Argentina road trip route

Our second northern trip from Jujuy was again through Purmamarca (remember I told you about its good location). But this time we’d go rather northwest than straight to the north. The destination was salt flats called Salinas Grandes.

In case you are wondering about the other destinations of our Argentina road trip then here they are:

  1. San Agustin de Valle Fertil
  2. San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca (with Ischigualasto Provinical Park)
  3. Salta
  4. San Salvador de Jujuy
  5. San Salvador de Jujuy (with Hornocal Humahuaca and Purmamarca)
  6. Salta (with Salinas Grandes)
  7. Belen (with Cafayate)
  8. Famatina (with Fiambala)
llama purmamarca

On our way through Purmamarca we saw a llama for the first time in Argentina (pic: Walker)

purmamarca mountains

Exiting Purmamarca…

Salinas Grandes

The Salinas Grandes are large (total area is 212 km2) salt flats in the northwest of Jujuy. The area is basically a dried up lake even though underneath the salt there is still some water. In some places you have to be very cautious because the salt crust may be hollow and you might fall through into the ice cold salt water.

The tour

Currently it’s an important sodium and potassium mining site. But because the vast area there’s also room for some excursions for tourists. Since you are not allowed to go on the flats by yourself then they offer tours with a local guide. For us (4 persons in one vehicle) it cost 200 ARS (~11 €). The group consisted of several vehicles and a guide on a motorbike. There were about four stops where the guide explained what was going on – how is the salt mined, where it comes from and so on. But as a rule the tour was unfortunately only in Spanish language (luckily I had people in my group who could translate).

The view on the salt flats is pretty impressive and the whole experience is definitely worthwhile. Many travelers suggest to visit some larger salt flats like Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni instead. But if your plans don’t include going to Bolivia then I recommend to go check out the Salinas Grandes. It’s also been said that the Salinas Grandes are even more spectacular after the rain.

Has it been raining or not, I should also mention that when you are going there bringing windproof clothes is a must. It’s super windy on those salt fields. Plus obviously you should have sunglasses and sunscreen protection due to its bright ground and height. Average altitude of the flats is about 3450 m above sea level.

salinas grandes

The tour’s starting point / Feel free to Pin it!

salinas grandes salt mining

Salt mining

salinas grandes water

Watch your step, kid

Salinas Grandes crust

There’s a scientific explanation of how those hexagons are forming but unfortunately it got lost in translation.. (pic: Walker)

supa on salt

Supasaltflats (pic: Sanna)

Getting there…

And to get there you even have to reach higher altitudes. At least if you are approaching from the Jujuy/Purmamarca side like we did. Having your own vehicle it takes about 2,5 hours to get from Jujuy to Salinas Grandes. The distance is only ~130km (~81 mi) but the road basically consists of curves. Plus, of course, many picturesque viewpoints you just couldn’t pass by without stopping.

The highest point of the road is 4170 meters where it is also possible to stop and buy some souvenirs. A few locals are selling there various goods that are mostly made of the rock pieces of the same mountains. For example the medallions that the sellers have decorated with some nice engravings of local symbols like Inca warriors, Inca calendars etc. I think you can even ask them what to engrave if you should have some special wishes since they were doing it there right in front of our eyes. So if you are looking for some environment friendly souvenirs then there’s an opportunity.

4170 masl

Shopping at 4170 m.a.s.l.

Chevrolet Classic mountain

Chevrolet Classic mountain edition

Salinas Grandes road

Road to Salinas Grandes…

road to Salinas Grandes

…and back

north argentina mountains

Where did I stay?

Moderno depto – R&N –

Airbnb (in Salta) – By the name it is a modern apartment. And if a place has Apple TV installed then what else can it be. I know we weren’t the first guests there but the apartment and the whole building looked really fresh like it’s been recently built. For those who are looking for the rooms in super good condition and a bar downstairs then that’s the place for you.

We were unlucky with the weather since it was raining all night (our first Argentinian rain). So its not-so-close location from the city center didn’t matter much. At least a decent shopping center was nearby so we were able to prepare food at “home”.

Have you seen some salt flats other than Salinas Grandes? Would you recommend them?