Cachi, a tiny pueblo of only 5,000 people in northwestern Argentina, offers visitors a blissfully quiet base for exploring the Calchaquí Valley and surrounding archaeological sites, many of which exist well off Salta’s usual tourist path.
While locals call it “the city,” Cachi is little more than a smattering of houses, a 17th-century Spanish colonial church, an impressive archaeological museum, the Centro Artesanal (a great place to buy hand-woven ponchos) and a couple of restaurants and hotels, all surrounded by the arid mountains of the province.
The reason people come to Cachi isn’t the town, per se, but the archaeological sites that lie just outside. La Paya, about six miles (10 km) to the south, and Potrero de Payogasta to the north are considered the most important. The cactus-laden landscape surrounding Cachi, particularly through the Calchaquí Valley, is perfect for exploring on horseback.
The journey between Salta and Cachi is served by only a single bus company and takes just over four hours. There’s also a fixed-price taxi service.