Introduction to Cafayate
Home to the up-and-coming Torrontes vineyards, which are unique to this region and produce a refreshingly light white wine, the charming colonial town of Cafayate is firmly on the map for wine enthusiasts. The town and its surroundings are dotted with wineries where visitors can taste a delicious range of wines, some of which are not currently exported (there’s some wine tasting kudos for you right there!). As well as the crisp Torrontes white, there are many excellent reds produced here, so there’s something to suit every palette. The town itself has a lovely laid-back and small-town feel with a pleasant central plaza where you can dine al fresco on regional specialties. It’s especially atmospheric after nightfall when the outdoor restaurant tables are lit by candle light.
Heading just outside of the town center you run into an adventurer’s paradise with options for hiking, biking, and horseback riding down dramatic gorges and around pristine waterfalls. The nearby Valle de Calchaqui, with its striking natural landscapes is also great for hiking and horseback riding and the delightful town of Cachi with its stunning surroundings should not be passed by. Cafayate and its surroundings are so tranquil and relaxing that it’s very easy to spend more time than you planned here. Days can slip by before you know it chatting to the local artisans and wine producers, exploring the countryside, sampling the vintages and making the most of siesta time on the warm afternoons.
What not to miss in Cafayate
Grab a Cafayate Wine Tasting Map
Grab a Cafayate wine tasting map and plan your route. Many vineyards are just a simple stroll around town, while others are best enjoyed by hiring a bicycle or car.
Local crafts in Cafayate are some of the best in the country. You’ll find intricate loom-woven gaucho blankets, hand-molded clay pots, bowls made from the brilliantly colored rock sediments found in the region and, delicious gourmet alfajores (shortbread cookies with dulce de leche caramel).
Cool off with a wine ice-cream!
Cool off with a wine ice-cream! For a perfect afternoon treat, and to keep the wine tasting buzz going, try the local wine ice cream. Pure Torrontes and Malbec wines are poured into an ice-cream maker and churned to perfection.
Visit the nearby village of Cachi
Visit the nearby village of Cachi, an even sleepier version of Cafayate. This historical colonial town with its squat adobe houses and cobblestone streets enjoys cool highland breezes and beautiful surrounding scenery.
Bike the Valle de Calchaqui
With dramatic gorges, natural rock formations and hidden waterfalls, the Valle de Calchaqui is stunning. You can head out there by truck and return on an adventurous 25 mile (40 km) bike ride rounded off with a visit to a vineyard for a celebratory glass of wine.
What you need to know
When to go
In the summer months Cafayate and the surrounding province bake under cloudless skies and strong sun. Although it can be visited in summer the region is at its best in spring, fall and winter (around April-November) when temperatures are more agreeable. Whatever time of year you visit make sure that you have plenty of sun cream and a wide-brimmed hat! Rainy season falls during the summer months of December to February with the rest of the year mostly dry. Wine enthusiasts should consider visiting in the months running up to harvest from around February to April.
How to get there
Cafayate can be reached by road from Salta. The road from Salta to Cafayate is a highlight itself: the Calchaquí Valley Route, with its ‘out of this world’ rock formations that wind and water have slowly eroded after millions of years. The best way to get to Cafayate is via a private transfer, a tour or, renting a car.
Where to stay
Most of the standard hotels in Salta and Jujuy are four stars and under. However, the hotels in this region are very characteristic and charming, including wine bodegas, estates and farmhouses that have been adapted to small hotels.
Visiting different sites around the city of Salta and San Salvador de Jujuy is possible by bus, though tours are probably the most comfortable way to move around, since distances are sometimes long and some spots are not covered by public transport. Car rental outlets are available in both capital cities. You should take into account that not all the roads are paved and some mountain routes can be dangerous at some points, so not all cars can be driven in some places.