NEW - 2018

Argentina Northern Adventure

Mendoza - La Rioja - Catamarca - Salta - Jujuy

OUR BENEFITS

  • Humahuaca Unesco World Heritage – Purmamarca 7 colors mountain
  • Tolar Grande – Desierto del Diablo
  • Old mines at 5000m (Mina Casualidad)
  • Charming hotels
  • Your own 4wd rental truck (Toyota Hilux or similar) (driver/guide for the first vehicle)
  • Multilingual guide (French/English/Spanish)

The most beautiful landscapes of the Cuyo region and North-West of Argentina driving to the famous Quebrada de Humahuaca Unesco World heritage sight. Incredible road trip to discover Iruya lost village in the Andes, the ‘Salinas Grandes’ the 2nd biggest salt desert in the world, San Antonio de los Cobres with its famous Andes train at 4200m/13800ft and the breathtaking Tolar Grande on the Atacama border, highlight of this amazing trip. We also planed some relax time in wine resort at Cafayate. This is a once in a lifetime experience, with full comfort and expert guide.

LANDSCAPES & PEOPLE

FROM 2400U$D

DRIVE TOUR AVAILABLE ALL YEAR LONG

14 DAYS

LEVEL     

ELEVATION     

DISTANCE     

COMFORT:     

SUPPORT: BILINGUAL GUIDE ALL TRIP LONG

Or send us an email directly to:
info@mendoza-andes.com

mendoza salta jujuy map roadtrip 4x4 circuit Mendoza Andes tour drive

Day 1: Mendoza – Villa Union

After an early breakfast, your personal guide will pick you up at your accommodation in Mendoza. You will drive North, on the famous route 40, to go straight to Villa Union.

Driving through San Juan’s province landscapes, you will rapidly get used to the roads of the desert, with the Andes as the compass. Lunch break will take place exceptionally by the side of the road, surrounded by the immensity of La Rioja. On the menu: homemade empanadas, raw vegetables and fruit salad.

Arrival at Villa Union by 05:00 pm approx. Dinner is served at 08:30 pm to enjoy a typical dish: braised goat kid.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel ***

DRIVE: 4×4, good asphalted routes, approx. 550km

Day 2: Talampaya National Park – Catamarca

Set up your alarm at 08:00 am for a departure an hour later in order to reach Talampaya National park, 60 km / 37 miles further. There, a local mountain guide will lead you for a walking visit of the canyon. You will learn about the local fauna and flora. Since 2000, the Park is part of UNESCO World Heritage site.

The hike (easy level) is an opportunity to get different views than in the tour bus but also to appreciate the silence in a very special geological atmosphere, in between rocks eroded by the wind and the water for over 80 million years.

Lunch inside the park (not included) and then drive to San Fernando de Catamarca to rest in a very charming hotel with a swimming pool (during spring and summer season only: from September to April approx..).

ACCOMODATION: Hotel ****

DRIVE: good asphalted routes, approx. 450km

Day 3: San Fernando de Catamarca – Cafayate

An essential drive to reach the superb Cafayate and its “high” vineyards. The drive will take you from Tucuman province on road 307 through Tafi del Vallée, famous for its pottery and fabric handcraft. You will follow a scenic route, with a lot of contrasts: from the wet jungle mountain to the semi-desert plains between Cumbre Calchaquies and the high Cordilleras. Going up to the Abra del Infiernillo will allow you to appreciate this sudden change of vegetation and climate. Then, you’ll reach Road 40 again, to head to Cafayate. If timing permits, you will visit Nanni’s cellar, one of the first certified organic winery in Argentina, before checking-in in a luxurious hotel.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel ***** Luxury

DRIVE: 4×4, good asphalted routes, approx. 370km

Day 4: Cafayate – Estancia Colomé

After a great breakfast, you will head to the winery with the highest vineyards in the world (3,110 m / 10,203 ft): Colomé. This journey will give you the opportunity to cross the breathtaking Quebrada de las Flechas, on the Route 40 (yes, again!) leading to the winery. Route 40 (or Ruta cuarenta), is a quintessential road in Argentina, from Ushuaia until Bolivian border, crossing the entire country on the western side, following the Andes.

After the visit and the wine tasting, you will be able to settle down at Estancia Colomé. You will spend the night in the property, in a unique atmosphere, lost in the middle of the high-altitude vineyards. Depending on the season you travel and if the heat permits, swimming in the pool surrounded by vineyards is an excellent experience; well, relaxing by the pool with a glass of wine is also a good option…

Diner will take place at the Estancia, wine paired with their icon wines.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel **** Charming/Luxury

DRIVE: Asphalted route and trail, approx. 130km (3 hours driving)

Day 5: National Park los Cardones – Cachi

Get ready to cross real cactus desert with tens of thousands of centenarian lookouts (the cactuses seem to stare at you), where your eyes will be lost to the horizon. Fixed with their arms in the air, the candelabras seem to observe this incredible and perfect straight road called “the recta of Tin Tin”. Built in a traditional way by the Indigenous Incas who lived in the area from the year 1480 to 1535 at 3000 meters of altitude (9,842 ft), the road is part of the famous Inca Trail.

Then, it will be time to go back to one of the most beautiful villages of the Andes: Cachi.

After lunch in the village, you will have plenty of time to relax in the charming hotel and wander in Chachi. Dinner takes place at the hotel after a magical sunset over the Andes.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel **** Luxury

DRIVE: Asphalted route and trail, approx. 150km (3 hours driving)

Day 6: Abra de Acay – San Antonio de los Cobres

The Abra de Acay is route the highest in the Americas or the highest road in the world after Asia. The road was built in 1960 on the ancient Inca Trail then used to link the valleys Calchaquies to the Andes pre-Cordillera. The road allows now to go from the cold and the aridity of the mountains to valleys made green because of snow melting.

The actual altitude of the highest point is 4,972m (16,312 ft) with an average climb of 4.5%. You will climb gently to acclimatize and take care of our vehicle (at 5000m the lack of oxygen is also felt for the engines of our 4×4). You will then enjoy the impressive and inhospitable beauty of the place.

The arrival at San Antonio de los Cobres in the middle of the afternoon, give you enough time for a well-deserved rest at 3700 meters (12,1339 ft) of altitude and get ready for the next day adventure, ones of the highlights of the trip: Tolar Grande.

Dinner will take place in the village, home cooking at Quinoa Real restaurant.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel good category

DRIVE: Asphalted route and trail, approx. 150km (4 hours driving)

Day 7: Desierto del Diablo – Tolar Grande

Let’s the off-road adventure started to one of the most incredible places on the planet! It will be three days full of emotions and sensations on the road 27 to Tolar Grande. The drive itself is part of the amazement.

The Pocitos salar and the picturesque village nearby, the incredible lines of horizons disturbed by the heat of salt and volcanic stones, the ruins of old railway tracks and its abandoned cars at nearly 4000 meters (13,123 ft) of altitude, then the desert the Devil… A real science fiction landscape, as if we had landed on another planet. Every minute there is a reason to take a new picture or to admire the immensity of the landscapes and the unthinkable diversity of geometric forms surrounding you.

Arriving at Tolar Grande is a wonderful surprise, village of 200 souls at 3200 meters (10,498 ft) above the sea level. The village is lost between the salt desert and Andean volcanoes.

Night at the very comfortable hotel Andino, you will share dinner with one of the family of the village, in their house. A great night of sleep is needed to prepare you for the highlight of our journey…

ACCOMODATION: Hotel good category

DRIVE: 4×4, trails, approx. 220km (4 hours driving)

Day 8: Cono de Arita – Arizaro – Mina Casualidad

From the sky, the Salar of Arizaro looks like a strange mixture of ochre and white, like a beautiful abstract painting. From your 4×4 vehicle, it is 1600km ² of salt, marble, iron and stainless steel in the second largest salt desert in the world, surrounded by the Andes colored by the minerals inside. Known before for a large mining activity for longtime, the Salar is now peaceful, located only a few kilometers from the Province of Catamarca and Chile, at Puna of the Atacama.

In the southern part of the Salar, you will get to contemplate a mysterious shape: the cone of Arita – considered the most perfect natural cone of the planet. A real science-fictions background.

Then, you will go to explore the rests of Mina la Casualidad, which was the “headquarter” of a sulphur mine industry between 1950 and 1979 with up to 3000 people!

Nowadays, the mine and the village remain as ruins, as the Argentine state has secretly decreed the bankrupt of this industrial activity. Nevertheless, the stunning landscapes seen from the access road to the old village, is really worth the journey. Located at 4,200 meters high (13,779 ft), you will walk in this ghost town the church, school, some workers’ house and warehouses where have survived. You will also find the cable car arrival station. The cable car was 15km long and was used to transport the sulfur from Mina Julia at 5200 meters of altitude (17,060 ft). Below the cable car, we can still see a white trail left by the sulfur, visible for tens of kilometers away, the proof of a glorious past. This visit to Mina la Casualidad is intense, the 4×4 vehicles climb slowly through the volcanic rocks and the arid steppes, but it is a one life experience, an unforgettable feeling.

The return to Tolar Grande is on a road in good conditions. An optional (but highly recommended) small hike of 10-15 minutes to look at a majestic sunset over the volcanoes at Tolar Grande. A well-deserved meal will be served before a good night in the same hotel as the day before.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel good category

DRIVE: 4×4, trails, wild drive, approx. 220km (6 hours driving)

Day 9: Tolar Grande – San Antonio de los Cobres

On the way back to San Antonio de los Cobres, you will have the chance to discover new landscapes through the Desierto del Diablo, as spectacular as on the outward journey. Before heading back, you will stop to understand these ‘ojos de mar’, exceptional biological discovery and the only place of the Earth with the Atacama where it is possible to observe stromatolites living at 4,000 meters / 13,123 ft of altitude. Just before the arrival at San Antonio, you will make a detour of some kilometers to go to see the very famous viaduct of the Polvorilla where the Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes) is riding on: 223 meters / 731 ft of length, 63 meters / 206 ft of height for 1590 tons of steel, the all at 4200 meters / 13,779 ft high of altitude (one of the highest railway bridges worldwide).

Overnight in the same hotel as Day 6 and dinner in our favorite restaurant (why will we change if everything is perfect?).

ACCOMODATION: Hotel good category

DRIVE: 4×4, trails, approx. 220km (4 hours driving)

Day 10:  San Antonio de los Cobres – Salinas Grandes – Purmamarca

Perched at 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) high above the sea level on Route 52, the first stop of the day will be at the Salinas Grandes, an area large of 212 km². A complete visit is necessary to understand the saltworks and admire the eyes of the seas, blue mirrors in the vast alkaline.

Then, you will keep going to the East and drive on the stunning Cuesta del Lipán and its hairpins, 4,170 meters (13,681 ft) high. A great opportunity to meet vicuñas and guanacos (lama’s cousins), surrounded by astonishing landscapes where the immensity will remind you of our human being conditions: tiny organism in the universe.

Overnight at Purmamarca, one of the most remarkable villages in Argentina, known for its 7-color mountain and its markets … Sunset on the Andes and a nice dinner at our beautiful hotel in Purmamarca center.

ACCOMODATION: Charming hotel. Very good category

DRIVE: 4×4, trails, approx. 200km (4 hours driving)

Day 11:  The 7 colors mountain – Quebrada de Humahuaca – Tilcara

Early wake-up for those wishing to experience an hour and a half walk in Purmamarca and appreciate a beautiful sunrise on the Camino de los Colorados. For the others, a relaxing and hearty breakfast will be served. Then, take time to visit the small village and get the most of the thousand flagrances and colors. When lunch will be approaching, you are driven to Tilcara, making a few photo stops along the breathtaking road 9, in the famous Quebrada de Humahuaca (UNESCO heritage sight). After lunch in one of the many restaurants of this quaint village, you will drive up to the Garganta del Diablo, for a refreshing walk in a geological rift. It is also an opportunity to see the Quebrada from above and to realize the immensity.

Driving to Huacalera where Remy and Alina are waiting for you in their beautiful guest house. Dinner will be a good time for discussions, great wines and excellent regional dishes.

ACCOMODATION: Charming Bed and Breakfast

DRIVE: Asphalted route and trail, approx. 60km

Day 12:  Huacalera – Iruya

After a great breakfast and a walk nearby our house, you will leave for our last Andean stage: Iruya – often called the end of the world village. A stop in Humahuaca and its famous markets to buy good humitas and tamales just before the picnic. Only a few more kilometers paved on the road 9 before the magnificent RP133 and 50km of dirt-track to the village. We will go through the Abra del Condor at 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) of altitude for a spectacular view of the hairpins of the track. You will arrive during the second part of the afternoon and after a bracing shower, you’ll be able to enjoy the sunset on the cliff of Iruya, from a panoramic point of view of the village and the Quebrada.

Dinner and overnight in a comfortable hotel.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel good category with panoramic view

DRIVE: Asphalted route and trail, approx. 120km (4 hours driving)

Day 13:  Iruya – Salta

There we go! Last breakfast in Quebrada de Humahuaca… and thanks to the Sun, you will warm up during a nice morning walk (for the bravest ones) in one of the faults along the rio (river). The track of Route 133, on the way back, allows you to discover even more landscapes. You’ll then catch an asphalt road until Salta, making a stop at Humahuaca or Tilcara for lunch.

Once settled in your hotel overlooking Salta, you will be able to wander in the downtown, to enjoy the beauty of historical and religious monuments. You will have dinner in the city center. An after-dinner liqueur on the terrace of the hotel (don’t forget to bring with you some delights of your country …) in order to admire the lights of Salta at night.

ACCOMODATION: Hotel good category with panoramic view

DRIVE: Asphalted route and trail, approx. 350km (5 hours driving)

Day 14:  End of the trip

Drop off at the airport or ask for recommendation to extend your stay. Return to Mendoza possible on request.

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Food and Wine in Mendoza

From 1 to 5 days wine tours in Mendoza, only the best wineries, only driven terroir and single vineyards tasting.

Gaucho Day

The most authentic horseback riding into Mendoza Andes. Live an entire day with a real gaucho and his family in his mountains.

LAGUNA DEL DIAMANTE

Only for 3 months a year (End December to end March), what about discovering this absolut gem in Mendoza ? A full day climbing to the Maipo Volcano and his amazing lake, where Henri Guillaumet from Aeropostale had to force land and survive.

ACONCAGUA HIGH MOUNTAIN TOUR

The “Best Seller” in Mendoza ! A full day on route 7 to walk into the Aconcagua National park and watch the highest summit of the Americas (and 2nd highest on the Earth after Himalaya) at 6962m/22841ft. Many stops for amazing pictures along the route, and nice BBQ/Asado lunch.

PHOTO SAFARI VILLAVICENCIO & 7 COLORS

Not enough 4WD during the road trip ? then go to visit this beautiful route who leads us to a fantastic panorama on the Aconcagua, while watching all wildlife of the Pre-Andes. Old mines and rainbow colors mountain are at the program too. A must do in Mendoza, enjoying the peaceful silence of the Andes.

TRIP DETAILS

Activities

Road trip, guided tour, hiking

Environment

Desert, villages, Puna and Altiplano
Cultural and Natural Heritage

Itinerary level

1 or 2 hours of hiking maximum per day with low ascents
No specific training is required, only high-altitude acclimation. It is mandatory to follow your guide’s advice.

Number of participants

From 2 to 12 passengers (a 4×4 vehicle for 4 pax)

Start of the journey

Mendoza

End of the journey

Salta with possibility to extend it to Mendoza

Itinerary features

Road-trip with rental car (4×4) – guide in the first vehicle

Environment

Asphalted roads, tracks in sand and salt deserts.
Walk in the deserts and in the puna.
Duration of the stages: 2 to 7 hours of driving, 1 to 3 hours of walking/hiking

Altitude

Up to 5000m (at Abra del Acay) and many days between 3000 and 4000 meters high (9,842 to 13,123 ft high)

Food

Breakfasts are included. Lunches, picnic lunches and dinners for passengers and the guide are not included.

Spendings

Lunch in a standard restaurant is about U$D 10, dinner can be up to U$D 15-30, depending on beverages.

Liter of gasoline: about U$D 1 / liter

Talampaya National Park: Entrance to the park + activity (hike or visit by open roof truck) is between 30-40U$D per person approx.

LODGING

Day 1

Villa Union: Hotel *** Pircas Negras

Day 2

San Antonio de Catamarca: Hotel ****

Day 3

Cafayate: Wine Resort Vinas de Cafayate – ***** Luxe

Day 4

Cafayate: Estancia Colome – ***** Luxe

Day 5

Cachi: El Cortijo – Hotel Boutique ****Day 6

San Antonio de los Cobres: Hotel de las Nubes – *** Day 7

Tolar Grande: Casa Andina – ***

Day 8

Tolar Grande: Casa Andina – ***

Day 9

San Antonio de los Cobres: Hotel de las Nubes – *** 

Day 10

Purmamarca: House hotel La Comarca – ****

Day 11

Huacalera: Solar del Tropico – Rural charming Bed & Brekfast

Day 12

Iruya: Hotel Iruya – **** with panorama

Day 13

Salta: Hotel Portezuelo – ****

EQUIPMENT

Luggage

A suitecase and a small backpack per person

1-Suitecase

Will be transported in the open trunck of the 4×4 vehicle and must be dust-tight. Plastic bags will be provided to protect your belongings from dust, sand and the possible rain. The vehicles are pickup trucks type without cover for more convenience.

2-Backpack

Small backpack for hikes with a capacity of 10 liters approx. You will use it to keep your personal belongings during the day (camera, sunscreen, hat, scarf …), valuables (in case your accommodation does not have a safe locker) and for your possible medications.

Suggested packing list:

Clothing:

  • 1 hat (with straps) or a cap
  • 1 scarf or cheche
  • 1 hat and / or headband and gloves in the winter season
  • T-shirts. Avoid cotton, very long to dry; prefer short-sleeved shirts in breathable material
  • 1 under-sweater or long-sleeved shirt
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 hiking pants
  • 1 comfortable trousers for the evening
  • 1 Gore-Tex jacket type, simple and lightweight
  • 1 swimsuit
  • Underwears
  • Hiking socks.
  • 1 pair of high hiking shoes, make sure it is maintaining the ankle
  • 1 pair of sandals or casual shoes for the evening.

Packing list must be adapted according to the chosen season.

Temperature amplitudes are very important in the desert regions visited (from 20 to 30 ° difference sometimes between night and day). The nights are usually chilly, even in summer time.

Equipment

  • High quality sunglasses, ice protection recommended for reverberation on salt deserts
  • 1 water bottle (1 liter)
  • 1 pocket knife (don’t keep it in your carry-on luggage while flying)
  • Toiletries
  • Toilet paper (on certain days, we will not find bahroom for several hours)
  • Sunscreen protection 50 minimum + lipstick
  • Plastic bags for waste

Personal pharmacy

  • Your usual medications
  • Pain medication: preferably paracetamol
  • Anti-inflammatory pills
  • Aspirin 500 to chew or swallow but NOT effervescent (to reduce the effects of altitude)
  • Anti-diarrhea
  • Antispasmodic
  • Intestinal antiseptic
  • Eye drops (dust, ophthalmia) and antibiotic cream for the eyes
  • Cold and sore throat treatments (pastilles)
  • Biaffine and sunscreen +50
  • Adhesive bandage sets + disinfectant compresses
  • Double skin – anti blisters

COUNTRY INFO

Mandatory Vaccines

No vaccination required.

Advised vaccines

As usual, it is preferable to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, hepatitis A and B, whooping cough, measles for children.

Other risks

It can be considered that Argentina is not a country at health risk for the traveler. Observe the advice of your Embassy.

Useful information

The medical infrastructure is excellent in Salta hospitals. It is therefore, in many cases (even serious), not necessary to consider a medical repatriation. In case of issue, however, you will have to contact your personal insurance company and possibly the Embassy in Buenos Aires.