Discovering the Puna!
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Discovering the Puna!
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SALTAArrival in Salta and transfer to hotel. In the afternoon, we will visit the city, know the most attractive sites of the city: Cathedral where lie the remains of General Güemes, the American Cultural Center, Historical Museum North (Cabildo) with exhibits of sacred art, Basìlica de San Francisco, Convento San Bernardo Order of Carmelites, MAAM Museum (included entrance fee) and Artisan Market where crafts are displayed with the original certification of the whole province. Overnight in Salta.
SALTA / QUEBRADA DEL TORO / SAN ANTONIO DE LOS COBRES / LABYRINTH DESERT / TOLAR GRANDEBreakfast and departure. We will go to Quebrada del Toro, a natural elevator connecting the green Valle de Lerma with the desert plateau known as Puna. In 95 km this wild Quebrada rises from 1200 m up to 4000 m Abra Blanca Pass, the entering point to the Puna. The Inca explored this passage as well, since it was part of the Capaq Ñam or Royal Trail, a 5000 km strategic trail built to unite the Inca Empire from Quito in Ecuador to Mendoza in Argentina. San Antonio de los Cobres is the actual Capital of the Puna, a dusty village with a colored community, our last point of civilization and arrival point of most tourists. Abra Chorrillos will be our highest point and there will learn about the Apacheta and its cultural importance for the Andean traditions. After the crossing of the geologically dying salted lake of Pocitos, a 3-hour drive inwild and untouched nature begins. The Labyrinth Desert, a 10 million–year fossil dune desert formed by clay picks and gypsum crystals. Nowadays, it is possible to drive across this natural wonder, a must for photo safari lovers. Tolar Grande lies at the border of a giant depression, the Salar de Arizaro; one of the biggest salt flats in the planet, and from this tiny old railway village built in 1940 there is a unique view over the Western ridge of the Cordillera an infinite skyline of volcanoes higher than 6.000 m. Overnight in Tolar Grande. Included Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
TOLAR GRANDE / OJOS DE MAR / HIDDEN DUNE / TOLAR GRANDE / CAIPE / SUNSET AT TOLAR GRANDEThe morning will be dedicated to the exploration of the surrounding of Tolar Grande. Ojos del Mar are Blue Holes in the middle of a white salar, where researcher discovered a huge colony of living stromatolites. The surroundings of Tolar Grande offer chances of great small hikes. The best one is the hike to a hidden sand dune in the middle of the desert. From the highness of the dune the traveler will be rewarded by a 360°view over the area, from the Sacred Macon Mountain to the Llullaillaco Volcano, where was discovered an Inca Treasure including the body of 3 Inca children perfectly kept by ice and dryness. It is also a perfect place for meditation. For lunch we will be back at Tolar Grande and after it we will have time to relax in the hotel. In the afternoon we will drive to Caipe. Caipe was the old railway station where the mineral processed in the mine city was carried on cargo train and then transported to Salta. From the abandoned station, the traveler can have wide view of the Giant Salarde Arizaro. On our way back to Tolar Grande with just the perfect light of the sunset and all the Puna will offer its best scenery. Sunset above a hill just outside of Tolar Grande. Overnight in Tolar Grande. Included Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
TOLAR GRANDE / CONO DE ARITA / ANTOFALLA OASIS / VEGA COLORADA / QUEBRADA DE CALALASTE / ANTOFAGASTA DE LA SIERRA / EL PEÑONThe crossing of the Arizaro Salted dry lake resembling the ancient journey of the Arrieros (shepherds guiding caravans of animals to Chile). Arizaro means Vultures Cemetery, comes from that period when many animals (cows and horses) perished during the crossing of the salt flat. Antofalla is an important and spectacular example of a Puna Oasis; in the middle of a high altitude desert there is a green valley, thanks to a natural pure water spring, full of Alamos, Molles and Sauce trees. Antofalla, together with Antofagasta and Santa Rosa, were important stations for Llama caravans connecting this part of the Andes with the Oasis of Atacama. The Oasis is located just at the border of the longest salt flat in the world, among red mountains and lava strips. Antofalla is still inhabited by a tiny community of 60 people, they are all shepherds. We will have lunch in one of their homes and then will cross the colored mirror of the salt lake. Above 4200 m with wide views over the Antofalla Volcano (6400 m) lays a kind of green field (Vega Colorada) home of llamas, suris (Andean ostrich), wild donkeys and vicuñas. The valley of Calalaste, just a few kilometers away from Vega Colorada is the best spot to find wild camelids. Antofagasta de la Sierra was the biggest Oasis on the path connecting this side of the Andes with the Oasis of San Pedro de Atacama(Chile), it is a big village with more than 2000 people who maintain their ancient traditions and culture. The name Antofagasta means “place where the sun shines” and it is surrounded by uncountable Volcano Peaks. Overnight in El Peñon. Included Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
EL PEÑON / PURMICE STONE FIELD AND LAGUNA GRANDE / EL PEÑONMorning: Visit to the Natural Reserve Campo de Piedra Pómez, a strange and stunning landscape carved into the rock that gives rise to its name: The Pumice, of purely igneous origin and produced from a massive explosion of the volcanic stratum. This explosion was so powerful that if one could have seen it, it would be similar to the mush room cloud produced by a nuclear bomb. This cloud has spread the ashes and debris in large areas and in different directions, which crystallized by the effects of the temperature and gave birth to these wonderful rocks with special features, with plenty of holes produced by the escape of gases during the chilling stage. This degassing phenomenon made the rock very easy to carve by the winds of the Puna, arid and harsh winds that move freely through the region, becoming the best and most prominent Andean rock sculptors. Afternoon: Visit to Laguna Grande RAMSAR site, a place of unique beauty that keeps fragile treasures of the environment. A saline lake that sits at an altitude of 4150 m, path to the crater of the Galan Volcano, the largest in the world. During Winter, the water freezes completely, but when Spring arrives, it becomes the largest gathering center of the Puna flamingo birds, also called Small Parina with more than 19000 birds. It is also a place for Summer congregation for the Andean flamingo and it is a common nesting site of the Southern flamingo. We will visit Laguna Grande, respecting it as an Andean sanctuary and appreciating species of exotic birds in their natural habitat, taking into account that we will be privileged spectators of such majesty. Overnight in El Peñon. Included Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
EL PEÑÓN / HUALFIN / SANTA MARIA / CAFAYATE / QUEBRADA DE LAS CONCHAS / SALTAAfter our Intense Trip on the High Desert Plateau, the North West has still plenty of surprises. The paved road from El Peñón to meet Route 40 is a 150 km long yellow field of Paja Brava, white lagoons and a deserted narrow canyon with rich vegetation inside. At Santa Maria you will experience a Real Argentine Asado, with a simple parrilla made by our gaucho friend. Then, we will do a quick stop in Cafayate, a pleasant town surrounded by green vineyards. In the afternoon with the best light of the day we will go across the Quebrada de las Conchas, 55 km of scenic sedimentary rock formations, dated from 40 to a hundred million years old, with geological formations as the Yacoraite or the Pirguas of great importance. Continue our trip until Salta city. Lodging. Overnight in Salta. Included Breakfast.
SALTABreakfast and transfer to Salta airport at time according.
- Transfers in/out in Salta in private service with english speaking guide
- City tour and arounds in Salta in private service with english speaking guide
- Entrance fee to MAAM Museum (Monday closed)
- 02 nights in Salta in hotel to choice with breakfast
- 02 nights in Tolar Grande with breakfast
- 02 nights in El Peñon with breakfast
- Itinerary according the description in private service with English speaking guide
- MEALS: 4 LUNCHS, 04 DINNERS