I traveled to the north of Argentina in May of last year. Maybe time to share a little bit of that trip! The north-west area of Argentina is often referred to as the NOA (noroeste argentino) and is made up of six provinces: Salta, Jujuy, Tucuman, Catamarca, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero. My friends drove from Buenos Aires and visited Mendoza and Catamarca before I joined them by flying into Salta. We explored Salta and Jujuy and it was amazing! (On the way back we also spent some time in Santiago del Estero, see own post.)
Of the north-western provinces, Salta and Jujuy are the most picturesque and home to endless gorgeous landscapes, mountain villages, amazing arts and crafts, the list goes on. Tucuman is famous because it is where the independence of Argentina was declared on July 9, 1816, in the capital city of San Miguel de Tucuman.
We did a rather standard Salta-Jujuy trip, starting with a few days in the gorgeous city of Salta, which is a colonial in a valley with beautiful mountain views. It is also where I had one of the best vegetarian meals I have had in Argentina, at Chimoya.
From Salta we drove the scenic route to the province of Jujuy. We did not visit the capital, San Salvador de Jujuy, but enjoyed very much the rest of the province. We went to Purmamarca, a beautiful village home to the Cierro de los siete colores.
From there we drove to Salinas Grandes, the famous salt plains. The drive there is absolutely gorgeous although I got a little car sick!
Made a donkey friend on the way back:
We spent three nights in Tilcara, which is a fabulous little mountain town, and as Purmamarca, part of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a narrow river valley that extends about 150 kilometers in the province of Jujuy. As Wikipedia tells us:
The region has always been a crossroads for economic, social and cultural communication. It has been populated for at least 10,000 years, since the settlement of the first hunter-gatherers, which is evidenced by substantial prehistoric remains. It was a caravan road for the Inca Empire in the 15th century, then an important link between the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and the Viceroyalty of Peru, as well as a stage for many battles of the Spanish War of Independence.
From Tilcara we explored Humahuaca, Iruya (worthy of its own post), Tilcara itself, and many little towns along the road, like Tumbaya. We also went to the market in Volcan, which is known for its arts and crafts. In most of the towns you can find lots of wool products for sale but usually mass produced and many come from Bolivia. At the artisan market in Volcan, everything is local and handmade. I bought some amazing alpaca blankets and other gifts there.
Tilcara has a distinct hippie, backpacker feel to it and was a great base to explore the valley. There is also a fantastic restaurant there where we ended up eating twice, El nuevo progreso. Highly recommended! Tilcara also has many artisan shops where you can buy really fantastic stuff. Here is a shot of our hotel, Aguacanto Cabañas. Gorgeous! Great heating, too, which is nice because Tilcara is at almost 2500 meters above sea level.
Lots of tourists visit the NOA, but with good reason: It was one of the most amazing places I have ever seen. Highly recommended!