The essence of the Salinas Grandes Salt Flats Tour
Discover the awe-inspiring salt flats of Salta, located in the far north west of Argentina, at an average altitude of 3 450 metres (11 320 feet) above sea level. The full-day tour across Salta is widely considered to be the most intricate and alluring tour in the area, as it will allow you to fully appreciate the contrasting landscapes and the diverse residents of the Puna region.
Begin the day by passing through Campo Quijano, travelling parallel to the renowned Tre a las Nubes Railway, fondly dubbed the ‘Train in the Clouds’ due to the high altitude at which it runs, and the vapour clouds that frequently cloak it. Admire the architecture and design of the train and railway, which boasts many arched bridges, charming stations, deep tunnels and intricate viaducts. Ramble through The Bull Gorge, Quebrada del Toro, which presents captivating chasms begging to be seen, before heading off to the quaint town of Santa Rosa de Tastil. Explore the museum and the Tastil ruins, depicting pre-Incan culture. Pass through the high mountain pass of Abra Blanca, reaching 4 080 metres (13 385 feet) above sea level at its highest point, providing the perfect setting in which to marvel at the snow-covered Acay Mountain. Cross into the Puna region, awash with lunar landscapes, en-route to the sandy mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres for a light lunch before joining the famed Route 40 to admire the area’s untamed wildlife, encountering hosts of vicuñas, llamas, zuris, foxes and condors.
The highlight of the adventure lies in the sheer, bright Salinas Grandes, salt flats where stark lines clearly separate the vast blue sky and the silvery-white, fissured ground. The Salinas Grandes, or Great Salt Flats, stands at 3 450 metres (11 320 feet) above sea level, stretching over the Salta and Jujuy provinces, and is said to be the remnants of an ancient spent river, with shimmering salt flats stretching into the background of the Andes Mountains. The house of salt boasts unique salt carvings and sculptures by local artists, who draw inspiration from the stark landscape to create wondrous pieces that glimmer beneath the fierce sun. Next, drive along the Cuesta de Lipan and into Purmamarca to explore the Cerro de los Siete Colores, 7 Colours Hill, where you can explore the sun-dried brick homes and a 17th century Spanish colonial church. The town sits in the middle of jagged hills drenched in red, purple, yellow and orange hues brought ablaze by the rising sun, cloaking the landscape in a kaleidoscope of colour and warmth. End the colourful tour by ambling through the main square and the artisan markets before heading back to the eclectic Salta City.