Argentina’s sere and volcano-dotted north, on the other side of the Andes from the Atacama Desert, is little known and less traveled. Which always strikes us good reason to go exploring. Other reasons: The villages are remote and inviting, and the red-rock canyons breathtaking.
You begin by flying north from Buenos Aires to Salta, on the edge of the high country. This is one of Latin America’s most well-preserved colonial cities, with an incredible backdrop of mountains and valleys. Then off you go to cactus-studded Los Cordones National Park, verdant Colomé (stopping to admire the talents of local weavers along the way), and south to the brilliantly colored hills and renowned wineries of the Calchaquíes Valley.
To extend the trip, you might choose to travel north to the province of Jujuy, to explore its rich pre-Hispanic traditions and stunning, otherworldly scenery. The town of Purmamarca, situated in the shadow of the vivid Hill of Seven Colors, beckons with its serene adobe ambiance, vendor-filled plaza, and exquisite colonial iglesia. After wandering its quiet streets or strolling its multihued hills, you wend your way up to the salt flats and extraterrestrial landscapes of the puna, gazing at snowcapped, volcanic behemoths like Cachi and Llullaillaco.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1: arrive Buenos Aires
- Day 2: fly to Salta, historical tour
- Day 3: drive to Cachi, visit Los Cordones National Park and the tiny colonial village of Cachi
- Days 4 & 5: Colome for day hikes, horseback riding, and spa appointments
- Day 6: Cafayate, wine tasting
- Day 7: return to Salta, visiting red rock canyons and local ranches en route
- Day 8: horseback riding and hiking at House of Jasmines
- Day 9: Fly back to Buenos Aires in time for your international flight home.
Purmamarca and Atacama Desert Extension:
- Days 9 & 10: Purmamarca and Quebrada de Humahuaca
- Day 11: drive to San Pedro de Atacama, visit Salinas Grandes salt flats en route
- Days 12 & 13: exploring moonscapes, sand dunes, geysers, salt flats and desert lagoons
- Day 14: fly to Santiago to connect with international flight home.