The village of AMAICHA, located at the edge of Tucumán Province, is a peaceful, nondescript little place that livens up once a year during the Fiesta de la Pachamama in carnival week, when dancers and musicians lay on shows while locals put on a kind of pre-Columbian Passion Play, acting the roles of the different pagan deities, including Pachamama, or Mother Earth. The goddess is also the inspiration for one of the region’s most impressive museums, the Museo Pachamama, an ambitious project whose main aim is to show off a local artist’s commercial success.
Amaicha can be reached from Tafí via the RP-307, which zigzags northwards offering fine views of the embalse and the mountains and heaves you over the windswept pass at Abra del Infiernillo (3042m). From here, the road steeply winds back down, along the banks of the Río de Amaicha, taking you through arid but impressive landscapes thickly covered with a forest of cardón cacti.
The brainchild of local artist Héctor Cruz, the splendid Museo Pachamama is actually several museums rolled into one, and it’s worth a look to see the structure itself, built around fabulous cactus gardens and incorporating eye-catching stone mosaics, depicting llamas, pre-Hispanic symbols and geometric patterns. Each large room in turn displays an impressive array of local archeological finds, the well-executed reconstruction of a mine along with impressive samples of various precious and semiprecious ores and minerals extracted in the area, plus paintings, tapestries and ceramics from Cruz’s own workshops, to modern designs inspired by pre-Columbian artistic traditions.