Gauchos parading on horses

The Gauchos of Guemes (Video)

The Gauchos of Guemes procession

A short film to show the procession of the Gauchos of Guemes. This procession is held every year in Salta to celebrate the life of one of the most influential generals of the war of independence in Argentina against the Spanish royalists.

“Guemes was born in Salta into a wealthy family. His father, Gabriel de Guemes Montero, born in Santander, in the Spanish province of Cantabria, was a learned man and was serving as royal treasurer of the Spanish crown. He got his son to have a good education with private teachers who taught him philosophical and scientific knowledge of his time. His mother was María Magdalena de Goyechea y la Corte, born in Salta.

He was sent to study at the Royal College of San Carlos in Buenos Aires. At 23 he started his military career and took part in the defense of Buenos Aires during the British invasions of the Río de la Plata, where Güemes achieved notability when he and his cavalrymen charged and took over the armed British merchantman Justine, moored in shallow waters.[1] After the formation of the first local government junta in the May Revolution of 1810, he joined the army destined to fight the Spanish troops at the Upper Peru, which was victorious in the Battle of Suipacha (in present-day Bolivia). He then returned to Buenos Aires and took part in the siege of Montevideo.

Güemes returned to Salta in 1815, and organized the resistance against the royalists (forces loyal to Spain) employing local gauchos trained in guerrilla tactics. He was appointed Governor of Salta Province and in November of that year, General José Rondeau, appointed leader of the Peru campaign to replace José de San Martín, suffered a defeat and attempted to take weapons from Salta’s gauchos. Güemes refused and the Supreme Director of the Provinces of the Río de la Plata, Ignacio Álvarez Thomas, sent troops to help Rondeau. Eventually an agreement was reached, by which Güemes would continue to lead his forces and would help the armies sent from Buenos Aires.”

Quote taken from Wikipedia.

The Amazing Variety of N.W Argentina

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Is there anywhere else in the world that has so much stunning variety of scenery and diversity of species in such a comparatively small area? We can’t say we know the answer but with our biased view, think it’s pretty unlikely.

Whilst we are not keen on rattling off loads of numbers, the following may help put Salta Province into context. Argentina is just over ten times the size of the UK and the Province of Salta, on its own, is larger than England.

The population of the province, however, is only about 1.3 million with 800,000 of these living in the City of Salta. This leaves a lot of space for other stuff!

The region is dominated by the mountains and foothills of the Andes and within a couple of hours you can travel from the buzz of the city into the total silence of the Salinas Grandes (salt flats) or to the Altiplano at over 4500 meters.

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The foothills and mountains of the Andes make for stunning scenery at all times of the year. The lower hills are green for most of the year and the high Andes offer a glimpse into the tumultuous earth movements of the past. 

On the desert plains across the region the scenery ranges from hosts of cacti, standing upright as though ready for battle, surrounded by huge expanses of flat desert scrubland only broken by the sightings of Rhia or Lllama and Vicuňa.

The beautiful serenity of the Cloud Forest (also known as the Yungas) not far out of the city provides great examples of plant symbiosis, where moss and bromeliads cling to the trees in large numbers , creating a cool and mysterious environment.

The temperate valleys that contain lakes and rivers that run off of the Yungas and mountains complete the breadth of geographical environments that are present in this highly diverse area.

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The variety of geographical environments ensures that there is a massive diversity of wild life in the province of Salta.

In our three National Parks, El Rey, Baritũ and Los Cardones it is possible to see a number of wild cats; Jaguar, Cougar, and Panther if you are very lucky!

In the parks and across other parts of the province Tapirs, Anteaters, Armadillo, Fox and even Cayman which are quite easy to spot. The famous Llama, Vicuňa and Guanaco are numerous across the Altiplano, but you have to keep your eyes peeled as they easily meld into their environments.

Birds of all shapes and sizes can be found in all areas with Toucan, Chuňa, and parrots being the most colourful. There are a huge variety of birds of prey as well as the spectacular Condor the iconic bird of the Andes, worshiped by the Inca people and many civilizations before them.

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The history of the peoples and places of Salta province is still an area of great interest to visitors. To meet the indigenous peoples of the High Plain and the Yungas. You may also come across the Wichi people of the Chaco. To see how these people live in this modern age is quite remarkable. They have difficult lives with many challenges.

There are many opportunities to look into the past, to the time of the Inca and other pre-columbian peoples at archeological sites across the region. The famous ruins of Quilmes which was once inhabited by the mighty Calchaqui indians is located just outside the beautiful town of Cafayate. Going up into the Andes from Salta the ruins of Santa Rosa de Tastil are hidden off of the road leading up to the Altiplano these are a must see for those interested in early south american settlements.

You can see why we think we do pretty well on the variety front. This is only a glimpse. Come and join us in our search for more…Ian

Winter in North West Argentina

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The seasons in Argentina are, of course, the reverse of the northern hemisphere, but each have a distinct and charming flavour of their own as you will have seen in our last post.

In winter most days are dry, sunny and warm. They can reach up to 30 degrees celsius with cobalt blue skies, great days for travelling, trekking and all kinds of sports and activities, but days are shorter with eight or nine hours of sunshine and at night temperatures can drop significantly to around -3 degrees.

The vegetation becomes thinner and takes on a brown tinge, offering great opportunities to spot the animals and birds out in the country.  The tall verdant green sugar cane plants are harvested and fires can be seen across the vast Estancia, clearing the land in preparation for planting for next year.

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May 1st is a special day in the culinary life of the area. It is the day when tradition dictates that the first ‘Locro’ of the year is prepared for the family.  Locro is a stew made of different cuts of beef, tripe and other parts of cow intestines, chorizo, huge amounts of pumpkin and pulses and is cooked in a huge pan over an open fire for a minimum of six to eight hours. It is a fabulous dish with immense flavours and when shared around the open fire makes one feel that, even for a gringo, being a Gaucho is a real possibility.

Sunday May 21st is the International Day of Museums. This year forty organisations across Salta province joined in the event with – MAAM in Salta city (The Museum Of Archeology of the High Mountains)– putting on a particularly engaging exhibition.

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We believe that Salta’s most spectacular winter event is the ‘The Gauchos of Gũemes’ parade on 17th June. It commemorates the great General Martin Miguel de Gũemes who led his Gauchos to victory in the fight for Independence of Argentina from the Spanish.

The word ‘Gaucho’ was used to describe a “migratory horseman, good with cattle” but other phrases attributed to the qualities of a Gaucho says rather more.. “Noble, brave and generous” but also “One who is skilful in subtle tricks, crafty..” they definitely proved their worth on the battlefield!

The parade of the Gauchos involves around two thousand mounted Gauchos of all ages, in their distinctive red and black outfits taking part in a number of traditional rituals across the city. It is an amazing experience, with great emotion, passion and wonderful scenes only to be found here in Salta.

Gauchos parading on horses
Man holding onto horse - Winter - Blog
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One winter Sunday we visited La Caldera a small town not far from Salta to see a rodeo. There were a range of activities throughout the afternoon with riding of unbroken horses, the greatest challenge.

We grabbed a choripan (hot dog) and a beer and made our way to the performance ring.

With the unsuspecting horse tied to a large pole in the ring, a rider, dressed in traditional Gaucho gear including the beret, acted as guardian to the next brave soul about to climb aboard. Once mounted the rope was quickly released and the wild bucking bronco began. Three seconds seemed about the average ride but the occasional rider hanging on for dear life lasting ten seconds.

Fortunately no-one was injured and the afternoon continued with more beef, beer and wild activity. It was far too exciting to notice the cold and a really worthwhile experience.