I’ve only seen a fraction of what Argentina has to offer, but from all the places I have travelled to so far, I believe that the province of Salta (and the surrounding area) is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the whole country. This part of Argentina looks as though it was painted by a mad artist looking to break any preconceived notions about the use of colour. I’m talking about hues so rich and so bold that you’ll question whether your eyes are playing tricks on you. If you’re looking to have your mind blown by the colours that can be found in nature, I suggest adding these 3 day trips from Salta to your South America itinerary:
Cachi: Cacti + Lonely Deserts
Cachi is a small city located in the province of Salta and it sits on the northern edge of the Calchaquí Valleys. The place itself feels more like a sleepy town than a city, and it doesn’t boast too much in terms of attractions, however, the beauty of this tour is the journey there.
Reaching Cachi involves zigzagging up La Cuesta del Obispo, whose peak stands at 3,348 meters; driving through Parque Nacional Los Cardones, a national park dotted with giant cacti; and then continuing along La Recta de Tin Tin, a straight stretch of road that looks as though it’s pulling you into the horizon.
The entire trip crosses through various microclimates, which means at the start of the journey you’ll be feeling the humidity as you zip through areas of lush vegetation, but then as you continue your ascent the climate will become drier and the landscape will turn into an arid desert.
Cafayate: Vineyards + Shades of Red
Yes, those colours are real! The tour to Cafayate is one that I have now done twice, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.
The road to Cafayate runs through Quebrada de las Conchas, which is a national reserve where the earth is a deep rust colour and where the mountains and rocks take on really distinct shapes. On the drive there you’ll spot The Amphitheatre, The Devil’s Throat, The Priest, Titanic, and many other sites that get their odd names because of their unusual shapes!
Cafayate is also known for its wine, so most tours involve a stop at a winery to sample the famed fruity Torrontés. If that’s not enough, once you reach the town, there’s a little ice cream shop next to the main square where you can sample wine gelato!
Jujuy: Painted Hills + Salt Flats
Jujuy is one of the longest day trips you can take from Salta as it involves crossing over into another province, but the views alone are worth the long day.
The journey to Jujuy will take you along El Paseo de los Colorados, which is a 3 kilometre stretch of road that follows the Purmamarca River and brings you to the town by the same name. Purmamarca is known for its handicrafts, but most importantly, for its colourful hill, which bears the name El Cerro de Siete Colores (The Hill of Seven Colours). The hill gets its colours from marine sediments and each layer corresponds to a different time period. You’ll see shades of pink, white, brown, purple, orange, green, and mustard – a true painter’s palette found in nature.
From there you’ll slowly climb up to Altos de Morado, which is the highest point of the trip at 4,170 meters. Once you’ve completed the ascent you are well on your way to Salinas Grandes, a salt flat that is shared by the provinces of Salta and Jujuy. The salt flat extends for 215 square kilometres and sits at 3,400 metres above sea level. If you missed out on the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia, this place is a close second.
Have you travelled in Northern Argentina?
What were some of the highlights?