Andrey and I have not been on holiday together since January 2009. So we decided to take a hiking trip to Mount Champaquí. Champaqui forms part of the Sierras de Cordoba (Cordoba mountain range).
What makes this mountain special is the fact that it is the highest peak in the province, with a height of 2,790m. At the top of the mountain there is a small lake which is frozen from late April to early August. You also have an incredible view of the Calamuchita Valley.We couldn’t get a direct transfer to Villa Alpina (entrance to Champaqui). They only take groups. This left us little choice but to go to La Cumbrecita and from there hike to Villa Alpina across the forest and mountains.
Andrey read a blog about the hike but we couldn’t figure out how long it would take to get there. Today is National Census day in Argentina and everything was quiet. We took the 11am bus (Pajaro Blanco) to La Cumbrecita.
It is a very scenic ride and takes +- 45 minutes. You make 1 quick stop in Villa General Belgrano. We have been to La Cumbrecita many times but never really explored the northern part of the reserve. There are waterfalls and many hiking routes. So we decided to camp the night and start our hike early the next morning. It will only take a couple of hours to get to Villa Alpina.
It was a little difficult to find the camping ground. It is a private camping ground at the back of a house with a large garden.
The women that helped us was very friendly. We paid 30 pesos for the night with very basic facilities. There is an outside kitchen with gas, a shower (with hot water) and toilet. A few horses were watching us with interest as we got settled.We met some other travellers from Buenos Aires.
We found a nice quiet spot to pitch our tent. We had a beautiful view of the mountains. We made some enquiries about the route to Villa Alpina and they told us it is a hike of +- 2 1/2 hours .It seemed easy enough. Everything was closed until 8pm.
While we were busy talking to the people at the tourist office, a British couple came in and the asked for something. I only overheard part of the conversation but couldn’t help to giggle when I heard this part: No tenemos……..(long silence looking for the words)…nothing to eat! The people couldn’t speak a lot of Spanish and were looking for a place to eat. It reminded me of my early days when I was also lost for words.
It was time to stretch the legs and we took a walk next to the river. There was a beautiful spot where you could sit and it actually looked like a beach! Here in Argentina they call it a “playa”.
Then we hiked into town and sat down on the rocks at the river. There was a really cute dog! His owner threw a stick into the water and he was actually diving to find it.He was adorable and I already started to miss Ru!
From there we took a walk to a charming, little chappel that was built in 1967. I am not sure if the chapel is of any historical value but I will read up about it later.
We continued our hike to the 3 waterfalls. It was a tough hike but worth it. We got there, rested for a little while and left again because the weather turned bad all of a sudden. It looked like rain!
We hiked +- 3 kms today. I took a shower, while Andrey waited behind the door and passed me my clothes because there was no place to hang them up and no light! We cooked our first packet of instant noodles ( white sauce with brocoli) and listened to the artisans playing Argentinian folklore. They were really good. They lead a very different lifestyle, almost like the hippies of the olden days. They make different things which they sell in the markets. I enjoyed talking to them. They played anything from Argentinian folklore to John Lennon. We went back to the tent. It was getting dark and they cut the electricty after 10pm.