Terrain and Weather
The northwest is a region of diverse landscapes. Its mountain peaks include 18,200-ft Cerro del Bolson. There are high plains, colorful sierras, many canyons and valleys as well as tropical cloud forests and flatlands. The climate ranges from arid, with some of the country's highest summer temperatures and very cold winters, to subtropical areas that are warm year-round, making for a variety of different experiences on Argentina tours. Tucuman Province is called the Garden of the Republic for its lush and diverse vegetation.
Travelers on Argentina tours with an interest in archeology will find much to explore here. The region's most visited ruin is the fortified citadel of the Quilmes, a branch of the Diaguita/Calchaquies people, known for resisting both the Incas and the Spanish. The seventy-five-acre complex dates back to 1000 AD and is among Argentina's most important archeological sites. This northwest region was also home to the Jujuy, Aymara, Quechua, Tonocotes, Sanavirones, Juries, Humahuacas, Atacamas and the Wichis (Matacos). The northwest provinces contain several archaeological museums as well as hundreds of sites of pre-Inca and Inca significance.
The region contains numerous cities of historic interest to visitors on Argentina tours. Among them are Salta, Argentina's best preserved colonial city and a popular base for visiting the area's attractions, Santiago del Estero, its oldest city, founded in 1553, and San Miguel de Tucuman where, in 1816, Argentina's Declaration of Independence was signed.
The northwest is a popular destination for hiking, trekking, climbing, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and horseback riding. The region contains six national parks that represent the extremes of Argentina's climates: Baritu, Calilegua, (Finca) El Rey, Los Cardones, Copo and Campo de los Alisos. The Region's other protected areas include Jujuy's Laguna de Pozuelos National Monument, an internationally protected bird-rich wetland.
The region's geology brings many visitors on Argentina tours to the northwest provinces. Among its star attractions are Quebrada de Cafayate's rainbow-hued cliffs and other colorful hills of the Calchaquies Valley. Here, one may ride the Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes) high into the Andes across La Polvorilla viaduct at an altitude of almost 14,000 feet. Among Jujuy's Province's unique sights are Purmamarca's colored hills called the Cerro de los Siete Colores and Quebrada de Humahuaca, a trade route for thousands of years between the Andes and the plains that has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Catamarca's geological attractions to see when you travel to Argentina include the Antofagasta de la Sierra and the Balcones del Valle.
The northwest provinces have long been associated with sugarcane production, mining of the pink Rodocrosita (Rose of the Inca), Argentina's national gem, and for cattle raising. Internationally, the region is best known today for the quality wines that come from the small and large vineyards of the Calchaquies Valley near Cafayate. The region's wineries produce Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon but are most famous for the Torrontes, a white fruity varietal only grown in Argentina.
Other Sights and Activities
In addition to its natural beauty, the region has much to offer travelers on Argentina tours. There are the refreshing Termas de Reyes, the royal Inca thermal baths of Jujuy Province and the popular Termas de Rio Hondo in Tucuman Province. In Salta, one may join the local residents at its penas fokloricas, (folk taverns) where Argentines go for the traditional music and dance.
In February, Tucuman Province's community of Amaicha celebrates the National Fiesta de la Pachamama, an annual week-long indigenous celebration of earth's bounty in music, dance and regional cuisine. On December 8, Catamarca hosts legions of visitors on Argentina tours who come to pay their respects to the city's patron saint, the Virgen del Valle, whose image may be seen in the basilica here. It is one of the country's most important pilgrimage sites.