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Northwest of Argentina, Salta trips - custom overland trips - South America

Puna desert Experience in Northwestern Argentina

Salta private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desert* Duration of journey: 5 days, 4 nights

* Total drive distance: about 1700 km on paved and gravel road

* Best months to travel: All year round - October to April (milder weather)

* Visiting: Salta, one of the most arid areas of the world: Salta city, Quebrada del Toro, San Antonio de los Cobres, Desierto del Laberinto, Tolar Grande, Caipe, Salar Rio Grande, Mina Casualidad, Ojos de Mar, Hidden Dune, Puesta de Sol/Sunset at Tolar Grande, Salar de Arizaro, Cono de Arita, Oasis Antofalla, Vega Colorada, Quebrada de Calalaste, Antofagasta de la Sierra, El Peñón, Campo Piedra Pómez, Hualfin, Santa María, Laguna Grande, Cafayate, Quebrada de las Conchas.

* Type of trip: private overlanding trip

* Includes: all meals (no beverages), Accommodation, Private tour in 4WD with guide/driver. Fruits and water on board, Travelling equipment: (satellite phone, radio, first aid kit, etc.) Logistic support.

"When you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else." Joseph Campbell

Custom Puna trip itinerary:

Day 1:

Salta | Quebrada del Toro | San Antonio de los Cobres | Labyrinth Desert | Tolar Grande


Overland drive distance: 100 km paved road. 250 km gravel road.
Maximum Altitude 4.500 mts asl. Maximum altitude at final destination 3.500 masl

Desert view - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertJust 30 km away from Salta, the Toro's Gorge is a natural elevator connecting the green Valley of Lerma with the desert plateau known as Puna. In 95 km this wild Quebrada rises from 1200 meters up to 4000mts in Abra Blanca Pass, the entering point to the Puna. The Inca explored this passage as well since it was part of the Capaq Ñam or Royal Trail, a 5000 kilometer strategic trail built to unite the Inca Empire from Quito in Ecuador to Mendoza in Argentina. San Antonio de los Cobres is the actual Capital of the Puna, a dusty village with a colored community, our last point of civilization and arrival point of most tourists. Abra Chorrilos will be our highest point and there will learn about the Apacheta and its cultural importance for the Andean tradition. After the crossing of the geologically dying Salted lake of Pocitos, a 3-hour drive in wild and untouched nature begins. The Labyrinth Desert is a 10 million–year fossil dune desert formed by clay picks and gypsum crystals. Nowadays, it is possible to drive across this natural wonder, a must for photo safari lovers. Tolar Grande lies at the border of a giant depression, the Salar de Arizaro, one of the biggest salt flats in the world, and from this tiny old railway village built in 1940, there is a unique view over the western ridge of the Cordillera an infinite skyline of Volcanoes higher than 6.000 meters.
Lunch & Dinner included


Day 2:
Option 1: Tolar Grande | Caipe | Salar Rio Grande | Mina Casualidad |Tolar Grande

Adobe houses - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertOverland drive distance: 130 km paved road and 120 km gravel & salt road. Maximum altitude 4.500 mt asl. Altitude at final destination 3.500 masl.

Mina Casualidad was a Mine City located in one of the most remote and amazing places on Earth. Just at the limit with Chile surrounded by the Highest Volcanoes of the world, between Sulphuric Mountains, Salted Lakes and Cobalt sky at 4.200 meters, used to live 3.000 people. Miners were working at 5.200 meters and their families and the administrative staff at the City of Mina Casualidad. The mine had been shut down by the Army during the 70's and today Mina Casualidad is a unique Ghost Town. Caipe was the old railway station where the mineral processed in the Mine city was carried on cargo train and then transported to Salta. From the abandoned Station, the traveler can have a wide view of the Giant Salar de Arizaro. In the afternoon on our way back to Tolar Grande, with just the perfect light of the sunset, all the Puna will offer its best scenery.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included



Option 2: Tolar Grande – Ojos de Mar – Hidden Dune – Tolar Grande – Caipe – Puesta de Sol/Sunset at Tolar Grande
Overland drive distance: 140 km earth track
Maximum Altitude 4.000 mts asl – Altitude in arrival point 3.600 mts asl

Llamas - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertThe morning will be dedicated to the exploration of the surrounding of Tolar Grande. Ojos del Mar are Blue Holes in the middle of a white salar, where in feb. 2009, researcher discovered a huge colony of living stromatolites (for more info here). The surroundings of Tolar Grande offer chances of great small hikes. The best one is the hike to a hidden sand dune in the middle of the desert. From the highness of the dune the traveler will be rewarded by a 360° view over the area, from the Sacred Macon Mountain to the Llullaillaco Volcano, where the National Geographic discovered in 1999 at 6.735 meters an Inca Treasure including the body of 3 Inca children perfectly kept by ice and dryness. It is also a perfect place for meditation.  For Lunch we will be back at Tolar Grande and after them we have time to relax in the hotel.  In the afternoon we drive to Caipe. Caipe was the old railway station where the mineral processed in the Mine city was carried on cargo train and then transported to Salta. From the abandoned Station, the traveler can have wide view of the Giant Salar de Arizaro. On our way back to Tolar Grand with just the perfect light of the sunset and all the Puna will offer its best scenery. Puesta de Sol / Sunset above a hill just outside of Tolar Grande.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included


Day 3:
Tolar Grande | Arita Cone | Antofalla Oasis | Vega Colorada | Quebrada de Calalaste | Antofagasta de la Sierra | El Peñón


Overland drive distance: 60 km paved road and 280 km gravel & salt road.
Maximum altitude 4.500 mt asl. Altitude at final destination 3.400 mts asl.


Salt flat  - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertThe crossing of the Arizaro Salted dry lake resembling the ancient journey of the Arrieros (shepherds guiding caravans of animals to Chile). Arizaro means Vultures Cemetery, comes from that period when many animals (cows and horses) perished during the crossing of the salt flat. Antofalla is an important and spectacular example of a Puna Oasis; in the middle of a high altitude desert there is a green valley, thanks to a natural pure water spring, full of Alamos, Molles and Sauce trees. Antofalla, together with Antofagasta and Santa Rosa, were important stations for Llama caravans connecting this part of the Andes with the Oasis of Atacama. The Oasis is located just at the border of the longest salt flat in the world, among red mountains and lava strips. Antofalla is still inhabited by a tiny community of 60 people, they are all shepherds. We will have lunch in one of their homes and then cross the colored mirror of the salt lake. Above 4.200 meters with wide views over the Antofalla Volcano (6.400 mts) lays a kind of green field (Vega Colorada) home of llamas, suris (Andean ostrich), wild donkeys and vicuñas. The valley of Calalaste, just a few kilometers away from Vega Colorada is the best spot to find wild camelids. Antofagasta de la Sierra, was the biggest Oasis on the path connecting this side of the Andes with the Oasis of San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), it is a big village with more than 2.000 people who maintain their ancient traditions and culture. The name Antofagasta means "place where the sun shines" and it is surrounded by uncountable Volcano Peaks.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included



Day 4: :
El Peñón | Campo Piedra Pómez | Laguna Grande | El Peñón


Overland drive distance: 130 km sand, salt and rocky road.
Maximum altitude 4.500 mt asl. Altitude at final destination 3.400 mts asl


Program from October to April (austral summer):
Desert road - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertIn the morning: Visit to Campo de Piedra Pómez, a strange and stunning landscape carved into the rock that gives rise to its name: The Pumice, of purely igneous origin, was produced by a massive explosion of the volcanic stratum. This explosion was so powerful that if one could have seen it, it would have been similar to the mushroom cloud produced by a bomb. This cloud spread the ashes and debris in large areas and in different directions that were crystallized by the effects of the temperature and gave life to these wonderful rocks with special features, with plenty of holes produced by the escape of gases during the chilling stage. This degassing phenomenon made the rock very easy to carve by the winds of the Puna, arid and harsh winds that move freely through the region where they become the best and most prominent Andean rock sculptors. In the afternoon: Visit to Laguna Grande reserve, a place of unique beauty that keeps fragile treasures of the environment. It is a saline lake that sits at an altitude of 4150 mts, path to the crater of the Galan volcano, the largest in the world.

Cactus flower - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertDuring winter, the water freezes completely, but when spring arrives, it becomes the largest gathering center of the Puna flamingo birds, also called Small Parina (Phoenicpterus jamesi), with more than 19,000 birds (25% of the known total population). It is also a place for summer congregation for the Andean flamingo (Phoenicpterus andinus) and it is a common nesting site of Southern flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis). We will visit Laguna Grande, respecting it as an Andean sanctuary and appreciating species of exotic birds in their natural habitat.


Program from May to September (austral winter):

Visit to Campo de Piedra Pómez, a strange and stunning landscape carved into the rock that gives rise to its name: The Pumice, of purely igneous origin, was produced by a massive explosion of the volcanic stratum. This explosion was so powerful that if one could have seen it, it would have been similar to the mushroom cloud produced by a bomb.

Llamas - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertThis cloud spread the ashes and debris in large areas and in different directions that were crystallized by the effects of the temperature and gave life to these wonderful rocks with special features, with plenty of holes produced by the escape of gases during the chilling stage. This degassing phenomenon made the rock very easy to carve by the winds of the Puna, arid and harsh winds that move freely through the region where they become the best and most prominent Andean rock sculptors. This strange landscape of white labyrinths and climbing dunes is located a few miles to the west, on a track that we will pass, where the path continues through some sand that could be described as the dream of the explorer and overlanding adventurers. On the way, we will pass very close to a young volcano: the Carachi Pampa entirely painted in black by the spill of basaltic lava in ancient geological times and the lake of the same name.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included



Day 5:
El Peñón | Hualfin | Santa María | Cafayate | Quebrada de las Conchas | Salta


Llamas - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertOverland drive distance: 440 km paved road, 50 km gravel road.
Maximum altitude 4.500 mts asl. Altitude at final destination 1.100 mts asl.


After three days of Intense Trip on the High Desert Plateau, the North West of Argentina has still plenty of surprises. The paved road from El Peñón to meet Route 40 is a 150 km long yellow field of Paja Brava, white lagoons and a deserted narrow canyon with rich vegetation inside. At Santa Maria you will experience a Real Argentine Asado, with a simple parrilla made by our gaucho friend. Then, we will do a quick stop in Cafayate, a pleasant town surrounded by green vineyards. In the afternoon with the best light of the day we'll go across the Quebrada de las Conchas Gorge, 55 km of scenic sedimentary rock formations, dated from 40 to a hundred million years old, with geological formations as the Yacoraite or the Pirguas of great importance. Salta and its green valley will welcome us after 5 days of unique adventure.

Breakfast and Lunch included

Note:
Visit to Quilmes Ruins Upon Request! Entrance fee not included.

End of our services.


Cactus flower - private trips to Northwest of Argentina - Puna desertImportant note: The Itinerary is subject to weather conditions in the region to be visited, for this reason last minute changes may take place in order to ensure a safe trip..

ABOUT THE PUNA
The Puna is a very special environment and is characterized by its high altitude (3500 osl), reduction of oxygen in the air, high atmospheric pressure, high sun level, wind, etc. All of these conditions make it necessary to take special measures in comparison with other regions. Aspects such as having a short period of rest at Salta City in advance to the departure and taking assets for proper moisturizing.

* Price: contact us!

* Includes: all included: meals(no beverages) and accommodations

* Not Included: 6th overnight stay in Salta city, drinks and beverages, tips to the guides and extras.

Accommodations
2 Nights at Casa Andina (Tolar Grande) 6 bedroom Hosteria under the administration of the local community. Private bathroom. Hot water and heating. If there is no availability there are 2 options: Refuge (with shared dormitories) or a Family House.
2 Nights at Hostería de Altura El Peñón Eight-bedroom hotel with private bathroom. Restaurant. WI-FI. Hot water and heating.

Included food
Day one:
Lunch and dinner in local restaurants.
Day two: Breakfast, Box lunch and dinner in local Restaurant.
Day three: Breakfast, Box lunch and dinner in Hosteria El Peñón.
Day four: Breakfast, Box lunch and dinner in Hosteria El Peñón.
Day five:
Breakfast, Private Asado in Santa Maria.

If you want to book the Puna desert experience trip (Northwestern Argentina), click here


Vehicles & Guides 4WD vehicle including:
Professional Guide/driver.
Permits for passenger's transportation.
Insurances for transported passengers and driver.
Water (1 ½ liters per day per person) and fruit on board.
Special equipment for overland trips (first aid kit, satellite communication, extra tools, fuel and extra tire). .


IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Suggested packing list
Sun block and sun glasses (protection against UV) All year round!
Hat. All year round!
Gloves (made of wool or similar material). All year round!
Winter clothes (in winter clothes must be reinforced: winter jacket, sweatshirts, polar long-sleeve shirt, scarf, etc.).All year round!
Windproof Jacket (it's important because the area is windy). All year round!
Warm socks (made of wool or cotton). All year round!
Trekking shoes (comfortable). All year round!
Moisturizing cream. All year round!
A thermal suit is advisable (the clothes' under layer type). In winter.

Health Form
All passengers must fill in the Health Form and it is compulsory for them to inform about health conditions and/or any other relevant information regarding health. The form must be sent through e-mail before the departure date.

This is just an example of what we can offer you about Northwestern Argentina, we can tailor-made part or the whole private trip for you, offering an exclusive, if preffered VIP tour for you. Please contact us


If you want to book the Puna desert experience trip (Northwestern Argentina), click here



 

 

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