San Salvador de JuJuy
After a day in colonial Salta we landed in San Salvador de Jujuy for the evening. Like most of the cities’ names here it is shortened to Jujuy (which’s pronunciation probably sounds funny for those who speak Russian). Unfortunately we didn’t spend any time exploring it so I can’t tell is it worth to visit or not. Nonetheless is the city in a very good location to stay for exploring the nearby nature…
- San Agustin de Valle Fertil
- San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca (with Ischigualasto Provinical Park)
- San Salvador de Jujuy
- San Salvador de Jujuy (with Hornocal Humahuaca and Purmamarca)
- Salta (with Salinas Grandes)
- Belen (with Cafayate)
- Famatina (with Fiambala)
As I said, it is quite comfortable to take trips from Jujuy to the nearby areas. Since we came from the south then we headed even further north to find the multicolored mountains we had seen in some guide books. From Jujuy to Humahuaca it is 127 km (79 mi) and the road is in a very good condition. So theoretically it should take about 2 hours. Of course on the road you’ll see dozens of beautiful viewpoints and it’ll probably take longer.
Since these are already the areas where the indigenous people live then the customs are a lot different than you could see in southern regions. One good example for this is the viewpoint near the cemetery of Maimara. That’s about a half way to Humahuaca and there opens a nice view of the hill with a local cemetery. Plus the colorful mountains in the background. I don’t recall I have seen such style of cemeteries anywhere else. Some say it’s a must-stop viewpoint.
Not far from Maimara is a little bit bigger settlement called Tilcara. If you are having a road trip like we did then I recommend you to check your vehicle’s gasoline level. There are not many gas stations in these remote areas and Tilcara is one of the few that has. And if you’re around then why not step by the Pucará de Tilcara.
Humahuaca is a small city of about 11 000 inhabitants and it also serves as the main gateway to the viewpoint of Hornocal mountain(s). The region has been populated already over 10 000 years since the first hunter-gatherers and has been a historical place during the ancient Inca Empire. The city of Humahuaca is ~3000 meters above sea level so we made there a little longer stop for “acclimatization”. Jujuy is ~1300 m above sea level so we already made quite of a climb in a very short time.
By the meaning of its culture is Humahuaca pretty impressive. You easily get a feel you are in an ancient Inca town. Only in addition to the Inca legacy there are also some signs of Argentinian era. Like Heroes of the Independence Monument that was built in honor of Northern Argentinian Army. The monument is made of 70 tons of bronze and I can tell it looks really big for such a small city.
Since the monument is built in a little bit higher ground then in front of it opens a good panoramic view of the city. Going down the stairs towards the city center you’ll encounter some local artists selling different hand-made (artesanal) stuff. If you like something then I recommend to buy it right away because when you get down to the center where is the bigger market then it is really hard to find something unique. Seems like everybody is selling the same things that are coming from mass production.
The Serranía del Hornocal or just Hornocal for short is a range of mountains located about 25 km (16 mi) from Humahuaca. The place isn’t very famous but if you’re in Humahuaca then you’ll probably meet someone who recommends to visit it or even offers trips there. In addition to use locals’ services for this trip you can also go there by foot or by your own vehicle. Since we had our own (rental) car then we used the last option.
There really isn’t any good road to the viewpoint (as a matter of fact, according to Google Maps there are none). Only a few gravel roads which’s conditions take down the speed quite a lot. Also keep in mind that you’ll rise 1300 meters in 25 km, so the road is mostly in pretty high angle. Some 4-wheel drive vehicle would be perfect for that trip but nevertheless we managed to get there with our small Chevy Classic too. Though in some moments you could feel the car’s running low on power due to the high angle, tires’ bad grip and thin air.
When you finally get to the top then you’ll see a small booth where you are required to pay a small entry fee. There is a young girl who’s name is Soledad which in Spanish means something like Loneliness. I wonder if her parents knew she’ll be working alone in a lonely booth located 4300 m above sea level when they gave her a name…
After a short conversation with Soledad and driving a few dozen more meters to the viewpoint it’s time for the highlight. The weather at this high is a bit chilly and super windy but that postcard view is still worth it. I have never seen the mountains with such a variety of colors before. Though next time if I should go back up there I’d check the weather first. I bet the colors are way more incredible with clear skies. Or at the time of sunset/sunrise.
A small town that is a popular stopping point for many travelers in the area. The reason is simple: its good location. So on our way back to Jujuy we also drove through to see what the hype is about. The name “Purmamarca” means in Aymara language “desert (purma) city (marca)”. We got there during a smaller sandstorm so that also added some juice to the name.
We visited the town in Sunday and at that time there were quite a large market in the town center. The selection of goods seemed to be the same as was in Humahuaca’s market. That again hints they are mass-produced somewhere. Oh, and everything also seemed to be a bit more pricey than in Humahuaca.
While the towns are not very large around there they are still completely different from the rest of Argentina we had seen. One more thing we noticed in those areas is that indigenous people don’t like being photographed. Every time they see someone trying to take a picture of them they turn or cover their face. Not sure what is the reason behind this.
Airbnb – We planned to stay there for one night and move on to further north. It didn’t take long to realize we couldn’t find anything nicer nearby. The cabanas are super cozy, built and decorated by the hosts themselves. The location is perfect for daily trips to nearby areas like Hornocal Humahuaca and so on. True it is a bit far from the city center but if you have a car (or a bike) then there’s no problem. Even if you don’t have a vehcile I think it’s possible to ask the host Jorge to give you a ride to the city. On that note I should also mention the hosts (and dogs) are very friendly and welcoming. We even had an Argentinian style parilla (BBQ) together.
Only condition is that you should like dogs because there’s plenty of them. They tend to bark and howl at night which might be disturbing for some but still I’d recommend this place.