Sunday (Domingo) 23rd May, 2010
Day 436

Tilcara, Argentina
Tilcara, Argentina
Miles: 44,608
S 23.57601°
W 65.39991°

Last night was cold, well below freezing, the wind eventually dropped and we were treated to a bright moonlit night with star filled skies. Not that we saw much of it, we stayed inside staying warm.

We spent some time this morning trying to find a track onto the salt surface or salar. It took a few attempts before we found a track that I was prepared to follow and we did indeed get onto the surface of the salt. I was a little nervous so we did not venture far. I have seen vehicles bogged on salt pans in Australia and did not want to tempt fate - without recovery equipment and/or help from other vehicles. We would have no chance of extracting ourselves without help.

Later in the morning Ruta 40 met the paved, Ruta 52 running east- west, which actually crossed over the salt flats and passed by a salt mining operation. This is a bit of a tourist stop and had a horde of locals selling souvenirs, and another, some what safer opportunity, to drive the Tiger on the salt pan.

We now followed Ruta 52 east. Our Argentine map depicted the section of Ruta 52 from the salt flats to Ruta 9 (the section we would be following) as very twisty - it was not long before we were experiencing the reality of that. From a high point 4200 m the road dropped through a long series of switchbacks into the valley of the Rio Lipan. The drive down the valley to Purmamarca and the junction with Ruta 9 was simply fabulous. The surrounding hills were vividly colored by minerals in pinks, greens, yellows, reds - simply wonderful.

A short drive north along Ruta 9 brought us to Tilcara at 2700 m, a place we plan on spending a couple of days acclimatizing. The place was crowded with vehicles and people enjoying the fiesta weekend. The camp ground had a number of picnickers cooking barbecues, and a couple of men were practicing with their horses for Tuesdays parade.


In the town of Tilcara was El Jardin camping ground. Treed campground with tables, fire places, the most interesting portable barbecues, electricity, hot showers. It's right at the T intersection at the end of the street after crossing the bridge into town.