The Northwest

Shutterstock/11155720/Eduardo RiveroThe northwest of the country is a different Argentina. The Andes here are wilder and less travelled, and ancient civilizations have left ruined cities sprawling over rugged mountainsides in the vast canyons at Quilmes, Purmamarca and Santa Rosa de Tastil. Traditional Andean culture is thriving, with lively celebrations of the ancient
Pachamama
(Mother Earth) festivities throughout the indigenous communities. The poorer province of Jujuy has even more spectacular riches in the stunning Quebrada de Humahuaca, a vast gorge of stratified rock, where tiny white churches are filled with treasures, and Easter draws thousands of musicians in a moving procession.

Landscapes of the northwest are among Argentina's most breathtaking: winding roads snake up the Quebrada del Toro, steep gorges clad with cloudforest, through terracotta canyons dotted with giant cacti and then streak across the endless expanse of the high-altitude puna, with its shimmering salt flats and vast skies. Set off up the dramatic Cuesta del Obispo to the magical Valles Calchaquíes, to find giant cactus against snow-capped mountains, and tranquil villages at Cachi and Molinos, or sophisticated wineries at Colomé and Cafayate - a wine-growing region to rival Mendoza.

Salta is the splendid colonial city at the heart of the region, with fine hotels in its plazas of crumbling buildings and waving palm trees, vibrant peñas where passionate folclore music is sung live, and luxurious fincas all around for great hospitality and unforgettable horse riding up into the cloudforest. For more information on the area, see www.norteargentino.gov.ar (in Spanish), or www.turismoensalta.com (in English).

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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