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Northern Argentina Uncovered

Vines, dunes and salt flats | View photos »

Salt flats, turquoise lagoons and colossal sand dunes: wilderness and profound silence. This is the great outdoors of Argentina’s north-west, is a place to appreciate nature’s total raw beauty and the luxury of having a private driver-guide.

16 day trip described, guide price £5,625pp i Fully customisable to you

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Sample itinerary

Arrive in Buenos Aires

Land this morning and transfer to your comfortable hotel, located in the Palermo district of the city. The rest of the day is yours to relax after your journey; there are a lot of lovely restaurants and cafes within easy walking distance of your hotel.

Guided time in Buenos Aires

Spend this morning in the company of your own private guide who can take you on and off the beaten track in this lively and beautiful city. You will have a car at your disposal, but we recommend getting out and walking for some of the tour. Rather than follow a specific route, you basically just let them know what sorts of things you like to see and they can take you.

Fly to Argentina's north-west

Transfer to the domestic airport and fly up to Salta this morning. On arrival you are met by your guide, who will take you on a walking tour of the city known as Salta la Linda (Salta the beautiful). Later this afternoon your guide will drive you to your very comfortable and friendly hotel about 25 minutes outside the city centre.

Time for walks, wildlife or relaxation

Today is yours to relax and explore independently. Your hosts will be able to advise you on local walks in the area. There are also optional activities such as cooking classes or horse riding, which they can arrange for you. Alternatively, just relax by the pool, unwind and enjoy the surroundings.

Drive through Los Cardones National Park

Even before you reach the more remote puna area you have some beautiful landscapes ahead of you. Set off south with your private guide today on dusty, steep, unpaved mountain roads through the Los Cardones National Park. Today’s drive is very scenic and should take about four hours so you have plenty of time to stop off and admire the views. The National Park is famous for its cacti which dot the hillsides all around you.

Drive down Ruta 40 to Cafayate

Continue your journey south today as you follow the legendary Ruta 40 through the valley. The villagers in this area make their living from peppers so at certain times of year you will pass enormous stretches of red peppers drying in the sun.

Explore the wineries of Cafayate

Spend today getting to know the local area – specifically the wine. The area is not known for mass produced wine and you generally will not see wine from this region in UK supermarkets. It is small scale, artisan but very well known (and enjoyed) within Argentina. The area is particularly known for its Torrontes white wine and Malbec red wine. This morning enjoy a tour of a local bodega followed by wine tasting and an asado lunch, accompanied by wine obviously!

Guided journey to high lagoons

The next part of your trip takes you off road into the very remote puna area, the most remote and undiscovered in Argentina yet stunningly beautiful. On arrival drive to Laguna Grande – a salt lake at 4150m above sea level. Between December and March this lake becomes home to around 16,000 flamingos – the largest gathering place of flamingos in South America.

Sand dunes and pumice rocks

Spend today exploring these amazing landscapes with your guide. Start with the sand dunes (about 1 hour drive), which are so white it almost looks like snow. The silence is incredibly powerful and striking here … no people, traffic, birds, animals, insects …nothing. It is very rare to experience such silence and it creates a real sense of the desert and isolation.

Llamas and salt flats

This morning drive through the harsh black volcanic landscapes which then lead quickly to an unexpected oasis full of green and yellow grasses packed with llamas and vicunas. Continue to Salar de Arizaro with the imposing view of the Arita cone before you – a volcanic black cone in the middle of the white salt flat.

Volcanic reflections and peaks

After breakfast drive to the end of the village to Ojos del Mar – a series of natural water sources surrounded by a salt crust. In the morning light the colours and reflections of the surrounding mountains in the water are stunning. Afterwards set off on a walk to the hidden dune where you will have amazing 360-degree views of the area including the Llullaillaco Volcano.

The Hill of Seven Colours

Today is another beautiful drive as you leave the desert. Drive through Red Labyrinth – a vast area of eroded red rocks - and then high up to Salar Grande, Argentina’s biggest salt flat. The flat is still worked for salt and you will see this as you drive across it. Drop down a winding steep mountain road and end in the Andean village of Purmamarca at the foot of the Cerro de los Siete Colores (hill of the seven colours). A wonderful place to end your adventure.

Return to Salta

There are lots of possibilities for today before you return to Salta later on. We suggest a hike or you may prefer to visit the nearby mountain villages of Uquia and Tilcara. Your guide can talk you through the options.

Afternoon flight to Iguassu

Your flight to Iguassu leaves this afternoon, giving you time to relax and enjoy the lovely city of Salta this morning. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Iguassu. On landing this evening, transfer to your comfortable hotel in the Iryapú Forest natural reserve, a 600 hectare area on the banks of the Iguassú River and home to several thousand native species of flora as well as hundreds of birds, butterflies and even monkeys.

Explore the Argentine falls

Today is dedicated to exploring the falls with your guide, from the Argentine side of the border. In general terms, from the Brazilian side you get the best views, whereas on the Argentine side, you get closest to the falls. There are lots of trails to walk, remember that you’re basically in a rainforest here, so the wildlife – in particular the birds – is wonderful.

Explore the Brazilian falls

Head across the border to the Brazilian side, for a morning tour. The network of walkways and paths isn't so extensive on this side, though many believe this is where the best viewpoints are. They are incredible for photography in particular. After time to soak in the views, continue to the airport for your domestic flight over to either Sao Paulo or Rio, to connect onto your homeward flight.

Note: This is just an itinerary idea and we'll therefore tailor everything to you.

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Map of the area

"Breathtaking destinations"

"Breathtaking destinations"

Pura Aventura is an excellent travel company: impeccable organisation, charming people and they truly deliver what the promise - breathtaking outdoor destinations in style and comfort. Diana M

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About this trip


Salt flats, turquoise lagoons and colossal sand dunes: wilderness and profound silence. This is the great outdoors of Argentina’s north-west, is a place to appreciate nature’s total raw beauty and the luxury of having a private driver-guide.

How adventurous?

1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5

Best time to go i

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Level of activity

Apart from Buenos Aires, your time is spent mainly in the spectacularly beautiful north-west corner of Argentina. This holiday is all about reaching far into the great outdoors, given the scale of your surroundings, this means you will be primarily vehicle based. For us, consecutive days spent in a vehicle are normally a no-no. In the case of this part of the world, it is a perfectly legitimate, indeed essential part of the experience. It is a spectacular road journey. It is never long between stops. Be it for a walk around a turquoise lagoon, photos of enormous sand dunes or a picnic on the edge of a salt-flat.

Because you have your own private guide for the majority of this trip, you can choose how much or how little you want to do in terms of physical activity. There are some parts of the journey where you can opt to be more or less active – for instance in Cafayate you could either tour some of the local vineyards or go on a half-day hike.

Level of comfort

During this holiday, you stay in carefully chosen hotels and inns that are locally owned with character and personality, leaving you in no doubt as to where you are in the world.

Level of culture

It is this area around Salta which is considered to be the most traditional and ‘authentic’ part of the country, home as it is to the largest ‘indigenous’ communities of what is an otherwise very mixed country. The contrast with cosmopolitan Buenos Aires could hardly be greater.

For your entire time in the north west, you are accompanied by your own private guide which makes for a fantastic opportunity to get to know both the areas through which you are travelling and also get to know your hosts. In our experience, it is often guides and drivers who make the best trips truly meaningful and memorable.


We have a detailed itinerary for this trip, as set out above. If you would like a copy, please get in touch and we can email it over to you.

Ultimately though, this is a tailor made trip so we would love to have time to talk to you in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you.

In the form set out above, the holiday price includes accommodation, breakfasts, internal flights and transport, full time private guiding in the Salta region, activities, excursions and entrances as set out in the detailed itinerary. Naturally, on each and every one of our holidays, we include Pura’s expertise, local contacts, support and advice throughout, along with the reassurance of our financial protection and safety auditing.

Flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly into Buenos Aires (airport code: EZE) and out of Rio de Janeiro (airport code: GIG) or Sao Paolo (airport code: GRU).


Departs any day of the year, to suit you.

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Contact us today to start planning your own personal adventure

01273 676712

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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.

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Book Subscribe to The Pothole » Walking across the sand dunes of Puna in Argentina's north west Tango performers on the streets of San Telmo, Buenos Aires Crooning on the streets of Buenos Aires The beautiful central square of Salta Living room at the Finca Valentina near Salta, Argentina Los Cardones national park near Cachi in Argentina Drying peppers in Argentina's north west region The pool area of the lovely Cafayate Wine Resort The flamingo filled lagoons of Argentina's puna Walking across the sand dunes of the Puna, in the north west of Argentina The salt flats of Argentina's puna  Walking around the water holes of Ojos del Mar in Argentina's Puna Crossing Argentina's Salar Grande by jeep The road through the Quebrada de Humahuaca near Purmamarca The surrounds of the Iguassu Falls in Brazil/Argentina Mists rising off the Argentine side of the Iguassu Falls Brazil's Iguazu Falls