Argentina’s Extreme North
Our Argentina trip is a unique journey for true desert enthusiasts exploring the heart of South America’s high altitude wilderness. The north west of Argentina is one of the continent’s most remote and striking areas. It’s a land of volcanoes, salt flats and remarkable rock structures.
From the regional hub of Salta we travel by 4WD into Argentina’s Puna, a high altitude desert encompassing diverse ecosystems. We travel hundreds of kilometres through haunting landscapes, dotted with small pueblos but for the most part bare of human presence. Driving through multi-coloured canyons and hills en route to Cafayate, we pass fields of white sand dunes and explore the heritage of pre-colonial Argentina at Quilmes – a testament to the indigenous groups of the region. From here we traverse high passes to the Piedra Pomiz. This is a vast area of enormous pumice rocks and dunes, almost Saharan in appearance and a delight for any keen photographers.
After exploring this region and taking our vehicles off-road to its lesser-visited parts, we head to the Galan Volcano. En route, we pass the salt lake of Laguna Diamante and stop to see its birdlife. We explore the caldera – one of the largest in the world – and then continue our journey through shimmering white salt flats, lakes and stunning volcanic cones rising from the desert floor. After exploring the vast expanses of the Salar de Arizaro, we head to the ‘deserto del labirinto’, one of the highlights of the trip and surrounded by six thousand metre peaks.
Our route back to Salta takes us to the Andean pueblo of Purmamarca with its coloured mountains and typical adobe buildings. We end our journey in a comfortable finca.
This is a region of breathtaking beauty, of multi-hued mountains and imposing volcanoes where nature rules, and we intrude. Little visited and often ignored in favour of Argentina’s better-known attractions, the Puna holds an allure for those who like their travel uncompromising and adventurous. Its spell will remain long after you have left.