At the tiny village of Payogasta, where the RP-33 joins the RN-40, you have a choice of roads. You can either head north to explore the furthest reaches of the Valles Calchaquíes, with dramatic high mountains on either side and beguiling desert-like scenery accompanying you all along the rough track to La Poma, 40km north; or, especially if time is short or night is drawing in, you can head straight south for CACHI. This picturesque village, 2280m above sea level, is overshadowed by the permanently snowcapped Nevado del Cachi (6380m), whose peak looms only 15km to the west. Cachi is a pleasant place to wander, investigating the various local crafts, including ponchos and ceramics, or climbing to the cemetery for wonderful mountain views and a panorama of the pea-green valley, every arable patch of which is filled with vines, maize and capsicum plantations.

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