Northwest Argentina: Planning Your Trip

Cactus, Tilcara, Argentina

When To Go

The best time of year to visit Northwest Argentina is in April and May, when the heavy rains and intense heat of the summer months (December – March) have subsided and the foliage is at its finest.  April is also the month when red peppers are harvested and laid out to dry in the lovely mountain village of Cachi.  Do not despair if visiting during these months is not feasible.  Northwest Argentina enjoys a mild climate year round and can be visited comfortably at any time.

Suggested Itineraries

The distances in Northwest Argentina are immense.  To visit the three most important sub-regions– the Calchaqui Valley, the Quebrada de Humahuaca and the Puna— you need at least two weeks.  If you have less than a week, you will need to select only one of these places to visit.  In that case, I would suggest limiting your trip to the Calchaqui Valley, which has both spectacular scenery that can be enjoyed while driving and hiking and world-class vineyards and spas for relaxing.

Below I have included two sample itineraries.  They are deliberately brief with links to prior entries for you to obtain more detailed information about each place.

Five Days

Road from Cachi to Cafayate, Argentina

Day 1: Arrive in Salta.  Stay at Finca Valentina.

Day 2: Depart Salta for a road trip through the Calchaqui Valley.  Drive to Cachi and stay at Finca la Paya.

Day 3: Drive from Cachi to Cafayate.  Stay at Patios de Cafayate or Casa de la Bodega.

Day 4: Enjoy a relaxing day of wine tasting, hiking or massages in Cafayate.

Day 5: Return to Salta (3 hours from Cafayate) and board flight home.

Two Weeks

Red and Silver Mountains, Puna, Argentina

Day 1: Arrive in Salta.  Stay at Finca Valentina.

Day 2: Explore Salta.

Day 3: Depart Salta for a road trip through the Calchaqui Valley.  Drive to Cachi and stay at Finca la Paya.

Day 4: Drive from Cachi to Cafayate.  Stay at Patios de Cafayate or Casa de la Bodega.

Day 5: Enjoy a relaxing day of wine tasting, hiking or massages in Cafayate.

Day 6: Arrange for a local guide to pick you up from Cafayate and drive you to El Peñon in the Puna.  Though the drive from Cafayate to El Peñon can be done on your own, once in the Puna you will need to be accompanied by a professional guide in order to explore this region safely.  We had a fantastic experience with our guide, Pompon, from Socompa.

Day 7: Day trip from El Peñon to Campo de Piedra Pomez and Laguna Grande.

Day 8: Drive from El Peñon to Tolar Grande.

Day 9: Day trip from Tolar Grande to Mina La Casualidad or Desierto del Laberinto.

Day 10: Drive from Tolar Grande to Salta.

Day 11: Depart for Quebrada de Humahuaca.  Stop in Purmamarca for photos in the late morning and then continue to Tilcara to spend the night at Las Terrazas.

Day 12: Visit the Pucara (indigenous ruins) of Tilcara in the morning and return to Salta in the afternoon.  Stay at Selva Montana in the suburb of San Lorenzo.

Day 13: Enjoy a relaxing day of hiking and lounging by the pool in San Lorenzo.

Day 14: Fly home.

Deeper Skies comments

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