The Calamuchita Valley feels like a home away from home. I’ve been there over thirty times, for sure. It’s the perfect getaway for an extended weekend since it’s only 400 km away from Rosario, and it doesn’t take more than 4-5 hours to get there. Of all the hilly areas in Córdoba, this one is my favorite. It’s greener than the rest, there’re many rivers and big lakes, hills of all heights, history, culture, gastronomy, and plenty of landscapes! You can literally see a completely different one every ten minutes.
What surprises me the most about the valley is that, no matter how many times I visit, there’s always a new spot to discover. Today, I want to share with you some of my favorites: five calm and peaceful locations where you can relax, enjoy nature, and breathe fresh air. They are also a good option for practicing social distancing since there are usually few people around.
So, let’s begin!
1) San Miguel de los Ríos.
It’s only 8 km away from Yacanto de Calamuchita and you can get there by a gravel path full of bumps and dips which is ideal for a bike or motorcycle ride. Two rivers, the San Miguel River and the Tabaquillo River, meet at San Miguel de los Ríos to give birth to a new one, the Santa Rosa River. You’ll find it super-relaxing, ideal for putting your cellphone aside and disconnecting (there’s no signal out there). We took with us some homemade bread, artisan cheese, salami, and, obviously, lots of mates. And we spent a wonderful afternoon playing like kids, laughing and enjoying ourselves while having a picnic. Since it was winter, as soon as the sun come down, we had to leave because it started to get chilly.
There’s a beautiful camping site in San Miguel de los Ríos, but it’s only open during summer. It also offers dorms, studios, and cabins. On the other side of the river, up in the hill, there are three waterfalls in a part where the Tabaquillo River flows through a canyon. I haven’t been there yet, but it’s on my wish list for when I’m back in the Calamuchita Valley.
2) Peñón del Águila Theme Park, in La Cumbrecita.
This park was a discovery for me. I had been to La Cumbrecita many times, but never to this park. To be honest, I don’t know exactly how it works, but, apparently, the entrance fee is $ 500 (Argentine pesos). The thing is you can also get courtesy tickets in town that grant you access to the park, to the restaurant, to the guided trekking tour (which is about one hour long), and to the train that takes you there (which is really cool). So, unless you buy one of the passes to go rappelling, zip-lining, canopy walking, and other adventure activities, the rest seems to be free of charge or have a relatively low fee that is worth paying. The restaurant is gorgeous, has a panoramic view, and offers different types of craft beer and mid-European gastronomy.
I visited during Easter, and it was a rainy day. All colors were so bright! It was a pleasure to go on a walk which included waterfalls, hanging bridges, and pine trees decorated with raindrops. To top it all, on my return, my friend José was waiting for me with a delicious porter and some peanuts and cheese.
You can also rent a cabin with a view of the spectacular Calamuchita Hills and spend the night in the park. More info: https://penondelaguila.com.ar/parque/
3) Los Reartes.
This small town is always on my list. So close (only 8 km apart) yet so different from her neighbor, Villa General Belgrano. Villa was founded by German immigrants, while Los Reartes was founded by criollos (American-born European descendants). Both are peaceable settlements that nurture each other: one has the nightlife, the other has the river. For me, Los Reartes is the ideal place to stay since it has a wonderful river, is much quieter and, best of all, is much cheaper than her neighbor.
Los Reartes is the oldest town in the Calamuchita Valley and can be easily defined as ‘criolla’, i.e., typical of Hispano-America.
In its small downtown area, you can get a taste of Argentina from colonial times, with its adobe walls, cobblestone streets, and even a ‘pulpería’ (a traditional convenience store): Don Segundo Sombra, which was founded in 1929. Get the chance to try delicious ‘humitas’ (mashed corn mixed with fried onions and tomatoes, seasoned with red chili, and wrapped in corn husk), or some other homemade dish cooked in a clay oven.
Along the Los Reartes River flows tranquil and crystal-clear water which sometimes turns into a yellowish tone. Its sand is white and powdery. On its banks, there are public barbecue pits that can be used for free and which are not generally crowded, something quite uncommon for a province like Córdoba.
4) Río del Medio and Las Cañitas Winery.
The only way to reach this paradise retreat is by car. First, you’ll have to take the road to La Cumbrecita. Before getting to Villa Berna, you’ll see a sign that says: «Bodega Las Cañitas». Take that gravel path that leads to the chapel below:
The winery offers a guided tour during which you’ll learn that the wine they produce is so special because it is impregnated with the smells from the trees that grow in the surrounding hills: pines, blackberries, and peppermints. You’ll find more information about the winery on their website: https://www.bodegalascanitas.com.ar/
After the guided tour, my recommendation is to park the car near the chapel, ignore the «No trespassing» sign, and walk to the river. The landscape will leave you open-mouthed. It reminded me of southern Argentine Patagonia, for a moment I felt I had arrived in Bariloche. And the best part is, there’s nobody around! An ideal site to be in pandemic times. Beware there are no stores in the area, so at least take with you some water (or a bottle from the winery, hehe!). This is another beautiful place to have a picnic with local produce.
5) Puente Blanco, on the road to Yacanto.
This is a gem I discovered on my last trip. To Yacanto you generally get via the paved road from Santa Rosa de Calamuchita. But there is another way to get there, a more picturesque one. On the way from Los Reartes to La Cumbrecita, past Athos Pampa, there’s a gravel detour that also takes you there. Almost half the way, it’s Puente Blanco.
Everyone stops at the white bridge itself, so it tends to be a bit dirty. My secret is to continue a little more, park the car 500 m ahead, and walk down the natural paths that lead to the Santa Rosa River. The landscape and the tranquility down there are astonishing. You’ll even find some sandy spots to seat and sunbathe. Like every mountain river, the water is crystal clear, there are small rapids and natural pools which are ideal for a bath if the weather is nice and if you are brave enough because the water is quite cold!
Same as for the previous retreat, I recommend taking with you whatever you want to eat because there are no stores around. And, it goes without saying that, everything you take with you, must go back with you, don’t leave your garbage behind!
Tranquility is the key
In these crazy times we are living, it’s up to you. You can either go to the valley and stay in downtown Villa General Belgrano or Santa Rosa eating and strolling, where people tend to crowd together (because it’s evident that most of the people love to crowd, even during a pandemic), or you can pick one of the thousand uninhabited retreats that are spread along the valley.
On my trips to Córdoba, except on a few occasions, I don’t do much besides eating and discovering new places, but in all the sites I mentioned you can also do outdoor activities such as going on walks, trekking, horse riding, kayaking, etc. In the valley, alternatives are endless, and you’ll never get bored.
So I hope you like these spots and also, that you tell me which are your favorite spots, so I visit them on my next trip!
See you in a week! ¡Abrazo viajero!