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Home > Deserts of the North West region in Argentina

Deserts of the North West region in Argentina

A fantastic tour from Buenos Aires to Salta. You will discover the landscapes of the North West region of Argentina with different stops in Salta, Salinas Grandes, Purmamarca, Tilcara, Cachi and Cafayate. Experience the freedom adventure



  • Day 1: Buenos Aires
  • Day 2: Buenos Aires
  • Day 3: Buenos Aires - Salta - Buenos Aires - Salta
  • Day 4: Salta - Purmamarca
  • Day 5: Purmamarca - Salta
  • Day 6: Salta - Cachi
  • Day 7: Cachi - Cafayate
  • Day 8: Cafayate - Belén
  • Day 9: Belén - Villa Union
  • Day 10: Villa Union - Talampaya - Villa Union
  • Day 11: Villa Union - Barreal
  • Day 12: Barreal - Lujan de Cuyo - Mendoza
  • Day 13: Mendoza - Vineyards Mendoza - Mendoza
  • Day 14: Mendoza - Buenos Aires
  • Day 15: Departure


Day 1: Buenos Aires

Welcoming at Ezeiza International Airport and transfer to Buenos Aires in a private vehicle.

Transfer with an English-speaking guide.
Free day in Buenos Aires.

Suggested itinerary:

You can start with the 9 de Julio Avenue, the largest avenue in the world, overlooked by the Obelisk, symbol of Buenos Aires.
You can stop by the Colon Theatre, an Argentinean architectural jewel; next you can head to the famous Plaza de Mayo, surrounded by important buildings such as the Casa Rosada (Government's house), the Cabildo, with its colonial architecture and the Cathedral of Buenos Aires.
Afterwards you get to know the picturesque La Boca neighbourhood, and the Caminito alley, a place where painters, tango dancers and singers meet.
In the afternoon you can shop in the many antique shops of San Telmo neighbourhood, full of art galleries, and each Sunday the famous flee market on Defensa Street.
Return to the hotel late in the afternoon.

Night at the Two Hotel ***.
Included : transfer arrival, reception with english-speaking guide, room & breakfast

Day 2: Buenos Aires

Free Day in Buenos Aires.

Suggested itinerary:

Get to know the Recoleta neighbourhood, with its many colonial houses, that belonged to historical people and are now property of powerful Argentinean families.

The luxury mall "Pacifico" is a must-see for its French architecture dating back to 1889, with its superb roofs and luxury shops.
Then you can visit the Recoleta cemetery, where you can find the grave of many celebrities, politicians and writers. The most famous is the grave of Evita Peron.
The tour continues with the Palermo neighbourhood with a walk through the “Tres de Febrero” park, inaugurated in 1875.
After lunch you can head into San Telmo, the antique’s neighbourhood and visit the National History Museum, that shows argentines history from its independence.
Return to the hotel in the afternoon.

Night at the Two Hotel ***.
Included : room & breakfast

Day 3: Buenos Aires - Salta

Transfer from the hotel to the Buenos Aires Domestic Airport in a private vehicle

Vehicle rental, Category G, like Renault Duster or similar

Suggested itinerary:

Free day dedicated to visit the city.

Salta is the capital city of the province of the same name and it is located at 1,187 masl, at the foot of Mount San Bernardo. The city was founded on April 16th 1582 by Hernando de Lerma. Both colonial-style houses and modern buildings coexist harmoniously.
Out of all the historical buildings, you visit the cathedral, built in the nineteenth century, the San Bernardo convent and the Cabildo, which houses the picturesque historical museum of the northern region of Argentina.

Visit to the very recent and interesting MAAM museum (Museo Arqueologia de Alta Montaña or High Mountain Archaeological Museum) which exhibits several mummies discovered at an altitude of over 6,000 meters.

Note: MAAM closed on Mondays.

Night at Antiguo Convento hotel ***.
Included : transfer departure, car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 4: Salta - Purmamarca

Suggested itinerary:

We ride in a private vehicle along the railway tracks of the famous “Tren de las Nubes” and head first for Salinas Grandes and then for Purmamarca.
We leave Salta (1,200 masl) and after a 166km (104mi) ride, we arrive in San Antonio de los Cobres at 3,774 masl. Before we stop to visit Santa Rosa de Tastil (3,200 masl) and the pre-Inca site which dates back to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries AD (a half-hour walk, approximately).

Later, we stop in San Antonio de los Cobres. Surrounded by mountains with virtually no vegetation, this wind swept village and its low buildings give an impression of remoteness. We visit the small museum dedicated to the highest railway-track in the world. Countless pictures describe its construction in the 1930s: what a saga!

As we follow our road, we reach a vast white expanse of land which contrasts against the pure blue of the sky. We are now in the very midst of one of the largest salt deserts in Argentina (1,200 sq. km), Salinas Grandes.

As we drive along a winding dirt track for a few miles, we reach the Lipán Mountain Pass, located at 4,170 masl and later the last stop of the day’s tour: Purmamarca, “the Holy Land” in Aymara language. This little town is renowned for its seven-colored mountain, “Cerro de los Siete Colores”, a mineral rainbow.

Night at the hotel in Purmamarca.
Note 1: a 347km (216mi) trip with some delicate mountain tracks lasting approximately 6h30 min.
Note 2: during the rainy season, between November and March, the access to the Salinas Grandes might become virtually impossible.

Night at Los Colorados Cabins ***.
Superior Bungalow
Included : room & breakfast

Day 5: Purmamarca - Salta

Suggested itinerary:

A quiet day-start to enjoy the "Cerro de los 7 Colores" and the village of Purmamarca.
Departure to hit the Andean road, arriving after twenty kilometres to Pucará Tilcara, a pre-Hispanic Omaguaca village founded over 900 years ago. We visit the village and the remarkable collection housed in its museum including mummies, funeral vases, jewellery and other objects found in archaeological sites in the Northwest of Argentina.

We continue north to Humahuaca, located at 2940masl, one of the most important trade centres in times of the Vice Regency of Peru.
Then we go south all the way to San Salvador de Jujuy and include a visit to the Huacalera chapel which dates back to 1655 and was restored in 1944.
We reach Salta during the afternoon.
Night in Salta.
307 km – 4 hours

Night at Antiguo Convento hotel ***.
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 6: Salta - Cachi

Suggested itinerary:

Departure to Cachi, located at 2200masl, at 157km from Salta.
We drive through spectacular landscapes such as those offered by the Piedra del Molino mountain pass at 3,600 meters, the Quebrada de Escoipe, a deep gorge where the green of the woods contrasts with the ochre of the soil on the bare mountains of “Cuesta del Obispo” and Los Cardones National Park composed of stark expanses scattered with candelabrum-shaped cacti…

Cachi is a tranquil Andean native village featuring low-whitewashed houses and the San José Church with its sculpted roof of cactus-wood dating back to the eighteenth century. We visit the small archaeological museum which has a wonderful collection of pre-Inca and Inca ceramics, especially those pertaining to the Santa María culture.

Night at El Cortijo hotel ***.
Standard room
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 7: Cachi - Cafayate

Suggested itinerary:

Departure to reach the small town of Molinos, dating from 1659; there is a church, probably erected in the late eighteenth century, by the last royal governor of Salta, Don Nicolás Severo of Isasmendi, buried there. Around this chapel, is where the town of Molinos grew.

You cross the majestic "Quebrada de las Flechas" surrounded by a mysterious moonscape. White dunes announce the nearness of Cafayate, the largest city in the valley of Calchaquies, whose economy relies on the wine industry. Wine tasting in the evening.
Night in Cafayate.

Night at Killa hotel ***.
Standard room.
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 8: Cafayate - Belén

Suggested itinerary:

You leave Cafayate and head towards the archaeological site of Quilmes, former fortified stronghold of the Inca era; in bygone times, it gave shelter to over 3,000 people resisting Spanish evangelization and military conquest. The town and its intricate structure were built by terracing the hill slopes. A tour of the site.
Afterwards we continue south to Belen, a pretty little town, capital of the "poncho". You can visit the Elinda Finguerosa workshop to discover the superb craftsmanship of weaving which is very famous in Argentina.

Night in Belen.
271km - 4 hours
Night at El Belen hotel **.
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 9: Belén - Villa Union

Suggested itinerary:

Just as we start the trip from Belen, we reach Londres. This was the second village established in Argentine territory (1st was in Santiago del Estero), June 24th 1558, when Juan Perez de Zurita christened "London of the New England." This village has 2,600 inhabitants who live mainly on weaving production.

Further ahead we arrive at the "El Shincal" archaeological reserve, site of 23 hectares at the foot of the chain Quimivil. We assume that this site was occupied by the Incas between 1471 and 1536. This site, declared National Historical Monument, every summer is the house for many archaeologists that are working on its restoration.

Continuing we head into Chilecito, a small town known in Argentina because of its mining activity. The name means small Chile, because of all the Chilean labourers that came here to work in the late nineteenth century.
We reach Villa Union, where the main attraction is the roasted goat, in Spanish called "chivito".

340 km, 7 hours and a half approximately

Night at the Cañon de Talampaya hotel ***.
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 10: Villa Union - Talampaya - Villa Union

Suggested itinerary:

Early morning departure to reach the beautiful Talampaya National Park, 120 km gravel road, of which 58 are paved.
Talampaya National Park, with its 215,000 hectares, was created in 1975 to safeguard the archaeological and paleontological resources presented in a beautiful environment. The Talampaya River Canyon, with its gigantic walls which shelter the nests of condors, one of Argentina’s natural wonders. Grey foxes or Southern vizcachas hide behind the old carob trees and arum lilies. With an official guide and a car park approved, you go for a ride of 3 hours to complete a loop in a magical setting where the ochre colours contrasts with the intense blue colour of the sky.
Lunch on a cafeteria.

In the afternoon, you return to the vehicle, towards the Ischigualasto Provincial Park, better known as “Valle de la Luna” or “Moon Valley”.
225 million years ago, this valley was a luscious green paradise with huge ferns and colossal vertebrates. Under the vivid blue sky, lie such natural sculptures as “the mushroom” or “the sphinx” and many reptile fossils that figure among the countless treasures located in this region. In fact, this park is the only place in the world where nearly all of the Triassic is represented in the rock deposits (between 248 and 206 million years ago).
It is only natural, therefore that these 60,000 hectares were listed among UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage in the year 2000.
We visit this site with an official guide (approximately 3 hours) and the small museum which houses several reconstituted dinosaurs which inhabited this region.
You head to Villa Union.

Note 1: an official guide has to accompany us on our tour around the Valle de la Luna (compulsory) – we use our own vehicle.
Note 2: The Park opens between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (from October to April) and between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. (from May to September).
Note 3: Talampaya is operated by the National Park, making it impossible to drive in your vehicle.
Note 4: Talampaya National Park is open from 8am to 6pm (October to April) and from 9am to 5pm (May to September).

Night at the Cañon de Talampaya hotel ***.
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 11: Villa Union - Barreal

Suggested itinerary:

After breakfast, you set out on a journey with the mountains as only witnesses!
You reach Lake Pico de los Vientos, and the slope of Huaco.
For lunch, stop in the city Iglesia where you can visit a farm trout.

In the afternoon you reach Barreal.

Night in the Posada de los Patos ***
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 12: Barreal - Lujan de Cuyo - Mendoza

Suggested itinerary:

You leave early in the morning Barreal to discover El Leoncito National Park.
Preserving a representative sample of environments such as the Monte, the Puna and High Andes, El Leoncito National Park contributes to the maintenance of the sky, avoiding the consequences of human activities that generate light and atmospheric dust that seriously threaten its natural quality.

Then you continue towards Uspallata, to get closer to Aconcagua Provincial Park. This is the last town before beginning the ascent of the mountain. Here the Pre Cordillera transforms into the Cordillera. It is undeniable that one reaches a new mountain formation because of the landscape and much more sharp peaks.
You reach Puente del Inca (Inca Bridge), where in the early twentieth century; this small hamlet had a spa hotel until in 1965 an avalanche destroyed it almost entirely, with the exception of its chapel and spa rooms. Today the ruins are a unique landscape!
After a stop at the Inca Bridge you continue to the Aconcagua Provincial Park.
From here, you have a charming view to the Aconcagua (6962 m). Depending on the weather conditions, you can enjoy a walking tour (30-45 min) to Horcones High Mountain Lake.

Then you descend to Uspallata and reach Mendoza in the late afternoon.
235km, 4 hours approximately.

Night at the hotel Argentino ***.
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 13: Mendoza - Vineyards Mendoza - Mendoza

Suggested itinerary:

Departure from Mendoza to explore the region, including the cities of Lujan de Cuyo and Maipu.

This tour through the vineyards will be an opportunity to observe how the people in this region, managed to transform the desert into an oasis, through canals and irrigation "drip style", allowing today Argentina to be a major producer of wines in the world.
This day will be of particular winery tours and tastings.

Return to Mendoza in the evening.

Note: We highly recommend visiting the Bodega (wine cellar) Catena Zapata, Bodega Familia Zuccardi (excellent for lunch), Bodega Alta Vista, etc…

Night at the hotel Argentino ***.
Included : car rental, insurance, room & breakfast

Day 14: Buenos Aires

Drop off your vehicle at the airport.
Welcoming at Buenos Aires domestic airport. and transfer to the hotel in a private vehicle.
Night at the Two Hotel ***.
Included : car rental, insurance, transfer arrival, room & breakfast

Day 15: Departure

Transfer from the hotel to Ezeiza International Airport in a private vehicle
Included : transfer departure


Day 3: Buenos Aires - Salta

Domestic flight Buenos Aires - Salta.

Included : domestic flight, airport tax

Day 14: Mendoza - Buenos Aires

Domestic flight Mendoza - Buenos Aires
Included : domestic flight, airport tax

Two Hotel   Buenos Aires

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

A new concept in hotels in its class. Functional, modern and low cost, TWO is designed for travelers who intend to visit the city of Buenos Aires without spending large sums of money on accommodation but, having the essential amenities to make your stay a memorable moment.

Hotel Antiguo Convento   Salta

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

The Old Convent Hotel is located in the Historic Corridor in street Caseros, minutes from Plaza 9 de Julio. Among the attractions of the colonial architecture that our city presents we can see the Cathedral, the Cabildo Historico, San Francisco Church and Convent of San Bernardo. There is no doubt that walking around the center of our city will be an experience you will never forget.

Hotel Los Colorados   Purmamarca

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Cabañas Los Colorados is a complex of bungalows, which are located in northwestern Argentina, in Jujuy Province. The Cabañas el Colorado are located in the "Quebrada de Humahuaca" declared "World Heritage" UNESCO 2003. Located at the foot of the seven color hills (western) within the magnificent tour of the "Paseo de los Colorados." At 500 meters of Purmamarca's main square.

Option : Option

Hotel El Cortijo   Cachi

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Enjoy a warm atmosphere, an exclusive Andean stile kitchen, an ideal site to contemplate art and nature and our personalized and kind service. The traditional family Bergesi´s villa became what today is a charming hotel, adding comfort and modern installations to the original building. The restaurant Catalino “chef author, wines and conserved food” is where the cook exhibits his style, adding to the regional kitchen his gourmet touch. The hotel rooms maintain the original architecture and materials like adobe, natural stones, wood and cane with old furnishing combined with regional paintings.

Option : Option

Hotel Killa   Cafayate

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Killa Cafayate is a hotel de charme located in the heart of town. Developed after an old colonial house it is today a hotel with own character and a very particular style. It is a place to rest and encounter with ample guestrooms, fresh galleries and colorful gardens. Decorated with exclusive artisan designs, invites to enjoy its history and present with unique hospitality style.

Option : Option

Hotel Belen   Belén

Level : 2*
Included : room & breakfast

Belen Hotel In designing the architecture and decoration is unique and exclusive, where our indigenous past and its landscape is recreated at each corner. Enjoy this trip in a unique setting for relaxation.

night hotel cañon de talampaya   Villa Union

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

At Cañón de Talampaya Hotel, every bedroom was carefully designed to give you a relaxing time, combining a country style with modern traits. Our 28 spacious rooms are meant to help you enjoy the mountain environment. The hotel restaurant offers an appealing menu including regional, vegetarian and classical dishes, as well as the best breakfast options. We are strategically located so that you may get to know and enjoy the attractions in the area.

Hotel Posada de los Patos   Barreal

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

The posada receives it's name as a tribute to General San Martin. Paso de los Patos is the main path where the army of the Andes crossed the mountain chain to liberate Chile and later Peru. The Posada respects the architectural line of the Cuyo region in Argentina and it is set with a rustic and cozy style. The social area has WiFi internet connection and a direct view of the Andes to disconnect from everything. During summer time, the swimming pool is the ideal place to cool down and listen to the water running through the canals. . Paso de los Patos is a cozy, relaxed place full of good energy. It is the place that we imagined to welcome guests and say goodbye to friends. It's our passion, what motivates us and fills us with satisfaction.

Hotel Argentino   Mendoza

Level : 3*
Included : room & breakfast

Located in the heart of the city of Mendoza in front of the Plaza Independencia, where citizens are mixed landscapes with the green of nature, an ideal environment for building all kinds of activity, whether at work or rest, or why not ... both.

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