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Highlights of
the Northwest


The Argentine northern region invites you to enjoy the gentle rhythm of a people that, in continuation their ancient practices, loudly celebrate carnival while silently making offerings to Mother Earth. The region blends together sunny days and mountain sceneries, as well as sturdy forests and delicate, high tablelands. This geography has given birth to staunch cultures and centennial nations, and encourages hikers, water sports enthusiasts, and bold souls who who enjoy flying, horseback riding, rock climbing, or driving 4x4’s on their visit. It also entices visitors to try the spicy flavors of its ethnic cuisine.

The region has countless possibilities for customizing a 1stClassArgentina tour. We have selected a few highlights to help you design the most suitable trip. These offerings are not available year-round, and vary with the season.

Contact your Travel Consultant at (800) 240-9189 for further details.

Salta “La Linda” and the Train to the Clouds

Life may be enjoyed on a railway for 15 unforgettable hours, going from the old train station in Salta (usually called “the nice city”) and the stunning viaduct La Polvorilla, almost 4,200 meters above sea level. The path is far from straight; there are bridges, tunnels, winding rails and loops. Furthermore, from the train you will spot incredible views: from fertile landscapes (such as the landscapes of Valle de Lerma, sprinkled with many colors and sweet-smelling crops), to the mysterious and desolated places of Puna. Outdoors, nature and ancient cultures go hand in hand. Indoors, a friendly atmosphere grows fonder, accompanied by the quality in the rendered services that is characteristic of international tourism and charismatic cultures. The whistle announcing the train is going to leave the station blows every Saturday at 7 am sharp. In summertime, the train does not follow the usual route, although the magic of reaching the heavenly altitude stays just the same.

In the city of Salta, you will enjoy stone over stone, carob tree and adobe, small roof tiles and lime. Here, the eclectic architecture is painted white, red and brown. This a capital city of a province with spellbinding spots, a region that offers unforgettable experiences, such as bungee jumping in Dique Cabra Corral, or strolling around colorful villages that will entice you with their people, their histories, and their folklore. In Cafayate you will find very old wineries, and villages such as Molinos, Cachi, Angastaco and Seclantas hidden in the mountains. Near the border with Jujuy, there is Iruya, where you will listen to sikus (a wind instrument) and see Andean llamas, guanacos (a lowland relative of the upper-Andean llama), and alpacas (related to the llama and believed to be a variety of the guanaco).

Jujuy and the Humahuaca Ravine

After departing from San Salvador de Jujuy, we soon reach a natural road leading to the altiplano (high plateau). Vividly colored landscapes frame a group of villages with adobe houses, historical chapels and pre-Hispanic ruins, where time seems to stand still.

One of the most beautiful villages is Purmamarca, an indigenous village lying against the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven-Color Hill) with strata that illustrates various geological ages. Further on, there is an area of mountains with bright-colored stripes, known as La Paleta del Pintor (the Artist's Pallet), in Maimará. One of the most outstanding attractions in this ravine is the Pucará de Tilcara, a fortified town built by the Omaguaca natives in pre-Columbian times. A monolith marks the Tropic of Capricorn, where each June 21st at midday the sun casts an exactly perpendicular shadow, and the celebration of the aborigines’ New Year begins (Inti Raymi, the Sun Festival). Humahuaca was founded by the Spanish by the end of the 16th century. Its church and Carnival Museum exhibit some of the region’s customs. Approximately 12 km away, the mysterious ruins of what used to be terraces for growing Coctaca can be seen.

Quebrada de Humahuaca was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO on July 2nd, 2003.

Tucuman and the Quilmes Ruins

15 km away from Amaicha del Valle and 182 km away from San Miguel del Tucuman, you will find definite traces of what used to be the biggest Pre-Hispanic settlement in Argentina. It is a city built in the 17th century that was the home of the Quilmes Indians, who had very strong beliefs and were so courageous that they endured 130 years of Spanish colonization and had to walk down 1,500 kilometers when they were expelled from their land.

At the southern corner of Tucuman, lies Tafi del Valle, the designation of which derives from the indigenous voice Taktillakta that may be translated as "village with a splendid gate.” This is the main tourist attraction of the province of Tucuman, where blue sky, mountains, rivers and abundant forest make up paradise-like sites all year long.

Natural harmony abounds, but there is still room for a Diaguita culture patrimony, strongly influenced by the Inca culture, and the work of the Jesuit Missions.

You may indulge in a not so heavenly treat as a good meal. In Tafi del Valle, the local cheese plays the leading role. It may be prepared with or without chili pepper, but the secret to its recipe is devotedly kept by each family who passes it on from generation to generation. Tasting this cheese enthralls both locals and visitors.

Celebrating Tradition, Legacy and Life

Religious and pagan festivals as well give way to colorful gatherings at the foot of the hills: Christmas, All Saints Day, the Day of the Virgin of Candelaria, Carnivals, homage to the Pachamama (Mother Earth), and the meeting of copleros. As part of the rituals, the locals play music and dance in the small street of the villages; women wear flashy skirts and men wear ponchos, which have been woven in rustic looms, plus hats with brims.

They celebrate mass, lead processions and take part in more informal rituals as well, such as the exchange of sweet-basil crowns, or the gathering of men and women on horseback at the foot of the hills, after which they throw starch and confetti at each other.

Around the parks, food stalls are an additional celebration: delicious local meals such as empanadas (turnover pastries filled with minced meat, chicken, vegetables, or corn), locro (a corn and meat stew), tamales (ground maize and meat wrapped in a corn leaf), and chichi (beverage made of corn).

Catamarca, Heaven on Earth

Catamarca is a province with the unique landscapes, perfect sites for climbing, horseback riding, going on excursions on 4x4’s, hang-gliding, and going on photographic safaris — where you may have the chance to spot wildlife: from vicunas (a wild ruminant related to the guanaco, but smaller and yielding an even softer wool), to Andean condors. This province offers the visitor everything from the snowcapped peaks of the Aconquija to the magnificent view of the Galan volcano, which boasts the biggest crater in the world and any current mining ventures of international level. You may also visit the charming Cuesta del Portezuelo and have a glimpse at the ancient Inca secrets kept in the ruins of Shincal.

Thermal Bath and Spas

There are many thermal baths where there is more to it than thermal waters. They’re found in many provinces including: Jujuy, Termas de Reyes, Salta, El Sauce, Rosario de la Frontera, Tucuman, Taco Ralo, Catamarca, Fiambala and La Aguadita. However, when it comes to providing health services, the best place in the region is Rio Hondo, settled on 14 thermal layers, where water springs run from a temperature of 30 to 65 degrees Celsius. This spa is less than an hour’s drive from Santiago del Estero, the oldest capital city in Argentina. Under a constantly cloudless sky and framed by pink blossomed lapachos, the city bears witness to beautiful big houses, churches that date from colonial times, and meditation cloisters, where historical documents and precious artistic expressions are kept.

To learn more about these and other exciting destinations, contact a Travel Consultant at (800) 250 9189.