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The town of La Cumbre in the Punilla Valley - CORDOBA
Cordoba, is the centremost province of Argentina, and one that has had very little press over these last years of the tourist explosion in Argentina.
It is a mediterranean area, and as such, has a very dry climate with blue blue skies!!!
La Cumbre was selected as a special plece for vacationing by Buenos Aires aristocrats and English expatriates in the 20´s and 30´s. It is the highest point on a single track railway that is no longer used. It was chosen also, because of its climate, for people who had breathing problems. The whole valley of Punilla was a Mecca for those searching for a healthy environment. People are amazed by the weather as there are about 300 clear blue sky days a year, which is not a bad record!
Summer is the rainy season, and you get cloudbursts, usually at night, which last a few hours and can cause flash floods in the mountain streams. Because of the sandy soil, after rain, you get very little mud, as you do get on the pampas. The ground is always firm and dries out two hours after it has stopped raining. The rivers have abundant water with crystal clear pools, where visitors and locals alike go swimming and lie basking in the sun on the rocks, or in the shade under the trees. The temperature in the area varies from 18ºC to 30ºC. It is cool in the shade during the day, and at night, to the point that very few hotels have air conditioning, and you must sleep with some kind of cover. The natural flowers grow wild. Cosmos and dahlias sprout anywhere in all the colours and combinations you can imagine, from December to the end of March, April.
Autum brings out all the colours in the natural trees of the area, as well as the colours of all the trees planted by the settlers that came to an area that was bare of big trees. The natural vegetation is of hard leafed grasses known as paja brava, and many prickly and hardwood bushes and trees. The quebracho, both white and red, abound in the area, and turn an orange colour over autum and winter, to go bright green again in spring. Some of the trees shed only some of their leaves, like the very slow growing algarrobo. These trees take huindreds of years too reach any considerable size, and are much prized for their stable hardwood.
Winter, is a wonderful time of year, with temperatures ranging from 24ºC at midday in the sun, down to -2ºC after sundown, when the temperature drops very quickly. It used to snow, but has not done so for the last few years. It is the ideal time for trecking and long horse rides, because dehidration can be a problem during the summer, but one must be ready to carry warm clothing for the evening, or a misty change in weather.
Then, comes spring, when everything blossoms and the brown goundcover turns to bright green, just five days after the first rain, usually at the end of October. Fruit trees that have been seeded in the hills, as orange crataegus showing their fruit, colour the sides of the hills. It is a real awakening of life after the winter, in all its glory.
All year round, the clear skies allow one to see enormous amounts of stars, and the Milky Way covers most of the sky above. Star gazing is a wonderful passtime to do lying on the lawn at night.