San Antonio, at 3,775 metres (12,385 feet) above sea level, is one of Argentina’s highest inhabited settlements, where spending any amount of time here means you are liable to feel dehydrated or get a headache. Indeed, soroche (altitude sickness) is a problem for many, and the remedy -is to chew coca leaves, which you can buy from grocery stores (if you can find one). The leaves, which have the texture of bay leaves, are to be chewed by the mouthful. They taste bitter to me, but are said to be good for digestion and altitude sickness. The locals have a pouch of it in their cheek most of the time.
Anyway, a visit to a local llama farm, Anatolio y sus Llamas (check it out on YouTube), is one of the highlights of the trip. The sweet and shy animals have their manes braided with multicoloured ribbons and feathers. Anatolio’s entire family are involved in the farm, explain to visitors about their diet (alfafa and maize) and maintenance, and his small children lead the friendliest of the llamas over to be stroked.
Read more in our blogger Felice Hardy's post En Route in Argentina's Dramatic North.