The official tourism slogan for the province of Salta ” Salta, the beautiful ” as that phrase has been used for many years now to refer it.
The truth is that truly Salta and all the surrounding villages and cities have beautiful landscapes and a rich culture. If you’re on vacation, passing through or even if you live in Argentina yourself, you should not miss meet the country’s northwest, the region where “La Quebrada de Humahuaca” is, UNESCO national heritage of cultural diversity.
Here we give you the best route to follow in 15-20 days, for you to make the most out of it.
The ideal is to take a plane to Salta capital and take a bus to Tucumán, where our tour begins. There’s an airport in Tucumán as well, but since you’ll be returning from further up north, the best is to make a round-trip from Salta.
Note for all travellers: As you progress through the Quebrada de Humahuaca, be very careful with altitude sickness. To avoid this you can buy coca leaves anywhere and chew them, or make yourself some tea with them. They don’t taste very good if you’re not used to it… but they’re very effective!
1. San Miguel de Tucumán
San Miguel de Tucumán is the capital city and heart of Tucumán Province. It is popularly known as “El Jardín de la República” ( The Garden of the Republic) because in Springtime there are flowers everywhere – in the parks, balconies, streets and gardens.
San Miguel de Tucumán is chosen by tourists because of the historical and archaeological interest and also because of the variety of landscapes and climates .
Being the land of the sugar cane and setting of the Independence Day, San Miguel de Tucumán City provides places to visit such as Obispo Colombres House, the historical House of the Independence Declaration, the outstanding Cathedral, Casa Padilla Museum, El Cadillal dam and beautiful sites only a few kilometers away from the city where residential areas are settled.
2. Tafí del Valle
This lovely hill town, set in a green valley with fabulous vistas of the surrounding mountains, is where Tucumán folk traditionally head to take refuge from the summer heat. Tafí makes a fine spot to hang out for a few days; it offers crisp mountain air, hiking options, many budget accommodations and a laid-back scene. There are also memorable historic ranches to stay at.
The journey from Tucumán is a spectacular one: a narrow river gorge with dense subtropical forest on all sides opens onto the reservoir-filled valley beneath the snowy peaks of the Sierra del Aconquija. The precipitous mountain road merits a window seat.
Cafayate is a popular turist destination because of its vineyards and wine cellars. Argentina’s second center for quality wine production, its most famous wine is torrontés, a grape producing aromatic dry and sweet white wines. Cafayate is a popular tourist destination but still has a tranquil small-town feel. It’s spectacularly scenic, with the green of the vines backed by soaring mountains beyond, and is one of northwest Argentina’s most seductive destinations.
Don’t miss the Quebrada de las Conchas or Quebrada de Cafayate, the road that takes you to this village, with breathtaking views of red rocky formations.
Cachi is a beautiful town in the Chalchaquí valleys of Salta with white buildings, adobe houses, paved streets and impressive architectural and cultural constructions that make the tourist admire and contemplate the scene.
Cachi means ” salt” in quechua due to the fact that natives mistook the top of ” El Nevado” (a mountain peak) with a salt mine.
This town is most famous because of its mysterious vibe. People who visit it often fall in love with its simplicity and relaxed atmosphere. It is also known as one of the best places for spotting UFOs. Yes, UFOs!
5. Salta Capital
For things to do in the capital city of Salta province, read this blog entry.
6. Purmamarca – Salinas
Once you get to this pretty little village, you’ll no longer be in the province of Salta: Purmamarca is in Jujuy.
One glance at this breathtaking landscape will make you fall in love with it at once. It is famous for its coloured mountains, called the “Cerro de los Siete Colores” (Hill of the Seven Colours). This is product of a complex geological history including marine sediments, lake and river movements elevated with the movement of the tectonic plates.
From Purmamarca you can rent a truck and get to the Salinas Grandes, that are shared between Jujuy and Salta. These is a vast territory of saltworks and salt flats, product of salts coming from volcanic activity in the past. Take some amazing pictures there! The landscape itself does all the work.
Picturesque Tilcara is many people’s choice as their Quebrada de Humahuaca base. The mixture of local farmers getting on with a centuries-old way of life and arty urban refugees looking for a quieter existence has created an interesting balance on the town’s dusty streets. A forest of boutique hotels and lots of hostels mean accommodations are plentiful
Humahuaca is famous because of the name of the region “Quebrada de Humahuaca”, although it is not only this town.
Its most famous postcard is the “Monumento a los Héroes de la Independencia”, an incredible monument that commemorates al those who fought in the Argentinian north for battles towards the independence.
If you want to take a trip in time and get lost in the mountains, then you should definetely go to Iruya. This is a very humble little town, completely hidden very high up in the mountains, only accesible when the roades that go across them are completely dry.
While you’re there, take the famous walk to San Isidro, a 3 hr walk to an even more hidden little village. You can take the road across the mountains, that go up and down a lot (lots of exercise!) or down by the river (be careful, you can only take that one if the river is not flooded!). Once you get there, have a delicious lunch at Tina’s diner.
You can also climb to the top of a hill and visit its lookout point, that watches the whole the place.
Iruya is a must for all nature and simplicity lovers. Check for the weather before getting here, though, and leave a few days empty before taking your flight back home. If the rutes are flooded, you might have to stay longer till they dry out! But who doesn’t love some improvisation and adventure?
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