Tilcara vs. Humahuaca
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Feb 25, 2013 1:22 PM Last Post By: nahuel
Feb 3, 2013 2:01 PM
My boyfriend and I will be briefly venturing up to Salta and Jujuy after attending a friend's wedding in BA in early April. We will be landing in Salta at ~13:00 on the 4th of April, picking up a rental car there, spending the night in Salta and then heading up to Humahuaca or Tilcara on the 5th. We're trying to decide if we should spend the night of the 5th in Tilcara or Humahuaca- any suggestions? We'll probably visit both.
Feb 3, 2013 2:10 PM
Both are picturesque towns. Tilcara is the starting point for a pleasant hike up the valley to a small waterfall and has some very nice restaurants serving up traditional and delicious locro, and I would narrowly lean towards it over Humahuaca. There are several locals offering accommodation in their homes for a very modest sum.
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Feb 3, 2013 2:58 PM
Feb 4, 2013 10:20 AM
Feb 5, 2013 1:42 PM
4Great, thanks so much!
I have one more question- we're staying overnight on April 4th in Salta and have to be back in Salta to catch a flight to BA at 20:10 on the 6th. So the 5th and most of the 6th are free to explore Jujuy.
On the 5th we'll probably head north on RN9 to Humahuaca, then back south on the 6th, with stops along the way as we see fit. We would like to head west to check out Salinas Grandes, but are trying to figure out if that would best be done on the way north on the 5th vs. the way south on the 6th- are there better times of the day to go to Salinas Grandes? How good is the road from Pumamarca? It'll be just us and a rental car, no guide.
Feb 5, 2013 2:00 PM
5The road from Purmamarca up to Salinas Grandes is very well surfaced BUT driving there from Purmamarca will involve a long and exhausting uphill drive through countless switchbacks! To give you an idea, we drove it the other way (i.e. DOWN from Salinas to Purmamarca) and we drove the car all the way down (about 63km - we measured it as it was quite funny) with the car in neutral and the engine off. I had to touch the accelerator pedal only two or so kilometres outside Purmamarca...
You'll need to set out from Salta very early to manage all of this without rushing!
Another option, but possibly too tight time-wise, is to drive out of Salta WESTwards and not northwards towards Santa Rosa de Tastil on route 51, then see San Antonio de los Cobres and the Polvorilla viaduct before heading north on Route 40 and then driving the crazy switchbacky section (route 52) EASTwards (and downwards) before staying the night in Purmamarca. To give you an idea, we set off from Santa Rosa de Tastil in the morning (not particularly early) and managed to fit all of that in and make it to Purmamarca in daylight, so it's doable. The drive is gorgeous, but the route 40 section is 100km of reasonably good but corrugated ripio. If you do it check your car hire firm allows you drive this road. Most do. Polvorilla viaduct, the pre-Inca ruins at Tastil, and the drive up from Salta towards San Antonio de los Cobres via the Abra Blanca pass (4,080metres), are all gobsmacking. It's a long but fabulous day. The next day you could drive up the Quebrada de Humahuaca all the way up to Humahuaca via Tilcara.
Basically this entry on our blog summarises the entire circuit we did of Salta and Jujuy provinces (2 weeks in a rental car):
And another thing, unless there is a specific reason you want to go, I really wouldn't bother with Jujuy. Salta is more attractive and interested by many orders of magnitude.
Happy to provide any other info if you need!
Feb 5, 2013 2:11 PM
6Thanks! I actually meant Jujuy province, not city :)
So our plan is either:
-April 5th: Salta --> Purmamarca --> Salinas Grandes --> Purmamarca (possibly on to Tilcara and Humahuaca if we wish)
-April 6th: Purmamarca --> Tilcara --> Humahuaca --> Salta (flight to catch at 20:10)
-April 5th: Salta --> Purmamarca --> Tilcara --> Humahuaca
-April 6th: Humahuaca --> Purmamarca --> Salinas Grandes --> Purmamarca --> Salta (flight to catch at 20:10)
We'll arrive in Salta at 13:00 on April 4th, coming by plane from Iguazu so will have this day to ease into the altitude. I'm thinking it's probably wiser to head to Salinas Grandes on the 5th, but am wondering re: the implications on altitude sickness, should it occur, as I believe Salinas Grandes is at a higher elevation than Humahuaca- is this correct? We'll be driving ourselves so not sure coca is a good idea.
Feb 5, 2013 2:16 PM
Feb 5, 2013 2:26 PM
8Yes, Salinas is higher than Humahuaca. Salta's altitude is not really sufficient for acclimation to be necessary. We arrived - as you will be - from Puerto Iguazú but by bus via Corrientes.
I am also a cautious traveller when it comes to altitude but I honestly think you will be fine as long as you ensure that you sleep lower than the maximum altitude reached during any given day. For instance, we slept in Tastil (3,110m) before climbing the next day to Polvorilla (4,200m) and descending to sleep in Purmamarca (2,324m). The night in Tastil (the previous one had been in Cachi (2,280m) was a little ropey (bit of gasping!) but fine. If you are worried, you can consider seeing a doctor for some acetazolamide for a day or so before. It does help. Coca leaves can help - they are not narcotic when chewed (they're not very nice, either!) so no need to worry with driving. I chewed coca for weeks in Bolivia, but only out of habit (whoops! I thought they were non addictive...).
If you feel at all up to it you could certainly pick up the car and make it up to Tastil on 4th before doing a Salinas Grandes and Purmamarca loop. But that's just my tuppenceworth. My main point was that Purmamarca all the way up to Salinas and back is not much less trouble than looping through S A de los Cobres.
Anyway, regardless of what you decide, have a great time and don't forget to eat tamales and humitas in Salta!!
Feb 25, 2013 1:22 PM
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