We left Salta behind and started to head South but after only a few miles we turned West to head up into the mountains and onto the legendary Ruta 40. Ruta 40 is an amazing road that runs the whole length of Argentina and one we will be seeing a lot of. When we turned onto it the first kilometre marker we saw was around 4500km to the end of the road.
The road itself is a mixture of pavement and dirt of various degrees of quality. The first section that we hit was dirt but in relatively good shape apart from some muddy patches and some relatively deep sand. We didn’t have any problems with this in our truck but according to a biker friend it’s not so much fun on a motorbike.
The route to Cachi climbs a mountain pass – where we drove past competitors in a mountain bike race up the hill, they all looked absolutely knackered and definitely not enjoying themselves. After this you pass through Parque National Los Cardones, an upland desert covered with thousands of giant cacti.
Cachi is a sleepy little oasis village with a surprisingly large municipal campsite. We spent an enjoyable day here relaxing and hanging out in the shaded town square watching the world go by and enjoying the local wine.
In fact it’s fair to say that this is where we started our love affair with Argentinian wine, buying both a red and white at the local vinoteca, to enjoy later with our barbequed steak dinner. It’s great to have good wine again after travelling for so long in countries where decent wine is either very difficult to come by or very pricey.
While in Cachi we met another German overlanding couple called Jens and Kristina, who’ve got a big truck like ours. Jens is a carpenter and built the truck himself.