The Gran Viaje

Ruinas de Quilmes and Cafayate

by Jordan


We visited the Ruinas de Quilmas on our drive from Tafi Del Valle to Cafayate. Our friends recommended we stop there as it is an important historical site. The Quilmes people lived there before Spanish colonialization, and enjoyed a prosperous culture and a large population. They were conquered peacefully by the Incas but soon after, the Spanish arrived and tried to exploit them for forced labor. The Quilmes people rebelled for years and years, however, fending off the conquistadores. Finally, the Spanish prevailed and forced the Quilmes to walk to the Buenos Aires province (ending in an area now called Quilmes) over 1000km away. Only a tiny fraction survived the trip, and there are supposedly no Quilmes people left. The story reminds me of the Trail of Tears in the US. Now a very popular soccer team and the most common beer brand are both named Quilmes.

The ruins have been largely rebuilt for tourism. About 15 percent of the original structures remain untouched. It was really beautiful there and a great stop.

Later that day we arrived in Cafayate, which is the center of the northern Argentinian wine-making region, and surrounded by beautiful vineyards. Cafayate is a really nice place, if a little touristy. We stayed two nights. During the day we tried to find the amazing waterfall described in our guidebook without a guide. Bad idea, as we went completely the wrong way and got kind of lost in the rain. We gave up and went back to town to drink wine.

  1. Two llamas hanging out at the ruins.
  2. A view from near the top of the ruins.
  3. A llama drinking from a faucet.
  4. Our unsuccessful hike to the waterfall.

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