Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Visit best attractions of Argentina Northwest & Atacama region!

Salta

Jujuy

Catamarca

Atacama

Argentina Northwest & Atacama is an incredible adventure through the most incredible attractions of this fantastic region.  Explore the colorful and desert landscapes of the north of Argentina and Chile in a 4×4 adventure of 12 days exploring Salta, Jujuy, Catamarca and Atacama. Its mountain villages, with mud houses, its fairs with colorful handcrafts, the delicious local food, the landscapes of multicolored hills, valleys, gorges, the warmth of its people, their clothes, their customs, their music, create for the Argentina Northwest & Atacama Region an identity of its own that makes this destination a must for those visiting Argentina and Chile.

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Itinerary Highlights

What's Included

Use this itinerary as a guide to inspire your coustom trip

AT A GLANCE

An adventure through the incredible landscapes of the Northwest discovering its best attractions. Argentina Northwest & Atacama is an 12 days 4×4 tour exploring the north of Argentina and Chile. Start your tour in the city of Salta, gateway of this amazing region, then go to explore the amazing Calchaqui Valleys including Cuesta del Obispo, los Cardones National Park, Cachi, Molinos and Cafayate. Continue your trip going to visit Quilmes Ruins, Santa Maria, Hualfin, El Peñon and Tolar Grande. Cross the border to Chile to explore San Pedro de Atacama, the Geysers and the Moon Valley and come back to Argentina to discover the Salt Flats and the the amazing Seven Colours Hil in Purmamarca. Finally enjoy the colorful Humahuaca Gorge and its magical mountain towns, multicolored hills and much more. Let’s discover this Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary!

All travel ideas are fully customizable, so we make travel proposals adapted to your interests, activities you enjoy, travel dates and destinations you want to visit.

Example Trip Itinerary

DAYS 1

Salta

Transfer

Private transfer from airport to your hotel in Salta

Accommodation in Salta
Legado Mítico

Legado Mítico Salta is a high-end boutique hotel in the Historic District of the city Salta. Live the restorative feeling of staying in a house that retains its origin as a patrician family, with the most exclusive amenities that place it at the top of hotel ratings in the region.

UP GRADE : House of Jasmines

Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary starts in Salta City, located in the Lerma Valley, at the foot of San Bernardo Hill, it is the main city and gateway to the Argentine Northwest Region (NOA). Founded by the Spanish in 1582, it retains the only architectural style that was not copied from Europe, the American Baroque. Its main square is surrounded by the main buildings such as cathedrals, San Francisco and Santo Domingo. Salta also has important museums with archaeological exhibitions of world relevance. Its cultural shows, diversity of peñas, restaurants and tourist services make the visitor experience to this beautiful city unforgettable.

Day 1: Arrive to Salta
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

The first day of your Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary you will arrive to Salta La Linda, your local guide will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to your hotel. After checking in, the local guide will show you best attractions of this historic city. You will visit the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña, which presents exhibitions dedicated to pre-colonial culture and the famous Llullaillaco Children, three Incas children mummies that were discovered on top of Llullaillaco in 1999.

After the tour with the guide, you can continue exploring by yourself and go to visit some other museum, the Cabildo, or enjoy the amazing panoramic view from San Bernardo Hill. In the evening taste the delicious local food or go to the local peñas to enjoy the folkloric music and dance. And after a glass of wine, you will probably join in for dancing!

DAYS 2 - 5

Calchaqui Valleys

Accommodation in Cafayate
Cafayate Wine Resort

Nestled within a vineyard at the foot of the impressive San Isidro Hill Cafayate-Wine Resort is a unique place to relax while you enjoy fine wines, magnificent landscapes, and the peace and quiet of the Northwest Region.

Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Today you will continue the Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary taking two days to explore the Calchaquis Valleys. This area will surprise you because of the vastness of its wonderful valleys, you will follow routes through pronounced gorges, dotted with local flora and fauna, Inca history vestiges, enchanting quiet villages, antique churches and interesting museums.

Day 2: Los Cardones National Park, Cachi, La Paya
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

After breakfast you will start traveling to the southwest to the fantastic Calchaqui Valleys accompanied by your local guide. Start the adventure visiting the two first gorges the Laures and Escoipe, then the landscape begins to change little by little until you approach to the Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop Slope), a 20-kilometer stretch of zigzag of provincial route No. 33 that reaches its maximum height of 3620 meters in Piedra del Molino. The landscape that accompanies this winding road is spectacular and from the top you will be able to appreciate an incredible panoramic view of the valley.
Los Cardones National Park, a cactus and cardon desert that was declared a protected area to promote its preservation over time, is crossed by the Recta del Tin Tin a perfect straight line upon which the route was built. It is so perfect that is difficult to achieve with the technology we have nowadays, but according to anthropological and historiographic studies, it was constructed in an artisanal way by the original peoples that inhabited the area. You will make a stop to visit the area and take some pictures of the huge cactis.
You will continue Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary on the way to Cachi, a small town in of Spanish and native traditions forms the most beautiful architecture. Once in Cachi you will have some free time to have lunch and, in the afternoon, you will take a two hours tour to visit La Paya, an archaeological site belonging to the Inca civilization.

Day 3: Molinos, Angastaco, Las Flechas Gorge and Cafayate
quebrada-de-las-flechas-salta-argentina1

The third day of our Argentina Northwest & Atacama adventure you will continue exploring the valleys and visit the beautiful mountain villages of Molinos and Angastaco, just before visiting Las Flechas Gorge, with its spectacular rock formations. After visiting its curious passages, you will arrive at Cafayate where you spend the night.

Cafayate Is one of the most popular destinations of the Argentina Northwest wine region. The wine is renowned in Argentina, especially because of the star product of the region: Torrontes Wine. Enjoy the end of the day in this picturesque town sipping on a sunset drink in the main square, or a Malbec ice cream from a traditional Gelato Shop.

Day 4: Cafayate Wineries and Wineyards
cafayate-salta-argentina2

Cafayate Is one of the most popular destinations of the Argentina Northwest wine region. The wine is renowned in Argentina, especially because of the star product of the region: Torrontes Wine. On the fourth day of Argentina Northwest & Atacama adventure let’s take a look to the wineries and wine yards. Enjoy a relaxing day touring the best wineries in Cafayate; El Esteco, Piatelli, El Porvenir are some of the options to try the best Cafayate wines and learn about their production process.

Day 5: Quilmes Ruins, Santa Maria, Hualfin, El Peñon
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Today you will leave Cafayate, in Salta province, to travel to El Peñon, in Catamarca province. On the way you will cross a little part of Tucuman province, to visit The Ruins of Quilmes, the remains of the most extensive pre-Columbian settlement in Argentina located at the foot of the Alto del Rey hill.

After touring the ruins, you will continue the Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary in Catamarca province, going to visit the city of Santa Maria. In the Pre-Columbian era, the region was inhabited by aborigines (Santa María Culture), of great urban development, ceramics and stone constructions; the Incas then left their cultural imprint in the region from the XV century. Santa Maria is beautiful city with vestiges of the Hispanic foundation mixed with pre-Columbian cultures, has beautiful museums and monuments.

Continue the journey to El Peñon passing through Hualfin, a typical mountain village in the Inca Route. Its Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, is a wonderful architectural jewel of adobe and carob tree in the center of the city. Once in El Peñon, you will rest up and recharge you energies for the next day.

DAYS 6 - 8

The Altiplano

Day 6: El Peñon - Campo de Piedra Pómez and Laguna Grande
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Set out to explore more of our Argentina Northwest & Atacama adventure. Today you will take a 6 hours 4×4 tour to Campo de Piedra Pómez, located in the department of Antofagasta de la Sierra, in its 25 km length it resembles a sea of white rock with pink ridges. Here, the strong wind that descends from the Andes has carved in the rocks the most diverse forms creating correctors, and all kinds of fascinating sculptures. Witnessing of the intense volcanic activity of the region, the Campo de Piedra Pómez is a unique landscape that make you feel in another world. You also will visit the Laguna Grande (Big Lagoon) full of flamingos. After the tour you will came back to El Peñon.

Day 7: Antofagasta de la Sierra, Antofalla and Tolar Grande
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Today You will travel from El Peñon to Tolar Grande making some stops on the way. The first place to visit is the small town of Antofagasta de la Sierra, located in the middle of Puna catamarqueña, is the gateway to vast salt flats, volcanoes, and lagoons in the Northwest Highlands of Argentina.

Then you will continue this Argentina Northwest & Atacama adventure going to explore Antofalla, located in the province of Catamarca, is an oasis town lost in the middle of nowhere. Before reaching the town, you have to cross the magnificent Salar de Antofalla (Salt Flats) and you also will visit the Laguna Colorada, at the foot of the Carachi Pampa volcano, which, as its name implies, is red. You will have to see it to believe it! In the distance, you will probably see several vicuñas graze calmly while a colony of flamingos relaxes in the lagoon.

Continue the journey to the last stop before Tolar Grande, the Salar de Arizaro, which is located more than 3,000 meters above sea level. It is the third largest salt flat on the continent, for kilometers and kilometers, the only thing observed is a desert landscape that hypnotizes visitors. And the Cone of Arita, protagonist of the landscape, a pyramid of 200 meters high volcanic origin that rises at the southern end of the salt flat forming a perfect natural cone. Once in Tolar Grande you can rest and relax.

Day 8: Tolar Grande Tour to Mina La Casualidad
salar-de-arizano-salta-argentina

The 8th day of the Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinarary you Will take a 4×4 day tour from Tolar Grande to Mina Casualidad. You Will leave after breakfast. In the first parto u the route you have to cross the Salar de Arizaro (Salt Flats), and you will ascend through a paved road that allows you to observe the salary from the top and in turn marvel at the volcanoes and ancient lava languages that will remain as a witness of the great activity that the Andes Mountains had during their gestation in this region .

The landscapes will surprise you as you approach La Casualidad as the colorful sulfur slopes of Cerro La Estrella are visible in the distance. Already in La Casualidad you will visit the old facilities and the buildings that would be abandoned there after the closure of this important sulfur mill in 1979.

You will have a free time to take photos and explore this unusual place in peace, then you will meet with the guide in one of the hundreds of abandoned houses to eat something and give him the opportunity to tell you part of the great history and legends of this site. After lunch you will return, passing through Cave of the Bear, this curious rock formation that we will cross carrying headlamps. Finally, we will return to town.

Day 9: Maze Desert, Pocitos Salt Flats, Paso de Sico, Miscante and Miiques Lagoons and Atacama
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Let’s enjoy another incredible day of this Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary. Today you will travel from Tolar Grande to San Pedro de Atacama, so you will cross the Argentina- Chile border. You will leave after breakfast crossing the Desierto del Laberinto (Maze Desert) where you will think you might get lost, to reach the Paso Sico in the border, passing through Salar de Pocitos, another Salt Flats.

You will enter in Chilean territory and the first place to visit in this country is the Miscanti and Miñiques Altiplanic Lagoons. The Miscanti lagoon is a nesting site for the tagua cornuda, bird of the Altiplano, and is located at the foot of the Miscanti hill, in the Andes mountain range next to its sister, the Miñiques lagoon. This lagoon is at the foot of the Miñiques volcano, whose eruption involves the formation of the two lagoons millions of years ago. Then you will continue the journey with the visit to the town of Socaire, a place that is characterized by the maintenance of cultivation terraces since pre-Hispanic times. Finally, we will arrive at San Pedro de Atacama, where you can relax and rest.

Day 10: Atacama - Geysers del Tatio and Moon Valley
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Your trip starts early in the morning, to see the sunrise in one of the most important geothermal fields in the world: the Tatio Geysers. There are more than 70 geysers from which steam jets emerge and pools of boiling water are formed. Its best view is on the early morning, when the landscape colors contrast with the intensely blue sky of geysers vapor.

In the middle of this impressive natural setting, we will enjoy breakfast. Taking the road back, you will observe the beauty of the landscape, its valleys, its native flora and fauna, where the charismatic vicuñas and vizcachas stand out. You will make stop in the town of Machuca, Atacameño town of just about twenty adobe houses, straw and cactus wood, where its inhabitants are dedicated to tourism and offer Andean handicrafts, and typical cuisine such as llama meat, sopaipillas and empanadas.

After lunch you will go to visit the Moon Valley, located few kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama, among the hills of sharp rocks and unusual forms of the Cordillera de la Sal. Is a true geological spectacle, part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve. You will enjoy the extravagant forms of the landscape, which will lead you to feel like walking on the lunar surface. As the afternoon passes, you will enjoy unbeatable views of the Andes Mountains and its volcanoes. With the arrival of the sunset the golden and red tones will appear on the desert, really overwhelming panorama. Simply an unforgettable experience in our 10th day of this Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary.

DAYS 11

Salt Flats and Purmamarca

Accommodation in Purmamarca
La Comarca Hotel

Shire, Charming hotel, was built in a privileged place in the beautiful village of Purmamarca, located at the foot of the spectacular Cerro de los Siete Colores and heart of the Quebrada mythical Humahuaca.

Day 11: Paso de Jama, Susques, Salt Flats, Lipán Slope & Purmamarca
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Today you will cross the border again to came back to Argentina through the Paso de Jama. The frist stop will be the little town of Susques located in the Puna Region, in Jujuy Province.

Then you will continue the journey to Salinas Grandes (Salt Flats)
The Salinas Grandes, a vast saline of 212 km2 in full Puna at 3,450 meters high, is the second largest salt flat in South America and the world. An extension of salt that contrasts with the blue of the sky. Unique natural environment with its traditional artisanal exploitation of salt. The salt flat is shared by Salta and Jujuy provinces.

On the way to Purmamarca you will cross the slope of the Lipán, a zigzagging and steep section of National Route 52, which reaches its maximum height in the Abra de Potrerillos at 4,170 meters above sea level. Finally, you will reach Purmarca, where you will spend the night. You can spend the rest of the day enjoying beautiful the view of the even Colors Hill and visiting the main square and its colorful handcraft faire.

DAYS 12

Humahuaca Gorge

Day 12: Humahuaca Gorge
Argentina Northwest & Atacama

Continue the Argentina Northwest & Atacama itinerary adventure traveling north to explore the beautiful mountain valley landscape of the Quebrada de Humahuaca  and the impressive colorful mountain range during all the way. Humahuaca Gorge is dotted with a bunch of amazing attractions such us the Cerro de los Siete Colores  in Purmarca, the Pucará de Tilcara (arqueological site), a dilapidated but well restored pre-Incan native fortress and the Cerro Paleta del Pintor at Maimará village.

You will also visit the small town of Uquía to see 17th-century paintings by indigenous students and the little Uquía Church. Then you will pass through Huacalera, and while crossing the Tropic of Capricorn road, admire the multicolored La Pollera de la Coya Hill. Finally, you reach the picturesque Humahuaca and enjoy its colorful narrow streets, handcraft markets and typical local food. You will come back to Salta where you spend the night.

Transfer

Private transfer to Salta Airport

Flight

Flight from Salta to your next destination

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Contact a destination specialist, who will take the time to fully understand your preferences and ideas and turn them into the perfect itinerary for you according to your budget. The itinerary can be modified as many times as you want until you are completely happy with the result.

Salta - Jujuy - Atacama Desert

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We dedicate to design custom trips for people who wish to live a special lifetime experience. As a result our professional team of travel designers and excellent local guides work together to create the best itineraries based on your interests.

How to Customize This Itinerary

Add an extra night in Cafayate so you can know more about the wine production and enjoy visiting some other wineries and wineyards. You can also extend the itinerary by adding one more night in Salta City to take a historical tour with your local guide to learn more about Salta’s history, visiting the museums, historical monuments and churches or take the cableway to visit the Cerro San Bernando, to enjoy of a wonderful panoramic view of the city.

Add some days in Buenos Aires to enjoy the vibrant Argentine Capital. Extend your visit with some time in Tucuman to complete your trip to the Argentina Northwest visiting Tafi del Valle and the Quilmes Ruins or spend some time in Iguazu inside Atlantic Rainforest with its lush vegetation and colorful wildlife and the stunning waterfalls.

Take some days to visit the Cuyo Region, recognized worldwide for the production of the highest quality wines in the world. Enjoy its landscapes of vineyards and wineries surrounded by valleys, rivers and the impressive Andes mountain range.

Extend your visit with time in Patagonia or the lovely Lake District and Bariloche. Enjoy incredible landscapes surrounded by forests, mountain, lakes and glaciers.

Include some time to relax! After a few days traveling you probably would enjoy some free time to relax or receive a massage that will you feel renew and energized for the rest of your trip. Most of the hotels have SPA services or wellness center.

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All travel ideas are fully customizable. We make travel proposals adapted to your interests, activities you enjoy, travel dates and destinations you want to visit.

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