Category Archives: Northwest Argentina

Walking with Llamas in the Northwest

Take a hike joined by llamas among ancient ruins, salt lakes, valleys, and gorges. An ancestral activity to connect with the Pachamama and the most amazing landscapes in the northwest.


Ever since the beginning of time, the Andean men and the llamas traversed the harsh terrain in the mountains and the high plateau. These particular animals were used not only to transport commercial goods but for their wool, their meat, and their guano.

Nowadays in Tilcara, Santos Manfredi has settled a rural and ecological establishment specialized in taming llamas as a freighting animal, to recreate this ancestral practice. Caravana de Llamas, as it is called, is also dedicated to promoting the conjoint work with local communities, for which they rely on different routes where local families provide their homes and tour guiding.

Santos has developed different trails to hike with the llamas around the Humahuaca Gorge and the Puna Jujeña. With a variety of difficulties and durations (from half day to several days), there are multiple options for everyone, including families. Each hike is developed to satisfy the expectations of the many visitors.

A recommended half day hike is the one towards Salinas Grandes, the salt lakes. Along the way, you have panoramic views of the Humahuaca Gorge. Once at the Salinas, a tent is lifted to provide shadow and to have a well-deserved picnic in the middle of the 45.000 hectares of salt.

For a short and family alternative, a one hour and a half walk around the colorful town of Tilcara will do. You might feel funny walking around the town’s main square right beside a llama, but believe us, is a once in a lifetime experience!

Different paths around the region take you towards ancient ruins, valleys, volcanoes, gorges and salt lakes. While hiking, you learn about the local culture and history. The lamas are always used to carry all the camping equipment, food and personal belongings for the journey, you can’t ride them.

For those travelers in the search of original experiences, walking with llamas is an unforgettable experience in the northwest.


 

Harvest experience in Cafayate

Making the most out of the harvest season in Argentina, the Cafayate region in the north offers a unique experience to learn about the winemaking process and have fun in the meantime.


The Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia is the popular and national harvest festivity in Argentina, very important specially in Mendoza and Salta provinces -both renowned wine regions. The harvest celebrations are a part of the folklore that brings together wine-producers, anyone else who works with the vine and soil, and the rest of the people.

The Cafayate region in Salta, within the heart of the Calchaquí Valleys, is surrounded by a beautiful natural sunny landscape that blends mountains and vineyards.

Vineyard in Cafayate Dry alluvial grounds, sunny mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights during the summer that allow a long aging period and also a wide thermal amplitude make of Cafayate an excellent terroir. Vineyards are located up to 3.000 meters above sea level and rain is very scarce, which permits an exceptional growth for grapevines. This microclimate and the unique characteristics of the area originate different and original wines, with a strong personality and of a long-lasting fruity and savory taste.

If you happen to visit Salta during the harvest season – from late February to the end of March – make sure to pass by Cafayate to take part of the festivity and also try a fun experience in this wine region.

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Joined by wine specialists, visit a selected local vineyard to learn about the harvest and production techniques, from the grapevines to the final wine. They will explain the differences between the grape varieties, what are their characteristics and how they are trimmed and harvested. Also you will find about the work at the vineyard, who works there and what are their tasks.

Once you have learn the basics and harvesting techniques, it´s time to get your hands dirty! You will be provided with the tools required for the task: trimming scissors and a basket to keep the grapes. Now you may walk around the vineyard and relax to carry on with the task in hand. It is important to observe the fruits to pick the right ones, those that have better coloring and no visible insect bites or marks. Using the scissors, gently proceed to cut the selected bunch and place it carefully in the basket, trying not to squeeze them.

Harvesting in Cafayate

If you’re in the mood for a bit of competition, the guides will organize a game for the visitors and compete for a prize to be the one that collects the most grapes in a time frame.

After the fun harvest practice, you will enjoy a wine tasting to try the different varieties obtained from the grapevines. Generally -depending on the vineyard you visit- these are Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Torrontés, the typical fruity and dry fine white wine from this zone that currently makes of Cafayate a world famous wine region.

Harvesting in Cafayate2

La Vendimia has become an annual ritual, reaching more and more fans worldwide. What was born behind doors inside every winery, in the end got the support of the government and several prestigious local institutions, becoming today an important national event and celebration and bringing together wine lovers from all over. An excellent cultural and gourmet opportunity to visit vineyards, meet local people and -of course- taste flavourful fine wines.


GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Available only from February 24th to the end of March (harvest period).
  • 3 hs private service, min. 2 pax required.
  • Operates daily am or pm, previous reservation required. Activity subject to availability
  • Includes harvest practice, wine tasting and souvenir pictures of the experience.
  • We recommend dressing comfortably for a day outdoors, wear sporty shoes, sunscreen & hat/cap.
  • Transfers from hotels in Cafayate only and up to 4 people are included. For more than 4 pax and/or from Salta city, transfers should be requested separately.

Andean Experiences Self Drive Discovery

Visit the most emblematic sights in the North of Argentina on this journey through valleys, hills, rivers and gorges where tradition, culture, regional cuisine and relax await.


Get to know the northern culture taking part everyday in different and unique experiences of your choice where local people open their doors to share their hospitality and lifestyle. A cultural exchange where each person you meet will teach you and let you take a part of their daily activity.
On the way, stay and rest in charming boutique hotels specially selected for this trip. With typical Andean architecture and details, these hotels are built with regional materials and combine avant-garde design with woven items, craftsmanship and paintings by local artists.

Castellanos

Day one will take you on the first drive of the trip from Salta City to Castellanos, a town 15 km away, nearby Villa San Lorenzo. This is one of the most exclusive areas of Salta, surrounded by lush vegetation and majestic mountains.
Once in Castellanos, the choice of activity for the day will be between a visit to a local woman’s home to learn and participate in the artisanal making of homemade regional specialties such as quesillo salteño, tamales and humitas; or meeting the students of a local country school to learn about their agricultural activities.
In the evening you may relax at the enchanting Hotel Amalinas.

After a 3 to 4 hours drive from Castellanos, the next morning will bring you to San Antonio de los Cobres. This is a typical town in the Puna and the second highest urban center in Argentina. Its plateau is over 3000 meters above sea level and is an enchanting place for its unique characteristics: the aridity of the soil, the salt flats, the high peaks of strong colors due to the rich variety of minerals and its flora and fauna which can survive under such extreme weather conditions.
One of the experience options to select here is a walk with llamas, where a shepherd will tell you everything about this ancestral camelid -once a working tool for the salteños ancestors-  and you will be able to pick your own llama to join you for a walk around town, recreating the former local custom when these animals were used to transport merchandise up on these heights.

Anatolio-San Antonio de los Cobres

Or you may want to visit Turu Maky (which means mud hands in quechua language) a ceramic workshop where you will see the complete artisanal process of the clay with ancestral techniques and also you will be able to do a piece on your own to take back home with you.
The night will be spent at Hotel de las Nubes.

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The third day of this cultural adventure takes place approximately 160 km away from San Antonio. Purmamarca is located  in the province of Jujuy, in the Quebrada de Humahuaca gorge, declared World Heritage site by UNESCO. Purmamarca is an originally pre-Hispanic village from the early XVII century, located 65 km away from the capital city of Jujuy. Its name means Pueblo de la Tierra Virgen (Virgin Land Town) in aimará language. The main attraction here is the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven Colors Hill), which gives an impressive and colorful contrast to the town. The buildings are made of adobe and roofs of cardón and mud, all of them constructed around the main church from 1648 -Santa Rosa de Lima- nowadays a National Monument. At the main square you will find the handicraft market where it is possible to get regional items such as ceramic pots, woven carpets and blankets, ponchos, musical instruments and typical garments of the region.

La Comarca
Here you will be able to take an easy walk down Los Colorados. It is advisable to do it early in the morning, when the light is better and the temperature is cooler. The path is winding and flat and goes behind the famous Cerro de los Siete Colores. The hike offers perfect views of the red mountains. You will discover many shades of red on them and different mineral layers as well. The rustic rocky formations are the result of many years of erosion and sediment stack.
At the end of this active day you will find relax at Hotel La Comarca.

Woman on the trek around the Hill of Seven Colours (Cerro de los Siete Colores), Quebrada de Purmamarca, Jujuy Province, North Argentina

Already on the second half of the journey, the next day you will drive to Iruya where you will stay two nights. A location known for its geographic beauty and fantasy-like town with stone streets that go up and down, in Iruya the aboriginal culture mixes with the Hispanic. The name of the town has many meanings, but the most common one comes from the quechua or aymará languages from the word iruyoc, which means: iru -hay- and yoc -abundance-, so: abundante paja, which means many hay.
Today you may take a walk to San Isidro town, which is almost 8 km away from Iruya and would take you between 2.5 or 3 hs. San Isidro is another high-up village -located literally on a rock- that seems frozen in time with stone and adobe houses. The path to trek is by the riverbed of Iruya until the union of rivers San Isidro and La Cueva. The hike is interesting because of the colors of the mountains and the chances of seeing local inhabitants with their donkeys and also guanacos, llamas and condors in the wild.

Iruya Landscape

The next day you may relax at the hotel but also enjoy the daily experience. You will visit a local lady’s home for a regional cooking class. She will teach you how to cook empanadas salteñas -recipe secrets and all- and you may collaborate too. After the lesson, you will taste the delicious meal prepared by you.
On this location you will rest at the delightful Hotel Iruya.

Day 6 will take you back to Castellanos along the Quebrada de Humahuaca gorge, driving from 5 to 6 hours. On the way we recommend a stop at Maimará to admire the Paletas del Pintor (Paintor´s Palettes) which are magnificent geographic accidents and its many colors are better appreciated with the afternoon light.
You will spend the night again at Hotel Amalinas, where you will enjoy the facilities and relax at the gallery or garden. If the weather allows it, you may use the swimming pool too.

Amalinas Hotel

After a good night sleep and a week full of cultural experiences, the journey comes to an end with a final drive to Salta Airport

Hospitality, culture and imposing landscapes merge on this peerless Andean voyage that will give you memorable experiences to tell back home. Please contact your Kallpa Account Executive for more details and rates.


GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Daily experiences may vary depending on local people availability and regional festivities.
  • Program not valid for Carnival and Easter Week.
  • All experiences are provided in Spanish. English speaking assistance for the daily experiences upon request, subject to availability and with extra cost.

SERVICES INCLUDED

  • One daily experience of choice at every destination as detailed with mentioned services.
  • Pre-loaded GPS
  • Private arrival transfer from Salta airport to Car rental Office.
  • 6 nights accommodation including breakfast at mentioned Hotels.

SERVICES NOT INCLUDED

  • International/domestic flights.
  • Car rental (see rated detailed below).
  • Travel insurance.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Meals not detailed in the program.

OPTIONALS UPON REQUEST

  • Half-board at hotels.
  • English assistance for daily experiences upon request.

 

Full day trekking in Cuesta del Obispo

A hike where nature, culture and history combine for those active and adventurous travellers looking for an unforgettable experience in Northern Argentina.

Almost 100 km from the city of Salta you will find the Cuesta del Obispo, a zig-zag and steep stretch of the provincial route 33. The slope ascends from Chicoana and ends at Piedra del Molino.


13304998_1136079386412083_8083225599731586320_oThe adventure begins anyday at 7 am and takes the whole day. Leaving Salta in southern direction, you will pass by Cerrillos and El Carril towns, turning West towards Chicoana until Quebrada de Escoipe. On the way, you will be able to see diverse species of cacti and a colorful and rocky landscape.

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After the two-hour trip, at paraje Margarita the group will take a local bus ascending through Cuesta del Obispo,  reaching the access to the National Park Los Cardones. The hike begins here, descending through Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley), a natural sanctuary for the Salteños. Following a red dirt path surrounded by exuberant vegetation and multicolor rocks, the walk will provide an extraordinary scenery of natural colours and strange shapes sculpted on the rock through the years by rain and wind. It is said that walking through this path is like walking on the clouds, since there is a pond between high meadows and red rock formations where the clouds almost touch the ground.

13243814_1136079183078770_1918898142597125966_oOne of the main attractions of this descent are the cave paintings that you will see entering a private plot, ancient traces of the Incaic culture that will remind you that this was once an Inca trail. On the way, you might also spot majestic Condors flying in their natural habitat.

Nature, history and culture combine in this hike. The highlights are definitely the incredible and colorful scenery above the clouds and the breathtaking views of Cuesta del Obispo whilst exploring Los Cardones.

index04_obispoThe hike is about 17,4 km long, mainly descending, and takes up to 6 hours. It is advisable for people in good health, with minimal ability to walk on rocky and irregular paths.


FACT SHEET

  • Min. 2 Pax required. Bookings with one week of anticipation.
  • When: Everyday at 7 am (transfer from hotel)
  • Level of Challenge: Medium/High
  • Recommended Season: All year long, except during summer rains.
  • Duration of the activity: Full day, 11 hours including transfer and hike (4-6 hours).
  • Length of the Trek:  17,4 km
  • Starting Altitude: 2270 msnsm
  • Max Altitude Climbed:  3100 msnsm

INCLUDED

  • Transfers from and to hotel.
  • Trekking poles.
  • Snacks and picnic lunch.
  • English speaking guide.
  • Insurance.