You’ll intimately explore towns like Purmamarca and Iruya, with its traditional narrow, cobble-stoned streets and adobe homes, still inhabited by the descendants of the once-mighty Inca. Below the Puna lie the Yungas, a long, thin belt of sub-tropical jungle coming north from Bolivia, fed by the waters of the High Andes. Lush, green rain forests with incredible varieties of plants and amazing bird life. The contrast from the arid desert landscapes above, add much impact to this beautiful scenery.
Day 1, Saturday: Salta. The group will meet you in Salta this evening, transferring to the town of Chicoana, where we´ll spend the night at Estancia Peñaflor.
Day 2, Sunday: Bishop’s Slope - Andean Plateau. After our detailed welcome and safety talk, we’ll start our tour. Leaving on our comfortable van, we’ll cross the town of El Carril, and begin climbing the Quebrada de Escoipe, following a canyon sculpted by a river flowing down from the mountains. This beautiful place is surrounded by verdant vegetation and huge mountain chains. We keep climbing the famous Cuesta del Obispo (the Bishop´s Slope). We’ll reach the Piedra del Molino (The Millstone), which lies at 3,348 ms above seal level (10,980 ft). After being amazed by the views atop, we’ll get on our bikes and descend on a wonderful dirt road, with the last 37 kms of newly-paved road. Overnight at Estancia Peñaflor. Total distance: 57 km of dirt roads (35,42 miles).
Day 3, Monday: Quebrada de Humahuaca. Getting on our minibus early with the bikes loaded, we’ll drive to bordering Jujuy Province on Old Road 9. We’ll bike through the exuberant sub-tropical rain forest, a truly amazing setting. The narrow, winding road will take us through thick foliage, a true rain forest, where we can spot amazing native birds. We’ll stop for lunch at the small town of La Ciénega, where we’ll load to the bikes and shuttle to Purmamarca. This enchanting town marks the entrance to the Quebrada de Humahuaca. The locals are descendants of the Incas, whose great empire reached Northwest Argentina. Overnight at the cozy Hosteria del Amauta. Total distance: 43 km of paved roads (26,8 miles).
Day 4, Tuesday: The Salt Flats - Andean Puna. After a hearty breakfast, we’ll drive up towards a completely white and extremely dry Salinas Grandes (Great Salt Flats), in Jujuy Province. The drive goes over the Cuesta del Lipán, bordering cliffs through a deep canyon, and reaching 4200 ms (13,779 ft), from where we’ll have an amazing view of the nearby Quebrada de Humahuaca. We’ll see guanacos and vicuñas, the wild relatives of the llama. Once over the Lipan Slope, we’ll reach the huge salt flats, and after learning from locals about the salt extraction process, we’ll have lunch together. A great downhill ride awaits us, cycling down the Cuesta de Lipán back into Purmamarca. Be sure to visit the viewpoint of the truly amazing Hill of Seven Colors, a nearby slope of exposed rock in all imaginable shades of reds and ocres. Overnight at the “Hosteria del Amauta”. Total distance: 40 km of dirt roads (24,9 miles).
Day 5, Wednesday: Quebrada de Humahuaca. This morning we’ll begin driving from Purmamarca through the wonderful Quebrada de Humahuaca, passing through the towns of Tilcara, Tumbaya and Humahuaca. We’ll have plenty of time to take in the amazing scenery that will surround us. At Humahuaca, we will detour to Iruya, driving through a dirt road taking us up to 3,900 ms of elevation, and passing through small towns like Iturbe and Chaupe Rodeo. Once reaching the highest point, at the famous Abra del Condor (the Condor´s Pass), we’ll get on our bikes and begin another great downhill ride, following a zigzagging, narrow dirt road, crossing small farms and settlements, with ancient terraces built into the slopes. The natural scenery does not cease to amaze here – arid landscapes, huge mountains cut by deep canyons, and all imaginable colors exposed in the eroded slopes. The town of Iruya awaits us, another pre-Columbian town of narrow paved streets and adobe homes. The beautiful church in the central plaza is not to be missed here. Overnight at the Federico III, a local inn. Total distance: 31,5 km of dirt roads (19,5 miles).
Day 6, Thursday: Altiplano. Today we’ll walk from Iruya to the tiny settlement of San Isidro, located 8 km (5 miles) north of Iruya. We’ll ascend slowly but steadily, crossing a river several times, through canyons enveloped by the always-amazing mountains of this region. We’ll hopefully get a glimpse of the Andean Condor flying high above. Once in San Isidro, we’ll stroll this ancient town, and have a chance to shop for wonderful regional handicrafts at the small market. In the afternoon we’ll return to Iruya. Total distance: 16 km of single tracks.
Day 7, Friday: Quebrada - Pucará ruins. We’ll drive out of Iruya on a different road, and once again reach the high pass where we’ll get on our mountain bikes, riding towards the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Another awesome zigzagging ride from 3,900 to 3,000 ms. We’ll eventually re-route, heading to Humahuaca, where we’ll load the bikes, and after relaxing for a bit in this town, we’ll drive to nearby Tilcara. Here you’ll have a chance to explore the amazing Pucará, a pre-Columbian stone fortress, which was re-discovered in 1908, and after careful reconstruction, today it stands as it is imagined it did originally. An amazing testament to the technology of the Incan people. We’ll sleep in Tilcara, in the comfortable Malka cabins. Total distance: 52 km of dirt roads (32,5 miles).
Day 8, Saturday: Back through the jungles, adiós in Salta
We’ll drive to Yala at the southern edge of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, leaving the Puna and re-entering the Yungas (subtropical rain forest). We’ll soon reach Los Nogales, where we’ll set up our bikes and start a challenging ride up the Lagunas de Yala Park, surrounded by a lush, green forest, starkly different from the days past. We’ll arrive at a wonderful complex of thermal baths, where we’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the week’s accomplishments. The riding ends at the incredible Termas de Reyes Hotel and Spa, a fantastic place from which to base further travel for those staying a few days more. There is a short drive back to Salta Capital. Those traveling back to Buenos Aires with us will stay for overnight in Salta. Total distance: 28 km of dirt roads (17,5 miles).
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