Easy start to the day, up late with beautiful sunshine but a cool breeze blowing as we are still at 2700 metres. Leisurely breakfast and then 4 hours to relax on the outdoor veranda while I caught up the blog and V read. Have loved the trip and the landscapes but it was nice just to chill for a brief moment.
Loaded Boobi’s truck for the last time for our run to Salta airport. We have some climbs today as we work our way up and out of the Calchaquí Valley and cross over the pass into the Lerma Valley where we started our trip. Yesterday’s climb to our highest mountain pass was hair-raising, an unpaved road with no guard rail and supposedly wide enough for two cars to pass. We always seemed to be on the outside lane no matter how the mountain road turned so on the rare occasions when we did meet another car coming the other way, we inched past each other, with me in the passenger seat looking straight down to the valley floor hundreds of metres below and only inches away from our outside wheels. The worst moments came when we drove up the inclined, zigzagging roadway to an approaching corner and our truck was pointed up so that through the windscreen I could see only sky ahead and a rock wall to our left around which another car might be coming, while we were perched on the outer edge of the turn. Very scary and it took all my powers of concentration to keep us on the road while Boobi pointed out the sights. Today promises more of the same.
When I could wrestle my heart out of my mouth and push it back into my chest where it belonged, we saw some spectacular views and reached the pass at 5200 metres, our highest yet. Worked our way down the other side and the vegetation gradually began to change as we got lower, from alpine grasslands to, eventually, semi-tropical rain forest.
Arrived at Salta airport at 6:30 for our 8:30 flight to be told that it was delayed and would not leave until 10:45 so got comfortable in the airport cafeteria, got out our ereaders and waited out the 4 hours until we could board. A 2 hour flight and we finally arrived at close to 1am to an almost empty airport, but Andy, Hugh’s driver was there waiting for us and we eventually crawled into bed at the Magnolia hotel a little after 2.