The self-appointed capital of the Valles Calchaquíes and the main settlement hereabouts, the sprawling village of CAFAYATE is the centre of the province’s wine industry and the main tourist base for the valleys, thanks to its plentiful, high-quality accommodation, and convenient location at a crossroads between Salta, Cachi and Amaicha. It’s a small but lively, modern place, originally founded by Franciscan missionaries who set up encomiendas, or Indian reservations with farms attached, in the region. Apart from exploring the surroundings on foot, by bike or on horseback, you can shop for artisan goods and learn all about wine making – trying out the final product – at an impressive wine museum and at numerous bodegas. The late nineteenth-century Iglesia Catedral de Nuestra Señora del Rosario dominates the main plaza but is disappointingly nondescript inside; more interesting, perhaps, is the small daily crafts market that adjoins the northern side.

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