Full of colors and contrasts, with Inca’s reminiscences and adobe houses that seem to be an extension of the earth, the Northwest is considered one of the most complete attractions of Argentina. It’s divided in four main geographic sub-regions, which are very different and can be explored in many different ways:The Yungas (local jungle), the Valleys, the Quebradas (Gorges), and the famous Puna (Altiplano).
We offer personalized, tailor-made trips, and these are some of the samples for great travel ideas in the Northwest of Argentina. These are flexible itineraries, which can be adapted according to your wishes and preferences.
Salta and Jujuy are two provinces located in the northwest of Argentina, around 1.500 kilometers (930 miles) from Buenos Aires. They share limits with Chile, Bolivia and a little area of Paraguay.
This region of Argentina has many different reliefs, biomes, and climates. From cloud forests, called “Yungas”, to the Puna desert, a high latitude plateau with huge salt flats; From extremely high roads above the 4800 mts. over the see, called “Abras”, to long and narrow valleys called “Quebradas”. You will not get boring with the different landscapes you will see! The climate is arid and semidesert in the higher latitudes and the lower mountains are subtropical with rainforest. During the summer heavy rains and high temperatures should be expected.
This post aims to show you which places you can’t miss when doing private tours in Jujuy and Salta. Also, in the end, you’ll find some tour ideas to combine the northwest with other places in Argentina.
Founded in 1582, Salta City is one of the most antique cities in Argentina, and one of the best options to use as a hub of private tours in Jujuy and Salta or just to arrive by plane in the area. This city is a bit different from others, its colonial patrimony is huge! There are houses, streets, hundred-year-old monuments and narrow sidewalks from the foundation years. On a half-day walking tour, you can visit the most important attractions of the city: The Cathedral of Salta, the Cabildo, San Francisco Church, and San Bernardo Monastery. We recommend visiting the Archeological Museum of High Mountains, where you will be able to see items found in the highest mountains in the area. The main attraction is three mummies of three Inca children that were discovered in the Lulliaillaco Volcano, in the border of Argentina and Chile. The summit is 22.100 feet (6.793 meters) above the sea level, where the temperatures are too extreme to preserve the bodies, turning them into mummies, after they were sacrificed 500 years ago!
From Salta leaves the excursion to Tren a las Nubes. It consists of a train journey that goes through the clouds as it crosses The Andes at 4,220 mts. above sea level. Apart from seeing impressive works of engineering, it allows you to get to know its picturesque and rustic regions, knowing its distinguished crafts, museums, and its delicious local gastronomy.
On your way from Salta to Purmamarca, you can make a quick stop in San Salvador de Jujuy. Also, you can stop in Terma de Los Reyes (King’s Hot springs). Everybody gets benefits from their exposure to the hot springs, but they do have a particular effect on subjects who suffer from chronic rheumatism, traumatism consequences, skin disorders and chronic disorders in the respiratory system. Being able to do all the stops that you want is only one of the benefits of doing private tours in Jujuy and Salta.
Purmamarca is only 70kms from San Salvador de Jujuy. This small town is situated at the feet of the Seven Colours Mountain, which can be seen from every corner.
Humahuaca Ravine or Quebrada de Humahaca (as we call it) was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Tilcara, Purmamarca, Maimará, and Humahuaca are some of the most popular destinations. Every year, several events celebrated at these locations summon thousands of tourists who come along lured by typical dishes, popular celebrations and the most original carnivals in the world. Near Humahuaca you can visit El Hornocal Highlands, its colors will make you want to there for good!
We recommend spending a night in Iruya, a small town in “Quebrada de Iruya”, the ravine next to Humahuaca Ravine. Its only 66km from Humahuaca (the town), but the mountain road that reaches over 4000mts. above the sea level takes a 3hs drive. Cliffs and mountains surround this small but breathtaking Village. When hiring private tours in Jujuy and Salta you get to see everything as locals do. The guides are people from the area.
Another must-visit in Jujuy is the salt deposit known as “Salinas Grandes”. You won’t regret visiting the incredible place, it makes you feel like you are on another planet. Situated at 3.350 mts. above the sea level and with 12 thousand hectares is the third largest salt deposit in Southamerica. We recommend using sunglasses because of the reflection of the sun and also take your camera fully loaded. The craziest and the most original pictures can be taken there! To get there we suggest leaving early in the morning from Purmamarca, to get there before everyone does. That is another advantage of hiring private tours in Jujuy and Salta.
Also, because from Salinas Grandes the road to Cachi is wonderful. Located by the famous Ruta 40 and surrounded by mountains above the 6.000 mts, this beautiful and antique town is perfect for trekking and mountaineering. Also, you are only an hour away from Parque Nacional Los Cardones (Cactus National Park).
On your way to Cafayate, you will be crossing part of Route 40. Between Cachi and Seclantas, there is a small spot called “El Colte” where you can take a detour to “The Artisan Trail”. On that road, you will find about 20 houses/ateliers of the most well-known weavers of Salta.
Back on your way to Cafayate, you will enter the section of Route 40 known as Quebrada de las Flechas (Arrow Ravine) is magnificent. I had never seen anything like that in all my trips around Argentina. This is the most amazing place to do a timelapse while you drive through. When traveling with private tours in Jujuy and Salta you get to enjoy the views.
While you get closer to Cafayate, you will start seeing the wine plantations. This area is great for high latitude wines. Here you will find mostly Torrontes, a wine that is found only in Argentina and is said to be the country’s signature white wine. Other grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Tannat.
The places mentioned before are a personal selection of all the places I’ve visited on my trips to Northwest Argentina. For your flight back to Buenos Aires, or any other place in Argentina, you can go back to Salta City or San Miguel de Tucuman, the capital city of Tucuman Province.
Both roads are beautiful. The road to Salta goes through Quebrada de las Conchas (Shell Ravine) which is gorgeous. But, by taking the road to San Salvador de Tucuman you will get to know Quilmes Ruins, from pre-Inca civilization and the Pachamama Museum. Also in the last section of the road, you will drive through cloud forests, called “Yungas”.
You can also explore some other attractions in the area, such as Tolar Grande (Salta), Laguna de los Pozuelos (Jujuy), El Peñón, Campo de Piedra Pomez, Catamarca, Belén, Corona del Inca, La Rioja, Talampaya, and Ischigualasto (Moon Valley). On the other hand, you can also cross the Andes toward Chile, in order to visit the impressive Atacama region.
Chile surprises with undiscovered wonders at every corner. Its thousands of miles of length – in between the Andes Range and the Pacific Ocean – makes of it a country full of contrasts and landscapes, an everlasting source of remarkable places to visit. In the North, the Atacama Desert is one of them. It’s mostly composed of stony terrain, sand, salt lakes & felsic lava. El Tatio Geyser field is one of the main attractions in the area, among other great views that are worth seeing. Like this one, Argentina and Chile are plenty of great places to visit; let us help you plan your next adventure!