In the previous article about the province of Cordoba (Capilla del Monte: Uritorco Hill and more) the central theme was hiking.
All the walks that I wrote about required some kind of good physical condition in order to enjoy them.
So if you ended up following those recommendations nothing better than this article that proposes totally different activities in Cordoba: a ride in the comfort of your car through a beautiful mountain road, a dip in a deep pot of water (with a jump from the rocks for the most intrepid), an idyllic walk along a small river, and a barbecue, something that can not be missed in the manual of the good Argentine (no offense to vegetarians, there will always be a place in the grill for a roasted vegetable).
As I always clarify in each article, there is much more to see than what I write. But we chose to travel slowly, discover less and enjoy more.
And I invite you to travel the same way. It is always nice to have excuses to return.
So without further ado, I invite you to continue enjoying the beautiful province of Cordoba, its landscapes, its waters, and its people.
Cordoba: The Altas Cumbres Roadtrip
To get to the Traslasierra region from the center of Cordoba you have to cross those hills that rise imposing in front of you, the Cordoban Altas Cumbres which means “High Hills”. Hence the name of the region, never better chosen: Traslasierra in Spanish means “Behind the hills”.
There, hidden behind that hill chain lie a number of towns and villages with dirt roads, artisans, olive oil markets, small wineries, and very friendly people who are in direct contact with the purest nature.
Arriving there a few decades ago was a very complex task. You needed to arrive on the back of a mule, as one of the most famous characters of this area did: the Priest Brochero, declared Saint a year ago. But from the 70s the pavement began to gain ground until today where the Altas Cumbres road is a marvel of engineering where driving is even for beginners.
Meandering among large rocks, rugged landscapes, viewpoints that force you to stop constantly, the kilometers follow each other and transform this ride into an adventure in itself. This type of road trip transforms the fact of being in the car part of an itinerary, part of an enjoyment.
And if we add that halfway you can see one of the National Parks of Argentina (Quebrada del Condorito National Park) to enjoy the huge condors flying over the landscape, then this road that reaches 2200 meters high at that point of the way, turns into a must.
The steppe dominates the high peaks since the 320 days-a-year of sun do not allow another type of vegetation. But the waters that run through the area are many, such as one of the most popular, and most photographed, points on the road: the source of the Mina Clavero River, a 102-meter-high waterfall that falls from an imposing cliff.
Finally, the Mirador del Valle (The Valley Viewpoint) at 1500 meters high, gives us an idea of where we have arrived, and how far we still have to descend.
But instead of trying to describe the road with words that are not enough, I share with you a small video of the road trip. Later on, we will return to the 14th kilometer of the road (from Mina Clavero, the reverse direction) to know an idyllic corner.
Cordoba: El Nido de Águila (The Eagle Nest)
Mina Clavero is one of the most recognized and important places in the Traslasierra area and an important summer center in the region. That’s why traveling through the end of the season has its special charm because the beautiful sound of the river’s flow beats the sometimes out of place sound of the human voice.
With this, I do not want you to think that I am anti-social. On the contrary, people give a lot of sense to places and all sense to moments.
But there are certain natural places where you will feel an immense desire to silence everything around and listen only to nature, to that small waterfall that falls and feeds the river, to those birds that fly over the cliffs. In short, El Nido de Águila is one of those places, but in summer it must be impossible to enjoy it that way.
So when I was there at 7 o’clock in the afternoon, enjoying the sun falling behind the rocks, lying on the sand, listening to the water and the laughter of my son while I was telling him stories of pirates who entered the caves formed between the river and the cliff, we realized that we had chosen the best time of the year: March.
El Nido del Águila is one of the many “balnearios” (places by the river where you can swim and spend the day) where you can get wet in the waters of the omniprescent Cordoban river, enjoying a very particular environment: cliffs about 10 to 22 meters high on one side, vegetation coming out of the sand on the other, and there, a few meters away, a pot of water 7 meters deep that awaits the brave divers who jump from the highest rock, from the nest of the eagle.
According to the story, its name comes from the shadow of an eagle cast on the waters of the Mina Clavero River at 12 P.M. when the sun hits the granite rock of the cliff, as an invitation to jump. But this jump, as indicated by a sign at the entrance, should not be attempted by anyone.
You have to know how to do it and especially how to get into the water since from 22 meters high a bad entry can mean a serious injury. So you know, if you do it after reading this and you hurt yourself, do not say I did not tell you!
The water of the river is cold but just be there a few seconds and the body acclimatizes and you can spend hours there enjoying the beauty of the place. A place full of families, dogs included. I leave some photos for you to enjoy, and I recommend you stay until dusk, when the place gets empty and there´s nothing but nature around you.
Cordoba: El Baño de los Dioses (The bath of the Gods)
To get to this resort you have to undo 14 kilometers of the Altas Cumbres road trip from Mina Clavero, and after descending a dirt road on the left of the road, and paying the 50 pesos of the parking fee (less than 3 dollars), you will get to an idyllic landscape to enjoy almost in solitude.
The Niña Paula stream that is drawing curves along a path of sand, stones, and grass; the hill ranges that surround it, the cows, the small pots of water that invite you to take a less cold dip than in the Nido de Águila, and a relaxing tranquility.
For us who went with our two-year-old son, El Nido del Águila seemed a better option since the beaches were more spacious, but the Baño de los Dioses is an ideal place to go with older children or as a couple since there are much fewer people and you feel more in touch with nature.
The small hill towns
If there is something that characterizes this region of Cordoba, it is its small towns that follow each other along the road. Some “last” two minutes and have only scattered houses between dirt roads. There are others like Nono, with its multi-faceted Rocsen Museum, or San Javier with its typical grocery stores and English mansions.
Or Yacanto with its famous 1928 hotel of English style. The ideal way to get to know them is between Nono and Merlo, in the province of San Luis, through Provincial Route 14. This road passes through several of these charming towns, through its dirt roads, squares and markets, and the always present hills. Artisan vendors, cheeses and salamis, olive oils, old “pulperías”, and the occasional wineries.
After traveling a year in Europe we could say that we have seen hundreds of towns. We have traveled to the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance. We have set foot in churches more than a thousand years old, traveled to Roman and Greek times.
The towns of Argentina do not have that millenary history. But what most characterizes them is their slow and relaxed pace; they are far enough away from the big cities to give their people a special charm. That which is found in the “deep” villages of Argentina, the charm that opens the doors of their houses to welcome the stranger, the charm that gives you an indication with a smile on its face; and that particular and cheerful Cordoban tune.
Within those hill towns of Cordoba we found one that welcomed us for a few days: Los Hornillos, a town 22 kilometers south of Mina Clavero and 1100 meters above sea level, which transforms it into the highest town of the valley.
From there you can see the enormous magnitude of Cerro Champaquí, the largest hill in Cordoba, which rises to 2884 meters and gives a wonderful framework to the town, from where you can enjoy several hiking trails such as the one we enjoyed an afternoon with the only company of nature.
Undoubtedly the most beautiful memory we take from this town is the family we were lucky enough to meet. In Cabañas los Hornillos Beto, Magda, and their three children live, with whom we shared a delicious barbecue and some even more delicious talks about life, upbringing, and family.
Each day that goes by we feel it is more and more beautiful to be able to find on the way people who think alike, who knows how to understand that the most important thing in life is the family. The lodging they run is in an ideal place to explore the area since it is just 11 kilometers away from Nono, 20 from Mina Clavero, and 70 from Merlo through the picturesque Hill Villaged Road Trip, perfect for a day’s getaway.
Here I leave some pictures of the cabins and the link to their website by clicking HERE.
Just as the region of Punilla gave us a few days of beautiful walks, Traslasierra gave us a few days of rest among the wildest nature of the province, with the sound of rivers and streams and in the shadow of high hill peaks. Now we would enter the neighboring province of San Luis.
But Cordoba is always there for you to come back, and that’s why we decided to see less and want more.
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