The northwest of Argentina
is an area with the most abrupt changes of climate
and landscape in the country.
Hispanic culture has left a strong mark here,
and one can see adobe homes and modest churches
in nearly every community, and the remains of
pre-Hispanic culture are everywhere. Variegated
barren hills rise all around, large cacti dot
the landscape and the deep blue of the sky is
only occasionally interrupted by clouds. There
are a number of places in the region that don't
fit into this category at all, and the scenery
ranges from jungle gardens to icy Andean peaks,
from moon landscape to deciduous forest, and from
adobe villages to streams and rivers of clear
water; but wherever you go in the northwest, there's
always something interesting to do or see, and
certainly, friendly people and plenty of sun.
gets her name from the Aymara word "sagta",
meaning very beautiful, and is known today
as "la linda" (the beautiful one).
Located in a very fertile valley "Lerma",
this city is the only one which has preserved
best its patrimony of colonial architecture,
such as San Bernardo Convent, San Francisco
Church, and the Cabildo (city hall) with its
graceful row of arches.
San Lorenzo, only a few minutes away from
Salta (13 km), grew as a summer village
because of its quietness and beautiful atmosphere,
as it is in the heart of the gorge that
gives it its name, surrounded by the blue
waters of the river and the green of the
(Salta / Cachi / Molinos /
Salta) Full day tour - 12 hrs - 320 km.
For thousands of years the Calchaquí
valleys have seduced man by the climate and
landscape: the mild dry climate at 2.000m,
the dawn light reflected on the western mountains
and the colors of the sunset glowing on the
eastern sierras, the scent of mint and aniseed,
the fruit flavor of torrontés wine,
empty roads, geological curiosities, ancient
rock carvings, ruins, colonial churches and
towns, crafts and regional products, and the
people of the valleys, noble descendants of
two noble breed.
In the Calchaquí Valleys one can feel
a strong, almost magical attraction that is
experiences in very few other places around
the world which may be due to the volcanic
origins of this land. These valleys were not
formed by slow, gradual processes of erosion,
but by the upheaval of ancient crystalline
masses that the Andean orogeny thrust thousands
of meters high. In this way this "fertile
crescent" was created, where the southernmost
pre-Columbian civilization developed: walled
in by long, high mountain ranges, between
the inhospitable Puna and the infinite plains,
it was one of the sacred valleys of America.
This trip will depart from Salta, crossing
Cuesta del Obispo and passing by Cachi, a
beautiful Spanish small town, with a very
interesting archeological museum. Then on
to Molinos which is a small town with one
of the prettiest chapels in the valley. Opposite
is the large old house of Isasmendi family,
which has been turned into the HOSTAL MOLINOS,
a simple and austere but very comfortable
hotel; luxury is not going to be found here,
but a very friendly and cozy atmosphere.
There are very interesting excursions to be
made on foot or horseback, to the adjacent
valleys. Seclantás is as small village
with its houses, church and tree-lined square.
You can reach the Brealito lagoon deviating
from the route: this is a lovely deserted
spot, with interesting small and artisan cellars
that one can visit. 8 km from Molinos, you
will find the archaeological ruins of Churcal.
Some artifacts from this area are exhibited
at the small Isasmendi's house museum
and Calchaqui Valleys Full day tour - 12 hrs
- 390 km.
Drive from Salta through the spectacular Calchaqui
Valleys, crossing Quebrada de las Flechas,
up to the village of Cafayate, famous for
its wine cellars, which produce the "torrontés",
a typical argentine white fruity wine. Visit
of this picturesque village surrounded by
mountains and vineyards.
Continue to visit Quilmes ruins, an impressive
fortified city, located on a natural formation,
carefully chosen by its builders, the Quilmes
tribe. Then on to Amaicha del Valle, where
local traditions says that the sun shines
360 days a year.
On the way back to Salta, we will be crossing
Quebrada del Río Las Conchas or Quebrada
de Cafayate, with spectacular and natural
formations like the amphitheater, famous for
its particular acoustics. Continuing along
the road, we will be arriving into the Dique
Cabra Corral, an impressive "water mirrow",
and closing the trip, the tobacco plantations
to the right and to the left before arriving
in Salta again.
-from April to November-
A 438km long journey to the impressive Polvorilla
viaduct (224m long, 63m high) It takes about
The train, fully equipped with dining car,
leaves Salta's main station in the morning
and enters the deep Quebrada del Toro gorge
about one hour later. Slowly, the train
starts to make its way up. The line is a
true work of engineering art, and doesn't
make use of cogs, even for the steepest
parts of the climb. Instead, the rails have
been laid so as to allow circulation by
means of switchbacks and spirals. This together
with some truly spectacular scenery, is
what makes the trip so unique and interesting.
After passing through San Antonio de los
Cobres, the old capital of the former national
territory, Los Andes, the train finally
comes to a halt at La Polvorilla Viaduct,
an impressive steel span amidst the breathtaking
Andean landscape. At this point one has
reached an altitude of 4.197 meters above
From here the train returns to Salta, where
it arrives late in the evening. This is
a journey of great worth!
This charming city is the capital city
of the northernmost Argentine province.
Don't miss the extraordinary gilded pulpit
at the cathedral, a 17th century wooden
piece and the most important colonial Barroque
church in Argentina. The Town Hall has four
sculptures by Lola Mora, famous for the
criticism and magnetism her work and personality
Full day tour 14 hrs - 520 km
The most picturesque part of the Valley,
between Tumbaya and Humahuaca, is some 80
km long. Next to Tumbaya village, that has
a pretty church, comes Purmamarca. Here,
the multicolored sediments from the Mesozoic
have been folded and eroded into strange
shapes on the Mountain of Seven Colors,
and together with the brilliant green vegetation
and simple adobe constructions, make Purmamarca
one of the loveliest places in the Northwest.
By the church there is a carob tree over
five centuries old.
The road continues and behind the village
of Maimará, on the eastern side of
the Valley, the Painter's palette, will
catch your eye. .
Tilcara attracts for its famous Pucará,
which is not precisely a fortress but an
Omoguacan village probably built in the
10th century at the top of a mountain southwards
of present-day Tilcara. It was rebuilt in
the 60's along dubious lines. There is a
garden of cacti, the most common specie
in the Northwest.
In Huacalera, the local church is on the
outskirts of the village, a few paces away
from the Tropic of Capricorn. In Uquía,
once inhabited by the Uquía Indians,
there is a chapel built in 1691; the wooden
altarpiece is the most ancient in the region.
And Humahuaca. Its streets have irresistible
charm: they are cobbled, lit by old-fashioned
street lamps, and lined with reddish adobe
walls. The village known for it's Carnival
has a museum of the Carnaval Norteño
(Northern Carnival), and an archeological
Tucumán is the capital of the smallest
and most densely populated province in Argentina,
as well as the most important city of the
Northwest for its commercial, industrial
and cultural life.
A tour of the city will show Tucumán's
unique character. The spacious 9 de Julio
Park, the baroque Government Building and
several patrician edifices, together with
a number of venerable churches, are reminders
of the town's colonial past. This might
best be sensed by visiting the Casa de la
Independencia. In a large room of this stately
house, part of which has been rebuilt, the
Argentine national independence ceremony
was sworn on July 9, 1816.
However, it is not so much the town but
its surroundings which make San Miguel de
Tucumán so interesting. Villa Nogués
and San Javier, high up in the Aconquija
range, give a splendid view of Tucumán,
its outskirts and the extensive sugar cane
and tobacco fields surrounding it.
After visiting Quilmes and going up to
3000m above sea level, you'll reach El Infiernillo
(Little Hell), and from there a dusty gravel
road goes into Tafí del Valle. This
valley is situated in the heart of the Aconquija
range at an altitude of 2000m, where the
subtropical vegetation disappears. It is
considered the sacred valley of the Diaguita
natives, who, with different tribal names,
inhabited the area. The valley is littered
with clusters of aboriginal dwellings and
dozens of sacred stone circles. The most
outstanding attraction at Tafí are
the menhires of standing stones. These dolmens,
which sometimes sand more than 2 meters
high, have recently been assembled at the
Parque de los Menhires, close to the entrance
of the valley.
After 25km, Tafí Valley opens into
the lush valley of Sosa River. The paved
mountain road winds its way through a jungle
of lapacho, cedars, oleander, walnut and
tipa trees, covered by Bromilaceae and ferns.