This colonial-style hacienda offers breathtaking views and honest Andean cooking in the up-and-coming region of Salta
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Activity adventure | History & culture | Mountains | Natural world | Relaxation
The north-west corner of Argentina is dotted with Inca ruins, adobe villages, mountain vineyards and deep, mineral-streaked ravines. The village of Cachi has changed little since colonial times. Its cobbled streets are still lined with adobe houses; its church was built by the Spanish from stone and cactus. At first sight, La Merced del Alto appears to date from the colonial times too, but is in fact an immaculate reproduction of a colonial hacienda. It sits on a bluff two kilometres from the village, commanding breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, rivers and streams, including the 6,380m peak of Nevado de Cachi.
The 14 spacious rooms have a rustic feel to them that’s befitting of the region. Whitewashed walls, terracotta floors and high ceilings frame iron or carved-wood beds, hand-woven textiles and ornaments of horn and metal that reflect the Calchaqui culture. Rooms offer views of the cactus-studded ridges across the valley in the distance, or of the olive trees, swimming pool and stone-clad spa in the hotel’s courtyard and garden.
The hotel restaurant serves Andean classics such as llama tenderloin served with Inca maize, and freshly caught trout on a bed of perfumed quinoa. Many of the ingredients are grown fresh in the hotel’s gardens. The wood-and-brick wine cellar contains prized bottles from some of the highest vineyards in the world. Tastings can be arranged there too, though we recommend you take your wine – perhaps the hotel’s own-label Malbec – to the outdoor terrace to watch the evening shadows play upon the hills.
All manner of excursions can be arranged here. Ride out into the hills on horseback, search for ancient pottery in ruined Diaguita citadels, visit weavers’ workshops at the handicraft hub of Seclantas, tour the high-altitude vineyards of Cafayate, enjoy jeep safaris through polychrome ravines and across cactus-studded steppe, or settle for a stroll in the eight hectares of gardens that surround the hotel. The outdoor pool has some of the best views on the estate, and the small spa has two treatment rooms, a relaxation room and an open-air jacuzzi.
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