Gaucho Traditions, Colonial Towns, Red-rock Canyons, and Great Hikes with Rob Noonan

Overview

With surreal landscapes that beckon the hiker, classic colonial towns, and a proud cultural heritage, the provinces of northern Argentina are utterly intriguing. We’ve woven together the many strands that make this region so captivating on a journey that will bring you from the beautifully preserved colonial city of Salta to the renowned Calchaqui Valley, home to the highest vineyards in the world, to dreamy Cachi, and the extraordinary “painted mountains” of Purmamarca. Our hikes and explorations will lead to ancient  ruins, into wind-sculpted canyons with towering red-rock formations, across shimmering salt pans, and into isolated valleys suspended in time. Along the way we’ll learn how to make savory empanadas at a private estancia, sample elegant vintages with a winemaker, and enjoy historic inns and estancias filled with character. Join Trip Leader Rob Noonan for an adventure into the incredible vistas, culture, and cuisine of this enchanting corner of Argentina.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Salta, Argentina

In this mountain-ringed city, we visit the renowned archaeological museum for a private viewing of the museum’s treasures, including its extraordinary Inca mummies, and we stretch our legs with a hike in the montane forest of the Reserve Finca Las Costas.

Days 3-5
Canyon Country Hikes / Vineyards of Calchaqui / Cafayate

In the Quebrada de Las Conchas Nature Reserve, our hike is a good introduction to northern Argentina’s dramatic red-rock scenery, and we’ll visit the highest vineyards in the world in the Calchaqui Valley, joining a winemaker for a walk in his vineyard and a tasting. Other hikes brings us above a pre-Columbian ruin and through wind-sculpted sandstone canyons with fantastic colors and geological features. One evening, we head to a vineyard for a festive Salta asado (barbecue), complete with local music.

Days 6-8
Quebrada de Las Flechas / Cuevas de Acsibi / Cachi

After a visit with a local potter in his studio in the historic village of San Carlos, we set off to hike in the Quebrada de Las Flechas (Canyon of Arrows), an incredible rampart below the desert sky, with sandstone fins stretching for miles. From the delightful village of Cachi, another off-the-map adventure is our spectacular 4WD journey and hike through the Cuevas de Acsibi, a towering, multi-hued canyon system.

Days 9-11
Private Estancia / Purmamarca / Great Salt Flats

Continuing north, we cross an 11,000-foot pass to descend into the remote Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley), where we stay at a historic private estancia with its own nature reserve. A dramatic new landscape unfolds as we enter Jujuy Province to arrive at the town of Purmamarca, set below striking jagged mountains. Our final hike is unforgettable, as we cross the magnificent Salinas Grandes, with blue skies above, red mountains all around, and glittering white salt flats spread out before us—a dreamlike experience.

Days 12-13
Salta / Depart

We return to Salta on the historic Yunga road, with a final celebration dinner at a local restaurant that is an exuberant expression of Salta’s traditional culture. Depart on Day 13.

Highlights

Highlights

Hike in the incredible red-rock canyons and wild landscapes of northern Argentina
Meet artisans in their studios, learn to make empanadas, enjoy a vineyard walk with a winemaker
Savor fine Argentinean wines at some of the highest vineyards in the world
Overnights in colonial inns and historic estancias
Unspoiled Salta Province, with its rich artisan traditions, folk rhythms, and superb regional food

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6895  
Arrive: Salta, Argentina
Depart: Salta, Argentina
Lodging: 12 nights hotels and haciendas
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Moderate day hikes, 2-5 hours a day, cultural explorations