Last year was always going to be a tough one to top, with big heavyweight destinations like Machu Picchu, the Uyuni Salt Flats and Death Road. But now, after a nice start in Buenos Aires, we're going to kick this year's adventure up a notch with the Argentinian provinces of Jujuy and Salta. We were in the area for six days in total and it would be rare that we would spend so much time in one place, but it was time well spent. And I know I say we were just in this "one area", but the provinces of Jujuy and Salta combined are nearly three times the size of Ireland! So, plenty to see.
First of all, when you rent a car in Europe, it's always brand new, straight out of the factory, with all of the latest mod cons; which then makes us feel like crap when we have to go home to our 13 year old Avensis. But here... we had roll down windows, had to manually lock each door, and at one stage, the engine wouldn't stop making noise, even after we turned it off. We just had to walk away and hope it wouldn't burst into flames in our absence.
And secondly, as you'd expect, the roads and drivers are a lot less predictable than Europe, but I can't complain really. We made it through the six days with no problems, mostly knowing where we were going, and seeing things that would've been impossible without wheels of your own.
After landing in Jujuy from Buenos Aires, we grabbed our car and drove up to the tiny town of Purmamarca, where we would be spending the first two nights. You could walk around it all in ten minutes, but it was really lovely. There was a small little viewpoint in the centre of town to walk up, and an old woman had set up a booth to charge people going up and down. I don't think it was legit, but it was only 25c each, so good luck to her! She had a little ticket book and everything! From there you could see the surrounding hills and we watched the local kids play soccer.
Our accommodation was great too - Colores de Purmamarca. We had a small room in a shared house, but as we were the only ones there, we had the whole house to ourselves!
Now that's the kinda view you want to be waking up to every morning!
The next day, we drove to Humahuaca, a slightly bigger town about 70km away. The town itself is quite nice and we parked up and walked around the place.
The main attraction though is about 20km out of town, and over 1,300m upwards through rocky, winding mountain roads to El Mirador del Hornocal. It's a good thing we had Google maps because there's no way you'd just stumble across this place. The bumpy drive in our even bumpier car was well worth it though. We've travelled quite a bit now, and seen quite a bit too, but the world is still finding ways to blow our minds, and this is right up there with the best of them.
It was a long way back down too...
The next day, we left Purmamarca for good and paid a visit to Las Salinas Grandes. We saw the world's best salt flats last year in Bolivia, but the trip out to Argentina's version was worth the journey.
It was only an hour from Purmamarca, but as I said before, the journey itself is as good as the destination here. The looping roads, coloured hills and general Wile E. Coyote scenery are their own attraction. It would remind you a lot of San Pedro de Atacama which we visited last year in Chile, and it's no wonder seeing as they're less than 300km apart as the crow flies.
Also, check out the random Power Rangers graffiti in the middle of nowhere!
And that was that for the Jujuy section of the trip. Now it was time to go from salt to Salta, as we took the 3 hour drive down south to the eponymous capital of the Salta province. The city was a lot bigger than what we were expecting, and especially compared to the small towns we had been passing through over the past few days. And being honest, Salta city didn't have a lot going on. We were there for three days, one of which was spent on another road trip, but yeah, Salta city wasn't a lot to write home about.
That was as good as it got, although our accommodation was fierce swanky, and the rooftop pool made it easier to enjoy the otherwise fairly dull city.
Going back a step, we did go on a road trip down to Cafayate on one of the days. It's another small town, and similarly, the place itself isn't up to much but the journey was great. Just more valleys, rocks, cacti - the usual kinda stuff...
And that was about it. Of the two, Jujuy had more going for it, even though Salta is probably far more well known. If you have five or six days, get a car and drive around both, but if you're tight for time, Jujuy province is the one I'd be recommending.
We made a video diary on our Salta rooftop too, if you feel like hearing us speak.
Our next stop will be Iguazu falls on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, so three countries for the price of one. See you then!