Saturday, 27 September 2014

A quick guide to the quirky towns of Las Sierras de Córdoba

The best way to see the towns and the countryside around Córdoba is to hire a car and go exploring! But where to go? Here is our quick guide to the towns and villages in the Sierras. 

The open road

The towns are listed in the order we visited them. We hired a car for 4 days (3 nights).

We spent most of the first day in Alta Gracia and the night in Belgrano. The following day we were in La Cumbrecita for the day. We spent our second night in Belgrano. 

The next day, we drove north to La Cumbre, where we spent the night. We stopped off on the way in Carlos Paz and Cosquin. On our final day we explored La Cumbre and surrounding area, including Capilla del Monte, which is very close, before heading back to Córdoba.

NB. If you don't have your own transport, all of these towns are accessible by bus.

The Che Museum, Alta Gracia

Alta Gracia - Ernesto "Che" Guevara lived here with his family for most of his childhood and much of his teenage years. The Guevara family home has now been transformed into an interesting museum about his life, which is worth the trip. 

Sarah debating the merits of communism with Che in the back garden

Other things to see in the town include a Jesuit Estancia, the Lourdes Church, where the virgin is said to have appeared in 2011, a museum about composer Manuel de Falla (who was born here) and the Gabriel Dubois art galley (Gabriel Dubois was a French artist who lived in Alta Gracia in the 1930s).

Villa General Belgrano - The architecture in this town is some kind of weird mix between an Alpine village and a German Christmas market. The influence from the two German founders lives on in other ways too, with one of the world's most important Oktoberfests, as well as a healthy serving of sausages and apple strudel available in the local restaurants. It is a good town in the southern sierras to base yourself. If you're coming for Oktoberfest, make sure you book in advance!


La Cumbrecita - This pretty pedestrian-only town, with similar Bavarian influences to Belgrano would also be a great base, especially in the summer, when you can cool down in the rivers and waterways just outside of town. Its a pretty place to while away the time, with some well marked paths for walking into the hills and exploring further.

Carlos Paz - It was around lunchtime when we got to this town, so we thought we'd stop to eat our picnic by the lake. It was quite a big town though and there really wasn't any obvious picturesque areas to have a lunch. For a short getaway, we'd recommend one of the smaller towns nearby like La Cumbre.

Cosquin - We stopped for a couple of hours in this town to take a walk along the river and to ride the chair lift up to the top of Pan De Azucar or Sugar Loaf mountain. The walk was pretty, although not spectacular. We would however recommend a visit to the top of the Pan de Azucar, where we were able to spot a condor.

The rolling hills seen from the top of the chairlift, just outside Cosquin

La Cumbre - Although the town is not much to look at, La Cumbre is a good base for a few days. My craving for curry was partially (but only partially) satisfied at the Kasbah restaurant and the hostel we stayed at - a converted English mansion house (below) was a lovely setting. 

We also enjoyed walking up to the Christ the Redeemor statue to look at the views of the surrounding countryside, our drive down the Camino de los Artesanos to buy homemade goodies (you really need a car to do this properly) and watching the paragliders take off from the nearby launch point at Cuchi Coral.  

Capilla del Monte - We popped into this town because of its reputation as a place where UFOs are regularly spotted and so we thought it might be an interesting place to visit. Apart from the alien memorabilia in the shops, there really wasn't very much to see in the town. Nearby Cerro Uritorco is the mountain where extra-terrestrials are reported to have been seen and apparently has great views. But don't worry if you miss the town - you haven't missed much.

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