Andes off road

Quebrada de las Conchas Salta Argentina

Welcome Tours + Expeditions Andesoffroad Services + Accommodation The region Andesoffroad contact Interesting links

6 DAYS mendoza - SALTA

From Mendoza to Salta, this stretch of Route 40 offers impressive detours like through the Ischigualasto and Talampaya Parks, and includes the major highlights along the way, such as Cuesta de Miranda, the Quilmes Ruins, Cafayate -north Argentina's wine capital, and the dazzling Calchaqui Valley.

DAY 1 | Mendoza - Vallecito - San Agustín del Valle Fértil
We start in the city of Mendoza and enter the province of San Juan following the famed Route 40. About 60 km east of San Juan city we visit the desert hamlet of Vallecito, where the shrine of the popular religious figure Difunta ("defunct") Correa draws more pilgrims than any other in the country. To signify their gratitude for favours granted the devotees leave an astonishing assortment of items, from model cars to bride dresses. Next we continue bordering lush hills and green valleys, the Valle Fértil NP, until we reach the refreshingly tranquil village of San Agustín del Valle Fértil, where we overnight in a local guesthouse.

DAY 2 | San Agustín - PP Ischigualasto | NP Talampaya - Villa Unión
In the morning we explore (by driving in a convoi) the Ischigualasto Provincial Park. This dazzling desert exhibits bizarre wind-eroded sandstone formations, reveals the evolution of vertebrate life, and represents with a complete sequence of continental sediments the entire Triassic Period. After reaching the neighbouring province of La Rioja, in the afternoon we visit (not on our own) the amazing Talampaya Park and its invaluable geological and archaeological treasures. Main marvels are the colossal 160m deep Talampaya Canyon and the up to 80m high terracotta hued cliff walls. Overnight accommodation in a comfortable hotel in Villa Unión.

DAY 3 | Villa Unión - Chilecito - Belén
From Villa Unión we again follow and stay on Route 40 practically until the end of the tour. After enjoying the snaky and beautiful Cuesta de Miranda driving through 500-meters-tall red rock walls dotted with towering cacti, we arrive in Chilecito, where Station 2 of the cableway La Mejicana is worth a stop. Constructed in 1903 by the German company Bleichert and Co. to transport gold and other metal extracted from a mine in Cerro Famatina at an altitude of 4,600 m, in its time it was the longest and highest cable railway of the world, stretching up for 34 km. Afterwards we enter the province of Catamarca passing by olive plantations and nut trees. Nearby Londres, the first town built (1558) in Catamarca, we explore the remarkable site of El Shincal. Set among exuberant vegetation and mountains, these ruins are one of the most amazing remains of the Inca occupation of Argentina. Further north we arrive in Belén (1,254 masl), well known for its great tradition in weaving and its handmade llama wool ponchos. We spend the night in a friendly hotel.

DAY 4 | Belén - Quilmes Ruins - Cafayate
Today Route 40 leads through the fertile valleys of Hualfín and Santa María, also traversing a wide barren plain. Time permitting in Santa María we can make a detour through Amaicha del Valle and stop over in the Pachamama (Mother Earth) Museum of Geology and Anthropology, also exhibiting stone sculptures in a courtyard. They all describe the former indigenous cultures of the Calchaquí Valley. Next visit are the pre-columbian ruins of Quilmes, superbly built into the side of a mountain. Considered the most extensive site of Argentina, the Quilmes were part of the Diaguita culture and resisted Spanish occupation during 130 years. 50 km further on we reach Cafayate (1,900 masl), encircled by world-class 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 typical posada (guesthouse).

DAY 5 | Cafayate - Calchaqui Valley - Cachi
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. Enjoying stunning 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.

DAY 6 | Cachi - Salta
Heading eastwards the road reaches the heart of Los Cardones National Park, a vast desert crowded with hundreds of centenary candelabra cacti, and begins to descend the Cuesta del Obispo in scenic serpentines until gently entering the Quebrada del Escoipe, a verdant ravine enclosed by steep red cliffs. Continuing northwards and past the fertile Lerma Valley we arrive in Salta, "the Beautiful". End of trip.



Additional DATES 2019 | 2020
03 Aug | 17 Aug | 31 Aug | 14 Sep | 28 Sep | 12 Oct | 26 Oct | 09 Nov | 23 Nov |
07 Dec | 14 Mar | 28 Mar | 11 Apr | 25 Apr | 09 May | 23 May | 06 Jun | 20 Jun ..+

:: Best time to travel: March - May | October - December
:: Itinerary can be customized to your requirements
:: Reservations should be made 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
:: meals, alcoholic beverages / additional drinks
:: access Talampaya and Ischigualasto Parks
:: individual activities + expenses
:: medical expenses/insurance
:: tips
PP Ischigualasto
    Talampaya NP
Chilecito La Mejicana
Cuesta de Miranda La Rioja
Shincal Ruins
Quilmes Ruins
Pachamama Museum
    Calchaqui Valley
north argentina | puna andes north | puna andes north full
extreme andes | in the sky | sixtyhundreds | hidden puna