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La Puna to the Calchaquí Valley: Part 2 - Compuel to Gualfin

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Finishing the trek from La Puna to the Calchaquí Valley.


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Map Key

17.1

Miles

27.6

KM

94%

Runnable

11,576' 3,528 m

High

8,913' 2,717 m

Low

774' 236 m

Up

2,983' 909 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

While part of the Estancia Gualfin, it is common for people to pass through on something close to this route. While not navigable by car, there is a line on the public maps indicating a road. Genuine backcountry. Owner permission is highly recommended.

Need to Know

The finish at Gualfin is near to Estancia Colome with a small hotel and internationally known vineyard and winemaking operation. Taquil is also close by.

Description

When running from the La Puna to the Calchaquí Valley: Part 1 - Los Patos to Compuel, the starting location is in the midst of a broad valley perfect for grazing livestock. After crossing the valley, join an old Inca-era trail down toward semi-civilization.

We set out ahead of the horsemen since it took about an hour for them to find their horses. We crossed the well-watered and deeply green valley in about four-hours. Finally, we reached the old Inca pathway, now converted to a four-wheel-drive road of sorts. I've spent a lot of time off road, and this one would be the challenge of a lifetime.

Mid-way down we came across an Inca-era fortress and stone fencing network. Now in ruins, this had been constructed for agriculture, and then as an attempt to protect the locals against the Spanish during the extermination programs.

These final five hours or so of the run were a pleasure. The high desert gave way to hillsides dotted with cordones. Cordones then transitioned to pastoral valley farms. Farms now contained corrals for sheep and goats, and finally, the tree-lined road to the main house. Two days and 36-miles later our gracious hosts welcomed us to Gualfin. A great asado, way too much wine, and a real bed reset the world.

The run is entirely contained within the Estancia Gualfin. Most of these estancias had been granted to conquistadors who served the Spanish Conquest cause well. I do not know the original history here.

I had been at the main house in Gualfin a few years ago and viewing a map of the Estancia I wondered what was to the west; how far did it really go, and what did it look like there? Not exactly a Google rendering, the 1909 drawing was vague on many details and had few names attached, but enough to get a feel. No one at Gualfin could really tell me. But it was seductive.

Well that worked for me since I knew both the gauchos from a five-day cabalgata (horseback trip) last October. If I was to screw up in the mountains they would be the ones to get me out of trouble.

Flora & Fauna

Vicuna, llama, puma are rare but possible

Shared By:

Frank Trotter

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote

#1

in Cafayate

#3717

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  5.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#1

in Cafayate

#13

in Argentina

#3,717

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Photos

Cordones along the trail
Jun 6, 2019 near Molinos, AR
Crest of the trail out of Compuel
Jun 6, 2019 near San Carlos, AR
"Pet" llama at Compuel
Jun 6, 2019 near San Carlos, AR
Asado under way
Jun 6, 2019 near Molinos, AR
Compuel to Gualfin
Jun 6, 2019 near Molinos, AR
Dinner and dorm at Compuel
Jun 6, 2019 near San Carlos, AR

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