Hidden Argentina: Northern Provinces

Enjoy the unhurried leisure life on rural hosterías and estancias
Overview

overview

Northern Argentina is part of a colorful, wind-sculpted, montane desert traversed by green river valleys. Slow-paced village life is enhanced by comfortable inns (many recycled from colonial structures), as well as delectable local cuisine and numerous wineries. All of this makes a leisurely drive through the valleys an unforgettable experience.

These are the least-seen places in Argentina. Most of the villages along the way sum up the history of the area in their archaeological and wine museums as well as in the workshops of local artists and artisans. Explore colorful villages, canyon lands, and valleys of outstanding beauty. Enjoy meeting friendly local people and take pleasure in the warm sunny days and cold nights sheltered in the most lovely hosterías and estancias.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Buenos Aires
    Discover Buenos Aires

    The “Queen of the River Plate Basin” or the “Paris of South America,” as Buenos Aires is called, can be a superlative introduction to the exploration of Argentina, both the cultural and wildlife perspectives. What is certain is that this cosmopolitan city, European in appearance, can keep any culture-oriented visitor busy indefinitely. Its intense cultural and commercial life can fill every minute of any visit with pleasant experiences. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. This cosmopolitan city can keep any culture-oriented visitor busy indefinitely. In the afternoon, you will enjoy the unique "Four Balconies Tour," an exclusive visit of Buenos Aires, in which a professor of the university uses four parks and plazas of Buenos Aires (Plaza de Mayo, Parque Lezama and La Boca, Plaza San Martin, and Recoleta) to introduce you to Argentina, its history, its contrasts, its contradictions, and the characteristics of the "porteños," the inhabitants of Buenos Aires. Stay overnight at the Elevage Hotel.

    Lodging
    Hotel Lafayette or similar
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  • Day 2: San Isidro/Tigre/Parana River Delta
    You'll see many sandy, dry river valleys and rock formations

    Today you will explore one of the most beautiful areas of Buenos Aires’ surroundings, the northern riverside districts of Tigre and San Isidro. The history of San Isidro began in 1580, when Juan de Garay carried out the first distribution of the land situated north of the City of La Santísima Trinidad (current city of Buenos Aires). It has an important colonial heritage reflected in its houses and buildings. You will visit Pueyrredon Farm, the San Isidro Cathedral, several colonial mansions, and Victoria Ocampo's Mansion (once the cultural center of South America). Then you will continue to Tigre, a city overlooking the delta of the Paraná River. Here, you will explore streets full of colorful rustic fabric, furniture, and accessories made in cane and willow, delicious jams and honey, brilliant flowers, and of course, all the variety of native fruit. After lunch you will enjoy a riverside walk and a boat trip past the countless islands of the delta of the Paraná River to enjoy beautiful views of the riverside villas, Victorian docks, English gardens, and traditional rowing clubs.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Lafayette or similar
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  • Day 3: Salta/Las Conchas Gorge/Cafayate
    Explore Cafayate's scenic town square

    Transfer to Buenos Aires' domestic airport to board the flight to Salta city. One of the most fascinating aspects of visiting the northwest region is the chance to mingle with the native population who preserve their ancient customs and traditions: polychromatic dresses, expressive artwork and handicrafts, music, colorful markets, street fairs, and delicious gastronomy are eloquent expressions of the soul of these people and their love for Pachamama (Mother Earth). Since this area was originally colonized by Spaniards, it retains historic traces of Spanish heritage: towns with typical colonial architecture, adobe churches and hidden chapels, old traditional fincas (ranches), etc. Upon arrival at Salta, you will be met at the airport and transferred to Cafayate, along breathtaking Las Conchas Gorge, with peculiar rock formations which, due to the effect of wind and water, have formed almost real shapes like the amphitheatre and the monk’s statue.

    Cafayate has become the most important site in the Calchaquí Valleys. Located at 1,660 m above sea level, it is well known because of its famous torrontes wine, product of the exquisite combination of temperature and humidity that provides the ideal environment for the growth of this sweet and deep fruit flavored vine, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, and Chardonnay.  During the afternoon, you will visit some of the famous wineries of Cafayate.  Afterwards, you will be transferred to the hotel, Cafayate Wine Resort, which is located in the outskirts of the town and at the foot of San Isidro Mount, surrounded by vineyards.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Killa Cafayate or similar
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  • Day 4: Calchaquí River Valley to Cachi
    Valley of the Arrows has unusual rock formations

    Today you head north, following Calchaquí River Valley. During the trip, you will be able to enjoy amazing landscapes and small towns which preserve their colonial heritage as if time had stopped. San Carlos is a town with colonial houses and narrow streets. Since its foundation, it was destroyed many times by the Indians. The Jesuits settled here and founded the "San Carlos Mission," giving origin to the actual town. Then you will start traveling along the impressive Quebrada de las Flechas (Arrows Gorge), with its extraordinary geological formations produced by erosion of the colorful sedimentation of sandstone over the past 60 million years. Molinos was founded in the middle of the XVII century. The plan of the town is completely irregular, with adobe houses and clay roofs. The road continues northward until Cachi, a beautiful town with white buildings, adobe houses, stone-paved streets, and impressive architectural and cultural constructions. Cachi means "salt" in Quechua because natives mistook the top of "El Nevado" for a salt mine. Today you will enjoy visiting the town, its church, and its museum. In the evening, transfer to the Hostería Cachi.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel El Coritjo or similar
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  • Day 5: Scenic Drive to Valley of Lerma
    Calchaqui valley has many scenic small towns

    Departing from Cachi eastwards, the trip continues along the Calchaquí Valley until reaching Salta. On both sides of the road, tall and elegant cacti will start to appear, indicating the proximity of Los Cardones National Park, which you will see while traveling through Recta de Tin Tin. After the Enchanted Valley, you will start a spectacular descent through Cuesta del Obispo, a landmark that gives a wonderful panoramic view of the surroundings. Coming down, you will reach Valley of Lerma, dominated by the city of Salta.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Patios de Lerma or similar
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  • Day 6: Salta
    Explore Salta, including a visit to its magnificent cathedral

    Enjoy a morning city tour of Salta. In this, one of the oldest cities in the country, the highlights include Cabildo (Town Hall), the Archbishop's Palace and Cathedral, San Francisco's church, and San Bernardo's church and convent. Not far from the center, you'll come across San Lorenzo, a summer resort with old trees, flowering gardens, and magnificent mansions, surrounded by gentle hills which are ideal for walks, picnics, and horseback riding. Finally, visit the craft market with a chance to purchase authentic samples of native artisans work.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hotel Patios de Lerma or similar
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  • Day 7: Salta/San Antonio/Purmamarca
    Explore the mountain mining town of San Antonio

    Travel through breathtaking canyons of the Andes Mountains as you make your way through the famous "Train to the Clouds" itinerary. Visit Santa Rosa de Tastil, which was the largest pre-Inca city in the country. Make your way through Puna toward the salt deposits in the northern provience of Jujuy and on to "Cuesta de Lipan" and the colonial city of Purmamarca. Enjoy this small pre-Hispanic village set at the foot of the "Seven Colors Hill".

     

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Los Colorados or similar
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  • Day 8: Purmamarca/Humahuaca/Iruya
    See the remains of a Jesuit bell tower in Humahuaca

    Enjoy a full day expedition through the multicolored landscape of Humahuaca Canyon to the peaceful villages, old chapels, native markets, small museums with astounding archaeological pieces, and remains of ancient pre-Inca fortified towns. The gorge once served as a route for the Incas, a required passage for expedition parties and settlers, and an important commercial route in the vice regal period. Today, little towns conserve their religious beliefs, rituals, ceremonies, art, music, and agricultural techniques, a unique living patrimony in the world. For this reason, it was declared Humanity Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in the year 2003. Humahuaca, Uquia, Tilcara, Maimara, and Purmamarca will be some of the fascinating stops during the day. Humahuaca is a colonial city of narrow stone-paved streets with street lamps and adobe houses that made it one of the most important trade centers of Alto Perú until the end of the XIX century. After visiting the town, the trip continues to Iturbe, where you will start going up until Abra Cóndor. This place, the Altar of Pachamama, is the beginning of the “Silent Valleys,” known for their extraordinary beauty. Finally, the steep streets of the little mountainous town of Iruya welcome you. Inhabitants have preserved their traditions and customs here for more than 250 years. This town has an ancient origin, since it was an important stop in the route from Potosi (Bolivia) to Buenos Aires. Stay overnight at the Hostería de Iruya, which has a large terrace overlooking the valley and is surrounded almost completely by nearby hills.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hosteria de Iruya or similar
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  • Day 9: Iruya/La Quiaca/Yavi/Tilcara
    Relax in the courtyard of your charming Tilcara hotel

    Departing from Iruya, the trip continues northward to La Quiaca on the Argentinian-Bolivian frontier. You may cross on foot to Villazón, in Bolivia. About 15 km ahead lies Yavi. Along the way you will see the Siete Hermanos Mountain Range (sedimentation deposits from the Mesozoic Era). You will also visit Laguna Colorada to investigate petroglyphs representing human figures, llamas, and spirals, and you'll enjoy a box lunch in this incredible landscape. In the evening, you will arrive at Yavi, which was founded in 1667 and belonged to the Marquis of Tojo until 1707. This feudal land used to occupy the Argentinian Puna and the south of Bolivia. The colonial style ranch house of the Marquis, which today is a museum, and the magnificent Chapel of San Francisco, are worth visiting. The pulpit, the altars, and the altarpieces are gold-plated. The chapel also has paintings and outstanding sculptures that were brought from Cuzco.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hostal Posada de Luz or simialr
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  • Day 10: Tilcara/El Bordo de las Lanzas
    Welcome to El Bordo de las Lanzas

    Enjoy the morning in Tilcara. Surrounded by incredible scenery of multicolored hills and panoramic views, Tilcara is a great place to walk around. Around mid-morning, you will transfer to El Bordo de las Lanzas, a typical finca of Salta. Known for cattle breeding and sugar cane production, the ranch has been owned and operated by the Arias family for over 400 years.  Here you can enjoy horseback riding, bird watching, cattle round-ups, trekking, reading, cooking, dance lessons, and just relaxing.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    El Bordo de las Lanzas
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  • Day 11: El Bordo de las Lanzas
    Enjoy riding horse during your stay

    The gaucho of this region are still very proud of their roots and are noble people. Spend the day getting to know the gaucho lifestyle at the ranch. There are hundreds of horses and, if you wish, you can do some polo stick and ball practice. You may also want to visit the little village near the estancia or get on horseback and ride to Martin de Guemes town located about five miles away. There is also a small sugar cane producation factory near El Bordo which you can visit. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    El Bordo de las Lanzas
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  • Day 12: Return to Buenos Aires
    Enjoy dinner and a tango show

    Transfer to the local airport to board your flight to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the Elevage Hotel. In the evening, you will be picked up to enjoy a dinner and tango show at one of the most prestigious houses in Buenos Aires. Afterward, you will be returned to your hotel.

    The birth of tango took place towards 1880 in the suburbs. Although at first it was rejected by the high society, little by little this new musical expression began to scale to the highest levels, turning into a world wide recognized Argentine product.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging
    Hotel Lafayette or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 13: Buenos Aires/Onward
    Enjoy your last day in Buenos Aires

    Spend the day at leisure until it is time for your transfer to the international airport to catch your onward flight.

    Meals
    Breakfast
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Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$4,775
not including domestic flights
Single Supplement:
$950
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
13 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
3
comfortable & delightful hotels and hosterias
Group Size:
4-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
walking and hiking

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

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Altiplano Wildlife

Duration: 5 days

The Altiplano is a flat plateau located on top of the Andes at an average altitude of 13,000 feet. Its extraordinary natural wonders include active and dormant slender-coned volcanoes, clear blue lakes with abundant bird life, extensive steppes suppo... read more

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