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South America Travel Tips

Jujuy: Beautiful Mountains (Andes) & Pre-Inca Settlements

I took a quick look at the weather forecast last Friday (after it rained for a couple of days in Salta), and with the weather being promising I decided to go for a last minute trip towards the North, and specifically to the Jujuy Province.

Was the 1-day tour worth it after all? Let’s see ūüôā

Salta > Tilcara (Jujuy Province)

Here in Argentina “trips” of any kind are not short. The plan was to wake up at¬†6am, get ready, grab the¬†7am bus from Salta to Tilcara (which took 4 hours), visit the town, then get a ride back to Purmamarca and finally get back to Salta at night. Not bad when you think I spent 24 hours on a
bus the other day.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BM_NvKSDC5F/?taken-by=rmelogli

I had a great sleep¬†on the bus to Tilcara. Maybe I snored – not sure – the lady beside me didn’t look
impressed when I woke up… Anyway, the bus ride to Tilcara was wonderful for that short time I was awake – the weather didn’t look as promising though. Here we were driving by a place called¬†Volc√°n, located at 2084 metres above sea level:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDaSuJDmYj/?taken-by=rmelogli

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDab3pDFMA/?taken-by=rmelogli

Thankfully, the weather in Tilcara was lovely. I arrived there in time at approximately 11am and I immediately got a mixed vibe: a beautiful, well preserved, pre-Inca little town which has now become a very popular tourist attraction. Indigenous residents have sold most of their lands to builders Рyet the town is still somewhat lovely.

Tilcara is located at 2465 metres above sea level, not bad for a self-sufficient tiny town in the middle of nowhere.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDatrUjUe8/?taken-by=rmelogli

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDazVujXgg/?taken-by=rmelogli

Tilcara features two main attractions: a 4 km hike to a fall (Garganta del Diablo) and a much shorter walk to a hill called Pucará de Tilcara, a pre-Inca fortification just outside town, across the river.

Despite what I read on the online forums, the 4k hike took longer than 1.5 hours (including photography time!) and was pretty tough, mostly under the hot sun. After all, I was in the desert. The landscape was just beautiful Рincluding giant cactus:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDbLk6jfDY/?taken-by=rmelogli

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDbwgZjXay/?taken-by=rmelogli

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDbfOejfOs/?taken-by=rmelogli

I finally reached the fall, but there was basically no water (and I wasn’t expecting anything after having been at the Iguaz√ļ falls). So, I turned back and enjoyed the down hill walk towards the river. I then went to the¬†Pucar√° de Tilcara, the pre-Inca settlement. Very touristy and most of it has been rebuilt, so the best highlight of the walk was my lovely guide:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDdHlwDZ5L/?taken-by=rmelogli

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDdBlXjfbr/?taken-by=rmelogli

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https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDd5fZDimK/?taken-by=rmelogli

Oh, and I also met my first lama ūüôā

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDczLsjHw-/?taken-by=rmelogli

I quickly walked the 100 pesos site and then headed back to the town – goal: getting a short bus ride back to Purmamarca, another ancient settlement that features a beautiful mountain chain.

Tilcara > Purmamarca

However, I totally underestimated the¬†SIESTA time!¬†No buses until 4, and 1.5¬†hours to spare with not much to do…¬†But at the end my¬†siesta was¬†very helpful,¬†it recharged me,¬†I enjoyed a couple¬†of sandwiches that I took with me and relaxed away. The¬†atmosphere was¬†cool –¬†I was expecting to see a tumbleweed rolling on the street… that would have made it perfect.

Anyway, at 3.55pm I took a 15 min bus to Purmamarca. And I am so glad I went there in the late afternoon. The majority of organized tours had finished and I was basically on my own on the 3
km walk around the “Cierro de¬†los Siete Colores” (“7 Colour Mountain”).¬†What can I say… the
pictures below don’t really make justice.¬†The mountain¬†is¬†just magical.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDeei-D2dz/?taken-by=rmelogli

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDfFAkD9XC/?taken-by=rmelogli

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNDftvIjPNf/?taken-by=rmelogli

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I believe I saw more than 7 colours! And I never took so many pictures in my life.

Purmamarca > Salta

At the end of the day, I relaxed away with a well deserved ice cream, while waiting for my long bus ride back to Salta and looking forward to a hot shower.

The bus only goes up to Jujuy town, and then you have a coincidence for Salta. Let’s say I made it back, but I was really exhausted at the end!

I guess you wanted to know if all this madness was worth it?

Well, I believe it definitely was ūüôā