One of the places we had always wanted to explore was the beautiful and renowned north of our country. One day, together with two friends, we decided to buy tickets and fly to Jujuy. Here we share with you our 10-day itinerary through the provinces of Salta and Jujuy. Although there are some places we didn't get to visit, we leave them for you to take into account when making your own travel route, we hope you find them useful!
Best time to visit Jujuy and Salta
The best time to visit the north is during the dry season, as many roads are gravel and during the rainy season they crumble and it is not possible to reach all the places:
Dry season: April to November
Rainy season: December to March
Itinerary through Salta and Jujuy
We recommend you to travel the north of Argentina by private car, as the distances are a bit long and this will give you more freedom to travel. If you prefer to do it on excursions, it is also possible. We flew from Buenos Aires to San Salvador de Jujuy and rented a van at the airport.
We share with you our 10-day itinerary through Salta and Jujuy:
- Day 1: San Salvador de Jujuy - Purmamarca
- Day 2: Purmamarca - Maimará - Tilcara
- Day 3: Uquía - Cerro de los 14 Colores (14 Colours Hill)
- Day 4: Iruya
- Day 5: Cusi Cusi
- Day 6: Cusi Cusi - Purmamarca
- Day 7: Salinas Grandes - Salta
- Day 8: Cuesta del Obispo - Cachi - Molinos
- Day 9: Acsibi Caves - Cafayate
- Day 10: Cafayate - Jujuy
Day 1. San Salvador de Jujuy - Purmamarca
We started the day with a spectacular view! We headed to the Termas de Reyes viewpoint, located just 20 minutes from the capital of Jujuy. From there, we continue our way to Potrero de Yala Provincial Park, a true natural treasure and core of the Yungas biosphere. The best of all is that the entrance to the park is free, so it is ideal for touring by car. However, keep in mind that the road is gravel and has a length of approximately 30km (1 hour). Although the entrance is free, you are asked to make a donation when you enter the park.
Within the Potrero de Yala Provincial Park there is much to discover. Among the most outstanding places are:
Los Paredones de Yala: A small stretch of the Yala River where large reddish stone walls are erected. It is important to note that it is not very well signposted, so we recommend you to find out before you go.
The Yala Lagoon
There are also 3 trails that can be done:
- Corral Redondo Path. Almost 1 km long.
- Miradores Path. 2.5 km long.
- Montane Forest Trail. 1.6 km long
After a short walk through the national park we start our journey to Purmamarca where we will spend the night.
Day 2. Purmamarca - Maimará - Tilcara
Purmamarca is one of the most picturesque towns in our country and offers a wide variety of hotel options for visitors.
We start our day admiring the Cerro de los 7 Colores, famous for its spectacular range of shades on its slope. We recommend enjoying the views at the foot of Cerro Porito.
Afterwards, we headed to the Paseo de las Coloradas, a 3 km trail that can be traveled on foot or by car, and that starts at the base of Cerro Porito. The scenery is breathtaking, with reddish and brownish tones. We also recommend that you walk around the town and visit Plaza 9 de Julio, where there is a handicraft fair and, right in front of it, the Santa Rosa de Lima Church.
After lunch we continue on our way to Maimará where we stop on the road to observe the famous Paleta del Pintor.
Then we continue on our way to Tilcara. We take the opportunity to stroll through its picturesque streets.
Things to do in Tilcara:
- Pucará de Tilcara: This archaeological site is surrounded by the imposing nature of the area, with cactus, cactus and prickly pears. At the top of the Pucará is the Monument, a stone pyramid built as a tribute to the archaeologists who worked on the restoration of the site.
- Garganta del diablo: A beautiful natural waterfall located about 5 km from Tilcara. To reach it, you can choose to go by car, on foot or on horseback.
We slept in Tilcara
Day 3. Uquía - Hill of the 14 colours - Tilcara
We start our day early, heading towards Uquía to explore the fascinating Quebrada de las Señoritas. This place is home to a series of reddish-hued rock formations that, over thousands of years of erosion, have created crevices and caverns that emanate a mystical energy. According to local legend, a group of young ladies of the Inca Empire hid in this site with a treasure of gold coveted by the Spanish invaders. It is said that after hiding the treasure in the ravine, they offered their lives to the Pachamama.
After exploring the impressive landscape of the Quebrada de las Señoritas for a while, we continued on our way to Humahuaca where we stopped for lunch. Although we personally did not love it as much as Purmamarca or Tilcara, Humahuaca is still a picturesque town and worth a visit.
From there, we took the road to Hornocal to see the Cerro de los 14 Colores, one of the most spectacular places we discovered on this trip. At an altitude of 4761 meters above sea level, the hill is reached by a gravel road that takes about 45 minutes to an hour by car. When we finally had the Cerro de los 14 Colores in front of our eyes, we got goose bumps, it is truly breathtaking! This place certainly makes the whole trip worthwhile.
The best time to visit the Cerro de los 14 Colores is at sunset, as it is said that the colors are more vivid. However, since it is not recommended to drive at night in the area, we decided to leave around 4 pm to avoid the direct light of midday, which is not always the most flattering. It is important to bear in mind that when you arrive and get out of the vehicle, you are at an altitude of 4,300 meters above sea level, so it is essential to take it easy and not to overdo the physical effort.
On the way back, we had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset over a field of cardons, a real beauty.
Then we went back to sleep again in Tilcara.
Day 4. Tilcara - Iruya - Tilcara
We had heard wonderful things about Iruya, a small village located in the mountains at an altitude of 2780m above sea level. Its cobblestone streets, breathtaking views, its charming church... a place to disconnect and admire its simplicity!
To get there, it is necessary to travel a gravel road that takes approximately 2.5 hours, but every moment of the journey is worth it. The road runs through small villages on the slopes of the mountains, and the scenery is dreamlike. Once in Iruya, we stopped at a small restaurant to enjoy some delicious fried empanadas.
Afterwards, we strolled through the town and headed to one of the most famous viewpoints, the Mirador de la Cruz.
Many people recommended us to visit San Isidro de Iruya and spend the night there, another small town that can only be reached on foot. To get there, you have to hike about 6km and it is necessary to be accompanied by a guide. Unfortunately, we could not do it due to lack of time, but it is pending for the next visit.
We then returned to spend the night in Tilcara.
Day 5. Tilcara - Cusi Cusi
Today we left early heading to Cusi Cusi, a town in the north of Jujuy province where the impressive Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) is located. Although it is not very well known, it is definitely worth a visit. We are so impressed by this place that we decided to dedicate an exclusive post to give you all the information you need to visit it.
We sleep in Cusi Cusi.
Day 6. Cusi Cusi - Purmamarca
After enjoying the sunrise in the Valley of the Moon, we decided it was time to start our way back and we set out on our way back to Purmamarca. We arrived at about 4 pm, exhausted since we had gotten up early to enjoy the view in the Valley, we decided that it was best to take the rest of the day to rest and recover energy.
Night in Purmamarca.
Day 7. Purmamarca - Salinas Grandes - Salta
The Salinas Grandes are an iconic place in the north of our country, with an impressive beauty and immensity. From Purmamarca they are an hour's drive away, and to get there you have to go through the famous Cuesta de Lipán.
You can enter with your own car and hire a guide at the entrance for $1000 ARS (May 2021) per car. The guide accompanies you on his motorcycle and shows you the crystallization pools and the eyes of the salt flat, besides giving you a great explanation about everything related to the salt flat.
It is also possible to hire an excursion from Purmamarca, Tilcara, Salta or Jujuy.
Las Salinas are located at an altitude of 3,300 meters above sea level and cover an area of 12,000 hectares. Ten million years ago, water from a volcano covered this basin. Over the years, this liquid evaporated and gave rise to the salt flat, which has an average thickness of 30 cm. Do not miss the opportunity to visit this impressive place and enjoy its unique landscapes.
At the entrance of the salt flat there is a fair where they sell handicrafts made with salt, they also sell salt and you can't miss the famous stuffed tortillas.
After visiting the impressive Salinas Grandes, we continued our trip to Salta. Our intention was to stay in the capital of Salta, but due to pandemic restrictions (May 2021), we decided to continue to the charming town of Chicoana, a really super picturesque and charming town that we liked very much!
Day 8. Chicoana - Cuesta del Obispo - Parque los Cardones -Cachi - Molinos
We started our trip to Cachi along Route 33, which gave us a spectacular view of the impressive landscapes of the Quebrada de Escoipe, the Cuesta del Obispo and the Recta de Tintin.
The Cuesta del Obispo is a 20-kilometer winding road that connects the Lerma Valley with the Alto Valle Calchaquí. Although much of the road is gravel, it is possible to travel it by car. The highest point of the route is at 3,400 meters above sea level, offering a breathtaking view.
As we started our way to Cachi, we encountered multiple police checkpoints due to pandemic restrictions (May 2021) that confined the town. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to continue our route along Route 33. However, instead of getting discouraged, we decided to take a new route and detour via Route 42. Fortunately, this route took us to the impressive Los Cardones and Los Colorados National Park, a surreal landscape that left us in awe.
After traveling along Route 40 towards Molinos, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Hacienda de Molinos before continuing our journey to the Colomé Winery, which is about 30 kilometers away.
This winery is home to a fascinating museum created by American artist James Turrell, which focuses on the use of light and space. It is definitely a must-see experience, especially at sunset. Only guests of the winery have access to these hours, which is why we decided to stay there. In addition, the museum visit includes a wine tasting, which makes the experience even more memorable.
Day 9. Molinos - Acsibi Caves - Cafayate
We head towards Seclántas to visit the impressive Acsibi Caves. Because they are on private property, they can only be accessed by an excursion organized by the family that owns the estate. Hidden among the majestic Calchaquíes Valleys, these caves were formed between the immense walls of a large canyon. The excursion is undoubtedly an experience worth doing.
To get to the farm, we leave from Seclántas (Salta), about 3 hours by car from Cafayate. Once there, we go on a one-hour drive in a 4×4 truck to the starting point of the trekking, which is approximately 8 km long, through a canyon (a dry riverbed between two ravines). The guided excursion lasts about 6 hours and includes a picnic lunch at the same place.
It is interesting to know that these caves were part of the Inca Trail, where a large amount of merchandise was transported. For this reason, the locals still continue with the hope of finding some hidden treasure 😱.
If you are interested in visiting this place, we recommend that you book the excursion a few days in advance.
After an hour and a half's drive we come to the Quebrada de las Flechas, a spectacular landscape on the road.
We continued until we reached Cafayate where we spent the night at the Patios de Cafayate Hotel.
Day 10. Cafayate - Quebrada de las Conchas - Jujuy
After breakfast and a tasting at the El Esteco winery, we headed back to Jujuy along Route 68, which crosses the incredible landscape of the Quebrada de las Conchas.
Stops at Quebradas de las Conchas
- La Yesera: To get there you have to walk for 30 minutes along the Sendero los Estratos (free entrance), which is very well signposted.
- The Amphitheatre
- The Devil's Throat
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