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From the Quebrada de Humahuaca to the Puna

A circuit through San Salvador de Jujuy, Purmamarca, Salinas Grandes, La Polvorilla, Quebrada del Toro and Salta capital city. Km: 603.

The point of departure is San Salvador de Jujuy. The route gains altitude on the Cuesta de Bárcena slope as one of the most beautiful towns in Argentina -Purmamarca- appears in km 70, with the Cerro de los Siete Colores (The Hill of Seven Colours) behind it.

Then, crossing the Cuesta de Lipán, the highest point at 4,170 m.a.s.l. is reached. The breath-taking landscapes continue: the Salinas Grandes, Susques, the imposing La Polvorilla Viaduct crossed by the famous Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) and San Antonio de los Cobres. Further on, the city of Salta and the yungas along the scenic route of the mountain road. The trip ends where it began, in San Salvador de Jujuy.


Route Map

  • Kilometres: 603
  • Type of road: 80% asphalt. The section from Susques to San Antonio de los Cobres has 120 km of gravel road and crosses the Puna at an average height of 4 thousand metres (it is very important to check the conditions of the road before starting the journey and to drive always during daytime). 
  • Suggested time of the year: all the year.
  • Suggested time: 8 to 10 days.


KM 0

San Salvador de Jujuy

Located in a fertile valley and surrounded by mountains, San Salvador de Jujuy is the capital of the province. The accommodation and gastronomic offer is broad. The Barón Carlos María Schuel Municipal Botanical Park is the natural reserve closest to the city centre. On a 1-hour journey through an interpretive trail of medium difficulty, it is possible to appreciate some of the most characteristic species of trees and fauna of the region, such as the toco toucan. A yungas sector can also be accessed using an interactive interpretation centre to have a first glimpse of the importance of preserving this environment.

KM 15

Access to the Potrero de Yala Provincial Park

This protected area, which is the oldest in the province, is located 27 km away from San Salvador de Jujuy, taking Provincial Route 4. Potrero de Yala invites you to discover the magical landscapes of the yungas with paths that wind between the jungle and the mountains, and harbours 2 lagoons: the Rodeo lagoon (where there is a tourist complex with an inn, camping site, restaurant and 2 trails of less than 1 hour of low and medium difficulty) and the Comedero lagoon (from where a 40-minute medium difficulty trail starts and takes you on a tour to observe tree species and ends in a camping area). This park can be visited during the day and is a great destination for bird watchers (declared an IBA site). To the south, the Provincial Route 4 connects the park with Termas de Reyes (Kings’ Hot Springs). It is a scenic route that runs through an area of lush vegetation and reaches an imposing ravine where the hot springs are. The road is made of gravel and may be blocked during the summer due to rainfalls.

KM 35

Cuesta de Bárcena

Between the towns of León and Volcán, Cuesta de Bárcena slope climbs from the yungas to the Quebrada de Humahuaca along National Route 9.

KM 50


Once inside the Quebrada de Humahuaca, you reach the picturesque Tumbaya, an ancient town of pre-Hispanic descent. Surrounded by colourful landscapes amid beautiful hills, it offers visitors its great northern spirit. Continuing north, the next tourist towns with services, lodging and good cuisine are Purmamarca, Tilcara, Huacalera and Humahuaca.

KM 70


One of the most beautiful towns in Argentina. Purmamarca shines with the spectacular Cerro de los Siete Colores, its adobe buildings and a mythical artisan fair in the central square. It offers accommodation for all tastes and budgets, camping sites, varied cuisine options and services. From the town, you can take the Paseo de Los Colorados, a low-difficulty walking tour of approximately 1 hour; and the Sendas de Viltipoco, a walk through the bed of a dry river to a natural cave amid landscapes with geological formations and teasels. Another unmissable experience: the "Under the River of Stars" night outing in which knowledge of the Andean world-view is shared on how to orient oneself with the hills recognizing the Chakana, what permission should be requested when taking a road and the importance of the apachetas (a mound of stones) in the hills (ask for the local guides who offer this tour at the tourist office).

KM 102

Cuesta de Lipán Viewpoint

Following National Route 52, you cross the imposing Cuesta de Lipán that connects Purmamarca with the Salinas Grandes. Along this winding route lies the impressive puna landscape, going through the Sepulturas and Lipán ravines. In just 40 km, you reach the Abra de Potrerillos at about 4,170 m.a.s.l., the highest point and where it is worth stopping to appreciate the views or photograph the herds of vicuñas that usually appear near the road.

KM 131

Salinas Grandes

Continuing along National Route 52, you get to the Salinas Grandes, the fourth largest salt flat in South America at 3,450 m.a.s.l. This immense white desert can be seen from the route if you go on foot or take a previously booked tour to travel the paths that are inside the salt flat, either by bike, by 4WDs or trekking.

KM 147

Detour to San Francisco de Alfarcito

Riding 16 km along National Route 52, you will find the intersection with Provincial Route 11. From this point, a consolidated dirt road spans 27 km to reach this small community that still maintains the lifestyle that the kollas led hundreds of years ago. It owes its name to the historical cultivation of alfalfa in the area. Today dwellers work in the field, growing beans, corn and varieties of potatoes, breeding sheep and llamas. Taking a walk around the town, seeing the craft-made manufacturing of vicuña and llama wool, visiting the Guayatayoc lagoon for bird-watching and walking to Sausalito, Rinconadilla or the Estancitas circuit are some of the town attractions (always with the company of local guides). There are family homes, gastronomic options, and community experiences.

KM 200


Small town located on National Route 40 and National Route 52 at 3,675 m.a.s.l. It is worth visiting its historic chapel Nuestra Señora de Belén de Susques, which is a National Historic Monument. It is an adobe building dating from the 16th century with a roof supported by teasel beams joined together by leather straps. It is the oldest church in Jujuy decorated with paintings of typical birds and flowers from the region. Woven ponchos and stone and ceramic handicrafts are made in this town. Visitors can also taste grilled meat (mainly goat), meat and vegetable stews, dumplings and tamales. The lodging offer is limited.

KM 310

La Polvorilla Viaduct and Tren a Las Nubes

La Polvorilla Viaduct is a magnificent work of engineering worth visiting and one of the most sought-after postcards of the Puna of Salta. Located at 4,220 m.a.s.l., the steel bridge with a gentle curve is built over a canyon which is crossed by National Route 40. With a length of 224 metres and a height of 63 metres, the famous Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) passes through. It is one of the highest-running tourist trains in the world. It leaves San Antonio de los Cobres and reaches the viaduct in a one-hour and a half trip.

KM 328

San Antonio de los Cobres

This town with its adobe little houses and quiet streets is located on National Route 51 at 3,776 m.a.s.l. In the artisan market, visitors can buy authentic Puna handicrafts, they can watch the women weaving, spinning or warping in a loom, walk around the San Antonio de Padua church (the town’s patron saint), visit the Andean regional museum which preserves and transmits the history and traditions of the region. From its train station, the Tren a las Nubes departs to La Polvorilla Viaduct. It offers services and some lodging options.

KM 383

Santa Rosa de Tastil

In Santa Rosa de Tastil, you can tour the ruins of Tastil. This pre-Hispanic settlement was once an important city at 3,200 m.a.s.l. which is believed to have held over 2,200 aborigines between 1336 and 1439. The objects and remains found there can be observed in the museum, which is 100 metres away from the archaeological site.

KM 398

Quebrada del Toro

Following National Route 51 and alongside the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds), the Quebrada del Toro stretches between Puerta Tastil and Campo Quijano. Small towns and beautiful landscapes can be seen along the way, being one of the most relevant Ingeniero Maury, with its picturesque train station and an Incahuasi archaeological site from the 16th century with the remains of an Incan fortress. From this ravine, you can enjoy a beautiful sight of the Chañi and Acay peaks.

KM 456

Campo Quijano

Located 31 km away from Downtown Salta and also known as “The Andes Portal” because of its practical access to the Puna, this town offers services and lodging. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful Martín Fierro Park and the Huaytiquina walk. Guided bicycle tours go alongside a part of the Tren a las Nubes route and are combined with a short walk to reach a waterfall called Chorro Azul (Blue Jet) (medium difficulty level, ask the local guides). Only 2 km away from downtown, visitors can find Las Lomitas dike: a place where they can practise sport fishing, water sports, take walks and horse ride around the area.

KM 488

City of Salta

Following National Route 51, the city of Salta welcomes visitors with its large colonial houses around the main square, its Basilica Cathedral and museums: such as the Historical Town Council. It has different categories of accommodation, all services, camping sites and a variety of cuisine to enjoy the local food. In the city, tourists can visit the Parque Bicentenario (Bicentennial Park) and its 11-hectare artificial lagoon, where they can go bird-watching, walk trails and practise different recreational activities. They can also visit the Cerro San Bernardo Municipal Reserve, one of the natural spots with most biodiversity in the city, getting there either by stairs, by a paved road or by a cable car that goes all the way up to the peak. There is also the National Park with its jungles, woods and lagoons which can be reached through low difficulty, short distance trails.

KM 498

San Lorenzo

Thanks to its jungle and rivers, San Lorenzo is a great place to practise adventure tourism activities such as horse-riding, trekking, quad bikes, mountain climbing, paragliding, and mountain biking. It offers a wide variety of services, cuisine and accommodation. The Yungas de San Lorenzo Municipal Reserve, 2 km away from downtown, offers 4 signposted low-difficulty trails with amazing viewpoints. There are more than 200 bird species to watch and enjoy.

KM 528

La Caldera

This is a town located on National Route 9 on the bank of La Caldera River and has the architecture of the first half of the 19th century. Only a few metres from the centre there is a trail that leads to the Cerro de La Cruz, where visitors can enjoy the best views of the town, the Campo Alegre dike and the entire valley.

KM 533

Campo Alegre Dike

Only 5 km away from La Caldera there is Campo Alegre dike, a perfect place to spend the day. Visitors can fish from the coast, sail or canoe. Bird biodiversity makes it the perfect place for watching herons, wild ducks and red-legged seriemas.

KM 542

Beginning of Corniche Scenic Route

National Route 9 is a very beautiful road surrounded by the yungas lush vegetation. Visitors can enjoy it while driving and admiring the wonderful landscape.

KM 571

Los Diques Natural Reserve

A perfect place for both fishing and water sports lovers as well as bird-watchers or just for those who want to spend the day in one of the recreational areas. It is the locals’ favourite place in the valley region. It includes dikes La Ciénaga (with municipal camping site, inn and restaurant); Las Maderas (the biggest in the region); Catamontaña, Los Alisos (no vessels or sports practise allowed) and Los Molinos. Visitors can hike, cycle, horse ride or go boating.

KM 603

San Salvador de Jujuy

End of journey.

Useful information

-You can take the tour during the whole year. The best time is in autumn and spring. The summer months are rainy and some roads can be hard to travel. 


-If you are travelling by plane, San Salvador de Jujuy and the City of Salta both have international airports and a big offer in accommodation and camping sites. Next are Purmamarca, San Antonio de los Cobres, Susques and San Francisco de Alfarcito with fewer services and accommodation offers.


-Remember you are in the Puna, so you can have altitude sickness, which can cause nausea, deafening, headaches and fatigue. Check the recommendations in this link.


-The weather can be very windy, cold, sunny and dry (it is highly recommended to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated). When packing, don’t forget to bring a wide-brimmed hat, sun glasses, a jacket and a windbreaker.


-Before leaving for Purmamarca and Salinas Grandes, don’t forget to refuel in San Salvador de Jujuy because the next petrol station is in Susques, 200 km away; and the following one in San Antonio de los Cobres, 127 km ahead.


-If you want to experience the Tren a las Nubes, it is important to purchase the ticket in advance. Bear in mind that even if you already have the ticket, the ride is not 100% guaranteed: The trip can be cancelled due to climate conditions. 


-Remember to only camp in designated areas. Use trash bags and take the trash away with you. Make a campfire in the designated areas and put it out with plenty of water.