See the incredible natural attractions of the Calchaquí Valley on this ‘wow’-inducing day trip from Salta to Cachi! Enjoy a comfortable and scenic round-trip drive to the charming village, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who describes the terrain along the way. From gorges to bridges to snowcapped Andean mountains, the breathtaking landscape will fill up all the space on your camera. Make several stops — including the town of Payogasta — until you reach Cachi, where you can explore on your own. Visit the Archeological Museum if you wish before returning to Salta via Los Cardones National Park.
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.