Andes 4WD Tours

Quebrada de Humahuaca North Argentina

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CalchaquI VALLEY | SALINAS GRANDES | Quebrada de Humahuaca

North Argentina - a trip for the senses. Rainbow coloured mountains, towering candelabra cacti, picturesque villages, age-old traditions, indigenous cultures, outstanding wines and delicious regional meals are waiting to be discovered and tasted.

DAY 1 | Salta - Cafayate
Leaving the city of Salta we head south to traverse the fertile Lerma Valley, the green lowlands of Salta with prospering farms and tobacco plantations, and to travel along the stunning Las Conchas Gorge, an eroded riverbed-ravine. Its bizarre terracotta hued rock formations carry names like Amphitheatre, Sapo (Toad) or Castillo (Castle). The city of Cafayate (1,660 masl), north Argentina's wine capital, is encircled by vineyards and well known for its aromatic torrontés white wine variety, which we could taste by visiting a winery. We spend the night in a nice posada.

DAY 2 | Cafayate - Calchaqui Valley - Cachi
Today we continue on Route 40 through the long and sandy valley of the Calchaqui River, which is at its most attractive in autumn, when red peppers are laid out to dry on the fields. Driving in the midst of astonishing landscapes such as the Quebrada de las Flechas (Arrows Gorge), a labyrinth of serrated rocks stabbing upward like arrows, we also will follow the meandering river and visit picturesque villages, like Seclantás and Molinos, featuring adobe-houses and delightful churches. Upon arrival in Cachi (2,280 masl), a laidback, quiet town at the foot of the snow-covered Nevado de Cachi (6,380 masl), we wander around on cobbled streets and among adobe homes painted white. Overnight accommodation in a cosy posada (guesthouse).

DAY 3 | Cachi - Acay Pass - Purmamarca
Entering the northern Calchaquí Valley we steadily ascend through a backdrop of sinuous gorges, green farmlands and several hamlets until we reach the enchanting village of La Poma. From here, we head up the long curving mountain to the highest road pass in America, the Abra del Acay, where a superb panorama opens up at an altitude of 4,985 m. Afterwards we pass by the ancient mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres (3,775 m), the 'gate' to the Andean high plateau, called Puna in Argentina, and travel through barren and expansive land until getting to Salinas Grandes (Big Salt Flats), an immense white gleaming salt surface. Winding up again to an altitude of 4,175 m, the road (Cuesta de Lipán) finally zigzags down a steep slope and takes us to Purmamarca (2,192 masl). Overnight in a lovely posada.

DAY 4 | Purmamarca - (Quebrada de) Humahuaca
Purmamarca is a tiny scenic village sitting framed by a red, pink, purple and white mountain, the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven Colours Hill), where we take a walk before heading north. Following the same natural track used by our ancestors, we travel up the Humahuaca Ravine. The "Quebrada" is a long and narrow path of valleys and hillsides miraculously coloured, dotted with towering cacti and charming small towns. We visit Tilcara and its nearby 'Pucará', an invaluable pre-Inca hilltop fortification. Maimará's hillside cemetery and the polychrome Paleta del Pintor (Painter's Palette). The amazing church in Uquía, notable for its unique paintings featuring angels armed with Spanish weapons. And we stroll along the narrow streets of bewitching Humahuaca (2,939 masl), where we spend the night in a comfortable hotel.

DAY 5 | Humahuaca - Salta

We head back south along the Quebrada and pass by the city of Jujuy. To reach Salta we either can follow the old connection road meandering through a lush jungle, or we can drive on a highway, a longer, but faster stretch. End of trip.

6 DAYS SALTA - SALTA (incl. iruya)
SALINAS GRANDES | Quebrada de Humahuaca | CalchaquI Valley

DAY 1 | Salta - Salinas Grandes - Purmamarca
Departing from Salta we gradually ascend driving up the Quebrada del Toro (Bull's Gorge), almost paralleling the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds), and visiting the ruined city of Santa Rosa de Tastil, an enormous pre-columbian settlement, superbly set on a hillside with overlooking views. At the mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres we reach an altitude of 3,775 m and go further to Salinas Grandes (Big Salt Flats), a fantastic sight of an immense gleaming salt field. Winding up again to an altitude of 4,175 m, the road (Cuesta de Lipán) finally begins a vertiginous descent zigzagging down a steep slope until the arrival at Purmamarca (2,192 masl). Overnight in a lovely posada.

DAY 2 | Purmamarca - (Quebrada de) Humahuaca
Traveling along the Quebrada de Humahuaca (as described above DAY 4).

DAY 3 | Humahuaca - Iruya
A curvy gravel road winds up the grass-covered mountainsides until crossing a pass at altitude 4,000 m, where we enjoy fantastic bird's eye views of the mountain valley below. We corkscrew down through deeply cut slopes and, further ahead, into a magnificent colourful gorge, where Iruya is perched on top of a cliff, 2,780 m high. This enchanting village is dotted with a remarkable church and with steep cobblestoned streets, and the inhabitants still maintain numerous ancient traditions. In the afternoon we can trekk up to the viewpoint or alongside the river to explore the splendid surroundings. We spend the night in a friendly local guesthouse.

DAY 4 | Iruya - Cachi
Heading back south and passing by the cities of Jujuy and Salta and the fertile Lerma Valley the road enters a verdant ravine enclosed by steep red cliffs, and begins to ascend the Cuesta del Obispo until reaching in scenic serpentines the highest point at 3,348 masl. Here we emerge onto a barren plain and traverse the Los Cardones National Park, a vast desert crowded with hundreds of centenary candelabra cacti. Upon arrival in Cachi (2,280 masl), a laid-back, quiet town at the foot of the snow-covered Nevado de Cachi (6,380 masl), we wander around on its cobbled streets and between adobe homes painted white. Overnight accommodation in a homely guesthouse.

DAY 5 | Cachi - Calchaqui Valley - Cafayate
As described above (DAY 2), the reverse way. Overnight accommodation in Cafayate (1,660 m) in a typical posada.

DAY 6 | Cafayate - Salta
After visiting a famous winery in Cafayate we return to Salta as described above (DAY 1), the reverse way. End of trip.



:: Best time to travel: March - June | September - December
:: Itinerary can be customized 
:: Reservations at least 5 weeks in advance

:: terrestrial (incl. from/to airport) + overlanding 4WD fully equipped transfers with driver
:: bilingual coordination + accompaniment (English/German/Spanish)
:: accommodation in local guesthouses based on double room and breakfast
:: refreshments and snacks
:: local guides support
:: access to national parks / tolls
:: meals, alcoholic beverages / additional drinks
:: individual activities + expenses
:: medical expenses/insurance
:: tips
Quebrada de las Conchas
    Quebrada de las Flechas
Wine cellar Cafayate
Acay Pass
Salinas Grandes
Los Cardones Park
Calchaqui Valley
    Skirt of the Coya

puna andes north | puna andes north full | andes route 40
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