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Mendoza is part of the Cuyo region known as 'the land of sun and good wine'. After couple of days in the wine region, you will head north,making you way eventually to Salta. This region is a place full of contrasts where travellers immerse themselves in the historic past of South American culture. This region is well-known by its landscape of valleys, gorges and beautiful small towns.
Arrival at the airport in Mendoza. Welcome by the local English speaking tour guide. Transfer to your hotel - short briefing about the region - the receipt of your rental car – check in to your hotel for the next 2 night’s accommodation.
After breakfast, you have a free day in Mendoza. We suggest: sightseeing and visits to wine cellars .Return to the hotel for accommodation.
Drive to Barreal - Drive in the morning to Barreal, a very pleasant town in a valley facing the immense Mercedario Massif and the Central Andes. To reach it you will cross the pre-Andean range along a winding road with fantastic views over the mountains. Before arriving in Barreal, we suggest you stop in the area called Calingasta and explore El Alkazar, a strange multi-coloured rock formation. Barreal is the centre to explore the whole region of the central Andes. Overnight accommodation in Barreal.
Drive to San Agustin de Valle Fertil - You will drive across the desert on paved road. We suggest driving to Dam Ullum to see more than 500 hectares of beautiful gorge. Overnight at San Augustin de Valle Furtil.
We suggest a full day visiting schigualasto Provincial Park (97km, paved) with its famous Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), and the wonderful Canyon of Talampaya in the National Park of the same name (70km from Ischigualasto, paved road). Both sites are unique and are Unesco World Heritage listed. These ecosystems are one of the few places on earth where all the different layers of the soil,as well as the processes of plate tectonic movement, are clearly exposed. Continue driving after Talampaya to Villa Union that is just 70 kms north, all paved road.- Overnight at Villa Union.
Day at leisure to relax and discover the area or visit one of the parks not visited the day before or drive to Laguna Brava. Return to your hotel.
Drive to Belén – Full day drive from Villa Union to Belen (340 km: 119 km unpaved then 221 km paved). On your drive to Chilecito pass by the marvellous Miranda Gorge where La Mexicana mine and the longest cable car in the world are located. Then continue north following the high, snow-capped Andes, passing by Famatina town and the famous Patero (footsmashed) vineyard, where locals make wines with regional grapes like Torrontes and Barbera. Outcrops of the beautiful and unique Argentine pink semi-precious stone, rodocrosite, are present in this area. Drive along National Route 40 and visit Shincal, the largest Inca ruins in Argentina. Overnight in Belen.
We suggest spending the morning visiting the artisan world of Belen, famous for its llama and vicuña wool ponchos. Some of the finest Indian pottery can be found here as well. Drive north to Amaicha del Valle (196km, of which 80km is unpaved). Discover the different national historical heritage chapels of Hualfin valley, a unique landscape where the road (an old Inca trail) represents a border between the contrasting nature of the desert and the fertile valleys. You will drive though Santa Maria region, famous for its archaeological sites full of ancient pottery. Arrival to Amaicha del Valle for overnight accommodation.
Drive from Amaicha del Valle to Cafayate: 65km, paved road. On the way we suggest a stop at Quilmes Indian ruins, a ruined citadel of fierce cultures that resisted Spanish domination for years.Arrive at Cafayate and in the afternoon you can visit a typical winery that specialises in Torrontes wine production (a dry and fruity white wine).Accommodation at a local Vineyard.
Breakfast - Day at leisure to visit the Quebrada de la Conchas with its magnificent landscapes. This Gorge, also known as Cafayate Gorge, features a range of wind-sculpted rock formations, such as Los Medanos (The Dunes), Los Castillos (The Castles), El Obelisco (The Obelisk), El Fraile (The Monk), El Sapo (The Toad), El Anfiteatro (The Natural Amphitheatre) & La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat). Many stops are a must during your day of leisure.Second night’s accommodation at the local vineyard.
Drive from Cafayate to Cachi: 162km – Mostly non paved road (only 24km are paved) Northwards, you will get into Las Flechas Gorge, where you will be able to see incredible white sand shapes 20 metres high. You have to continue through NR Nº 40 across Angastaco town, El Carmen, La Angostura & some other small localities before reaching Molinos village. From Molinos to Cachi, the road offers some options. We recommend: After leaving Molinos, you can take “Camino del Churcal” (“Churcal Road”), which is a bit longer road than the traditional one in time, but where you can see the farms en route. You will see a very old mill just at the left side of the road, which gives the name to the town. This road meets the NR Nº 40 near Seclantás town entrance. From Seclantás is very interesting to leave again NR Nº 40 to be able to visit the artisans who weave the authentic “Salteño Ponchos” with their particular combination of red and black colours. You have to cross the Seclantás bridge access over the Calchaquí River. You can visit its small Chapel and square. From Seclantás town until Cachi town, it is approx 30 km. Overnight accommodation in Cachi.
Head from Cachi to a Hotel in the surroundings of Salta to relax. Take National Route Nº 40 until meeting Provincial Route Nº33, a colourful and picturesque road. On this route are many attractive places to visit. For example, take a walk in Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop's Slope), or along La Recta del Tin Tin. Arrive at the Hotel for your next two night’s accommodation.
This day is free to enjoy this beautiful city in northwest Argentina, walking its historical streets. Salta is full of shops, a picturesque food market and pleasant squares.
Leave Salta northwards towards Purmamarca. You may choose the winding old highway, Route Nº 9 (with 400 curves in total), to enjoy the drive through the hanging forest. At the city of Jujuy you will join with National Route Nº 9. From here, you switch onto International Route Nº 52 for just a few kilometres until finding the town of Purmamarca. 179 km, paved.Overnight accommodation at Purmamarca.
Drive to Salta´s airport - Exit from Purmamarca by Route Nº 9 to continue towards the most colourful towns of the Gorge. Among them we recommended Tilcara with its indigenous ruins,and Uquia with one of the oldest churches in the zone, here you may also be able to visit a potter and see the traditional pottery of the region. Drop off the vehicle at Salta airport.