There’s something magical about Iruya, a remote village just 50km from the main road but a world away in other respects. It makes a great destination to relax for a few days, and also allows proper appreciation of the Quebrada de Humahuaca region away from the busy barreling highway.
The journey is worth it in itself. Turning off RN 9, 26km north of Humahuaca, the ripio road ascends to a spectacular 4000m pass that marks the Jujuy–Salta provincial boundary. Here, there’s a massive apacheta (travelers’ cairn). The plastic bottles are from liquid offerings to Pachamama.
You then wind down into another valley and reache Iruya, with its pretty yellow-and-blue church, steep streets, adobe houses and spectacular mountainscapes (with soaring condors). It’s an indigenous community with fairly traditional values, so respect is called for. Chatting with the friendly locals is the highlight here. You can also hike in the surrounding hills – ask for a local guide – or visit other communities in the valley. Pablo Harvey runs unusual and recommended night walks with stargazing, music and Andean legends for AR$25 per person.
There’s a bank with ATM in town and an internet place, both on San Martín.