Celebrate the humble spud

The humble potato gets a bad press. It’s associated with unhealthy eating habits: eg crisps, often eaten by a couch potato while another member of the family is provoking a chip pan fire in the kitchen. There’s the Irish potato famine which prompted mass starvation and emigration (blame the English landlords, not the potato). It’s … Continued

Birth of Inca Legend

Bolivia is famous for its salt flats, the Salar de Uyuni, and Peru is rightly celebrated for Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Inca trail, but there is much more to discover in these predominantly indigenous countries. I returned recently to Isla del Sol (after first visiting in 1999!): it’s the biggest island on Lake Titicaca. … Continued

Folk traditions

(Un)holy trinity part 2

Gauchito Gil, Difunta Correa & San la Muerte.   When you’re visiting Argentina with Poncho Tours, you will notice many roadside shrines: one featuring red flags, another mountains of plastic bottles. You may also be sharp-eyed enough to spot small altars festooned with black flags. These are three of the (un)holy trinity (one of those … Continued

Taking the bull by the horns

There is a curious ceremony in an obscure town in the Puna of Argentina which marks the Assumption of the Virgin Mary today (August 15th). The tiny town of Casabindo, nestled in the Altiplano north of the Salinas Grandes salt flats at over 3,400m altitude, is host every year to a bull-running ceremony dating back … Continued


Pachamama is Mother Earth

Today is Pachamama day, perhaps the most important celebration in the indigenous calendar (closely followed by carnival but they’re so interlinked you can’t have one without the other). On August 1st, Argentina’s indigenous population give thanks to Mother Earth (which is what Pachamama means in the Inca language of quechua). Pachamama is part of the … Continued

Tilcara fort

The Inca trail in Argentina

North West Argentina is particularly rich in pre-Hispanic history, as it was one of the most heavily populated parts of the continent when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. The formation of the Andes between 12 and 15 million years ago created a huge range of different eco-systems: take Jujuy province on the border … Continued

Salta city flights

From Brazil to Salta

The airline industry was just about tottering to its feet and making baby steps after the Covid-19 shutdown when Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine, prompting a world fuel and cost of living crisis, in addition to the tragic and ongoing human catastrophe.   Friends and visitors have complained recently about the sharp increase in … Continued

Buenos Aires

Guide to Buenos Aires

I don’t spend a huge amount of time in Buenos Aires, as I’m normally passing through rapidly, hot-footing it back to my home country of the UK, or returning to my adopted city of Salta in north-west Argentina. You can see the main highlights of Salta in a few hours on your own, or with … Continued

Salta nightlife

Salta nightlife

When you are organising your tour of Argentina, after enjoying a tango show in Buenos Aires, you musn’t miss the most typical feature of a night out in north west Argentina: the peña. A peña is traditionally a gathering of any kind, but it has become synonymous with musicians meeting to play traditonal Argentine folk … Continued

The Holy Leaf

When you visit northwest Argentina, you may notice some people in the street have cheeks as fat as a hamster preparing for hibernation.   They’re chewing coca, following an age-old ritual in the Andean region used to combat fatigue, hunger and altitude sickness.   When the Spanish invaded five centuries ago, the practice was so … Continued