An inspiring tour around natural sceneries in Jujuy, Salta, and La Rioja provinces.
Six Unique Landscapes in Northern Argentina
Hills with seven colors….or even up to 33 hues. Salt plains, canyons, ravines. And all this is located in an arid environment, under the custody of the majestic Andean condor, cardon cactuses and clear, blue skies. The North-West of Argentina is a region with identity, with unique landscapes and rare locations that inspire people to organize a journey to several must-see places:
1. An Observation Point on a Hill with 33 Hues (Hornocal, Province of Jujuy)
From an observation point in the province of Jujuy, we may see the streaks of colors of a mountain, and the triangular shapes of this unique rainbow that, as some assure, features 33 different hues). It is an example of strata sedimentation, where colors are formed from a type of limestone, ranging from ochre, to green, yellow and even white. This system is called Sierras de Hornocal, 25 km away from the city of Humahuaca, down Route 73. It only takes some 40 minutes to get there, down a gravel road, and then stay on and contemplate the landscape for a long while.
2. A Seven-Color Hill (and a red trail in the province of Jujuy)
Even though this hill has less colors than Sierras de Hornocal, Cerro de Siete Colores , close to the city of Purmamarca, is the star in the most publicized postcards of Quebrada de Humahuaca (A cultural landscape renowned for being declared as World Heritage by UNESCO). It is another example (and one of the most beautiful ones) of mountainous deposits in the quebrada. Located next to a traditional touristic village of Purmamarca, thus, very easy to access, and it may even be the reason for staying in that village for several days. The colors are due to sea, lake, river deposits, a combination exposed by tectonic movements and erosion. Also from the very same village, visitors may take a tour in Cerros Colorados.
3. A White Plain (Salinas Grandes, provinces of Salta and Jujuy)
When we get into the area of Jujuy and Quebrada de Humahuaca, we are ascending towards the Puna and the altiplano (Andean plateau). The landscape may become unusual, as it happens in Salinas Grandes, a salt plain in the border between the provinces of Salta and Jujuy. It is at 3,450 m above sea level, and this is a tour visitors can take from Purmamarca.
4. An Enormous Reddish Canyon (Talampaya, province of La Rioja)
Another site renowned for being considered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, in the North-West of Argentina. This is a protected area, with overwhelming landscapes, archaeological and paleonthological sites: the National Park of Talampaya in the province of La Rioja. The beauty of this place is majestic, a location where the walls of an enormous canyon and rock formations feature a reddish hue. And besides all this beauty, there is the value of this area in paleontological terms, with a bountiful of fossil remnants, including those of the first dinosaurs inhabiting the Earth, 250 million years ago.
5. Quebrada de los Cóndores (Province of La Rioja)
Besides the colors of the mountains, the exotic nature of the salt plains, the majestic canyon on Talampaya, there is also the beauty of wildlife. The North-West of Argentina is one of the best points for watching the Andean condor fly in liberty. Quebrada de los Cóndores is a natural reserve where the regal movement of these birds, with their 3-meter wingspan, when extended, may be watched. The quebrada (ravine) is in Sierra de los Quinteros and visitors may get there through gravel roads and after a short walk up to the abrupt cliffs, where dozens of condors nest. Watching them fly at a short distance is an unforgettable experience.
6. Quebrada de las Conchas (Province of Salta)
We go back to the province of Salta and here we get to one of the most splendid and colorful rock formations in all the North-West of Argentina. It is a natural reserve called Quebrada de las Conchas (also known as Quebrada de Cafayate). The beauty of the landscape strikes us once more. There are mountains in reddish hues, walls, natural amphitheaters, gorges, capricious shapes. Quebrada de las Conchas is crossed by Route 68, that runs by the Río de las Conchas.