Things To Do In Tilcara
Also known as San Franciso de Tilcara, this city in the province of Jujuy is the head town of the department. Traces of existence of humans can be dated back to almost 10,000 years, making this city one of the oldest settlements in Argentina. This area is known for its beautiful dramatic mountainous landscapes and rich aboriginal tradition of life. Also, one of the major tourist destinations in Argentina, this city has a full bird’s eye view of the Rio Grande due to its proximity to the Andes Mountains and the ruins of the oldest settlements on these mountains make it look like an old settlement made new. Such rich is the culture and heritage of this area that this place is considered to be the Archaeological Capital of Jujuy. There is also a museum here which belongs to the Tilcara Interdisciplinary Institute. Excursions and Treks to the surrounding hills make this place a tourist’s haven and the horse riding options make you feel the polychromatic hillocks in their full glory. Museums of paintings, carnivals and Sculptures make you feel in sync with the heritage that has since been preserved.
The popular festival called the Tilcara Man, the Chicha Festival and the Pachamama Festival make sure that this town is filled with people throughout the year. It is not just about the scenic beauty or the landscapes, but Tilcara is an old settlement and so very welcoming to tourism. This is the reason why that many of the people who go to visit this place extend their stay in this town. The town is clean and the streets and walkways well planned. There is enough signage and explanations of the structures that have been constructed which make it completely possible to move about escort free in this area. Tilcara is totally accessible by road and has a good network of trains and roads to make the journeys comfortable and easily connected. The extensive services of the bus, trains and cars on hire make the tourist feel comfortable with the place. With a mixture of history, treks and architecture, this city is totally balanced place when it comes to excursions and vacations.
When To Go:
The summers extend from January till March and then from September till December. January till March also has enough rainfall and the dry periods range from May till September. November is the warmest and June the coolest. While January is the wettest month, there is absolutely no rainfall in August. So if you are off to Tilcara for a fun filled vacation, then the best time would be to visit this city from January till September. But if you are planning a trip to Tilcara for participating in the TILCARA Festival then you have to be here in January. This festival begins in January every year and ends sometime in March.
Listed here are the things to do in Tilcara, Argentina:
Pucara de Tilcara
Just at a distance of 1 Kilometer, this historic site allows an observation of the kilometers ranging ahead. A reconstructed pre-Columbian fort on a very strategic location, giving great views and a the cactus garden which lies by the entrance, the Little Church is the most interesting part which is a building with a short paved walkway leading to an altar. And one fact that you just cannot afford to miss while you are here, is one truly must see sight called this pre Inca-Fortress at the Pucara De Tilcara. While it was constructed, it was strategically placed so as to see the invasion coming early.
Housing 2000 families at its peak, the church cluster is inside the Housing Cluster. The ruins are old and some of them have been reconstructed. Also, the most beautiful part is the cactus Garden. Agreed that it may be risky, but then it is one of the best things to see. The varieties of cactus what can be found at Pucara de Tilcara are not found anywhere! Totally, in sync with the skies, these ruins are what make this fort a memory to linger with. A day filled with brightness, and fun filled frolic, these ruins are amazing. Pull out the cameras and go clicking!
Look at the Llamas
Llamas – the delight of the city! A standard beast of burden in this part of the world! And there are too many of them in the botanical garden even before you walk up to the Pucara. There is a good tour of the Tilcara which takes you to an excursion on the Llama Sighting. Though you may have seen the Llamas in various settings including the zoos and national parks, seeing a Llama in it’s natural habitat is special. This animal is wild but tamable and that is that makes them special. To have them carry loads full of burden and obey the instructions is a tedious process which takes special tactics.
There are tours that are taken for Llama training also. Here they engage the group in teaching them how to train the animals and make them domesticated. Apart from the Llamas, the instructors here can train horses also. Apparently the techniques used are the same. Happy in their pens, the Llamas get very curious when they see people coming close to them and it is always advisable to maintain a safe distance. The common saying that Llamas can spit is so true. Here you can actually see them spitting. Which means you should not be poking anything through or at the barbed wires. They could instantly attack you in self-defense. There are some of them at the Botanical Garden as well. So in case you want to see some more of them, the botanical Garden should be your next stop.
If you have been exploring while you have entered the Pucara Complex you will certainly notice the exhibits that have giant Cacti and the display of the various forms of plant life which can be found here. “Cordon” the common name for the giant cactus; and you would be able to find so many of them here. These giant Cacti did prove to be deterrents of attacks as well. Sometimes these giant Cacti would be mistaken for men standing and an attack would go void.
Hence, they have been classified as a symbol of safety and respect in this city. Tilcara loves it’s cacti. Though this may be called a strong opinion but then throwing the attacker on to the giant cacti would have been a better deterrent. Not just alive but these cacti are used even when they die. Apparently here the wood is used for interior and furniture. So not only when alive but even when it dies, the Botanical Garden is a rich source of treasure.
Garganta del Diablo
This site has been strongly recommended by the tourist office, and is listed in all the guidebooks. Though it is just 8 kms from Tilcara, and you would actually enjoy the short trek if you are enthusiastic about it. A remote path leads the way and the scenery is spectacular. With a lesser range of crowd than in the other areas, the hiking is awesome. You have to be here when it is bright and sunny. The rains can spoil this excursion completely. The waterfall is impressive. Gushing, clear and forceful, this waterfall is an excellent picnic spot.
The top of the waterfall, would take about 30 minutes to go uphill. Though you do have enough signage yet, getting lost is quite common so make sure that you follow your trail properly. There are many stalls to eat and drink from. Apart from eating the regular, food menus you may also want to indulge, in local delicacies which are nothing less than a delight! Once you have had a tummy full of food at Garganta del Diablo, you may want to move on to the other locations of interest and indulge in some more shopping or sightseeing.
Considered to be one of the most stupendous treks, the location is highly recommended for fun lovers who like to have an adrenaline rush while they are enjoying their day. Carry enough water to keep yourself hydrated while you are trekking on this route because you may not find frequent refreshments. Also, if you care about your skin tone, then you need to be covered up in many layers of sunscreen for this trek. It is highly suggested that you engage a good instructor or a guide with you, someone who is aware of the local routes and tricks of the trade.
There is a good chance that you may want to be guided through the trek by someone who is well aware of the terrain. Carry a alight backpack and start trekking uphill to see the most fantastic heights and sights that you could have ever imagined. The presence of some exciting caves makes this look alike a good treasure hunt and the open trek at the end of the route is what will test your skills to the maxim. It is also suggested that you rest a night before completely, before you start climbing up. A perfect start to the day, this trek is best done in the morning. So pull out your cameras and get ready for this one. Waira Caves are surely not for the weak hearted!
Salt Flats and Seven color hills are the common spots of almost all the tour operators but what is different about this one is the addition of the Purmamurca and the 17th century Churches which they have added to these tour packages. Giving each of their customers a unique travel experience, this tour operator knows how to keep you happy. Moving around the area on your own is a very good idea, but then you may not be able to relate to the historical evidences and legends of the place.
That is something you can only get to know when you have a local accompanying you and informing you about every nook and corner of the city. That is the only way that you can get to know about the interiors and the depths of the city you are visiting. Not only does Diungo Tours help you localize your views about this place, they also guide and suggest the best places in the city for eating and relishing the local delicacies. Try the Llama stew for sure while you are in Tilcara. Wonder at the amazing cliff formations and figure out how to carve the ways out of the mountains. Tilcara has everything to offer you!
The Devil's Throat
Tilcara has been known for the Andes Mountains and the beautiful crevices and cliff hangers. In fact Cliff jumping and hanging is one such sport, which is extensile and exhibited in this area due to the geographical settings which favor it completely. The Devil’s Throat is one such area. Anyone in the area would stop by and notice this rock formation.
To mark this place as a tourist spot, many locals have put up shops and souvenirs for the travelers and tourists to buy and carry home for their loved ones. You might also be able to pick from the local crafts and look for something which is wild and colorful. This rock formation has a classic cutting edge to it and has never missed a chance of impressing the tourists. A must visit by anyone who is visiting Tilcara. Amazing to see how natural rocks can be formed like this!
Tropic of Capricorn marker- Huacalera
If you have just seen a bunch of villages and think that passing them would be a good idea, you are so seriously mistaken! Do not pass unless you are sure that Huacalera is not amongst them. A little village tucked away at a distance of 16 kms from Tilcara, this little village does not know why it is so important. Global tourists come over just to get themselves clicked with that one milestone, that one market, which claims to be the Tropic Of Capricorn. Actually, this marker has been placed right before you would enter the village.
Apart from being the locator of the Tropic of Capricorn, this village retains its own Historical significance as well. General Lavalle, a national hero and war leader was murdered here. While his remains had been placed in the Church briefly, they were eventually transferred somewhere else. A story claims that while the general was being buried, his heart had been placed in a separate container and his body was put in a box of sand. This whole region has strategic importance as far as the national security was concerned. General Lavalle is also considered to be still roaming around. Many people believe that he has been spotted, or should we say his spirit has been spotted. Now if the story about the heart and the body is true, his sightings could be true as well!
A brilliant museum of Archeology named after Dr. Eduardo Casanova, it is located right in the middle of Tilcara. This was the man who took the responsibility of researching the ancient history of this place and then placing it for display to the local public. Though there is not enough space as compared to the number of exhibits of the history of Argentina that have been placed in this museum, it is still a haven for the lovers of history and archaeology. You will also be stunned by the structuring of the museum itself. It seems to occupy very little space as compared to the number of things it has reserved all these years. The displays have been helped on to using different rooms. Each room segregated to each display. The first room also labelled Room 1 houses a mummy that used to be displayed by Argentina, Chile and Bolivia. Similarly, Peruvian cultures and ceramics that are brilliantly formed have been exhibited in Room 2. Try the Room 3 for the finds and loots from the Spanish Conquest. Room 4 of the Archeaological Museum focuses on the Burial grounds and their items. This room is not for the weak hearted and might scare you a bit in its own eerie way. Though the authorities have not focused on making the museum too grand an affair, yet a visit to this museum will leave you in the conquest of a lot of knowledge. The best is to read about everything that you see here! That is the only way you would be able to find what you are looking for- the answers to your curiosity!
Tilcara is a place that will have you extend your stay again and again and planning a tour at the time of the annual celebration is what you should be aiming at. Apart from the other things that you would definitely enjoy here, the EL MOLLE Fabrica de Alfajores, is what you should not forget. Even if for an hour, this is one place you have to see. A variety of sweets and Alfajores at this factory will leave your tummy filled yet craving for more. Absolutely a fun place for children and adults, Tilcara is now on the Global Tourist Map and is steadily climbing up the ranking to be one of the best places to be visited in the World.
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