Continued from: Birding Calchaqui valleys in northern Argentina

We began our next leg with our final destination the mountain town of Cachi.  Not far from Cafayete the road changed to a dirt road with lots of dust and almost no vehicles.  Soon we picked up on the side of the road a female Ultramarine Grosebeak and what appear to be a juvenile Lesser Seed-Finch.

Ultramarine Grosbeak Female_007816Ultramarine Grosebeak Female

Lesser Seed Finch JuvenileLesser Seed-Finch

Tiny Villages: AngastacoSmall Angastaco Village

The desert ecosystem continued as we drove for hours through these dry valleys surrounded by colorful mountains far and near.   We came across a pair of Cliff Flycatchers and also the Rufous Hornero which would be the last bird for this day.

Cliff FlycatcherCliff Flycatcher

Rufous HorneroRufous Hornero

Colorfull Calchaqui ValleyColorful Mountains

This desert valleys and eroded mountains were crisscrossed by dry rivers which must fill up during the rainy season when there is very little vegetation to absorb the water.  We crossed this supper long bridge that went over the Calchaqui River depression but later we found no more bridges and the roads just crossed the dry rivers and some areas became a bit difficult to cross with our compact car.

Calcahqui River BridgeCalchaqui River

River-bed Crossing

Dry River-bed Crossing

We reached a beautiful ridge where the erosion had done so much damage that the peaks and valleys pointed like arrows to the sky, hence the name “Quebrada de Las Flechas” which means the Arrows Mountain Range.

Quebrada de Las FlechasQuebrada de Las Flechas

The afternoon was upon us and we started to realize that my time estimates for this stretch were wrong. We continued pushing a bit faster as the sun started to set giving amazing contrasting colors which added to the beauty and mystery of this valley.

Calchaqui Valley sunset colors

Sunset Colors in Calchaqui Valleys

Unfortunately we got a flat and this raised the stress since there was no traffic and we still had a few hours to reach our final destination for the night. Fortunately we did not have any more flats and reached the town of Cachi at 9:45 pm just in time to drop off the flat tire at a local shop and then go for dinner at a local restaurant.  Must try the tasty famous Empadas.

Typical-EmpanadasTypical Empanadas from the region

We arrived at our hotel at 10:45 pm and were pleasantly surprised by the excellent attention and very comfortable rooms at a reasonable price. After a luxurious bath in the in-room jacuzzi we slept very comfortably.  Morning arrived with clear skies and a wonderful breakfast which was served with a excellent view of the Cachi Mountains.


Breakfast with the Cachi Mountains in the background

We parted our hotel Sala de Payagasta with good memories and headed to pick-up our spare tire in town.

Sala de PayogastaSala de Payogasta

The day ahead was filled with new expectations as we would drive across the high mountain valleys and drop to lower altitudes via the famous Cuesta del Obispo.

Continued: Birding Cuesta del Obispo and Los Cardones National Park

Written by Renato
Renato was born in Quito, Ecuador and quickly flew to the USA to learn all about engineering and climbing company ladders. After getting his engineering degree from the University of Minnesota he worked in the Standard-American-Rat-Race-Company for fifteen years. After climbing the ladder to where he could no longer see the ground, he decided to jump off the ladder and migrate south like all normal birds do. To his surprise home did not look like it did when he left as a young fledgling; the towns were bigger, most of his friends had nests of their own, and the countryside was changed. Shocked by all the change he searched for a new life and a new wife. He stumbled across a vivacious young chick who would accompany him inside a volcanic crater to set up a love nest. So, after eight years of nesting inside the crater a new love for nature and birds has sprung a career in environmental conservation and birding tours. Finally this bird has come home to roost!