- Enjoy a tango show and cowboy experience in Buenos Aires
- Travel around the desert mountains and canyons of Argentina's north
- Sample Indigenous-made wines in Cafayate
- Relax in the colonial city of Salta and learn to prepare Andean cuisine
- Tour ancient ruins and visit native villages
|Day 1||Arrive in Buenos Aires||Buenos Aires|
|Day 2||Downtown Walking Tour, Dinner & Tango Show||Buenos Aires|
|Day 3||Day Trip to the Pampas & Estancia Lunch||Buenos Aires|
|Day 4||Flight to Salta, Optional Activities||Salta|
|Day 5||Transfer to Cachi, Optional Activities||Cachi|
|Day 6||Transfer to Cafayate, Optional Activities||Cafayate|
|Day 7||Explore Calchaquí Valley & Quilmes Ruins||Cafayate|
|Day 8||Scenic Drive to Salta||Salta|
|Day 9||Andean Cooking Class, Visit Salinas Grandes & Purmamarca||Purmamarca|
|Day 10||Culinary Workshop in Purmamarca||Purmamarca|
|Day 11||Humahuaca Gorge & Ocumazo Rural Community||Ocumazo|
|Day 12||Horseback Riding in Ocumazo, Return to Salta||Salta|
|Day 13||Flight to Buenos Aires, Optional Activities||Buenos Aires|
|Day 14||Depart Buenos Aires|
Day 1: Arrive in Buenos Aires
Welcome to Argentina! The second-largest country in South America is a land of contradictions, one whose wild frontier history coexists with the refined European sensibilities of the first immigrants. That means there's no shortage of culture and adventure.
You'll arrive at the epicenter of Argentina's beautiful complexity: Buenos Aires. This is one of the world's grandest capital cities, which boasts wide boulevards and historic 19th-century architecture that runs the gamut from neoclassical to Baroque to Art Nouveau. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city.
Day 2: Downtown Walking Tour, Dinner & Tango Show
Day 3: Day Trip to the Pampas & Estancia Lunch
A private car will pick you up this morning for a full-day tour of the wild Argentine countryside, known as the Pampas. It takes about 1.5 hours to get out of the city, at which point you'll arrive in San Antonio de Areco. This historic rural town couldn't be more different than the bustling capital. San Antonio is steeped in 19th-century gaucho (cowboy) culture that still exists in the form of horses trotting along the cobbled streets and the local artisan shops that have been there for generations.
Upon arrival, you'll meet a local guide who will take you on a living history tour of this cultural hotspot. It begins in the town center, where you'll pass by pulperías (old gaucho bars), museums, and traditional silversmith and leather workshops. You'll then cross the Areco River via the Puente Viejo ("Old Bridge"), a major symbol of San Antonio. It leads to the Ricardo Güiraldes Gaucho Museum, which was named after one of Argentina's most celebrated novelists. His most enduring character, Don Segundo Sombra, is a folk hero based on the 19th-century gauchos of the region.
From there, you'll visit a real-life Argentine estancia (ranch house) for a traditional lunch. At Estancia El Ombú, enjoy a delicious asado (Argentine barbecue) of copious grilled meats accompanied by local folkloric music and destrezas gauchas (gaucho trick horse demonstrations). At the end of the afternoon, the car will take you back to your hotel in Buenos Aires.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Flight to Salta, Optional Activities
Leave Buenos Aires behind for now as your driver transfers you to the airport for the two-hour flight north to the city of Salta. Nestled amid mountains near the borders of Chile and Bolivia, Salta not only boasts an Andean highland culture but also has an impressive colonial history. It was founded in the late 16th century and there are many historic buildings lining its expansive central plaza, none more prominent than the pink, twin-steepled Cathedral. After arriving at your hotel, you can visit the plaza for a coffee or meal at one of the many cafés and restaurants here.
Day 5: Transfer to Cachi, Optional Activities
After breakfast in Salta, your driver will take you on a four-hour ride up into the mountains and the colonial village of Cachi. On the way, you'll pass the cacti-dotted mountains, valleys, and ravines of Los Cardones National Park, a beautiful region home to dinosaur fossils and various species of animals, including the Andean condor. It's also historic, as during the 15th century the region was part of a travel route the ancient Inca used to connect Ecuador to Argentina along the Andes.
Eventually, you'll arrive in Cachi, located in the Calchaquí Valley on a river of the same name. While famous for its adobe houses, its most iconic landmark is its small Spanish church that dates to the 1700s. After checking in to your accommodation you can visit this church and the river too. For dinner, head to a restaurant around the central plaza to try the Salta region's famous empanadas (many say they're the best in the country).
Day 6: Transfer to Cafayate, Optional Activities
Hit the road this morning for a five-hour drive south on Argentina's famous Route 40 to Cafayate, which features some incredible highland and desert scenery along the way. The road follows the river, passing pepper fields and charming villages of the Calchaqui Valley like Seclantás, Molinos, and Angastaco. One section of the route winds through the Quebrada de las Flechas, an almost alien landscape filled with pointed limestone rock towers.
In the early afternoon, you'll arrive in Cafayate. This town is the main hub of wine production in Argentina's northwest, producing high-quality malbec and torrontés varietals. After checking into your accommodation, you can visit local bodegas to sample some of these flagship wines. Be sure to also stop at the 19th-century Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral, the town's impressive main church.
Day 7: Explore Calchaquí Valley & Quilmes Ruins
You're in for a treat, as today you and your guide will explore the historic sites and charming villages of the Calchaquí Valley. First up are the Quilmes Ruins. This archeological site dates to around the 11th century CE and was once the largest pre-Columbian settlement in the country. It was home to the Quilmes people, a warlike tribe who famously resisted the Inca and then the Spanish colonizers until they were finally conquered and deported from the region in the 17th century. Hike up the hillside for good views of the 74-acre (30 ha) site and the remains of its defensive walls.
The journey continues as you travel farther south to Amaicha del Valle. Located in Salta's neighboring province of Tucumán, this lovely settlement rarely sees rain and is home to one of the oldest Indigenous communities in northwestern Argentina. You can learn about this rich heritage at the fascinating Pachamama Museum, which has exhibits dedicated to geology, anthropology, and ancient artworks. Also, don't miss Amaicha's Winery, the first wine-production cooperative in Argentina owned and operated by Indigenous people. At the end of the day, you'll return to Cafayate.
Day 8: Scenic Drive to Salta
In the morning, you and your guide will leave Cafayate on a five-hour drive back to Salta. It's a route filled with more incredible northern scenery, and there will be plenty of roadside stops to enjoy it and snap photos. Besides visiting charming colonial towns like Alemania, you'll also drive through the Quebrada de las Conchas (Shells Gorge). Within this deep canyon are otherworldly rock formations that have been shaped by wind erosion over the millennia, and which are great to explore on a hike. After touring the canyon, you'll return to Salta and will have the remainder of the day free.
Day 9: Andean Cooking Class, Visit Salinas Grandes & Purmamarca
Drive northwest with your guide today to reach the town of San Antonio de los Cobres. This is another scenic drive that follows winding mountain roads and passes through the famous Quebrada del Toro (Toro Gorge). In San Antonio, you'll visit a local family, who will not only welcome you into their home but also teach you the secrets of Andean gastronomy. During this culinary workshop, you'll prepare traditional dishes such as humitas en chala, an Indigenous dish made from corn, tomatoes, and cheese.
After lunch with your hosts, the tour continues to the ruins at Santa Rosa de Tastil. This archaeological site is a testimony of the history of the original Indigenous people that inhabited this region and who pre-date even the Inca. Then, you'll drive up to the famous Salinas Grandes, an impressive salt flat 13,123 feet (4,000 m) above sea level and which covers an area of 82 square miles (212 sq km).
You'll then leave Salinas Grandes and descend back into the valley by the famous Cuesta del Lipán. This vertigo-inducing road is a network of steep mountain switchbacks that offer many scenic viewpoints (keep an eye out for condors). The last stop of the day is at the Indigenous village of Purmamarca, where you'll overnight. It sits at the foot of the famous Hill of Seven Colors, a mountain slope tinged with various colors, from purple and red to yellow and green.
Day 10: Culinary Workshop in PurmamarcaThe gastronomic odyssey continues today with another culinary workshop. For this experience, you'll meet a local cook who will reveal more secrets to creating ancient Indigenous flavors that are at once humble and complex. It's a great opportunity to learn more about breeding livestock like goats and growing staple crops like corn, potatoes, fava beans, and ullucos (a type of root vegetable). At the end of this two-hour informal class, you'll sit down with your host and enjoy the meal together.
Day 11: Humahuaca Gorge & Ocumazo Rural Community
Today your driver and guide will take you on a full-day scenic road trip along the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a narrow mountain valley in Jujuy province, north of Salta. This gorge has earned UNESCO World Heritage status for both its natural beauty and the colorful Indigenous villages dotted throughout it. You'll get the full experience as you stroll the craft markets in the town of Tilcara and visit the archeological site at Pucará. Lunch will be in the village of Humahuaca, and afterward, you'll have free time to explore on your own.
Later, you'll arrive at the rural community of Ocumazo. Living amid the relative seclusion of the Quebrada de Humahuaca has helped the Indigenous residents here preserve their culture and longstanding traditions. When you arrive, you'll meet your host family, who will introduce you to their rural way of life. Then, get to know them even better over a home-cooked dinner before retiring for the evening.
Day 12: Horseback Riding in Ocumazo, Return to Salta
Leave the family homestay early in the morning and venture into the beautiful northwestern landscape—this time on horseback. During this three-hour ride, you'll follow scenic trails up to the viewpoint of Cerro Santa Ana, which overlooks the Hornocal range. Not to be outdone by Purmamarca, Hornocal has deservedly earned its nickname, "Fourteen Colors Mountain."
When the horseback ride is finished, enjoy some more great Ocumazo scenery on a drive to a local cooking class. After learning to prepare more delicious Andean dishes, you'll sit down to lunch with your host/instructor. Later in the afternoon, return to Salta and check in to your hotel.
Day 13: Flight to Buenos Aires, Optional Activities
Say your farewells to Salta this morning as you transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. After checking in to your hotel, enjoy a free day to explore the city's parks, plazas, and barrios. Maybe visit Parque Tres de Febrero, the largest park in the city. If there's a game on, head to La Bombonera to see the Boca Juniors play, or if not, take a tour of the hallowed stadium. Maybe stroll through Recoleta Cemetery, where the country's aristocracy (including Evita Perón) are interred in great mausoleums. If you're a carnivore, book a table at one of the city's parrillas to try Argentina's world-renowned grilled meats.
Day 14: Depart Buenos Aires
Unfortunately, your great adventure in Buenos Aires and the north has come to an end. At the appropriate time, your driver will pick you up at your hotel in the capital and transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Ciao!
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