A land of pure nature, northwest Argentina invites you to connect with your sensations in this picturesque setting. With each step along each road, you will discover some new detail that invites you to pause for at least a moment to become part of nature that surrounds you. The city of Salta, located at the foot of the Andes Mountains, combines a great natural landscapes with the town’s rich culture and history. The area’s diverse geography consists of jungle, high mountains and dry valleys, which give the Salta area it many climates. And possessing over 65% of Argentina’s bird species, Salta is a paradise for bird watchers. On this 9-day/8-night tour, you will also find that northwest Argentina’s cuisine – from its famous empanadas to its most elaborate dishes – is as rich as this area’s history. As you travel to the southwest of Salta, you will come upon the Calchaquí Valleys, which are home to the highest vineyards in the world – reaching altitudes as high as 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level. This unforgettable travel experience will provide you with these and other amazing landscapes, historical towns, colors, crafts and archaeological features. Come to Northwest Argentina and discover how its culture is alive in the streets, as well as in the people, the music, the food and the area’s “high-altitude wines.”
“My wife and I just completed a 5-day tour around the Cotopaxi volcano and the stunning Quilotoa loop – overall an excellent trip and wonderful experience.”
AM: Upon your arrival, you will be meet and welcomed at Salta’s airport, and then driven to your boutique hotel. As an introduction to the region, you will be taken on a guided tour of the city, which is one of the best preserved in Argentina. Near the town’s main square, you will see neo-colonial-style houses, religious institutions (such as the Cathedral, San Francisco Church and San Bernardo Convent), as well as the Cabildo (“Town Hall”). As Inca culture played an important role in this region, you will accompanied to the High Mountain Archaeological Museum (MAAM). One of the most important museums in Argentina, this institution was created to feature the perfectly preserved “Children of the Llullaillaco,” the frozen bodies of three ancient Inca children found in 1999 on the summit of the Llullaillaco Volcano. Their magnificent funerary offerings are also on display along with diverse objects, tools and crafts characteristic of their ancient civilization.
PM: Returning to the hotel, you will be greeted with a welcome dinner, after which time you can get a good night’s sleep in your room at the boutique Solar de la Plaza Hotel.
AM: Following breakfast this morning, we will head out on a southwestern drive to the Lerma Valley. Once there, we will go on a two-hour trek in the Quebrada de las Conchas Natural Reserve, which is also known as the “Gorge of Shells” due to the amount of marine fossils it contains. As we hike, you will see how this route has a particular geography carved out by the wind and rain. Surprising rock formations can be seen in the gorges here, while the multicolored mountains are also surprising to travelers. Some of the most notable rock formations that can be seen here are the Garganta del Diablo (or “Devil´s Throat”), the “Amphitheatre” and “the Castles.”
PM: After enjoying a picnic lunch, this afternoon we will head outside of the city of Cafayate to visit the Bodega El Esteco winery, located in within Hotel Patios de Cafayate. Founded in 1892 by French immigrants, this winemaking establishment is blessed by the assets of the region and the dedication of its staff, who have earned well-deserved recognition for the high quality of their products. During this visit, you will be able to participate in some wine tasting with a well-known oenologist, followed by dinner in the unique restaurant of the Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel, though you will spend the night at the nearby luxury Grace Cafayate Hotel.
AM: We will have breakfast and then visit Quilmes, an archaeological site in the Calchaqui Valley. The largest pre-Columbian settlement in the country, this site covers an area of about 30 hectares (75 acres). We will then visit the Bodega Piattelli winery, which is located among breathtaking ancient red rock formations and mountains in the Calchaquí Valley at an altitude of 1,768 meters (5,800 feet) above sea level. While visiting the winery, you can taste high-altitude wines and enjoy lunch with an incredible view.
PM: After lunch, you will have time to relax time at your hotel. Later in the afternoon, we will go trekking to the La Yesera rock formation, where you are likely to find an incredible sunset behind the multicolored mountains. Dinner will be served at the Grace Hotel, where you will again spend the night.
AM: Early in the morning we will start out on our drive along the famous Route 40, which stretches south all the way to Patagonia and is one of the longest routes in the world. We will drive to the Quebrada de las Flechas (“Arrow Canyon”), where narrow steps are formed between walls that are 20 meters high on both sides – one of the most incredible landscapes in the Calchaquí Valley.
PM: After lunch at the Hacienda de Molinos, a boutique hotel, we will continue driving along Route 40 to the town of Cachi. Up ahead, you will be able to see the Calchaqui Valleys’ highest snowcapped mountain: the Nevado de Cachi, reaching an altitude of 6,380 meters (20,932 feet) above sea level. At the foot of this mountain is located Cachi, surrounded by colored mountains and blessed by the Calchaqui River. As Cachi remains a quiet and colonial town with a beautiful square, you can visit its old church built with adobe brick and cactus wood, as well as stop by the Archaeological Museum. Dinner will be served at La Merced del Alto Hotel, where you will also spend the night.
AM: We will have breakfast and then leave out early in the morning to the Cuevas de Acsibi, located 20 km from Seclantás, a small town near Cachi. During the drive, the land turns from grey to red, with condors and donkeys appearing along the way. When the road ends, we will start a 5 km (3 mile) hike. Here, history is mixed with the geographical beauty of the area. The word “Acsibi” comes from a Cacán language and means “place of fire” or “place of light” due to the land’s intense red colors. Pottery elements have been found here and it seems that the former Sichas and Malcachiscos communities performed ceremonies and rituals at this site. This route, which was part of the Inca Trail system used by the Spanish to connect the region of Río de la Plata with Peru, leaves the canyon and leads to a valley of incredible shapes that some people compare to candles.
PM: Finally, we will reach a valley full of caves and giant rocks. The light here filters and turns this area into what might remind you of a movie set. We will then return to Cachi and have dinner at El Cortijo Hotel. You will spend the night in Cachi at La Merced del Alto Hotel.
AM: We will have breakfast and then leave Cachi, driving through scenic Los Cardones National Park, a protected area filled with cardones (huge cactus plants). After reaching an altitude of 3,348 meters (10,984 feet) above sea level at the Piedra del Molino lookout, we will then ride downhill along Cuesta del Obispo to reach an area known as the “Land of Gauchos,” a rural area that visitors find full of life, charm and surprises. The area’s haciendas (or “estancias” or “fincas”) are noted for their traditions and their hospitality, as they easily combine active rural lifestyles with relaxation and nature.
PM: We will have lunch at El Bordo de las Lanzas, a typical Argentinean hacienda. Later in the afternoon, we’ll enjoy a cooking class to learn how to make empanadas. You will have dinner and spend the night at El Bordo de las Lanzas.
AM: We will have breakfast and spend the morning visiting a nature reserve located there at the estancia (hacienda).
PM: For lunch, we will have a typical Argentinean barbecue and also watch a folkoric dancing group and a show with Peruvian horses. After lunch, we will leave for Purmamarca. Along the way, you will be able to appreciate the multicolored mountains of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, which in 2003 was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Passing a number of small towns along the Quebrada de Humahuaca – including Maimara, Purmamarca, Tilcara, Uquía and finally Humahuaca – we will arrive in Purmamarca, a small town known for its seven-color mountain. You can visit the town square, the church and the artisan market where you can buy crafts. While in this village, it’s also nice to go for a walk along a place called Los Colorados. Dinner at the hotel, where you will spend the night
AM: In our last day, we will drive from Purmamarca to Tilcara, where you are likely to have an incredible experience with llamas. We will visit a small family winery during this tour and later have a picnic lunch.
PM: In the afternoon, while driving along an international route that goes to Chile and Bolivia, we will reach the area’s highest point, Cuesta del Lipan, at 4,170 meters (13,681 feet) above sea level. From there, we will descend to Salinas Grandes, one of the largest salt flats in Argentina. It is located at the edge of Salta and Jujuy provinces, at more than 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level. With an area of 212 square km, this enormous “white sea” of salt is one of the breathtaking landscapes in Argentina. We will be able to discover this place walking slowly, because of the high altitude. That night you will have a farewell dinner in Purmamarca at the Manantial del Silencio Hotel.
AM: Following breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven to the airport in Jujuy, where you will undoubtedly be wished a fond farewell. End of our services.
“My husband, daughter and I want to thank you again for making our trip to the Galapagos extremely awesome!”