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Tafí Del Valle

For centuries Tafí del Valle was an isolated village. A road finally arrived 1943. Since then, it has become a favorite Tucumano weekend retreat and Argentine vacation destination. This town is in a deep valley surrounded by crumpled hills. Its deep-green landscape is a stunning contrast to the desert beyond the ranges. Tourists relish in hiking and horseback riding through the countryside, visiting weaving and pottery workshops, and exploring archaeological sites.

Tafí del Valle has two main streets. Avenida Gobernador Critto, west off Ruta Provincial 307, passes by the bus station, through downtown and ends at Plaza Ángel Esteves. Before the park are the bank and tourism office. The second main drag is Avenida Presidente Perón, connecting downtown with Ruta Provincial 325. Both avenues are lined with restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops. Where Critto and Perón meet is a small, chalet-style kiosk where tourists stop to take a recuerdo photo of their Tafí vacation.

Humans began living in this sheltered dale over 10,000 years ago. Some historians say Tafí comes from Aymara and means “Place where the wind blows cold.” Another theory is it is from the Diaguita phrase Taktik-llakta, signifying “Village of a Splendid Pass.”

The Spaniards arrived in 1636, when the Leguizamo-Guevara family received the lands from the Crown. The Jesuits were granted a swath in 1716. The chapel (1718) and other buildings are now the Museo Histórico La Banda. Its basic museum displays indigenous funerary urns, religious art (some statues and paintings are from the Cuzqueño school), a Missal from 1730 and period furnishings. Mass is still celebrated in the church (Saturday 6 p.m.) (daily 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Av de los Jesuitas 400-block. Entry: adults $1.40, children to 12 years old $0.60). After the Jesuits’ expulsion (1767), the lands were divided among locals.

Five kilometers (3 mi) south of Tafí is Casa Duende, a private museum dedicated to the region’s myths and legends (daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Ruta Provincial, Km 58, Tel: 0381-156-408-500, E-mail:, URL: Entry: adults $1.40, children $0.30). Reserva Arqueológica La Bolsa, a 173-hectare (478-ac) pre-Hispanic site with ruins of circular homes, is another 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) south (Ruta Provincial 307, Km 73).

Tafí del Valle is known for its hiking and horseback riding into the surrounding hills. Cerro de la Cruz is the closest to town. On the way up to the great vistas, climbers can stop at Capilla San Cayetano (45 min-1 hr up). To the west of that is the waterfall Cascada Los Alisos (2.5-hr hike off Ruta Provincial 325). The greatest challenge is Cerro El Pelao (2,680 m / 8,793 ft) directly to the south. A footpath south of Tafí follows El Pelao’s east flank and Dique La Angostura’s west shore to Casas Viejas and El Mollar, a small village with interesting archaeological statues.

Other excursions can be made north on Ruta Provincial 307, the road to Amaicha. Guiados por la Pachamama is 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) uphill. This organic farm invites travelers to learn about farming using traditional indigenous methods. It grows herbs, makes jams and liqueurs, and raises llamas and other native animals (daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Ruta Provincial 307, Km 68, Tel: 0381-156-092-934, E-mail:, URL: Entry: adults $2.25, children $1.25, includes forty-minute guided tour; additional charge for English). Near this farm is La Quebradita, where the ridge has views of the valley and El Cristo statue (3 km / 1.9 mi, 4 hr). El Pinar de los Cievos is another panoramic viewpoint, another steep five (3 mi) up the hill.

Ruta Provincial 307 continues north, across puna to El Infiernillo (3,042 m / 9,980 ft). The highway then descends sharply to the inexpensive, indigenous village Amaicha del Valle and the Quilmes ruins set amid a cactus-strewn desert.

(Altitude: 2,014 m / 6,608 ft, Population: 4,028, Phone Code: 03867)


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