This accessible, beautiful, biodiverse park stretches up the Serranía de Calilegua range to peaks offering boundless views above the forest and across the Chaco to the east.
The spectacular 22km road through the park ascends from 550m to 1700m, taking you through the three types of forest that characterize the park's different altitude layers and offering spectacular views.
Along this road are trailheads for nine marked hikes, from 10-minute strolls to tough descents down to river level. The best places for bird and mammal watching are near the stream courses in the early morning or late afternoon. Most trailheads are within easy walking distance of the park entrance. Rangers offer guiding services on the longer trails.
From Valle Grande, beyond the park boundaries to the west, it’s possible to hike in a week to Humahuaca along the Sierra de Zenta, or to Tilcara.
The ranger station at Aguas Negras, the park entrance, is the best source of information about trails and conditions. There’s another ranger station at Mesada de las Colmenas, halfway along the road through the park.
The free campground is at the entrance. It has bathrooms and shower, but no power, drinking water or shop.
Libertador General San Martín is a sizable sugarcane town with little charm but several places to stay. Little Calilegua is more appealing, with a tumbledown tropical feel and a deafening chorus of cicadas around the historic Sala de Calilegua estate. Jardín Colonial is a characterful, haphazardly-run centenarian bungalow with attractive rooms and a verdant, sculpture-filled garden. It's cheap and very casual: there are no locks on the rooms and you're left to your own devices. Toucans roost in the trees opposite.
Numerous buses between Jujuy/Salta and Salvador Mazza stop at Libertador General San Martín and Calilegua, and some will let you off at the junction for the park, 3km north of Libertador's center and 2km south of Calilegua. It’s 8km from here to Aguas Negras ranger station; there’s enough traffic to hitchhike. It’s also easy to taxi it from either town.