NOA & Puna Experience

Iconic journey to explore the heart of the Andes

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I- I took the
one less travelled by, and that has made the difference.”

Robert Frost

What we are going to

experience on this journey,

day by day

¿What does the journey include?

icono estadia

Accommodation at

Testimonials
WOW! We had an really great trip with Socompa in the Argentine PUNA region. Johan

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NOA & Puna Experience / Day 1

 8 Days program
Salta | Cuesta del Obispo | Cachi | Molinos 

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Duration

Estimated driving time  4 hs

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Distance

122 km  / 76 ml paved road. 81 km / 50 ml gravel road.

Altitude

Highest point 3.457 m. / 11.342 f.  Molinos 2.020 m. / 6.627 f.

Meals Included​

Lunch

The road between Salta and Molinos is one of the most spectacular paths of the Argentinean Northwest.
We will pass through four different ecosystems, from the green jungle of the Yungas to the semi deserted Calchaquí Valley. 33km of mountain will bring us closer to Paso Piedra del Molino at 3.457 meters: Condors
flying in the blue sky, Guanacos and wild burros among thousands of Cardones, the local species of giant cactus. There will be time for a walk in a small red desert rarely visited and a moment to relax under a cozy
Molle in the white colonial village of Cachi, where the sun shines almost all year round. We will spend the night in the Historical Hotel, Hacienda de Molinos.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 2

8 Days program
Molinos | Angastaco | Quebrada de las Flechas | Cafayate | Quebrada de las Conchas | Cafayate

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Duration

Estimated driving time  5 hs

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Distance

100 km / 62 ml paved road. 90 km / 56 ml gravel road.

Altitude

Highest point 2.300 m./ 7.546 f. Cafayate 1.683 m. / 5.522 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch

Route 40 is one of the most famous and longest routes in the world. Between the towns of Molinos and
Cafayate we will find many little villages populated by local winemakers and farmers, we will drive across the Quebrada de las Flechas, a desert formed by dust of limestone and quartz, eroded by wind and water
creating the shape of thousands of Arrow Peaks. Cafayate is the perfect place for lunch or to visit a traditional winery. Just before the sunset with the best lights of the day, we will explore the Conchas’
Gorge: a deep ravine built in the last 50 million years with huge deposits of minerals (clay and sandstone in particular) moulded by water and wind that comes from an age when the region was dominated by a
humid and warm climate with animals such as turtles and crocodiles.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 3

8 Days program
Cafayate | Quilmes | Hualfin | El Peñón

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Duration

Estimated driving time  5 hs

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Distance

250 km / 155 ml paved road. 50 km / 31 ml gravel road.

Altitude

Highest point 4.050 m./13.287 f.  El Peñón 3.400 m. / 11.155 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch / Diner

Following Route 40 in direction to the south, we will explore one of the most deserted regions of Argentina.
In the morning we’ll visit the archeological site of Quilmes, probably the most interesting Pre Inca Ruins of NW Argentina, with a dramatic history that gave an end to its ancient population. After Hualfin, the road
will start to climb to reach the Desert Plateau called Puna. Between groups of vicuñas, giant white sand dunes, volcanos and lagoons, we will reach the Oasis of El Peñón our starting point for tomorrow’s excursions. El Peñón is a small village at 3.400 meters, where 200 people, mostly shepherd’s live and work.
It is one of the last authentic Puna villages, with water and green grass (Vega) that allows the grazing of llamas, goats and sheep. Night at Hosteria de Altura de El Peñón.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 4

8 Days program
El Peñón | Volcán & Laguna Carachi Pampa | Campo de Piedra Pómez | Dunas Blancas | El Peñón

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Duration

Estimated driving time  7 hs

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Distance

130 km / 80 ml of earth, gravel and salt tracks.

Altitude

Highest point 4.200 m./ 13.780 f. El Peñón 3.400 m. / 11.155 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch / Diner

Our adventure starts today at the edge of Campo de Piedra Pómez, as we reach the Carachi Pampa basin, in its margins there is a Volcano of the same name, surrounded by black lava fields and a lagoon, where the Andean flamingo, and the James’ (or puna) flamingo can be found. During dry season a small salt lake is formed around the lagoon. Later, our journey will continue into the Natural Reserve Campo de Piedra
Pómez, a strange and stunning landscape carved into the rock that gives rise to its name: The Pumice. Of purely igneous origin, it was produced from a massive explosion of the volcanic stratum, this explosion was
so powerful that if one could have seen it, it would be similar to the mushroom cloud produced by a nuclear bomb. This cloud has spread the ashes and debris in large areas and in different directions, which
crystallized by the effects of the temperature giving shape to these wonderful rocks with special features and with plenty of holes produced by the escape of gases during the chilling stage. This degassing
phenomenon made the rock very easy to carve by the winds of the Puna, arid and harsh winds that move freely through the region, becoming the best and most prominent Andean rock sculptors.
This strange landscape of white labyrinths and climbing sand dunes is located a few miles to the west, on a track where the path continues through some sand that we could describe as the dream of the explorer, an overlanding adventure. Return to the Hotel, just on time to enjoy stunning sunset views from the village.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 5

8 Days program
El Peñón | Antofagasta de la Sierra | Quebrada de Calalaste | Vega Colorada | Oasis Antofalla & 
Antofallita | Cono de Arita | Tolar Grande

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Duration

Estimated driving time  7 hs

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Distance

340 km  / 211 ml earth track and salt road.

Altitude

Highest point 4.500 m./ 14.764 f.  Tolar Grande 3.500 m. / 11.483 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch / Diner

Antofagasta de la Sierra was the biggest Oasis on the path connecting this side of the Andes with the Oasis  of San Pedro de Atacama (Chile). It is a big village with more than 2.000 people who maintain their ancient
traditions and culture. The name Antofagasta means “place where the sun shines” and it is surrounded by uncountable Volcanic Peaks. The valley of Calalaste, just a few kilometers away from Vega Colorada is the
best spot to find wild camelids. Above 4.200 meters with wide views over the Antofalla Volcano (6.400 mts) lays a green field (Vega Colorada) home to llamas, suris (Andean ostrich), wild donkeys and vicuñas.
Antofalla, together with Antofagasta and Santa Rosa, were important stations for Llama caravans connecting this part of the Andes with the Oasis of Atacama. The Oasis is located just at the border of the
longest salt flat in the world, among red mountains and lava strips. Antofalla is still inhabited by a tiny community of 60 people who are all shepherds. The crossing of the Arizaro Salted dry lake resembles the
ancient journey of the Arrieros (shepherds guiding caravans of animals to Chile). Arizaro meaning Vultures Cemetery comes from a period when many animals (cows and horses) perished during the crossing of the
salt flat. Tolar Grande lies at the border of a giant depression, the Salar de Arizaro, one of the biggest salt flats in the world. From this tiny old railway village built in 1940, there is a unique view over the western
ridge of the Cordillera, an infinite skyline of Volcanoes higher than 6.000 meters.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 6 A

8 Days program
Full day to Explore Tolar Grande | Optional tours:
Option A: Tolar Grande | Caipe | Salar de Río Grande | Mina Casualidad (Mina Julia) | Tolar Grande

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Duration

Estimated driving time  7 hs

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Distance

130 km  / 80 ml paved road. 180 km / 111 ml  earth track and salt road.

Altitude

Highest point 5.200 m./ 17.060 f. Tolar Grande 3.500 m. / 11.483 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch / Diner

Mina Casualidad was a Mining City located in one of the most remote and amazing places on Earth. On the border with Chile surrounded by the Highest Volcanoes of the World and between Sulfuric Mountains,
Salted Lakes and Cobalt sky at 4.200 meters, used to live 3.000 people. Miners were working at 5.200 meters whilst their families and the administrative staff were based in the City of Mina Casualidad. The
mine was shut down by the Army during the 70’s and today Mina Casualidad is a unique Ghost Town.
Caipe was the old railway station where the mineral processed in the mine city was carried on cargo train and then transported to Salta. From the abandoned station, the traveler can have a wide view of the giant
Salar de Arizaro. In the afternoon on our way back to Tolar Grande under the flattering light of the sunset, the Puna will offer some of its best scenery.

Note: Since we operate many of our tours in remote high altitude areas itineraries may be subject to change due to weather and road conditions or any other conditions of an operational nature throughout the year (such as: snow fall, heavy rain, strong winds, etc.), especially in places higher than 4000 meters.
As such we reserve the right to alter, and/or cancel any section and/or parts of the itinerary which may result from conditions beyond our control.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 6 B

8 Days program
Tolar Grande| Ojos del Mar | Hidden Dune | Tolar Grande | Caipe | Sunset in Tolar Grande

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Duration

Estimated driving time 2 hs

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Distance

140 km / 87 ml earth track.

Altitude

Highest point 4.000 m./ 13.123 f. Tolar Grande 3.500 m. / 11.483 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch / Diner

The morning will be dedicated to the exploration of the surroundings of Tolar Grande. The Ojos del Mar are Blue Holes in the middle of a white salt lake, where in Feb. 2009, researchers discovered a huge colony of
living stromatolites. The surroundings of Tolar Grande offer chances of great small hikes, the best one is the hike to a hidden sand dune in the middle of the desert. From the highness of the dune the traveler will be
rewarded by a 360° view over the area, from the Sacred Macon Mountain to the Llullaillaco Volcano, where the National Geographic discovered in 1999 at 6.735 meters an Inca treasure including the body of 3 Inca
children perfectly kept by ice and dryness. It is also a perfect place for meditation. For Lunch we head back to Tolar Grande and afterwards we will have time to relax in the hotel. In the afternoon we will go to
Caipe. Caipe was the old railway station where the mineral processed in the Mine city was carried on cargo train and then transported to Salta. From the abandoned Station, the traveler can have wide view of the
giant Salar de Arizaro. On our return to Tolar Grande, we will stop on top of a hill just outside of the village where we will enjoy a beautiful sunset and some of the Puna’s best scenery.

Note: This option is recommended for travelers who seek to dedicate a day to get to know the area of Tolar Grande, with the possibility of going on short hikes and to enjoy the surrounding landscapes, with
only a few kilometers of driving.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 7

8 Days program
Tolar Grande | Labyrinth Desert | San Antonio de los Cobres |Salinas Grandes | Purmamarca

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Duration

Estimated driving time  7 hs

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Distance

65 km / 40 ml paved road. 310 km / 192 ml earth track and gravel road.

Altitude

Highest point 4.500 m./ 14.764 f. Purmamarca 2.192 m. / 7.192 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch

Tolar Grande lies at the border of a giant depression, the Salar de Arizaro, one of the biggest salt flats in the world, with a tiny old railway village built in 1940, where there is a unique view over the western ridge of
the Cordillera of an infinite skyline of Volcanoes higher than 6.000 meters. The Labyrinth Desert is a 10 million–year fossil dune desert formed by clay picks and gypsum crystals. Nowadays it is possible to drive across this natural wonder, a must for photo safari lovers. Abra Chorrilos will be our highest point and there we will learn about the Apacheta and its cultural importance for the Andean tradition. San Antonio de los Cobres is the actual Capital of the Puna, a dusty village with a colored community, our last point of civilization and arrival point of most tourists. El Mojon, a small settlement lost in this high desert is an extraordinary example of the strength of the people inhabiting the Puna and how they can live in the XXI century without forgetting their ancestral traditions. Salinas Grandes is a place with more than 100km of a white area surrounded by volcanoes, where the horizon seems endless. Finally, crossing the highest point of the itinerary, we will enjoy the best view on the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes going down the Cuesta de Lipan. At sunset, we will arrive at the Andean village of Purmamarca, built in the surrounding area of the  Cerro de los 7 Colores.

NOA & Puna Experience / Day 8

8 Days program
Purmamarca | Humahuaca | Hornocal | Tilcara | Salta

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Duration

Estimated driving time  6 hs

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Distance

320 km /  199 ml paved road. 70 km / 43 ml gravel road.

Altitude

Highest point 4.300 m./ 14.108 f. Salta 1.200 m. / 3.937 f.

Meals Included​

Breakfast / Lunch

The Humahuaca Gorge is a large valley that ends at the border with Bolivia and it is located in the province of Jujuy in the far north of Argentina. It is quite a young Valley, given that its formation dates a million years. The Gorge is famous for its colourful mountains, its geological formations and its historical villages. During our trip we will visit the best places in the region in order to get a true feeling of this
part of Argentina: the Humahuaca Market, a walk in the Colorado’s Gorge, the sacred garden of the Cardones (cactus species) at 3200 meters, and the impressive 14 coloured mountains of Hornocal and the Pucara of Tilcara – a pre-Inca fortress. We will also visit the villages of Tilcara, Humahuaca and Purmamarca with their typical artisanal markets. In the afternoon we will return to Salta.

End of our services.

The Itinerary is subject to weather conditions in the region to be visited, to flight schedule changes, road blocks or any other unforeseen circumstances. In any of these cases last minute changes may take place in order to ensure a safe trip. Any expenses derived of these situations of force majeure must be paid by

 

the passenger.

Suggested Luggage

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses (protection against UV rays) All year round!
  • Hat. All year!
  • In winter gloves (wool or similar material).
  • In autumn / winter (May to August), clothing must be reinforced: winter jacket, sweatshirts, long-sleeved fleece shirt, scarf, etc.).
  • Windbreaker (it is important because there is wind in the area). only in winter
  • Waterproof jacket during the summer (mid-December to mid-March)
  • Trekking shoes (comfortable). All year!
  • Moisturizer. All year!