In Argentina’s arid and mountainous Northwest there are two striking roads. One is a nearly 20km straight road that follows an ancient Inca route near Cachí and is now part of Route 33. Tin-Tin is named after a nearby river and mountain (nothing to do with the Belgian detective). The road is surrounded by high Andes mountains and crosses the high plains through the Los Cardones National park. The tall Cardones candelabra cacti appear to watch like sentinels in their hundreds and thousands. These strange plants grow perfectly spaced over the wide valley. There is not much wildlife but guanacos (a kind of wild llama) can be seen grazing among the cacti. It is a wonder how the Incas created such a perfect straight line and some have suggested extra terrestrials visited the area and still do.
The Cuesta del Obispo by contrast is a very winding unpaved road that snakes down from Piedra de Molino pass at 3,348m down into the valley of the Escoipe river. This is truly one of the great drives of the World but not for the faint-hearted. With more hairpin bends than any road you can imagine. It is named after a Bishop Cortázar who had to spend a awestruck night here in 1622. There are great views of Cachí mountain and the Cafayate Gorge and with a bit of luck a condor or two.
Both roads are on the Salta – Cafayate circuit and feature in our tour The route is also ideal for a self drive tour of 2-3 days or part of a longer trip to the high Andean region of Salta.