Just amazing: It feels like watching one of the seven (or was it eight?) wonders of this world. This canyon, with all its colours & shapes, is a landscape truly unique – even the Grand Canyon is, in my memory, dwarfed by this majestic view of “La Quebrada” in Argentina. 10 years ago, it has been declared a World Heritage site – and rightly so. Raúl, my local contact to the community of Ocumazo and part of the “Red Argentina de Turismo Rural Comunitario” (RATuRC), does not mind me emailing him only two days before my arrival. Asking, very spontaneously, if I could stay with him and his community in Ocumazo Valley. After a quick message exchange, everything is settled and I am waiting for him and his family to greet me upon my arrival at San Salvador de Jujuy bus station, in the very north of Argentina. A lovely way of travelling when going solo!
“Turismo Vivencial” in Ocumazo in the north of Argentina
You have to live, see and experience this. Not only visiting the cities of Argentina – Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, El Calafate, Mendoza, Salta: Those who really like travelling should take to the “hearts & homes” of the local people. Since “travelling with locals” is one of my favourite means of travelling, I am all the happier for the existence of the “Red Argentina de Turismo Rural Comunitario“, or RATuRC, a platform plus travel guide listing all rural, community-based forms of tourism in Argentina.
For two days, I get to eat, live and stay with Raúl, his family and his community in Ocumazo experiencing true country life. How agriculture is possible, for instance, on more than 2.700 metres of altitude. And you would not believe the variety of crops here !!! Peaches, apples, corn, beans, wheat, quinoa, (goat) cheese, bread: People here are “rich and happy”, it’s lovely being here, tasting fresh fruit off the trees and taking every day as it comes, marveling at the stars, the landscape, the blazing blue sky … ! Reception is only available around the next hill, the lookout point over the mighty Quebrada Canyon is three hours, 30 kilometres or 1.000 metres of elevation away (driving between 3 to 30 km/h over gravel and 4×4 roads …). Tourism is only starting to grow here, only few people have visited Ocumazo so far among them Argentinians, French, Spanish and Germans. And now, one Austrian 😉 .
As I fell off the horse while watching rock carvings in Ocumazo Valley
Dear readers, what a day! “Horse riding? Oh yes, this is going to be my fourth horse trek as part of my trip through South America … Of course I can do it. I look forward to it!” Something like this, I was telling Raúl and his caballero Hector about being happy to go horse-riding once more. And I do recommend it, yes – just have a look at the spectacular landscape you can experience this way.
Let me tell you like this: Sometimes, the travel bug hits you to the point you can’t seem to catch your breath. During the first seconds of my fall (unfortunately, my instinctive reaction was to let go as my horse stumbled in the river bed) – just before reaching our final destination, I only thought to myself, “well, that’s it, now.” Gasping for air, I got back up immediately as if to see whether I could still stand up alright. Well, I could manage to stand alright, but my left thigh had received a bad bruise as well as the lower shin. Oh dear. Those venturing out are sometimes well rewarded … From now on, I am rather hobbling through Argentina and Chile! Fortunately, nothing major happened and I have only got a few days left of travelling (or sadly?). Well. Seeing the rock carvings still serves as an amazing souvenir of my trip. And staying with the people of Ocumazo, “my families” for three days, is a memory not to be missed either!