Long established as one of Córdoba Province’s major holiday destinations, and where many cityfolk have weekend or summer homes, the green Calamuchita Valley begins 30km south of Córdoba city at the Jesuit estancia town of Alta Gracia – a popular day-trip destination from Córdoba – and stretches due south for over 100km, between the undulating Sierra Chica to the east and the steep Sierra de Comechingones to the west. The varied vegetation that covers the valley’s sides provides a perfect habitat for hundreds of species of birds and other fauna. Two large and very clean reservoirs, Embalse Los Molinos in the north and Embalse Río Tercero in the south, both dammed in the first half of the twentieth century for water supplies, electricity and recreational angling, give the valley its alternative name, sometimes used by the local tourist authority: Valle Azul de los Grandes Lagos (“Blue Valley of the Great Lakes”). It’s believed that the area’s climate has been altered by their creation, with noticeably wetter summers than in the past.

The valley’s two main towns could not be more different: Villa General Belgrano is a chocolate-box resort with a predominantly Germanic population, whereas Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, the valley’s rather brash capital, is youthful and dynamic but far less picturesque. Both, however, are good bases for exploring the beautiful Comechingones mountains, whose Camiare name means “mountains and many villages”. One of these villages, the quiet hamlet of La Cumbrecita, would not look out of place in the Swiss Alps, and is the starting-point for some fine highland walks. All the villages offer a wide range of accommodation and high-quality places to eat, making them ideal for anyone wanting to avoid big cities like Córdoba.

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