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Argentina landscape panorama

Andes Outback Drive

Bite-sized trip

  • Itinerary:
    Salta - Purmamarca - Salta
  • Duration:
    3 days / 2 nights (flexible)
  • Price:
    from £435 per person (excluding flights)
Drive through white-washed villages, cacti-scattered plains and rainbow coloured hills on a road trip across Argentina’s altiplano, staying in friendly local refugios. It’s a beautiful and varied road trip into a wilderness peppered with salt lakes, Inca ruins and traditional clay houses. You’ll spend three days exploring the remote pockets of the high plains, filled with Inca folklore and fascinating scenery. Explore rocky isolated canyons, hike to the surreal Seven Coloured Hills, meet the locals and cross the Tropic of Capricorns, all with the freedom of your own four wheels. It’s a real outback adventure.
Argentina Salta tourists with self drive car
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Day 1 – Salta – Purmamarca

In the morning you’ll collect your hire car. Once you’ve been given the keys to the car, hop in and head off along the Ruta 9 towards Jujuy. It’s a 2 ½ hour drive along a twisting and spectacularly beautiful road. After taking a wander around Jujuy, you can continue along the Ruta 9 towards Purmamarca, another 1 ½ hour drive (56km) along a smooth and easy road. You’ll pass through lush, tropical scenery before the greenery gradually gives way to a more arid, rocky landscape.

The last stretch passes through the staggering Quebrada de Humahuaca, a windswept canyon with surreal layers of striped rock. The dust-swirled villages of Humahuaca, Tilacara or Maimara lie deep within the canyon and will make you feel as though you’ve been caught in a giant sand storm. Purmamarca, your home for the night is just 3km outside the canyon, but far beyond the choking dust. You’ll stay in a friendly ‘refugio’, a typical village hotel with a handful of basic but clean rooms. The refugio has been built in local style using local building materials and is surrounded on all sides by rugged mountain scenery.

You can spend the rest of the day exploring the peaceful village, made up of tiny clay houses nestled at the foot of the Seven-coloured hill (Cerro de los Siete Colores). The rainbow-coloured appearance of the hill comes from the rich mineral content in the rocks and draws many travellers to the area. The main square in Purmamarca is a good place to grab a bite to eat and soak up the laid-back village atmosphere. If you’re feeling active, follow an interesting trail from the back of the cemetery up to the Cerro de los Siete Colores. The walk takes around an hour, but take your time to stop and admire the amazing colours along the way.

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Day 2 – Pumamarca

Today, you’ll have time to explore the villages and scenery of the Quebrada. The villages are the quintessential image of South America, with white-washed churches, clay houses and locals in ponchos and bowler hats strolling through the cobbled streets. Most of them speak Quechua, the local dialect that dates back to the Incas. Driving between the villages, you’ll pass the Tropic of Capricorn.

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Day 3 – Pumamarca – Salta

Today, you can spend the day hiking, cycling or horseriding through the beautiful scenery surrounding Purmamarca with a local guide. Then, around 3pm, you’ll hop back in the car to begin the return journey to Salta via Jujuy and the faster road via Guïmes. When you arrive back in Salta you’ll return your hire car and enjoy a last evening in Salta before travelling on to your next destination tomorrow.

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Accommodation

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Andes Outback Drive

This bite-sized trip combines well with

Argentina Salta colonial buildings
Bite-sized trip

Like a Gaucho in Sunny Salta

  • Salta - Chicoana - Salta
  • 3 days / 2 nights (flexible)
  • from £348 per person (excluding flights)
View bite-sized trip
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