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Hike and Stargaze in Argentina's Highlands

Head to historic Salta to explore the majestic gorges, shimmering salt flats and rich culture of the High Andes

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Trip Ref #10597

Hike and Stargaze in Argentina's Highlands

Head to historic Salta to explore the majestic gorges, shimmering salt flats and rich culture of the High Andes

DURATION
9 nights
LOCATION
Argentina
ANNUAL LEAVE
7 days off work
SEASON
Mar-Nov
GROUP SIZE
Up to 14 people
MEETING POINT
Salta Airport
ACCOMMODATION
Comfort

Boutique Hotel

OVERALL RATING

0.0

This trip is brand new
DIFFICULTY
Moderate

No previous experience is required, however with multiple high-altitude hikes, you should have a good level of fitness

Hike among the astonishing rainbow mountains of the Quebrada de Humahuaca and on part of Argentina's Inca Trail

Step foot on the vast salt flats of the Salinas Grandes, and settle into the Altiplano for some of the world's best stargazing

Visit the vineyards of Cafayate to sample the unique high-altitude wines and tasty produce of the Calchaqui Valley

Soak up the local culture in northwest Argentina, bedding down in beautiful, handpicked boutique hotels

Day 1

Arrive in Salta

Welcome to Salta, a provincial capital in the northwest of Argentina – and the starting point for your hiking adventure in the High Andes. The region is of great significance and pride to Argentina due to its rich cultural heritage and distinctly Andean way of life. Arriving at Salta Airport, your host offers one group transfer. Later on, meet your guide in the hotel at 18:00 for a welcome drink.

Day 2

The gorges of rural Salta province

Hiking

3 hrs · 8km · 169m up · 185m down

Begin your exploration of Argentina's northwest with a scenic drive south (approx 2.5 hrs) through Lerma Valley, passing the red rock formations of the Quebrada de las Conchas before stopping for a short hike at La Yesera. Arrive at a local farm, Santa Elena, for a late lunch prepared with their fresh produce, including goat's cheese and vegetables paired with a high-altitude wine tasting. Afterwards, continue on to Cafayate and check in to your hotel, where you'll stay for the next two nights.

Day 3

Sampling wines in the Cafayate Mountains

Hiking

5 hrs · 12km · 670m up · 530m down

This morning's hike departs straight from the hotel. Venture up into the neighbouring mountain range and you'll be rewarded with outstanding views of the mountains and vineyards, before finishing at a small winery for another wine tasting. The rest of the afternoon can be spent at your leisure, either relaxing at the hotel or exploring the nearby town.

Day 4

Ruta 40 to Cachi

Hiking

5 hrs · 12km · 206m up · 206m down

After breakfast, head south on Argentina's iconic Ruta 40 (the highway which connects the Bolivian border in the north all the way down to the Magallanes Straight in southern Patagonia). The road takes you through the incredible Quebrada de las Flechas (Arrows Gorge) and onwards to the small town of Molinos. You'll hike one of two possible trails today – either at Cuevas de Acsibi or Cráter de los Cóndores, both characterised by the incredible rock formations in the surrounding hillsides. Later, continue to the town of Cachi, stopping on the route to visit some traditional poncho weavers.

Day 5

Wandering among cacti and stargazing

Hiking

5 hrs · 12km · 570m up · 570m down

A short drive through plantations of beans, tomatoes, peas and peppers will take you to the start point for today's hike at Las Pailas. You'll start walking amidst giant cacti known as cardones and continue gradually up into the High Andes for a most spectacular view over the valley below. Accompanied by an indigenous guide, you'll walk through archaeological sites and plantations, learning about the region's pre-Hispanic heritage. This evening, head out to stargaze in one of the world's best destinations for astronomy and night sky photography.

Day 6

El Torreón and Argentina's Inca Trail

Hiking

14km · 330m up · 970m down

Early morning drive will take you out of Cachi across Los Cardones National Park, a sea of endless cacti. At the mountain pass Piedra del Molino, you'll leave the Calchaqui Valley and drive down into the greener Lerma Valley. You'll arrive at the walking trail which will take you along a rocky ridge up to El Torreón (reaching a maximum altitude of 3150m), and down to the lower valley via part of the Inca Trail. Depending on weather and cloud conditions, you may instead trek an alternative lower-lying trail called La Zanja. Hit the road again, driving to the small town of Villa San Lorenzo, set in the 'Yungas' forest that grows on the eastern slopes of the Andes.

Day 7

Incan heritage and the salt flats of Salinas Grandes

Hiking

3 hrs · 8km · 110m up · 110m down

Driving

5-6 hrs

Head to the Quebrada del Toro, a natural passage that connects the green valleys of northwest Argentina to the High Puna, and the mineral deserts that spread over into neighbouring Chile and Bolivia. Stop en route at the archaeological site of Tastil, part of the Qhapac Ñan Inca Road System and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll walk around the extended site and learn about Inca history in northwest Argentina. After having lunch with the local community, who are custodians of this historic site, you'll continue up into the High Andes (known as the Puna or Altiplano region) to discover the incredible scenery of the Salinas Grandes salt flats. End the day by descending the Cuesta de Lipán mountain road to the small town of Tilcara.

Day 8

Quebrada de Humahuaca

Hiking

5 hrs · 10km · 400m up · 533m down

Today you'll explore one of Jujuy Province's most wonderful natural highlights, the incredible Humahuaca Gorge. Set off on a morning hike straight out from your hotel to Alfarcito, then onwards to Maimará, a small mountain community where local producers grow vegetables, grapes and flowers. Take the time to enjoy exploring the sights and sounds of Tilcara town in the afternoon and evening.

Day 9

The Rainbow Mountains of Purmamarca and Hornocal

Hiking

5 hrs · 10km · 510m up · 640m down

Discover the town of Purmamarca and hike at the foot of the Seven-Coloured Mountain, a magical backdrop to a trail that brings you to Tumbaya Grande. Later on, drive up to the Hornocal Mountains and experience the magnificent view as they light up in the afternoon sun – the perfect way to say goodbye to the Andes, before enjoying one last evening together in Tilcara.

Day 10

Return to Salta

The trip comes to an end today as you depart Tilcara and drive south back to Salta Airport for your onward journey (alternative drop-offs are possible at Purmamarca, Jujuy Airport or central Salta).

Included

Guides

Expert, local, English-speaking guides

Accommodation

Stay in beautiful boutique hotels throughout

Meals

All breakfasts, 8 lunches, 5 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Visas where required

Day 1

Boutique Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Boutique Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Boutique Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Boutique Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Boutique Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – Day 9

Boutique Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Enjoying great food is a highlight of any trip to Argentina, and this trip in particular is designed to give travellers a taste of traditional regional cuisine. A mixture of cultures have shaped Argentina, and in the northwest the cuisine has been richly influenced by indigenous and Spanish populations. You'll find empanadas, humita, locro, grilled meats (such as beef, goat, and llama), chorizo sausage, and flavoursome, unique Andean dishes like ají de gallina and pachamanca.

Coffee is widely drunk in the region, typically an espresso or cortado after meals. The pastime of sharing yerba mate between friends is also widely practised – drinking this bitter hot drink of compacted tea leaves through a metal straw is serious business throughout Argentina and part of daily life. The northwest of Argentina is also a world-renowned producer of high-altitude wines. Unlike Mendoza province to the south, Salta province has vineyards at a higher altitude and the contrast in temperature between day and night creates thicker-skinned grapes with a richer flavour. There are many small-scale wine producers in the region, and you'll be lucky enough to visit several of them throughout the trip.

Vegetarians, vegans and most allergies can be catered for - please just request this on your passenger info form. If you have any other dietary requirements then it is important to check before booking.

What is the accommodation like?

Salta

Arrive in northwest Argentina in style, checking in to Villa Vicuña (or similar). This small and elegantly renovated hotel is an old Spanish colonial property, situated close to Salta's old town. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

Cafayate

For two nights you'll stay at the beautifully scenic and peaceful Cafayate Wine Resort (or a similar vineyard hotel). Set amidst vineyards in a valley with spectacular mountain backdrops, you can soak up the atmosphere and try some delicious wines. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

Cachi

In the small town of Cachi, you'll stay at the El Cortijo Boutique Hotel (or similar). A shaded oasis of calm, you are in for a treat – El Cortijo is stylishly designed with a focus on comfort, local heritage, art and cuisine. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

San Lorenzo

In San Lorenzo, a small neighbourhood on the outskirts of Salta, you'll stay at the Hotel Selva Montana, amidst the Yungas cloud forest (or similar). Enjoy the calm natural surroundings, listening to birdsong and the relaxing sound of the river. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with en suite bathrooms.

Tilcara

A wonderful base for the last few days of outdoor adventure, Tilcara in Jujuy Province is home to several lovely boutique hotels. You'll usually stay at Las Terrazas, an architectural delight with a tranquil ambience in which to relax after long, hot days out exploring Quebrada de Humahuaca.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Salta, Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport

Day 1

Ends

Salta, Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport

Day 10

Transfers

Your host will arrange for one group transfer upon arrival at Salta Airport on Day 1 at approx 15:00 (the exact time will be confirmed to you prior to your trip). Anyone arriving outside of this time can make their own way to the first hotel. On Day 10 there will be a group transfer from Tilcara to Salta Airport (approx 3.5 hours), where the trip ends. We recommended that you don't book onward flights from Salta that depart before mid-afternoon. Group arrival and departure transfers are only included in the main price if you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 10. Should you need a private airport transfer at an alternative time then your host can arrange this – see Optional Extras for price.

For anyone wanting to continue their onward journey from Jujuy Airport instead of Salta Airport on Day 1, the group transfer can depart slightly earlier and make a drop off in Jujuy. Alternative drop-offs can also be made in Purmamarca or central Salta, for anyone booking post-trip nights in the city or continuing their travels independently.

Travel options

Flights from Europe to Argentina are often overnight flights, meaning you arrive the following morning. British Airways fly directly to Buenos Aires (EZE) from London Heathrow (LHR). If flying to Salta via Buenos Aires, it is important to note that there are two different airports in the city, EZE and AEP. There are more regular flights scheduled to Salta from AEP. Coach transfers between the two airports can be booked at the terminal, and it takes approx 1 hour to travel between the two. You should allow plenty of time in case of delays. LATAM, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways all currently fly from London Heathrow to São Paulo (Brazil), and Aerolineas Argentinas fly from São Paulo direct to Salta.

For travellers coming from the US, direct flights currently run to Buenos Aires from New York, Atlanta, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston and Miami, with several different airlines.

To continue your travels within the region, it is possible to take buses from Salta to northern Chile (San Pedro de Atacama), Bolivia, or south to Mendoza. Buenos Aires makes a great city stopover either pre- or post-trip if you are tempted to tag a few extra days on to your trip – your host will be able to suggest some accommodation options.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

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What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Softshell duffel bag or rucksack (main luggage)
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag/rucksack or drybags

CLOTHES

  • Jacket for cool evenings
  • Packable waterproof jacket
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Fleece jumper or similar
  • Thermals (merino best)
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots or shoes (worn-in)
  • Sandals

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Single/Double/Twin Room in Salta

Payable Before Departure

Single/Double/Twin Room in Salta

Per Night

Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Private Room Upgrade

Per Person

Private Taxi between Salta Airport & Salta (1-2 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private Taxi between Salta Airport & Salta (1-2 people)

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 494kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

None of the walks featured in this itinerary are of a technical or demanding nature, and no previous trekking experience is required. A good general level of fitness is highly recommended however due to the high altitudes involved throughout and the fact that the trip involves consecutive days spent walking. Whilst there is some downtime built into the itinerary, it is primarily an active exploration with the majority of your time spent outside exploring natural environments.

Sleeping altitudes sit between a low point of 1152 metres (above sea level) in Salta and San Lorenzo, 1683m in Cafayate, 2465m in Tilcara and a high point in the middle of the trip at 2531m in Cachi. At these altitudes, it is not common to feel any adverse effects.

During some of the road transfers and also the trekking activities you'll reach higher altitudes during the daytime. On Days 5 to 8 the treks reach max altitudes in excess of 3000m, with the high point of the trip being 3550m on Day 5 when trekking near Cachi. You will have had 5 days of acclimatisation and gradual increase in sleeping altitudes prior to this.

There is a road trip element to this itinerary as you connect the natural highlights of the Salta and Jujuy regions. In total you'll cover 1100km in a vehicle as the distances in Argentina tend to be on a particularly vast scale! The road journeys are an experience within themselves as you'll pass through some jaw-dropping scenic routes, cutting through gorges, passing through remote communities and over high Andean mountain passes. You'll drive along a section of the famous Ruta 40 which connects northern Argentina right the way down to Patagonia.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips for your guide and driver are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation in Argentina to tip for good service. Approx USD5-8 or similar in Argentine Pesos per day for your guide would be a guideline figure.

Tap water is drinkable throughout the trip. The host will carry a supply of water in the vehicle for you to top up your water bottles before each hiking activity. Any plastic bottles purchased during the trip will later be returned to Salta and recycled. You may wish to bring purification tablets should you prefer, or a water filtration device. Read our guide to water filters here

Salta and Jujuy provinces have a semi-arid climate, characterised by warm temperatures and low humidity, with only subtle differences marking the different seasons. Departures are scheduled year-round aside from the peak summer months of December to February, which are avoided for the higher temperatures (they reach up into the high 30s degrees Celcius) and occasional thunderstorms. The rest of the year is typically stable and clear weather, ideal conditions for trekking and exploring, with daytime temperatures sitting at around 20°C and dropping at nighttime, especially at higher elevations. The coolest months of the year are between June and September.

No, unless you have booked an additional post-trip night at the same accommodation in Salta.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daysack to carry personal items during each day of hiking.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

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