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Salta & Cafayate
Travel Guide


Plan for Salta & Cafayate with Local Expertise

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Salta & Cafayate at a glance

Northern Argentina is often overlooked when it comes to tourism, but Salta, the jewel of the north, offers guests a very different side of the country. Nicknamed “Salta La Linda,” or The Most Beautiful, the city of Salta is one of the most well-preserved colonial cities and stands out because of its picturesque cityscape, historic heritage and modern-day indigenous culture. The largest city in northwest Argentina and the capital of the region, Salta is located in the Lerma Valley and is surrounded by incredible mountains and undulating landscapes on all sides. Its pretty cobbled streets are awash with quaint boutiques selling artisan crafts typical of the region, and lined with regal palaces and opulent cathedrals and churches. There are lots of bars and eateries selling typical cuisines such as fried empanadas, and penas, or old saloons playing folklorico music, a style native to this part of Argentina. Given Salta’s setting deep in a valley, a cable car runs up to the top of a hill where you can enjoy panoramic views out over the entire city.

Experiences around Salta & Cafayate

What not to miss

Salta is often used as a base for people wishing to explore the surrounding region, which is well known for its incredible geological formations, wineries and small indigenous villages. Salta is perhaps best explored by car, and a private tour can be organised for you where you can see all of the area’s highlights in the most hassle-free manner. Heading through the beautiful Calchaqui Valley, you will stumble upon local towns such as Cachi which hark back to a time gone by. As you head towards Salta’s wine region Cafayate, you will be able to stop along the way at various lookout points to see natural amphitheatres and puzzling rock formations that arise out of the distinctive red stone that the area is famous for. Cafayate has the feeling of a Wild West town, full of rustic buildings and tiny local stores, but surrounded by sprawling vineyards that produce Argentina’s most famous white wine, Torrontes. Head to one of the charming bars around the town’s main square and sample a chilled glass while watching the locals mill about, or talk a horseback ride into the foothills and experience the gaucho life firsthand.

Salta City Tour Top

Get your bearings in sunny Salta with a half-day private tour with a knowledgeable guide. Founded all the way back in 1582, Salta has a distinctive Hispanis character that sets it apart from the other state capitals in Argentina, making it a fascinating place to explore. Nestled in the Valle de Lerma, circled by dramatic mountains, the city is a charming jumble of low colonial-style buildings and narrow sidewalks. It’s easily walkable, making it a laid back spot to spend a couple of days. During this trip, you will take a wander to the main square and the cathedral, before climbing the San Bernando Hill. At the top, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with sweeping panoramic views of Salta and its surrounding countryside. The tour finishes at the Lorenzo and handicraft market, a perfect place to pick up some keepsakes to remember your trip. Private Service. Departure: Daily at 4:15pm

7 Colored Mountains of Humahuaca Top

Set off on a full-day adventure into the gorgeous Humahuaca Valley, one of the real highlights of any trip to Salta. You’ll be transferred from the city to the picturesque village of Purmamarca, perched at the foot of the Seven Colored Mountain. Here, you’ll have plenty of time to wander through the narrow streets, admire the beautiful local church and check out the craft market. Next, you’ll continue to Tilcara, where you’ll visit the ancient ruins of Pucará, the Huacalera and the Archaeological Museum. From here, you’ll cross the Tropic of Capricorn, where you’ll get a dazzling view of the colored Pollera de la Coya Hill in the sunshine. Afterwards, you’ll head for Uquía and drop by the charming local church, complete with beautiful paintings of the Arcabuceros Angels. Around midday, you’ll reach Humahuaca, home to another important church and the Independence Monument sculpted by Soto Avendaño. After taking a break for lunch you’ll travel to San Salvador de Jujuy, where you’ll explore the town before heading back towards Salta through a lush subtropical landscape. Private Service. Departure: Daily at 6:45am

Overnight Iruya Explorer Top

2 Days / 1 Night

You will start your excursion in Salta, and the first stop is in Purmamarca, where you will see the Seven Colored Hill, the Church and the Craft Market on the square. You will continue towards the town of Tilcara where you can visit the Pucará and the Archaeological Museum. Then you will cross the Capricorn Tropic, from where the colors of La Pollera de la Coya Hill can be seen and you will be able to take beautiful pictures because of the daylight. You will visit Uquía and its church, where the paintings of the Ángles Arcabuceros (important vestige in the zone of the Cuzqueña School) are kept. Arrival to Humahuaca will be at noon; this town has an important Church and the Independence Monument (the Indian) of the sculptor Soto Avendaño. Then you will continue through the village of Iturbe and Abra del Cóndor (3900 masl), arriving at the mouth of a small gorge where this small town is located, Iruya. The next day you will return to Salta, in the way you will visit the City of S.S. de Jujuy, and arrival to Salta in the afternoon.

Trip to Cafayate from Salta Top

Full day or 2 Day / 1 Night

Cafayate is a beautiful wine growing town located in the Calchaquí Valley, 183 kilometers from the capital city of the province. You will love the scenic route to the city that will take you over incredibly shaped colorful natural formations recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Monument. The journey starts from Salta city to the south, through route 68 traversing the Lerma Valley and its historical towns like Cachi were you will have free time for Lunch. The trip continues down route 40 to admire mountainous landscapes with towns of great enchantment. Bordering the Calchaquí river, you can observe historical towns such as Seclantas, Molinos, Angastaco, San Carlos and Animana. By the end of the afternoon we arrive to Cafayate, where we spend the night. 2 Day Extension: On the following day After lunch you will return to Salta through Quebrada de las Conchas (the Shells’Gorge) and the Lerma Valley. You will reach Quebrada de las Conchas (the Shell’s Gorge), where wind and water erosion carved curious shapes on the rocks (The Amphitheater, Devil’s throat, The Toad, The Castles, among others).

Day trip to Cachi & Calchaqui Valley Top

This circuit takes you through the Lerma Valley up to ‘El Carril’, where you will then head west, past Chicoana along the Quebrada de Escoipe (Escoipe Ravine). The views are amazing as the vehicle climbs the Cuesta del Obispo. Following the Tin Tin straight you will reach a small ancient town called Cachi. It is a very picturesque village in the Calchaqui Valley, where traditions and myths abound. After lunch (not included) you will head through ‘Los Cardones National Park’ back to Salta. Private or Group Service. Departure: Between 7am and 7:30am

Movitrack Safari to the Clouds Top

Set off on a ‘Safari into the Clouds’ aboard a unique Movitrack overland truck that can navigate all kinds of rough terrain. This full-day group tour gives you the unique opportunity to combine three North-West Routes in one unforgettable day. Heading out early from the Movitrack office in Salta, you’ll take the famous ‘Road to the Clouds,’ following the railway of the Train to the Clouds. Along the way, you can admire the incredible scenery from the roof or window of the truck. You’ll then cross the high altitude plains of La Puna en route to the vast Salinas Grandes salt plains. Next, you’ll hurtle down into the Canyon Cuesta de Lipan, dropping a whopping 2,000m over just 22 kilometers. With any luck, you’ll see condors swooping in the skies above. Descending into the canyon the change in scenery is dramatic, transforming from high altitude desert to fertile highlands. You’ll swing by the picturesque village of Purmamarca, perched at the foot of the Mountain of Seven Colours, before returning to Salta around 9pm. Lunch, snacks and drinks are not included. Private or Group Service. Departure: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Pick up around 06.30 am. Minimum 2 pax.

Juramento River Rafting w/ Lunch Top

The trip departs from Salta heading south, towards Cabra Corral Dam, on the Juramento River. Upon arrival you will receive the safety instructions and equipment for our two hour class III rafting. After this exiting adventure you will return to base for lunch (argentinean barbeque). Later you return to Salta.

Trip to the Clouds with Humahuaca Top

2 Days / 1 Night

Treat yourselves to a 2-day private ‘Trip into the Clouds,’ through the rugged beauty of the Humahuaca Valley. Setting out from Salta, you’ll pass the traditional town to Quijano before reaching the impressive Toro Gorge. Here, you’ll stop to see the El Toro viaduct, between 1921 and 1948, a whopping 25 meters high. From here, you’ll head off on a trek. Next, you’ll see the amazing engineering feat of the ‘Train to the Clouds,’ a train track that run from Salta to the Chilean border, covering a huge distance of 570 km. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in Argentina and something quite incredible to behold. You’ll stop for a stroll in the pre-Incan city of Tastil before continuing to the town of Quebrada del Toro Gorge, home to many anthropological treasures. From here, you’ll journey to San Antonio de los Cobres, a small mining town, where you’ll stop for a lunch break. Next, you’ll head to the third largest Salt Flats in the world, taking another short trek to soak up the scenery, Then, you’ll descend through the Lipan Slope until you reach picturesque Purnamarca, at the foot of the Seven Colored Mountain. It’s the perfect spot to spend a night in the valley. The next day you’ll explore the highlights of the town before setting off for the high plateau, where colorful hills frame the whitewashed villages tucked away between the slopes. From here, you’ll visit Pucará, a fascinating little place, before reaching Humahuaca, the most important town between Jujuy and the Bolivian border. After exploring the area, you’ll head back to Salta, with a camera packed with photos and a head full of memories.

Nighttime City Tour with Peña Top

Take an atmospheric night time tour of Salta with your own private guide, visiting the historic highlights of the city, illuminated brightly after dark. In the evening, Salta takes on a whole new character, giving you a new perspective and a quirky twist on your visit. During the tour, you’ll climb to the top of San Bernando Hill to take in a spectacular view of the city, filled with lights twinkling against the darkness. You’ll also pass by all the important monuments and the Club de 20 de Febrero, making plenty of stops to take photos on the way. Later, you’ll head to a local folkloric hotspot for dinner and a traditional show. It’s a wonderful way to spend an evening in Salta. Dinner is included, but drinks will be at an additional cost. Private Service. Departure: Daily. Pick up around 07.30 9m.

Horsebackriding Chicoana w/ BBQ lunch Top

Get a glimpse of real local life during this full-day horseback riding trip to Chicoana, complete with a traditional BBQ lunch. Setting off from Salta with a small group, you’ll drive to a local ranch in the sleepy town of Chicoana, where you’ll grab a tasty breakfast before getting in the saddle. First, you’ll ride through the town itself, watching daily life infold around you, before entering true tobacco territory. Trotting alongside the endless tobacco plantations, you’ll see how the local people harvest and cultivate tobacco (depending on the season). Continuing further into the countryside, you’ll find yourself amidst a landscape of green mountains and twisting rivers, which you’ll cross on your trusty horse. You’ll climb up one of these mountains for a magical view from the top before heading back to the ranch for Lunch. Here, you’ll be treated to a real gaucho BBQ and, with a bit of luck, the gauchos will get out their guitars while you eat. Afterwards, you’ll head back to Salta, where the trip ends.

Calchaqui Valley Tour Top

3 Days / 2 Nights

Set off on a private 3-day adventure through the beautiful Calchaqui Valley with your own personal driver guide. The panoramic route takes you across the Lerma Valley up to the top of ‘El Carril.’ From here, you’ll head west past Chicoana along the the Quebrada de Escoipe, a dizzying ravine with incredible views from every angle. After climbing the scenic Cuesta del Oboispo, you’ll follow the Tin Tin straight until you reach a small ancient village called Cachi, a picturesque spot packed with legend and tradition. You’ll spend the night in Cachi before continuing south past Seclantas, Molinos, Angastoco and the Quebrada Las Flechas (Arrow Canyon). At the end of Day 2 you’ll arrive in Cafayate, where you’ll stay. On Day 3, you’ll whisk through the highlights of Cafayate, including the local handicraft market and winery before driving on to Quebrada de las Conchas, stopping at a handful of breathtaking viewpoints on the way. Next, you’ll visit the ghost town of Alemania and visit the abandoned train station, full of myth and atmosphere. Finally, you’ll drive through the Valle de Lerma, crossing endless tobacco plantations and arrive at Cabra Corral (a scenic dam) before heading back to Salta.

Alfarcito Bike Tour w/ Lunch Top

This classic tour takes place in the surroundings of Tilcara and is a review of the geological and cultural history of this land. Our first stop will be at “La Garganta del Diablo,” a small canyon in the Huasamayo River formed by thousands of years of erosion. We will continue our tour to reach to a panoramic view point where we will admire some prehispanic farming terraces. But, what goes up must come down; on our way back to Tilcara, we will have a 9 km downhill.

Llama trek in Tilcara w/ Lunch Top

Set off on a half-day private trek to the jaw-dropping Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Gorge) Tilcara, alongside trusty llamas and local guides. It’s a wonderful way to explore the Quebrada de Humahuaca, watching the morning and noon sunshine paint the outline of the hills as you walk through this gorgeous landscape. The llamas are not for riding. They’ll carry everything you need during the three-hour trek until you reach your panoramic picnic spot, where you’ll take a breather for lunch and enjoy a well-deserved glass of wine. Afterwards, you’ll wander back towards the city, taking a route far off the regular tourist trail. Suitable for all the family and departing all year round, it’s a great trip that will give you a glimpse into real local life. Transportation to and from the meeting point is not included. Private Service. Departure: Daily at 10am

Fast Facts on Salta & Cafayate

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Salta & Cafayate.

When to go

Salta’s high elevation gives it a hot and dry climate. The best time to visit, as with many places in Argentina, is in the spring, between October and December, or in fall, between April and June. During the summer months, in January and February, the city and the surrounding area can become unbearably hot, and given that its landscape is arid and mountainous there is very little shade for protection on walks and hikes. Salta’s cloudless skies and relentless sun can make for an intensely hot experience, so the cooler months are much more agreeable and allow visitors to partake in all of the activities that the city and the area has to offer in much more comfort. Wine lovers might want to visit Cafayate in the run up to harvest in February and March. The wettest, as well as being the hottest, months are December to February. Always remember to bring suncream, sunglasses and a hat, but we will tell you what to pack in advance, so don’t worry.

How to get there

Salta can be reached by plane from Buenos Aires, and flights arrive daily at the Martín Miguel de Güemes Airport in the city of Salta and the Gobernador Horacio Guzmán airport in nearby San Salvador de Jujuy. The best sights are outside Salta to the north and south, and Cafayate can be reached by road. The journey from Salta to Cafayate is a highlight itself: the Calchaquí Valley Route boasts innumerable otherworldly rock formations that have been sculpted by the elements over millions of years. The best way to see the area is via a private transfer, by group tour or by renting a car. We can assist you in booking a private driver or arranging a tour, just ask one of our travel experts.

Infrastructure

Most of the hotels in Salta and Jujuy are four stars and under, but as high-end tourism to the area has increased in recent years, there are numerous new boutique hotels located in many of the most popular destinations. Many of the vineyards in Cafayate also have luxury hotels attached to them, or you may want to stay at a traditional estancia, or horse ranch. These properties are often family run by locals who love welcoming visitors to the region, and are equipped to entertain guests with lots of activities including horse riding, hiking and wine tasting, as well as preparing home cooked meals on site. In terms of vehicular infrastructure, while Salta is known for its spectacular landscapes, to maintain the virgin nature of these, the routes and roads that wind through the terrain are much as they always have been, and so are not for novice drivers.

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