Introduction to Jujuy Province
Jujuy Province (pronounced hu-hui) has some of the most stunning landscapes in all of Argentina. One day’s drive will take you through 400 year old cacti forests, beautifully preserved colonial villages, expansive salt flats and rocky mountain faces swirled with a rainbow of colors. The striking beauty of the Quebrada de Humahuaca gorge is both stark and rich at the same time, with jagged dry mountains decked out in an amazingly intense array of colors. This high-altitude terrain is not like anything you will have seen before! The region is also one of the most traditional in Argentina, and one of its poorest. The locals keep alive many of the country’s oldest traditions and you can find highly skilled craftsmanship here, as well as tiny villages where the locals wear traditional Andean dress and host some of the liveliest folk festivals and celebrations in Argentina.
Nestled among the endless backdrop of ocher and sunset-hued mountains, the little village of Purmamarca is a peaceful and pretty place with a lovely small-town feel. It sits under an almost perpetually blue sky in the high rocky mountains of the Jujuy Province. Its quiet streets are lined with squat adobe houses and there is a well-preserved 17th century church in town. Purmamarca’s main claim to fame is the Cerro de los Siete Colores (The Mountain of Seven Colors), which rises up dramatically behind the town in all its rainbow-colored glory.
What not to miss in Jujuy Province
Humahuaca & the Mountain of 7 Colors
Surrounded by the amazing northwest hills of Argentina and its rich archaeological heritage, this small town is one of the most representative of the local traditions. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to observe Humahuaca’s stunning mountain, when the glow of the sun brings out the mountain’s vibrancy and colors with the sky mirroring the show.
Put away your watch when you get to Purmamarca, as time seems to have stopped here. Dusty light brown streets sidelined by low adobe houses are guarded by the majestic Cerro de los 7 Colores (The Mountain of Seven Colors).
The Salinas Grandes
Stretched over 4,971 miles (8,000km) the pristine salt flats are a surreal sight to behold. Take some fun optical illusion photos and enjoy the views after rain when the slat flats transform into a flawless mirror reflecting the surrounding Andean mountains.
The Train to the Clouds
Weaving through the Andes connecting Argentina to Chile, the Train to the Clouds offers some stunning views on its trajectory across some 44 lofty bridges and viaducts. Since the train is not always running, Movitrack offers an alternative going along the same route in an open-top truck.
The village of Tilcara is a laid-back but lively little place very close to the Quebrada de Humahuaca. It is home to an interesting combination of farmers and artists and the village throws some excellent parties during Carnival and Holy Week.
What you need to know
When to go
The north of Argentina is a dry and sun-baked place and is best visited during the Southern Hemisphere spring, winter and fall months when temperatures are slightly lower. During the height of summer (December to February) it can become uncomfortably hot with soaring temperatures and very little shade, though many people still visit during this time. The region’s high altitude means that nights can get quite chilly, especially in winter, so whenever you visit be sure to go prepared with plenty of warm layers for the nighttime and with a full range of sun protection paraphernalia for the daylight hours. The region has some great festivals for Holy Week and Carnival during February when locals dress up and dance through the streets in colorful traditional costumes.
How to get there
Daily flights from Buenos Aires arrive at the Martín Miguel de Güemes Airport in the city of Salta and the Gobernador Horacio Guzmán airport in San Salvador de Jujuy. From Salta it is best to take a tour to Jujuy, or to explore the region by yourself with a rental car.
Buses also reach the Northwest but keep in mind that the journey from Buenos Aires by bus takes almost 24 hours.
Where to stay
Jujuy and its surrounding villages like Purmamarca, Humahuaca and Tilcara have mostly small scale hotels or posadas, built with Adobe (the traditional clay). the hotels are very charming and have a lot character. You will not fid any modern buildings in this region.
Visiting different sites around the city of Salta and San Salvador de Jujuy is possible by bus, though tours are probably the most comfortable way to move around, since distances are sometimes long and some spots are not covered by public transport.
Car rental outlets are available in both capital cities. You should take into account that not all the roads are paved.