Joachim has been traveling around the world. He left Paris on his 25th birthday, came back one year later in 2010. And you're here on his travel blog.
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360 in 365 – Joachim voyage autour du monde

360 in 365 – Joachim voyage autour du monde

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Mountainy Interlude around Iruya

Two days ago, I came back from one week spent in the wild and the mountains of the north of Argentina, with the company of my friend Charles, the one I met in Vietnam, eating dog.

This little interlude at the borders of civilization was good, as I was a wee bit tired of running around from busses to hostels to busses to hostels, and I also was a bit dissatisfied with number of things, so let me tell you, this pause was most welcome.

I took my walking shoes and my cameras, and also some warm clothes, and we went in the mountain. First, we had to go to Iruya. With a bus from Humahuaca, it’s a three hours ride and at least two passes above 4000m (above sea level)… a nice welcome to the region. We had taken lot of mate together, and if you add that to the heights high, it’s quite fun. Iruya is a little village at the end of the road. The road, they say, stops right in front of the church. Don’t trust them, the road didn’t stop, it continued to a smaller village in another valley, called San Isidro. But today was the first day, so we didn’t take the road to get there. Three little hours of going up the valley, and really good empanadas when we arrived.

On the second day it got complicated. We had decided to go at the end of the valleys, but it takes time. So we went to San Juan, just behind the mountains right in front of us. To go there we had to climb on the mountains, turn, and walk on a big plateau where we shared some fruits with a gaucho and his horse (the horse had grass, so we didn’t give him fruits). Then San Juan, and the lovely family, the only one who hosts tourists and visitors, because they have beautiful new beds brought by people from the Iruya across the mountains.

On the third day, after the morning mate, we were resolute to go a little further. After two good hours of crossing and re-crossing a river, much to my distress I have to say, two hours of climbing to a pass and picknick, and then two hours of going down then up the next valley, we arrived in Chiyayoc, where there’s no family to host visitors, as the school’s only teacher told us. No problemo though, sez he in Argentino. I host you, have no worries. And I got some nice leftovers from the school lunch. If you add that to the nice corn breads we bought to the mother of a lot of the master’s pupils, we had a very nice night with the maestro de la escuela. It was quite cold though.

On the fourth day, we took the mate with the school cook (who’s also the mother of a lot of the master’s pupil, who brought us even more corn breads), then we saw the raising of the flag by the boys and girls of the school. Then we took our bags and went back to San Juan. But this time, we took another path, one without river bed, but with a plateau we already knew because last time we went there there was a gaucho and his horse on it. We slept -you already guessed it- at the nice house of Jacinta & Hugo, where we had such a good dinner and an even better night!

On the fifth day, we wanted to stay in the mountains. So we sez, there’s one mountain that’s a little bit too much shadowy if you ask me. So we’re going to climb it to teach it life. 4850m above sea level, which is almost as high as the Mont Blanc and Montmartre put one on top of the other… and our village was only at 3200m. It’s more than 1.5 km of going up, at first on a path, and then without a path because yeah, somos aventureros, after all. Once on top, we saw condors and llamas and we thought, the wind is cold and the sun will go down. What do you think about going down? Trust me, it was quite a good idea. So we tried to find a path, but we only found some rock covering a near-cliff, then we went down a river that was dry, then it wasn’t dry anymore so you had to be carefull of not wetting your shoes, and then we went to the bottom of the valley and then we went to the village. After eight hours of walking, we went back at Hugo et Jacinta’s house, and they were happy to see us for they thought we were lost. We didn’t tell them that at some points we really were.

On the sixth day, back. Through San Isidro because someone had left someone else’s washing stuff. We couldn’t have empanadas but our toothbrushes were ours again. Then I lost a sock in the river, as a tribute I guess… or the sock just wanted to be free. It jumped in the cold water as I was crossing it, feet splashing around in great care of not splashing too much because the water was cold. So long, sock. Have a nice trip to the ocean! Your sister’s sad without you…

We celebrated our happy return with some nice Salta Negra, the blackest beer that(s the best in Argentina, I mean, Quilmes Stout is just a joke compared to it.

In these mountains I had the time to make my peace with all the little frustrations and not so little sadnesses of the trip, but in exchange I hurt my feet and lost a sock.

But the loss of a sock doesn’t really matter when all you have in front of you is landscapes so grand that even your 28mm can’t cope.

PS: today’s the end of the 3rd quarter of my trip. Only 3 month to go.


  1. Tu nous racontes ça comme si c’était de la tarte, comme s’il t’avais suffit de prendre un bus et de marchoter en suivant des panneaux… tu es un sacré personnage !

    Mais j’imagine qu’il est impossible de décrire ce genre de choses avec tous les mots et toutes le simages du monde… le mieux est d’y aller soi-même !

    Merci de partager ça avec nous. Ce n’est finalement qu’un aperçu du voyage (via une pognée de mots et un objectif 28mm), mais quel aperçu !

    Coup de coeur à l’image 38, que je trouve particulièrement belle et chargée de sens.

    Bonne continuation, et R.I.P. à Josette la chaussette !

    Comment by Pierre — Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 10:10 AM
  2. Jolies photos, bravo!

    Comment by RunningTracker — Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 01:58 PM
  3. Pierre : merci, la photo 38, je l’ai prise à 4850m :)
    En même temps c’était pas trop difficile de se déplacer, les gens qu’on rencontrait pouvaient nous indiquer le chemin, etc…

    RunningTracker : merci aussi ;)

    Comment by joachim — Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 04:27 PM
  4. I love these pictures, especially the one with the goats, and the tiny and isolated cancha de futbol there!!! I also laughed quite a lot with what you wrote. Im so happy the north of argentina compensated all the other not so good parts of your trip here.
    My dad here says that you liked the mountains so much because they are all in brownish colours (following that remark about French people and brown)
    I think you cannot help but like them.. i mean, who doesnt?

    Anyway, I think this is the most enthuthiastic post since filipinas.

    Mucho carino desde buenos aires (por ahora)

    PS< your sock had this planned all along, you know.

    Comment by Luciernaga — Jun 4th, 2010 @ 03:45 AM
  5. socks are strange creatures. one day everything’s fine, the next day they fly away. I think this one didn’t really like to be washed by hand with really abrasive mountain soap with cold water. Why chose cold water as a mean to escape anyway?

    If you prefer my more enthousiastic posts, you won’t like what I’ll right in a few days (except in case of a miracle).

    Also, I lost my brown chinese scarf. That’s a sign, the next one will be full of colours. Bright, loud colours.

    Comment by joachim — Jun 4th, 2010 @ 03:52 AM
  6. Souffle coupé, waow et tout

    Comment by Romuald — Jun 5th, 2010 @ 08:24 AM
  7. Tout simplement superbe, elle est là la liberté

    Comment by Naga_ — Jun 9th, 2010 @ 06:55 AM

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