Andes off road

Antofalla Salt flat northwest Argentina

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8 DAYS SALTA - salta

The manifold attractions of the stunning Calchaqui Valley and the colourful Humahuaca Ravine in the North combined with the sheer beauty of the Andean high plateau in Northwestern Argentina are a perfect destination for culture and nature lovers.

DAY 1 | Salta - Cachi
After departing from Salta and past the 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 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 among adobe homes painted white. Overnight accommodation in a cosy guesthouse.

DAY 2 | Cachi - Calchaqui Valley - Cafayate
On this journey we travel along the 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. Following the meandering river we will visit picturesque villages, like Seclantás and Molinos, featuring adobe-houses and delightful churches, and we also will enjoy wonderful sceneries such as the Quebrada de las Flechas (Arrows Gorge), a labyrinth of serrated rocks stabbing upward like arrows. After reaching Cafayate (1,660 masl), north Argentina's wine capital, encircled by vineyards and well known for its aromatic torrontés white wine variety, we overnight in a homely posada.

DAY 3 | Cafayate - Antofagasta de la Sierra
Continuing on Route 40 through the valleys of Santa María and Hualfín, we also traverse a wide arid steppe. Then the road twists and climbs up towards the Andean high plateau, called Puna in Argentina, crossing an altitude of over 4,000 m. The landscape starts to change and becomes fantastic as we feast our eyes on the first flocks of vicuñas, on huge sand dunes, gleaming salt flats and snow-capped summits. After arrival at Antofagasta de la Sierra (3,440 masl), a green oasis lying in an expansive barren plain dotted with black volcanoes and lava-flows, we spend the night in a roomy guesthouse.

DAY 4 | Roundtrip Salar Antofalla
Today we experience the raw beauty of nature. At altitude 4,400 m we cross striking mountain passes opening up breathtaking, white-blue-red vistas, and travel along the shore of Salar Antofalla, the longest salt flat of the world (160 km), to discover its hidden gems: the remote hamlet of Antofalla, sitting at the foot of the namesake volcano; the astonishing circular lagoons, known as "Eyes of the Field"; and the incredibly colourful oasis of Botijuela, where the curious bottle-shaped cone of an extinguished geyser stands out. Overnight again in Antofagasta de la Sierra.

DAY 5 | AdlSierra - Salar Hombre Muerto - San Antonio de los Cobres
A soliatry road leads northwards to the glimmering Salar del Hombre Muerto (Dead Man's salt flat), the second largest salt flat in Argentina. At its shore we take a look around the abandoned gold mine Incahuasi, and continue our way through the barren and expansive Puna until getting to the mighty La Polvorilla viaduct. At 4,220 m in altitude, it is the last and the highest station of the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds). A few kilometers ahead, we arrive at the ancient mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres (3,775 m), where we overnight in a restful hotel.

DAY 6 | SACobres -Salinas Grandes - Purmamarca
After a few hours of empty vastness we reach Salinas Grandes (Big Salt Flats), an immense and white shimmering salt surface. Winding up 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), a tiny scenic village sitting framed by a red, pink, purple and white mountain, the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven Colours Hill). We spend the night in a lovely posada.

DAY 7 | Purmamarca - (Quebrada de) Humahuaca
Early in the morning we take a walk on the Seven Colours Hill before heading north to travel up the Humahuaca Ravine. The "Quebrada" is a long and narrow path of valleys and hillsides miraculously coloured, dotted with towering cacti and picturesque 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 lovely church in Uquía, known for its unique paintings featuring angels armed with Spanish weapons. And we stroll along the narrow streets of bewitching Humahuaca. Overnight stay in a comfortable hotel.

DAY 8 | Humahuaca - Salta
We drive 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.

ALTERNATIVE DAY 4 or ADDITIONAL DAY in AdlSierra Crater Galán Volcano (Photos)




:: Best time to travel: March - May | October - December 
:: Itinerary can be customized to your requirements 
:: 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
Cuesta del Obispo
Pumice Stone Field
Antofalla Eye of The Field
Salinas Grandes
    Tilcara Pucara
north argentina | puna andes north | andes route 40
extreme andes | in the sky | sixtyhundreds | hidden puna