Welcome to Salta & the Andean Northwest
Argentina’s northwest sits lofty, dry and tough beneath the mighty Andes. Nature works magic here with stone: weird, wonderful, tortured rockscapes are visible throughout.There's a definite Andean feel characterizing the area's indigenous communities, traditional handicrafts, llamas and Inca ruins, and the high, arid puna (Andean highlands) stretching into Chile and Bolivia. This region’s cities were Argentina’s... Read More
Top experiences in Salta & the Andean Northwest
Salta & the Andean Northwest activities
Full Day Tour to Quebrada de Humahuaca
The Quebrada de Humahuaca is a 95-mile-long (155-km) mountain valley and ravine in the Jujuy province of northwestern Argentina. The Río Grande flows through the gorge during the summer.After hotel pickup in Salta, travel north with your guide for about two hours toward the quebrada. During the ride, learn about how this UNESCO World Heritage site once served as a caravan road for the Incans, later as a pivotal commercial route during the colonial period and also saw battles during the Argentine War of Independence. When you arrive in the picturesque village of Purmamarca, walk by the church and note its organ-pipe cacti-covered roof, and peruse the jewelry and wool rugs at the craft market. The unforgettable sight here, however, lies at the end of the road, looming over town: Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven Colors Hill), with striated hues ranging from cream to green to a deep plum. Continue north to Tilcara in the heart of the quebrada. Just outside the town, climb a hilltop to see the pre-Incan fortress ruins of Pucará, and enjoy sweeping views of the valley. Then head back to the town square to visit the archeological museum.Pass through Huacalera, and while crossing the Tropic of Capricorn road, admire the multicolored La Pollera de la Coya hill. In Uquía, see 17th-century paintings by indigenous students of the Cuzco School, a Roman Catholic artistic institution founded in Peru.Around midday, arrive at Humahuaca, your northernmost stop and the most densely populated town in the quebrada. Stroll past white colonial buildings lining the cobblestoned streets, climb a flight of steps to see the Monument of Independence built in 1950 and gaze out onto the Río Grande valley. Visit the local cathedral and observe more Cuzco School paintings, and then enjoy lunch in town (own expense); feel free to ask your knowledgeable guide for recommendations on where to eat.After lunch, head back south and pass by La Paleta del Pintor (Painter’s Palette), a series of triangular jags in distinct stripes of rose, green and ocher that form a natural tableau framing the town of Maimará.Stop in San Salvador de Jujuy, situated at the southern end of the gorge. Visit the French-Baroque Flag’s Hall and see the flag bestowed by General Belgrano to the city following the Battle of Salta. Inside San Salvador de Jujuy Cathedral, admire the wood-carved pulpit laminated in gold. Passing by the Government House, ponder over the allegorical statues by native Lola Mora.Keep heading south via the narrow and winding Route 9 for views of subtropical vegetation, the Santa Laura Pass, the dam of La Cienaga (the Swamp), Las Maderas and Campo Alegre, and travel through Vaqueros before arriving back at your hotel in Salta.
Salinas Grandes, San Antonio and Purmamarca Tour
This full-day tour is considered one of the most beautiful and complete tours in the region. It allows you to discover different landscapes and learn about the life of the inhabitants of this large Puna Region.You will depart going through Campo Quijano and travel parallel to the famous “Tren a las Nubes” (The Train to the Clouds) Railway appreciating each of the bridges, stations, tunnels and viaducts it goes through. You will also be able to enjoy “Quebrada del Toro” (Bull Gorge) where you will stop to take in the beauty of the different views you are offered. Then you will reach Santa Rosa de Tastil which is a little town of no more than 50 inhabitants, and will see the museum and Tastil ruins. Then you will head through “Abra Blanca” where you will reach the maximum height of 4080m (13,385ft) above sea level. From there you will be able to contemplate the impressive snow-covered Mountain Acay. Afterwards you will make your way into the Puna Region with its lunar landscape and finally reach “San Antonio de los Cobres”. After a break for lunch (not included), you will take the route 40 see the local fauna consisting of vicuñas, llamas, zuris, foxes and condors. The next stop is going to be in the beautiful Salinas Grandes (a salt flat).After that you will go to the 7 Colors Hill in Purmamarca through the “Cuesta del Lipan” (Lipan Slope), the highest point reaches 4170m (13,680 ft) above sea level. After, visit the main square, the artisan market and the streets of Purmamarca. Then you will start your way back to Salta City.
Full-Day Wine and Landscapes Tour From Salta
Following pickup at your hotel in Salta, begin this 12-hour tour by traveling in a minibus south along Provincial Route 68 through the Valley of Lerma including Cerrillos, La Merced, El Carril, Coronel Moldes, and La Viña. As the agricultural landscape unfolds, enjoy views of tobacco fields and stop to watch the traditional processing of this important crop using modern facilities and traditional clay chimneys. The tour continues through Alemania town with its distinctive red mountains and natural rock formations including The Devil´s Throat, The Amphitheater, House of the Parrots, Castles, Titanic, The Windows, The Obelisk, and The Friar. Finally, in Cafayate town, visit wineries to taste wine and learn some of the secrets of Salta´s wine making legacy including the world-famous torrontes grape variety. After lunch (additional cost), head back to your hotel in Salta via Route 68 as evening light transforms the landscape you enjoyed in the morning.
Day Tour of Cachi and Calchaquí Valleys from Salta
After pickup at your central Salta hotel, travel in a minibus with a bilingual guide through distinct landscapes, including Laurel´s Gorge and Escoipe Gorge before arriving at Bishop's Cliff to enjoy a panoramic view of the Enchanted Valley.Continue to the Mill Stone, at 11,102 feet (3,384 meters) and the highest spot on the route trip, before crossing Los Cardones National Park via part of an ancient Incan road. Arrive in Cachi to take in panoramic views including a group of peaks called Nevado de Cachi and the picturesque town of Payogasta. In Cachi, visit the Archaeological Museum and the church before returning to Salta.
Calchaquí Valley Day Trip to Cachi from Salta
Your day trip begins with hotel pickup in Salta. Settle into your seat for the 5- to 6.5-hour drive through the stunning scenery of the Calchaquí Valley and listen to your guide's informative commentary en route to Cachi. (Drive time varies depending on the weather and how long you spend at the various stops along the way). Start by heading south through the Lerma Valley, past the towns of El Carril and Chicoana. After a 20-minute photo op at Puente Malcante (Malcante Bridge), continue along Route 33 through two gorges — Quebrada de los Laureles and Quebrada de Escoipe — where you’ll stop at a mirador (viewpoint) for another look with your guide. Stop again at Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop’s Slope), a viewpoint on a curvy road with panoramic vistas of the corn fields and fruit trees of the Enchanted Valley, before reaching Piedra del Molino (Millstone), a rock landmark 11,100 feet (3,384 meters) above sea level — your highest point on the trip. Enjoy another 20- to 30-minute break to soak up the spectacular mountain views, and then continue to a point overlooking the Nevado de Cachi, a range of snowcapped mountains. In the town of Payogasta you have a 1-hour break to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant (own expense) or eat your packed lunch if you brought one with you. Finally, arrive in the village of Cachi, where you have one hour of free time to explore the village at your leisure. Admire its historical architecture, from the whitewashed adobe homes to the 16th-century church, a National Historic Monument, and visit the Archeological Museum (Museo Arqueológico) to see its collection of artifacts from this region, some dating back 10,000 years (optional; entrance at own expense). Afterward, meet up with your guide for the return drive to Salta. The approximate 3.5- to 4-hour route takes you through Los Cardones National Park (Parque Nacional Los Cardones), which you’ll cross via the Recta del Tin Tin, a 7.5-mile (12-km) stretch of straight road, whose exact origins are unknown. Many believe that the Incas built the original thoroughfare, which lies at an elevation of 9,800 feet (3,000 meters), using a series of fires to create the alignment. Stop for about 20 minutes, and then continue back to Salta, where your day trip ends with hotel drop-off.
Cafayate and Calchaqui Winery Tour from Salta
After hotel pickup by your local guide, your day trip begins by heading out of town on Route 68 toward Cafayate, about 120 miles (190 km) south of Salta. Drive through the Lerma Valley, stopping after about 90 minutes for a coffee break in Posta de las Cabras or La Viña. Continue your drive all the way down into the Calchaquí Valley (Valles Calchaquíes), a series of striking valleys, rivers and gorges spread across Salta and its neighboring provinces that’s on UNESCO’s tentative list to become a World Heritage site. Reach the villages of Talapampa and Alemania at the entrance to Quebrada de las Conchas (Gorge of the Shells), which you’ll drive through, stopping four times to admire its various rock formations and canyons, such as Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo) and the Amphitheater (Amfiteatro). Finally, arrive in Cafayate, where you have a 1-hour break to enjoy lunch. You may eat with your guide at a local restaurant reserved for the tour (restaurants vary by day), find your own restaurant on the town square or, if you brought a packed lunch with you, find a nice spot to enjoy a picnic (lunch is at your own expense). After lunch, meet back up with your guide and group to head to a local winery.The exact winery visited on your tour varies by day; you may visit a vineyard such as Domingo Hermanos, El Tránsito or Vasija Secreta. Take a 15- to 25-minute tour of the winery, perhaps seeing the vineyards or barreling facilities, and learn about the winemaking process in Cafayate. Then enjoy a tasting of three to four wines including varietals such as torrontés (the region’s signature white varietal), malbec, cabernet or mistela (a dessert wine). After your tasting, head back to Salta the way you came. Your day trip ends with hotel drop-off.Note: If there is time, you may visit a second winery before returning to Salta.