There’s something magical about Iruya, a remote village just 46km from the main road but a world away. It makes a great destination for a few days to properly appreciate the Quebrada de Humahuaca region away from the highway. There's some epic hiking around town.
The journey is worthwhile in itself. Turning off RN 9, 26km north of Humahuaca, the ripio (gravel) road ascends to a 4000m pass at the Jujuy–Salta provincial boundary. Here, there’s a massive apacheta (travelers’ cairn). Those discarded plastic bottles once carried liquid offerings to Pachamama.
You then wind down a spectacular valley and eventually reach Iruya, home to a pretty yellow-and-blue church, steep streets, adobe houses and breathtaking mountainscapes (with soaring condors). It’s an indigenous community with traditional values, so tread lightly.
There’s a bank with ATM and a gas station.