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The reason most international travelers don’t visit Argentina’s northern interior isn’t because there’s not much to see here. It’s just that in a country so vast, they never make it this far. This spectacular Argentina tour makes that journey easy. You’ll visit a dramatic, photogenic landscape of colorful canyons and unique stone formations sculpted by the wind. These Argentina tours include a stay in Salta, the country’s best-preserved colonial city, a visit to one of the country’s most famous archeological sites, the pre-Columbian city of Quilmes, and wine-tastings in the northwest wine region. Plus you’ll explore the two adjacent parks containing the world’s only known complete and undisturbed paleontological record of the Triassic Period when both dinosaurs and mammals originated. All this and two days in fabulous Buenos Aires make for an unforgettable Argentina vacation.

 

Itinerary
Day 1 ARRIVE BUENOS AIRES

On arrival in Buenos Aires, you will be transferred from the international airport to your lodgings in the center of the city. To get acquainted with the surroundings, you’ll be escorted on a short walking tour to nearby sights including the always-interesting pedestrian promenade, Avenida Florida, a popular locale for shopping, dining and watching street tango. The rest of the day and evening are yours to explore this fascinating city on your own. Overnight at your comfortable downtown hotel.

Day 2 BUENOS AIRES – SAN JUAN – VILLA UNION

After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the domestic airport for your flight to San Juan to begin your northwestern Argentina travel. Located in the middle of a prominent wine region, modern San Juan is a city with wide tree-lined boulevards, a fertile oasis surrounded by the Andes. On arrival, We start our drive towards Jachal, the road that leads to this natural Oasis was known – until the beginning of the 20th century -- as “The Traverse (La Travesia).” It meant a difficult two day ride on horseback or six on carriages drawn by mules. Today it is a spectacular and panoramic landscape of isolated sand dunes.
 
We drive past Pismanta Hot Springs, the Oasis at Rodeo, then east towards Jachal mountain and the Cuesta del Viento (Windy Mountain Pass). The pass lives up to its name with strong winds that blow through the narrow gorge reaching the Valley of Jachal and the village of the same name.
 
San Jose de Jachal is a lovely and peaceful village with adobe houses of Italian style. After a short visit we drive along the legendary Route 40 to the North passing the Los Cauquenes Dam. The road climbs steeply with beautiful vistas to reach the Huaco Pass, which was part of the Old Inca Road between Cusco and the Northern Valleys in Argentina.  As the sun starts to set we reach Villa Union where we have the opportunity to take beautiful photos of this unique landscape. (B, L) 
 
Paved Road 300 KM 

Day 3 VILLA UNION (TALAMPAYA & ISCHIGUALASTO PARKS)

Today’s destinations are Talampaya National Park and the equally fascinating Ischigualasto Provincial Park nearby.  The parks together have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are rarely visited by international travelers on Argentina tours.  You’ll head out after an early breakfast to capture the morning’s most dramatic light conditions for photographing Talampaya’s red variegated cliffs and strange rock formations.  The 525-ft canyon walls here contain imprints of the region’s first inhabitants.  This is the only area in the world known to contain a complete sequence of continental sediments with abundant fossil flora and fauna of the Triassic Period, offering the prospect of resolving one of paleontology’s greatest enigmas: the dinosaurs’ rise to dominance and the suppression of mammalian evolution over 150 million years.

In the afternoon, you’ll hike in Ischigualasto Provincial Park where Late Triassic deposits of the Ischigualasto Formation contain some of the oldest known dinosaur remains as well as fossils of early synapses and freshwater fish.  Formed by millions of years of wind erosion, this bizarre rugged terrain of sandstone and mudstone has given the park the popular name "Valley of the Moon."  Trails through the park offer an encyclopedic view of the 45-million year Triassic Period.  At the end of today’s Argentina tours, you will return to Villa Union to enjoy a free evening. (B,L) 

Day 4 VILLA UNION (LAGUNA BRAVA)

Today you travel one of the most memorable landscapes in Argentina and perhaps the world to visit Laguna Brava, a unique spot in the Andean Highlands. This huge provincial reserve is the realm of flamingoes and camelids in a pristine area of stark beauty and breathtaking views. After exploring the environs you’ll return to Villa Union and enjoy a third night in this charming town. (B,L)

Day 5 VILLA UNION – CHILECITO – TINOGASTA

Today’s leisurely itinerary begins after breakfast with a late morning departure for Chilecito, a quaint mining village surrounded by vineyards and farms in a landscape of scenic valleys and mountains. You’ll travel through the colorful Cuesta de Miranda (Miranda Slope), a picturesque area of red canyon walls that lie in stark contrast to the area’s green vegetation. You’ll visit the Museum de la Mejicana which showcases what was the longest cable car lift in Latin America that reached 14,500 feet above sea level in the Amatina range and was built in the early 1900s. After lunch in Chilecito you’ll travel to Tinogasta, gateway to the adobe route in Argentina that borders the Famatina Valley, an area rich in nut tree and fruit plantations. After dinner on your own, you’ll spend the night at Casa Grande, a quiet, comfortable lodgings in Tinogasta. (B).

Day 6 TINOGASTA – ROUTE 40 – CAFAYATE

Today’s long drive transitions from canyon lands to the Calchaqui valleys mostly on gravel road along famed, remote route 40 (the longest in Argentina) heading north. You will pass through small Andean villages to reach the famed hillside settlement of Quilmes, 75-acre site of the spectacular fortifications and town built by the indigenous Quilmes civilization that lived in the region as early as 1000 AD. The route also includes the ancient town of Belen, the Belen River Canyon and Amaicha del Valle, hometown of the artist, Hector Cruz who has built in his own private house a very interesting Cultural Museum (Centro Cultural Pachamama). At Quilmes, you will hike the Ruins on its ancient trails and passage ways. The Quilmes were known for their ferocity in fighting first against the Incas and then the Spaniards. Exploring the ruins allows one to appreciate the Quillmes’ level of expertise and knowledge. The city overlooks the valley but its location is hidden in the mountains and cannot be seen from afar. The day ends in the small city of Cafayate at this evening’s comfortable lodgings, Cafayate Wine Resort. (B, L)

Day 7 CAFAYATE - CACHI

Before departing for the ancient village of Cachi, you will tour Cafayate and visit a winery that produces the white Argentine varietal Torrontés. The trip continues to the heart of the Calchaqui Valley, driving past Molinos, a charming little village with an interesting Church that was the residence of the last Spanish Governor. On arrival in Cachi, you will be taken to your lodgings, El Cortijo Hotel Boutique in Cachi. (B)

Day 8 CACHI - SALTA

After touring Cachi’s old chapel, and archaeology museum, one of the best of its kind in Argentina, you will head towards Salta; through the Enchanted Valley that climbs to a high plateau called TIN-TIN, the native terrain of the giant cardon. It is because the cardon is endemic here that Cardones National Park has been created in this location. You’ll climb the impressive Cuesta del Obispo (Obispo Pass) where condors, eagles and guanacos are a frequent sight. Arriving in Salta in the afternoon, you will tour the city before being taken to your hotel, where you will be staying for the next two days. (B)

Day 9 SALTA

Enjoy Salta on your own today. Salta is one of Argentina’s oldest colonial cities, a highlight for photographers and history buffs on Argentina tours. The main points of interest here are the Cabildo (Town Hall), the Archbishop’s Palace and Cathedral on the main square (9 de Julio), San Francisco´s Church, San Bernardo´s Church and Convent, and the crafts market. (B)

Day 10 SALTA – ROAD TO THE CLOUDS – PURMAMARCA

This day of sightseeing in the Andes starts early, stopping first at Santa Rosa de Tastil, the largest and best-preserved pre-Hispanic ruins in Argentina, before crossing the tracks of the highest railroad in South America. Built in the 1930s, the famed “Train to the Clouds” joins the city of Salta with the indigenous town of San Antonio de los Cobres, climbing to 13,123 ft above sea level along the way. After visiting San Antonio de los Cobres, you cross a plateau at 12,139 ft to reach Salinas Grandes, the most imposing Salt Bed in the region. Here it is possible to purchase souvenirs from the local mine workers who supplement their limited income by carving small crafts. You will pass by Abra Potrerillo at 13,681 ft and drive down the Lipan Slope, a winding road that leads to the charming village of Purmamarca (2300mts above sea level). Purmamarca, is at the foot of the amazing “Hill of Seven Colors”. This polychromatic mountain (considered an artist’s palette of colors) is best seen from a hill on the edge of the village, and is a backdrop of this enchanted village where you will be able to enjoy the most interesting purchases in the local market. You’ll spend the night in pleasant lodgings. (B,L)

Day 11 TILCARA – HUMAHUACA – SALTA – BUENOS AIRES

Full day expedition enjoying the multicolored landscape of the Humahuaca canyon, the peaceful villages, old chapels, native markets, small museums, and the remains of an ancient pre-Inca fortified town. Humahuaca, Uquia, Tilcara, Maimara and Purmamarca will be some of the fascinating stops during our day. The Quebrada de Humahuaca, an Andean gorge of rust-colored mountains and ancient settlements is one of Argentina’s most distinctively South American Natural experiences.
 
We start exploring Tilcara: the red streets and easy access makes Tilcara a favorite with all visitors. Within walking distance (a short trek outside town) is the Pucará, a restored pre-Columbian fort which offers spectacular views. The access fee (to be paid locally) includes access to the Museo Arqueologico which houses an excellent and diverse collection.
 
Humahuaca with its narrow shaded streets of adobe houses is a picturesque village worth exploring. We will stroll leisurely while visiting to the local church, the Town Hall famous for its clock tower where a mechanical San Francisco Solano gives a daily blessing at noon. A visit to the Museo Arqueologico should not be missed; guided by Don Sixto or his son, the Museo pictures the lives of the “coyas”, the local inhabitants, their traditions and celebrations, their everyday life, their houses, in a simple yet interesting way. (Entrance fee to be paid locally).You will be returned to Salta and transferred to the airport for your flight to Buenos Aires. On arrival, you will be taken to your hotel. (B)

Day 12 BUENOS AIRES – HOME

After breakfast, you’ll enjoy one last day of leisure in fascinating Buenos Aires before being transferred to the International airport for your trip home, concluding your Argentina tours with Southern Explorations. (B)

Weather

When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

The rainy season is between December and March, with little precipitation falling during the wintertime. The best times to visit are perhaps the spring and fall seasons, during which times the temperatures are comfortable, the precipitation is manageable, and the crowds are minimal.

 


 

Maps

Specials >> Argentina

Join a group on our Feburary 4-16, 2019 Patagonia Hiking Panorama tour to experience the best...

Hidden North of Argentina: Overland Adventure

Pricing
Per Person
$4,195
Domestic Airfare:
$700 Airfare: Buenos Aires/ San Juan-Salta/Buenos Aires (subject to change)
 
Single Supplement: $1,050
A single supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy.
Included in tour cost
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Airport taxes, international and local
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear
  • Reciprocity fee

Hidden North of Argentina: Overland Adventure

Trip Dates
Weekly Departures. Contact us to arrange your date of departure.
Sunday, April 1, 2018 to Monday, December 31, 2018
Available
Cachi
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
  • 3 Star
     Included Hotel (subject to availability) 
Cafayate
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Purmamarca
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Salta
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Tinogasta
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Villa Union
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Buenos Aires
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
patagonia glacier trek
Our trip was marvelous from start to finish. Southern Explorations is the only way to really enjoy Patagonia. Because the territory is so vast, having everything planned maximized our experience and minimized the logistical aspects and associated worry. This was our second trip with Southern Explorations and will definitely take another one. - Anne Whitehair (Private Patagonia Lakes & Glaciers)

patagonia travelLuxury Patagonia’ exceeded our every expectation. The arrangements, the accommodations, the guides, the food as well as every location visited were as close to perfect as one could hope. The care and assistance from Southern Explorations prior to our departure was meticulous and informative. We will never forget this trip – one of the best in our lives. - Rosemary and Geoff Pierson, Massachusetts (Patagonia)

patagonia travelThis was a trip of a lifetime. The highlight was the Explora Lodge with unbelievable hikes and horseback riding. Also, the Perito Moreno Glacier was fantastic. I wouldn't change a thing. - Kyle Craig, Colorado (Patagonia)
 

patagonia travelEveryone at the SE office was helpful and returned calls promptly. We just cannot say enough about how enjoyable our entire trip was. - Kathy & Peter Brackett (Argentina)

mount fitzroy patagoniaMy father and I really loved Luis. He is just a super dependable, humble, smart and kind person. We invited him to dinner with us twice at Los Cerros because we enjoyed his company so much. My father and Luis spent most of dinner sharing stories about their passion for the mountains and discussing all the same books they’ve read about climbers who’ve climbed thee highest peaks around the world. I even had lunch with Luis in Buenos Aires while he was home for the holidays. Please make sure that Luis knows how much we appreciated him as a person as well as his skills as a guide. We couldn’t have asked for a better guide. We enjoyed all the hotels. The staff at the Sheheun in El Calafate were very attentive and kind. I liked the fact that it was a few blocks out of the main street. We had a lovely view from our room. I cannot say enough about Los Cerros. The hotel was lovely. Everyone on staff was so friendly - the airport transfer driver, the wait staff, the receptionists, and the manager. They treated both my father and I like royalty and yet like family. I really hope to return. I thought the entire staff with whom I had contact at Southern Explorations - Jonathan, Justin, Eric and Marisa - were incredibly competent, communicative and genuinely enthusiastic about what they do. I felt from the very beginning that I could trust you folks. I just had a good feeling about you all. Thanks so much. It was an unforgettable trip with my dad. - Virginia Roberson (Patagonia)

 
patagonia travelWe thoroughly enjoyed our trip. The Hosteria del Fuego in Ushuaia was our best experience. I have never slept so well while on a trip. All accommodations exceeded my expectations, however. We especially enjoyed the picnic lunch in Ushuaia. Also, the tea in Gaiman was outstanding. We would definitely consider Southern Explorations again if they offered a trip to a desired destination. We have a lot of other places we want to go, though, so wouldn’t know when we might go back to South America. - The Rambow Family, Houston (Patagonia)

We just returned from our South American adventure this morning, but I wanted to write you to thank you for helping us put together a fantastic vacation. Our friends called it the 'trip of a lifetime', that included the 'hike of a lifetime' and the 'kayak paddling day of a lifetime' for them. You made it so easy to have a great adventure. Thanks again for all your help. - Heidi and Michael Rotberg (Argentina Mountains & Wineries)  

Thank you for planning an amazing trip for us. Everything was beyond wonderful... and ran so smoothly. We so enjoyed our guides...who took us on harder hikes, just like we wanted. We especially loved El Chalten... and of course the Eolo Hotel. I think the glacial hike was one of the most beautiful walks we have ever taken. So appreciate all the effort your agency put into our trip. I WILL definetely travel with you again. - Lisa Goldman (Luxury Patagonia) 

It was a wonderful trip and Southern Explorations really did a marvelous job of putting everything together for us. Thank You. We have had nothing but fantastic memories and have spoken to many people about Southern explorations and what a nice job you guys did putting everything together. Peru and other South America ventures will happen. I will be in touch. - Steve Andryk (Wisconsin) (Luxury Patagonia)

We were extremely pleased with the services provided by Southern Explorations...not only the extensive itinerary for Patagonia, but also the care and attention to detail that was delivered at every step of the way. It sure made this trip easy for us...everything was extremely well organized. We enjoyed the variety of activities and loved the guides....they were truly outstanding. - Joyce & Garry Mammel, Canada (Patagonia)

Southern Explorations created an amazing custom trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth. They worked with us to fine tune the details of what our perfect vacation to Patagonia would be. The reservations, the accommodations, the transfers and the guides were spot on, very informative and professional. Will we use Southern Explorations for our next trip to the southern hemisphere? You can be certain of that. - Jim Balsitis and Kathy Kalp (Patagonia)

I chose Southern Explorations for the combination of interesting itineraries and your high rating on customer satisfaction. I made the right choice. I will gladly recommend you to others. - Pat Harding, Texas (Iguazu, Lakes District, Mendoza & Santiago)

From arrival to departure this trip, from an organizational stand point, felt like a ballet… seamless and fluid. We couldn’t have done it without you – Thanks Southern Explorations! - Lori Schrader, New York (Patagonia)

Our experience planning a trip to Patagonia in South America with Southern Explorations exceeded my highest expectations!  Everything was incredibly well organized, the hotels they booked for us were very nice, the guides and people who transported us all spoke our language (English).  When my husband got very sick and we had to alter our plans,  they were on top of rebooking flights and canceling excursions, and handled all of the logistics for us.  I would highly recommend the services provided by Southern Explorations, and will certainly use them for all future travel planning that we do!! - Kristi Holland, Alabama (Patagonia)

Our words to describe our trip are Spectacular, Exciting, and Remote! We got to see basically everything we had hoped for, and more! - Ann Huston, California (Patagonia)

My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities in Patagonia and Southern Explorations made the trip smooth and easy. From the hotels, to the food, to the guides, and the outings, we loved it all. We would recommend it to all our friends and family! - Miriam Derman, Illinois (Patagonia)

 

Argentina - Northern - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose an itinerary?
A: We offer a variety of pre-planned tours online and we’d love to design a custom trip just for you. Take a look at what we have online then call an Adventure Travel Coordinator to discuss the trip that best fits your timeframe, budget and interests.
Q: Can I make changes or additions to these tours?
A: Yes! We are happy to modify any tour to meet your needs and also add pre and post-excursion extensions. If you sign up for a group departure we cannot change the group portion, but we can add extensions before and after.
Q: When is the best time to go to Argentina?
A: Argentina’s large size and geographic orientation means it covers many climatic zone and different areas are better to visit during different times of the year. In the south, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego are best visited from October through April. In the north, the season is inversed and your best time to travel is from April through November. Buenos Aires and the wine country around Mendoza can be visited year round.
Q: What is the weather like in Argentina?
A: The weather ranges from temperate summers and cold, snowy winters in the south to rainy summers and dry, warm winters in the north. You will find a detailed weather chart on the Overview page of each trip. You can also call your Adventure Travel Coordinator to discuss the weather trends for your trip.
Q: What is a typical day like in Argentina? 
A: The typical day varies widely from trip to trip, but all tours will have full days with guided exploration. There will be time for rest and relaxation as well as independent exploration of the cities and towns we visit. Due to the remote nature of Argentina’s most scenic areas, some long travel days will be required.
Q: How physically fit do I need to be to enjoy a trip to Argentina? 
A: As long as you are able to walk a couple of miles at a leisurely pace and comfortably navigate uneven terrain, you will be able to enjoy most of our tours. Some of our more adventurous tours include activities like kayaking, ice climbing and hikes up to 12 miles. Please check the physical ratings on our trip pages or contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator to see if a particular itinerary is a good fit for you.
Q: How much time do we need to visit Argentina?
A: Because of the vast size of Argentina we recommend at least seven days. If you wish to visit multiple regions within Argentina we recommend 12 days or more.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: As a rule, the further in advance you can plan, the more options you will have. We recommend planning a trip at three to nine months in advance, but if you want to stay at very specific luxury hotels or travel over a holiday then we recommend planning nine months to a year in advance.
Q: What are your booking and cancellation policies?
A: Click here to see our booking and cancellation policies.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: The guides on all of our tours are experienced, fluent in English and hold a degree in a related field. The guides are experienced in the outdoors and trained in basic first aid. We tend to use the same guides as they are accustomed to the trips we offer and understand the Southern Explorations commitment to quality.
Q: What kind of accommodations can I expect?
A: We primarily work with 4-star hotels in Argentina and the occasional 3-star property, provided they meet our standards. We also work with several amazing 5-star properties. All of our hotels are clean, comfortable, well-located, offer en suite bathrooms and have been personally vetted by a Southern Explorations staff member.
Q: Do tours include airfare?
A: We will confirm all airfare within South America and this price is listed separately from our base tour costs. You are responsible for booking international flights to/from Argentina
Q: How many people are on your tours?
A: Our Argentina trips are generally limited to 8 travelers, although some areas (all-inclusive lodge stays and cruises) may require that we form larger groups with other travelers.
Q: Will I get more information on packing, vaccines, currency, electricity, etc.?
A: After booking you will receive a link to our online trip portal, which includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary.  This includes packing lists, restaurant recommendations, tipping guides, FAQs, vaccine recommendations and currency information. Your Adventure Travel Coordinator will also be a great resource for any other information you may need.
Q: I read about a “Reciprocity Fee” to enter Argentina, do I need to pay that?
A:

There is no longer a “Reciprocity Fee” required for travelers carrying US, Canadian or Australian Passports. If you carry a passport from a different country please check with your nearest Argentine consulate for more information.