Since it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, the Quebrada de Humahuaca has attracted a deluge of visitors, and while a couple of its main towns are becoming transformed by tourism beyond recognition, much of the area retains its ancient authentic life. Starting at the city of Jujuy, the main route heading north to the Bolivian border is one of the most dramatic areas of natural beauty in the country, passing through a long gorge of intensely coloured rock, arid mountains of terracotta, yellow, orange, pink, cream and malachite green strata, speckled with giant cacti. In the fertile valley floor of the Quebrada are several small historic towns, some with their neat adobe houses now mingled with modern new developments, but all centred around the
characteristic simple squat white 18th-century churches of the region. The pretty village of Purmamarca,
with its backdrop of the Cerro de Siete Colores, Tilcara with its handicraft market and restored hill
fort, Maimará with its hillside cemetery and La Paleta del Pintor, and the busy village of Humahuaca,
all make good places to stay, to walk and to absorb the ancient history of the area. The indigenous culture is particularly rich here: there are pre-Incan ruins at Tilcara, and throughout the Quebrada there are weeks of riotous pre-Lent carnivals. Tilcara's Easter celebrations are justifiably famous: a traditional procession on Holy Thursday night is joined by thousands of pan pipe musicians making a huge procession down from the mountain into the town: an overwhelming experience. For more tourist information, see www.turismo.jujuy.gov.ar (in English), and www.norteargentino. gov.ar (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