent way to spend an afternoon.

After all the excitement in the day, the evening was pretty chilled out. Most people sat about reading or chatting, but a few of us got together a game of touch rugby with a very flat American football. It did the job of tiring us out though. The truck dinner was pretty simple and the rest of the evening involved a few beers and a camp fire, perfect!
Tomorrow we are off to Cafayate, which apparently has some incredible vineyards and wines to view and taste... oh go on then!

Hope you´re all well and enjoying the blogs. More updates coming soon.

Missing you all,
Love us two
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Mum and Dad H on

Cantering without a riding hat!!!! Looks like you have been having an amazing time. One of the most common syptoms of gout is the ability to stand on stage and sing very poorly without realising that you are!!!
Missing you lots,take care and have a safe flight to New Zealand.
Much love Mum and Dad xxx

Alex Mc on

All sounding good guys, as ever I'm extremely jealous!! Glad you've managed to get some pictures up here as the views look stunning! The horse riding looked great, the rafting even better, but the steak and wine sounds amazing!!! ha! Glad to hear you're both keeping well :) xx

Mum n Dad K on

Your adventures just seem to get better and better. (Not that i would do some of them!) It's lovely seeing what you've been up to, the photos are great, well worth the wait.
Have a good journey onwards. Take care. All our love Mum n Dad xxxxx

Grandma & Grandad on

On a very dull day, the 4th in succession, you have brightened ou day. Keep the photos coming. Hope New Zealand is as exciting as South America had been. Love as always.xx

Kim & Mo on

Ok, so when do you start the exciting stuff??????

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