Follow part of the route of Argentina’s famous Train to the Clouds on a scenic round-trip drive from Salta to the mountain town of San Antonio de los Cobres. As you climb in elevation during the drive, travel through Quebrada del Toro’s dense greenery and breathtaking gorge dotted with cacti. Cross viaducts and bridges, including Alisal and Chorrillo, and visit the pre-Incan archaeological gem of Santa Rosa de Tastil. Explore the quiet mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres, from where you’ll capture views of Polvorilla Viaduct.
Your day trip from Salta starts with hotel pickup for the 100-mile (160-km) drive northwest of town to San Antonio de los Cobres. Your route parallels Argentina’s famous railway, Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes), but on this tour, enjoy the comfort of disembarking as your group pleases for photo ops of the incredible Andean scenery.
Reach your first sightseeing marvel after about two hours, Quebrada del Toro (Gorge of the Bull). Admire views of El Toro viaduct, a 79-foot (24-meter) bridge built between the 1920s and ‘40s, that crosses the gorge, and pass by the bridges of Alisal and Chorrillo. Your guide provides engaging commentary on history and local geology, which spans the spectrum from dense vegetation to rocky landscapes strewn with cacti. See if you can spot cardones, a native plant resembling celery.Travel through the charming villages of El Candado, El Gólgota and Alfarcito. Depending on your group, make stops in the towns to stretch your legs and snap pictures. Continue and disembark at the tiny rural village of Santa Rosa de Tastil, where you’ll visit the ruins of a mysterious pre-Incan city. As you walk through the arid and rocky terrain, your guide points out remnants that used to be housing and streets of this former civilization. Find out more inside the archaeological museum (entrance fee is an additional expense), and if you’re hungry, purchase a light snack in the village.Back in your air-conditioned vehicle, pass through Finca La Encrucijada, ascend Muñano Cliff and reach Abra Blanca, the highest point on the road between Salta and San Antonio de los Cobres, at a height of 13,386 feet (4,080 meters). Take in sweeping views of the gorge and perhaps catch sight of condors swooping over the valley or llamas clopping up a mountainside.Then make the final stretch to San Antonio de los Cobres, one of Argentina’s highest-elevation towns at 12,300 feet (3,750 meters), and enjoy views of the often-photographed Polvorilla Viaduct. During your two hours here, learn about the town whose name is taken from nearby Sierra de Cobre (Copper Mountain). Explore at your leisure and buy lunch at one of the local restaurants serving regional dishes. Wander the streets lined with traditional adobe houses, browse the handicraft stalls and admire the views of the surrounding Andes.
When it’s time to go, return to Salta the way you came, but with no stops. Your day trip ends with hotel drop-off.