Honeymoon Day 30: Tilcara and Purmamarca

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South America » Argentina » Jujuy » Tilcara
December 13th 2012
Published: December 26th 2012
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Tilcara was one of my favorite towns in Argentina. Our first night in Tilcara we went to a local peña per our hostels recommendation. A peña is basically a little restaurant featuring live music during dinner. I had one of the local stews, which was awesome. The music was great too. It was about this time we decided we wanted to stay in Tilcara until we had to be in Bolivia.

The next day I contacted the car rental place and they agreed to take a bus up to Tilcara (4 hours north of Salta) to pick up the car. This meant we were 4 hours closer to the border of Bolivia, which saved us a total of 8 hours of driving (4 on our own, 4 on a bus). It cost some extra $$ for the service but we both thought it was worth it.

With that out of the way, we set out to explore some more of the Jujuy province with our little car.

We started by going to Purmamarca, which is famous for its "seven colored hills". I'm not sure what the 7 colors are, but the hills are definitely colorful. Here's the view from the road approaching the town:

We parked and found the local tourist office. The guy behind the desk recommended a short hike around the colored mountains so we set out. It was around 11am by this time, getting pretty hot. Somehow we always manage to do the most strenuous activities during the peak of the heat. Go figure. The walk was nice but pretty tiring due to the heat. A couple pics:

When we got back to town around noon, and set out to find for a place to get lunch. Purmamarca is SERIOUS about its siestas - it was hard to find anywhere open. Pretty much all the shops were closed. Most restaurants had signs saying they open at noon, but few were actually open. Finally we stopped in a small cafe for some refreshments and to cool off.

I had seen people walking along a ridge that overlooks the town, so of course I wanted to go too. Steph decided to stay back and eat her ice cream.

It was a little hard to find the trailhead, and the trail was pretty sketchy, but it was well worth the view. The ridge offers a great view of the town below:

After I got my fill of the view I headed back down and found Steph, reading in the square. The cafe we were in had closed for siesta. How does anybody make any money around there?? Luckily many of the restaurants had finally opened so we got lunch.

After Purmamarca we got back into the car and drove to some salt flats called Salinas Grandes, about an hour west. The road climbs from 2400 meters to 4200 meters (7900 to 13800 feet) in a pretty short span. The views along the road were pretty awesome.

After hitting the summit at 4200 meters, the road drops again as it approaches the salt flats. The flats were pretty impressive - although nothing compared to Salar de Uyuni where we would later be in Bolivia.

On our way back from Salinas Grandes we took a random dirt road our into the boonies. We found a herd of Vicuña for the first time (later we saw tons of them in Bolivia, but at the time we were pretty impressed). The views, as usual, were amazing.

On our way back down to Tilcara Steph started getting a pretty bad headache. We realized it was probably because of the altitude - hitting 4200 meters so quickly is no joke. Luckily it started to go away once we were back at 2400 m, and it reminded us to get on our altitude meds to prepare for our trip to Bolivia, which is at still higher altitude.

The next day, the guy showed up from our car rental place in Salta as planned. We spent most of the day just relaxing, shopping for our Bolivia trip and getting caught up on internet stuff. We had meant to hike up to these local ruins in Tilcara, but by the time we finally finished our biz we realized they were no longer open. Whoops... We'll have to come back to Tilcara again someday I guess.


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