Explore The Northwest
Just 3km north of the RP-357/RN-40 junction, 15km north of Amaicha, is the westward turn-off to the major pre-Inca archeological site of Quilmes, one of the most extensively restored in the country. Buses to Cafayate running along the RN-40 will drop you at the junction, leaving you with the 5km trek along the dusty side road to the site. Inhabited since the ninth century AD, the settlement of Quilmes had a population of over 3000 at its peak in the seventeenth century, but the whole Quilmes tribe was punished mercilessly by the Spanish colonizers for resisting evangelization and enslavement. Walls and many buildings in this terraced pukará, or pre-Columbian fortress, have been thoroughly, if not always expertly, excavated and reconstructed, and the overall effect is extremely impressive, especially in the morning light, when the mountains behind it are illuminated from the east and turn bright orange. The entrance fee also entitles you to visit the site museum, which contains some items found here, such as ceramics and stone tools, and displays more expensive modern crafts by local artist Héctor Cruz.