Discover things to do in Cachi, a small town of cobbled streets hidden among high mountains, and be amazed by the scenery along route 33, which connects it with Salta.
The beautiful town of Cachi is located in the middle of the Calchaquíes Valleys, at an altitude of 2280 metres above sea level, and is one of the places to visit around Salta. The magic of the place lies in the fact that every corner seems to be frozen in time. The narrow cobbled streets, the low whitewashed colonial style houses, the square and its church are the postcards to be photographed. All without forgetting the Nevado de Cachi, the impressive mountains of more than 6,000 metres above sea level at the foot of which the town is located and is the perfect backdrop for your visit.
Although it is somewhat remote from Salta and not easily accessible, the two routes through which it can be accessed have incredible scenery. One is route 33 from Salta via the Cuesta del Obispo and the other is the mythical route 40, which, whether you come from the north or the south, is well travelled by those who have heard of it.
🔝 Enter the following article if you are looking for an itinerary to visit Salta and Jujuy in 4, 7 or 10 days (with map).
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Map of things to do in Cacho and surroundings
Our trip to Cachi was a day trip from Salta, but we regret not spending at least one night there, not because there is too much to see but because the trip itself takes time and the town is to be seen at leisure and not in a hurry.
On the map we show the places to visit on the way to Cachi and what to see in Cachi itself.
🔝 Our visit to Cachi was part of a 3 month trip through central and northern Argentina which is summarised here: Matetrip Argentina.
1) 9 de Julio Square
The Plaza 9 de Julio is the heart of Cachi, where young and old gather to hang out. It has a very nice and well-kept children’s play area.
The first thing that catches the eye is that the square is enclosed by a low stone wall and the arches leading to the central part of the square stand out on two of its sides. It is surrounded by the church, the Pío Pablo Díaz museum, the tourist office, the municipality and restaurants. At the same time, there are several informative signs about the village and the area on the paths around the square. In the background, in the distance, the Nevado de Cachi can be seen.
2) San José de Cachi Church
The church is perhaps the most representative building to see in Cachi. Built during the 18th century, it still has adobe walls and a roof made of cardon wood. Its 3 bells in the belfry and the yellow-painted exterior façade is the most sought-after photograph in the village. Inside the church and the altarpiece is very simple.
3) Pío Pablo Díaz Museum, one of the places to visit in Cachi
Opposite the church is the Pío Pablo Díaz Museum, in a building distinguished by its numerous arches on the front. Inside are exhibited different indigenous pieces such as ceramics and textiles collected in the area by Pío Pablo Díaz and some of his collaborators.
4) Cachi Cemetery and North Viewpoint
Once in the vicinity and after climbing a gravel road and crossing the Las Trancas River, you reach the cemetery and the north viewpoint. From here you can see the village from above, the Nevado de Cachi (although when we went there it was not so snowy) and all the hills that surround the place.
5) The “La Esperanza” UFOport
Visiting the Ovnipuerto de Cachi was a whim of Flor who found it while diving in a map application that we use in our trips.
The UFOport is logically located in the highest part of the village called Fuerte Alto, a few kilometres from the Mirador Norte. There is nothing there but stones set in a circular shape, with several points, which together resemble a star. There is no further information there.
What we have been able to read in various newspapers that have dealt with the issue, is that it is about an idea of the Swiss Werner Jaislithat being right there in the evening has been witness to a flying object that passed very close to him and, illuminating him with a light, he telepathically sensed the message to perform a ufoport in the place he called “La Esperanza”.
6) Other things to do in Cachi
In one day we didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked if we had the time, but you should know that despite being a small town, it has a lot to see. In Cachi can also:
- Visiting a winery: it does not have the fame of its neighbour Cafayate, but it enjoys almost the same conditions of the Calchaquíes Valleys.
- El Tero Archaeological Park: it is located inside the town of Cachi and you can observe the foundations of the original constructions of the Diaguita Calchaquí people. There is a museum with pieces found on the site.
- De las Pailas ruins: to visit it you have to go into the snowy mountain of Cachi. It is 16 km away.
- Ruins of Puerta la Paya: it is located a few kilometres south of Cachi on Route 40.
7) Route 33 stops
To visit Cachi, we chose to drive from Salta by car along the Obispo slope, i.e. route 33. The whole route is spectacular between mountains and with viewpoints, there is a part of gravel road along the Quebrada del Escoipe and up to the slope, but it is not so many kilometres.
– La Cuesta del Obispo and Enchanted Valley
The Cuesta del Obispo is a 21 km stretch of route 33 that starts in Chicoana (1270 m.a.s.l.) and climbs up to the Piedra del Molino (3457 m.a.s.l.). Much of this stretch of road is gravel, so you have to drive very carefully, especially at night.
Although this route was completed in 1928, in the 17th century Monsignor Cortázar crossed it on a journey of several days and spent a night there. At that time the road was known as Cuesta de la Dormida del Obispo, now that name has been shortened.
The road winds up and around the Quebrada del Escoipe, also known as Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley), through which the river of the same name flows. The landscape has reddish and green tones and many cacti can be seen on the side of the road.
Before reaching the Piedra del Molino, there is a panoramic viewpoint from which you can see almost the entire climb. There is ample parking space, stalls selling handicrafts, cheese, chorizo and water.
– Piedra del Molino
After the panoramic viewpoint, you continue a few more kilometres along the Obispo slope until you reach the maximum altitude of 3457 metres above sea level. At the Piedra del Molino there is a small stone chapel dedicated to San Rafael, a grinding rock (which gives the site its name) and amazing views.
– Ojo del Condor viewpoint
Once you come down from the highest part of the road and before entering the Tin Tin straight, you will find the Ojo de Cóndor viewpoint, whose landscape full of cacti is lost in the horizon. A very nice and quiet place to stop and take some pictures.
– Tin Tin Straight
After the many curves of the Cuesta del Obispo, we come across the Tin Tin straight, a 19-kilometre-long old road already in use by the incas and where it is worth stopping to see a large number of cactus on either side of the road. Beware of the wind, which does not ask for permission.
– Los Cardones National Park
Along the route 33 that connects Salta with Cachi, there is a character that will accompany you all the time and remind you that you are in the northwest of Argentina. One character or hundreds of thousands of them: the cactus.
Near the end of the Cuesta del Obispo you will see an entrance to the park with a gravel road and if you continue a little further along the paved road to the Tin Tin straight you will be able to see a good part of the park.
Halfway along the Tin Tin straight there is a stop with a 200 metre long circular interpretative trail to learn more about this species that is so common in arid areas. The trail is called “Los Secretos del Cardonal” and you will find legends about their origin and information about how they live and survive in this hostile climate.
📸 Check here the tour to Cachi from Salta city and make a reservation. Includes: transfers and guide.
Practical information for travel to Cachi
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Where to stay in Cachi
Whether just metres from the square or further away to see the mountain scenery that surrounds the town, there are several alternatives for accommodation in Cachi. To recommend:
- Casa Pueblo Cachi: one block from the square. Excellent breakfast, rooms decorated with looms, run by the owners themselves.
- Hosteria ACA: excellent place in a big old house with park, playground, car park, swimming pool, restaurant and views of the city.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Cachi.
How to get to Cachi
The closest airport to Cachi is Salta airport, so if you are travelling from anywhere else in Argentina, this is the city you should fly to.
✈️ Search here for cheap flights to Salta.
Cachi is one of the most popular destinations on any trip to the northwest of Argentina, the NOA. You can travel from Salta along route 33, which we have done, or along route 40 from Cafayate, crossing the Quebrada de las Flechas. Also if you come from the north on Route 40 you will arrive in Cachi. Keep in mind that route 40 to travel to Cachi is a gravel road.
And if you come to Cachi in a UFO, well, you know, straight to “La Esperanza”.
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