Tango and Skyschlenka

As any visitors to Argentina will discover, this is a nation of individuals with a very sweet tooth.

Coke, not water or wine, is the default drink when eating out of an evening: quite how people manage to tuck into a full barbecue without a good Malbec or Tannat to ease it down still mystifies me.

And when you visit Argentina, you’ll pretty quickly discover the dubious virtues of dulce de leche.

This is the ubiquitous breakfast spread for your pan and tortillas: it’s the same colour as Nutella, but much sweeter, perhaps more akin to caramel.

It’s actually made by boiling condensed milk until it turns into a sloopy gunk, and is as Argentinian as… well, football and tango.

But hang on. Football came from the British, and Carlos Gardel, the most famous exponent of tango, was born either in France or Uruguay.

Wiki it if you don’t believe me: born on the 11th December either in Tacuarembo, Uruguay in 1887 or Toulouse, France, in 1890, but certainly not Argentina. Admittedly, he grew up in Buenos Aires and took Argentine nationality in 1923.

Legend has it that dulce de leche was invented in 1829 when a cook heating up milk (with sugar added, naturally) for the traditional afternoon mate forgot all about it and returned to the stove to discover a sweet, sticky mess. Accidental dulce de leche: literally the sweetness of the milk.

Apparently (though this is surely too good to be true), the cook was preparing tea for the leaders of the two rival factions in post-Independence Argentina, the Federalist Rosas, and Unitarian Lavalle, who met near Buenos Aires for a political powpow.

Sadly, their mutual love of the newly discovered dulce de leche was insufficient glue to seal an agreement and avoid the violent civil war that followed (ending with Lavalle’s death in San Salvador de Jujuy in 1841).

Whether the story is true or not, dulce de leche is definitely Argentinian.

At least that’s what I thought until a Russian guest of ours told me about Sgyschennoe Moloko, or Skyschlenka for short: which is actually Russian dulce de leche.

Surely this can’t be true? More information, please!

(My thanks to our Russian guest Nelly Logar for the information about her native dulce de leche.)

Nick & Alicia Evans

Poncho Tours was founded by Nick Evans, a Brit who fell in love with this part of the world, and his wife Alicia, a native of Salta.  We still meet all our guests, and run many of the tours, with...

Nick & Alicia Evans Full Bio
Jose Sisti
5 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Colours of Vallecito

A voyage of discovery into the untouched landscape between the Valles Calchaquies and the Quebrada del Toro, only accessible on foot, horse, or donkey.

This challenging hike covers 48 km over 3 days, rising to 3,558m altitude.

It follows the old trade route between the fertile valleys of the Calchaquies and Lerma and the mountain plateau.

You won't forget the experience of being far from the hubbub of modern life, in touch with the inner tranquility of times past.

This hiking tour combines perfectly with our Classic Wine route of the Valles Calchaquies Salta wine region.

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Andreas & Heidi w Dani
5 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Mountain Trekking in Iruya

This high-altitude trek through the multi-coloured hills around Iruya takes us into the heart of local communities untouched by the modern world.

We visit small settlements in the mountains surrounding the tiny hill town of Iruya, close to the Bolivian border. Following trails used for centuries by the locals, we stay with local indigenous families in tiny hamlets only accessible on foot. This trip is combined with a visit to the must see attractions sites of the UNESCO-protected Quebrada de Humahuaca, like the Seven Coloured hill of Purmamarca and the 14 Colours of Hornocal.

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Calilegua morning cloud pano
3 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Expedition to the Cloud Forest

Hiking verdant green trails in the sub-tropical Argentina Cloud Forest in Jujuy: an oasis of plants and birdlife.

This is part of the UNESCO region of the Yungas, which contains 300 different species of birds and 100 different types of mammal. Yungas is a word from the Inca language Quechua, meaning “Warm Valleys”.

For lovers of the holy grape, this trip can be combined with the emerging wine region of Jujuy province, Fourteen Colours and Cloud Forest or a
Bolivian wine tour.

Available April to November

Click here to view map route.

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6 days
Group Size
Up to 4

Mountains to Cloud Forest trekking

This is one of our most challenging north west Argentina hiking trips, recommended only for experienced trekkers: covering 58km over four days, we climb to an altitude of 4,200m, gradually descending to 1,325m, following the contours of mountain tracks along the way.

This hike offers a complete change in eco-system during four days: starting in the mountains which enfold the Quebrada de Humahuaca, we descend into the Yungas Cloud Forest of the east, following the trail of indigenous traders who travelled between the salt flats and the sub-tropical jungle.

There is an extraordinary range of landscape in these four days, and a warm welcome for modern hikers from the families in the refuges where we sleep overnight.

Available April to November.