April 17 –
The idea of soaking in the termas during the full moon was the ultimate carrot for us to get to Fiambala that day. Looks like we were in for another 100-plus km day. We also knew there was at least 15km of ripio ahead but weren't exactly sure what condition it was in. Let the adventure begin!
We started riding day at 11:30am because we had to switch out my tire with the spare. Finally, the very old front tire on my Trek started to bulge out with a weakened side wall. The interior metal frame started to pop out of the rubber on the inside of the sidewall. Thank god we brought a spare because we were in the middle of nowhere!
A wee bit sandy of a ride at times on this ripio
Walking the bike during the first 1km of ripio. I thought this was going to be a long day of sand-walking.
And then there was the water riding...giddyup!
We started in on the ripio right away, and found it to be so much fun. The mountainous valley surrounded us on both sides and the ride was all downhill,so we booked it through the 15km of ripio in about an hour. Not too bad considering it was sandy in places so much that we had to walk at times, and there were some streams crossing the roads that we had to bike through. I can't image that this road would be do-able by tour bike in the Winter and Spring due to the amount of water running through it during the dry months of the fall we experienced in this area.
Once back on the pavement, the ride was easygoing into Tilongasta, town of about 30,000. There we ate lunch and went the the main square where yet again, they had public interent (WI-FI para Todo), which had also been in all of these towns throughout the valley starting in Chilecito. A nearby drunk talked to us and serenaded us with music about the beauty of Salta. This guy was a great tour guide.
With 40km left to get to Fiamabala, we decided to bypass Aquadita hot springs 5 km out of town Tilongasta as we knew we would just barely make it to Fiambala by nightfall. During the ride, we saw many signs directing travelers to the Adobe Trail, which is a route with many adobe buildings on display, either preserved or worn, that document the history of adobe construction in this region. If I had more time I would have checked it out but once again, full moon, hot springs....gottzta go.
Then came the best part of the ride....the strong tailwind. This was only the second one of our entire trip, and wow, we cruised. Ryan was going 60.4 kph at one point. I lagged behind as the valley again was so amazing. I stopped a couple times to check out the multi-colored rocks and amazing side-canyons. The tailwind helped bring us into Fiambala by 5pm. We discussed gettnig ice cream but there was not much daylight left if we wanted to bike up to the hot springs.
The bikeride to Termas, according to the tourist office, was only a “subita”, meaning little incline. So we thought we would give it a shot. After it was all said and done, the ride was definitely more like “subisimo”, my made up word for a ridiculously hard climb. But well worth it. We just would have gone about things differently if we were to do the ride again.
The ride out of Fiambala towards the hot springs
The paved road up to the Termas. The sunset brought out the colors of these hills.
At the end of the first big climb up to the termas. Many more to go.
The road up was old pavement, lots of patches, so we went slowly. I was in my granny gear for most of the ups. Once we thought we had gotten through the majority for incline, we hit a steep, decent, and were a bit disappointed that it killed all of the climbing we had just done. And so, we had to climb back up again. The tourist office and signs also tell you that this route to the hot springs is only about 12 km long. It was actually 17km to get to the actual Termas. It is 12 km to the ticket office before the real hell climbs begin.
After we payed an amazingly cheap entrance fee of $5.00 a piece for camping and entrance pass, we got no warning for the ticket guy as to what was ahead for us on loaded bikes. The road goes up for another 3 km steeply, and then turns into ripio, at inclines that are so steep it is impossible to bike. We walked a painful last 2 km up to the parking lot. It probably took us about a half hour of walking.
So knowing what we know now, we recommend that if you bike, to leave the bikes at the ticket entry, and hitchhike up.
Once at the hot spring facilities, we were blown away. The epic camping is literally poolside, but if you wanted there was a hosteria and some cabanas there as well. The restaurant was delicious and had great service. The pools were amazing! 12 pools, gradual heat increasing from tepid at bottom to 40 degrees Celsius at the top. The full moon was gorgeous. The pools were very well designed and visually the place was awesome. And all of this in the surrounds of a beautiful narrow canyon. Oh, and really cool Argentinians to talk to in all of the pools.
So was it worth it? Oh yeah, it was worth it! Here is a photo and I will put up many more photos on the next entry.
Thermal pool in the canyons at Fiambala