The Train to The Clouds (Video)

The Train to the clouds

The Train to the clouds or “Tren a Las Nubes” as it is known in Spanish is one of the highest railways in the world. It is a testement of the Argentina of days gone past when the country was more open to outside help. The rail way was designed by the Engineer Maury and the parts and materials came from England and France.

The train now only runs a short distance between the town of San antonio de los Cobres and its iconic bridge the Pollvorillo.

We offer tours up to the station from which the train leaves as well as a number of different tours that can be combined with the train ride.

“The possibility of a railway in the area began to be explored as early as 1889, and numerous studies were carried out up until 1916 analysing the feasibility of the line given the steep gradients and harsh terrain. Construction of the railway officially started in 1921, with the intention of connecting the North of Argentina with Chile across the Andes. The La Polvorilla viaduct, the highest of the line, was finished on 7 November 1932.

The route was designed by American engineer Richard Maury,(who later died in Salta) and after whom one of the stations has been named. The complete railway was inaugurated on 20 February 1948, following numerous delays and complications and a 2-year period where work was paralyzed.

“The line got its name in the early 1960s after students filmed a trip on the Salta-Antofagasta railway from inside the train carriages, often showing the vapor from the then-steam locomotive which – together with the cold mountain air – formed large vapour plumes. The footage was later offered to the Clarín newspaper to make a documentary, which was subsequently called Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) because of the vapour clouds in the film. Ferrocarriles Argentinos (FA) later adopted the name to make it more appealing to tourists.It was not until 1972 began being officially used by tourists as a heritage railway.”

Quote taken from wikipedia.

The Markets of Argentina

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One of the joys of Latin America are the many and various markets. Its is possible to buy everything from household goods to fruit to T shirts to crafts on a street side market if you know where to look!

Every large town has a market, usually covered, selling meat, fish, vegetables and fruit alongside spices,  grains,  nuts, local cheeses and flowers. The stalls are usually grouped by type and there is considerable friendly rivalry. The meat stalls sell every type of animal product imaginable and unidentifiable innards are displayed alongside trotters as well as the usual cuts of meat and chicken.

There are usually plenty of places to eat too, and although they do not look too savoury, the produce is good quality, hot and cheap and safe  because there is a very quick turnover.  Empanadas and corn dishes are always popular

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Tourism hubs such as Humahuaca, Purmamarca and Cafayate have extensive craft markets. Woollen goods are widely available in traditional styles and a myriad of colours, most people invest in an Andean hat after a trip to the Salt flats ! There are also all sorts of basket weave, jewelry, pottery and wooden carvings. You can find everything from cocktail sticks to salad servers, and  cooking pots to tapestries They make attractive and inexpensive souvenirs and gifts. Many of the carvings are based on traditional Wichi designs using various differing coloured  hardwoods found in the Chaco region like Palo Santo or Bulnesia Sarmiento (green), Guayacán or Caesalpinia Paraguariensis (dark brown), iscayante and algarrobo or Locust tree (both reddish) and Palo Blanco or Phyllostylon Rhamnoides (light brown or yellowish).

Most of the small villages and towns have their own markets which sell similar produce  but because they are used by the locals the prices are more competitive.

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Working towns like Tilcara, have a profusion of  ferreterias ( ironmongers) and household goods shops amongst the coffee bars and hostels but the hub of the town is the central market.

The best place in northern Argentina to buy fresh lamb, goats cheese, pickles, andean potatoes and beans of every description. Alongside the fruit and food market is what is known as the American Feria, this where clothes donated in the USA are sold to locals through a collaborative.

It is possible to find real bargains at very cheap prices, some still have store labels on them.  There is plenty for children here too with toy stalls and sweets and the inevitable dogs chasing around. The touristy craft market is around the town plaza and really comes alive in the evenings when it is serenaded by the competing penas (folk music)

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My local market is the San Martin Mercado in Salta and I love the vibrant atmosphere with all the  colours, aromas  and noise.  I learnt early on not to plan menus then shop, as recommended in all house thrift and cookery books, as all produce here is seasonal.

However learning to live with the seasons is great and although many vegetables are slightly odd shapes and the fruit very ripe, the flavours are amazing and it is a pleasure to find new ways to cook or adapt favourite recipes. I am still an oddity here as most locals shop for vegetables on a daily basis and Im still in the  weekly mode, partly because we live a little out of town and its the habit of a lifetime, but fruit is definitely best bought on an as you need it basis.

Finally its ok to haggle if you are buying multiple items. Most market traders will round down or offer additional fruit to make change easier

Happy shopping ! Ceri

Introducing the Five Senses Travel team

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We are a passionate group of like-minded people who have come together to offer what was really missing in Salta and the North West of Argentina.

What was missing you may well ask, this place offers everything! well you are right but we saw that tourists were , for want of a better phrase ; getting ripped off !

The monopoly of private tour companies were charging amazing sums of money for services we saw we could offer at much more reasonable prices.

The group tour companies were charging a lot less but we knew that they were flexible at best with their time keeping and at worse just down right disrespectful!

This is how our company came about, seeing a lack of quality service at reasonable costs. We came to our senses (pun intended) and decided to do something about it.

Llama crossing - Road sign - Five Senses traveller
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The Boss (depending on who you ask) founded the company in 2016 and has been involved in giving travellers great holidays in Argentina for several years as a freelance tour guide. Just incase you were wondering ,he does escape from the crocodile creeping up behind!

Gareth is from the UK, coming from the Kingston area of London. He got the travel bug when he was nineteen and having done much of South East Asia and southern Africa decided to give South America a visit. He speaks fluent Spanish and, of course, English.

In Salta “La Linda”(Salta the beautiful), in 2004, he met Irma, fell in love and got married. They now live on the outskirts of the city and have two children, Sofia age 8 – (our princess), and Nico age one and a bundle of fun

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Luciana was born in Salta and after spending her childhood in this beautiful area she travelled all over the country getting to know every inch of it. She has an amazing knack of organizing what can be absolute chaos in Hotel bookings and the everyday bureaucracy of Argentine life.

Having spent 5 years studying Tourism in University Luciana went on to work in some of the best Hotel chains in Argentina before she came to work with us. She has a huge amount of knowledge in the field and she is the person we count on to ensure the smooth execution of all of our tours.

Luciana is the head of our administrative department and is in charge of the sales and admin teams who love her to bits!

Luciana Five Senses Traveller - Introducing Our Team
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Daniel is a true Saltinian having lived here all of his life he is an expert on everything “Gaucho” and in his spare time breeds Criollo horses. Being a football fanatic he also spends a fair amount of time supporting his beloved Central Norte football team. Daniel has an excellent knowledge of the North West of Argentina and is a professional driver and guide.

Daniel is our go to guide for all Spanish speaking clients and he is a great travel companion to all that he takes out. He is our in house mechanic and has a masterful way with all vehicle related issues.

We believe in keeping our vehicles in the very best working order to ensuring their flawless function 100% of the time, Daniel is our go to guy, he also makes a mean asado !

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