Walking in the High Andes

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Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 1 review >
Trip code: 
TAO
Activity:
Walking & Trekking
Min age:
18
Group size:
4–16

Spend 2 weeks following spectacular and dramatic hiking routes in the High Andes

Travel to the northwest Argentinean provinces of Salta and Jujuy and encounter a wonderful and surreal Dali-esque land where nature bends the rules in truly breathtaking fashion. We drive along exquisitely picturesque roads, through cloud forests, salt flats, and colourful rock gorges in pursuit of some unique ‘off the beaten track’ walks. Combining a fascinating insight into Andean heritage with an active walking itinerary - what better way to discover the tranquil and lofty heart of South America?

Highlights

Trek with llamas in the far north west of Argentina See the bizarre rock formations of Quebrada de Humahuaca Visit the Andean towns of Tilcara and Purmamarca Follow spectacular driving routes in Salta & Jujuy provinces Sample typical Andean cuisine and culture Start and end in lively Buenos Aires if booking Flight Inclusive package.

Key information

2 daywalks and 4 shorter walks

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Days of Walking & Trekking
Day by day breakdown
Day 22.0km/1.0miles
Day 315.0km/9.0miles
Day 43.0km/1.0miles
Day 56.0km/3.0miles
Day 83.0km/1.0miles
Day 911.0km/6.0miles

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Salta; walking city tour.

    Flight inclusive bookings will have arrived into Buenos Aires on the previous day and been taken to the centrally located hotel by the guide. There is a short city walking tour and opportunity for an evening out exploring the city (famed for its tango and steaks), should you wish. Flight inclusive bookings include internal flights from Buenos Aires up to Salta today.

    Those booking ‘Land Only’ will make their own way to Salta and meet the other group members at the start hotel (Hotel del Convento - or similar) in the early afternoon. Upon arrival we will take a short walking tour of the city and visit some of the main sights.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 2

    Drive the 'Train to the Clouds' route to Salinas Grandes salt flats; to Tilcara.

    This morning our adventure into northwest Argentina begins as we leave the city behind and drive west to the high Andean plateau. Our route takes us along the spectacular ‘Quebrada del Toro’ as we follow the famous ‘Train to the clouds’ passage through ever-changing scenery up towards the Argentinean Puna. This region borders Atacama in Chile, and Uyuni in Bolivia to form the Andean plateau.

    We’ll stop for a short walk to explore the Incan ruins of ‘Santa Rosa de Tastil’ along the way, and continue onwards to the town of San Antonio de los Cobres for lunch. A speciality of this region is the ever-present empanadas which come in a host of varieties, coffee is also widely drank, as is the ubiquitous tradition of drinking yerba mate (herbal tea drink). From here it is a further 1 hour drive to arrive at the otherworldly landscape of ‘Salinas Grandes’ salt flat, a huge expanse of white and a wonderful sight to behold.

    Our journey continues on yet another spectacular road to the town of Purmamarca - ‘Cuesta de Lipan’ winds its way downwards and offers simply stunning vistas en route. The next stop is our destination for the night, the small town of Tilcara, with its Adobe houses and indigenous population.

    Important note regarding what to pack:

    Today we cross the province border between Salta and Jujuy. Due to local regulations we aren’t permitted to carry our main luggage in our private bus across the border, so instead we will leave our main bags in the hotel in Salta and just carry what items we need for the time that we stay in Tilcara (2 nights, 3 days).

    Walking approx. 2km; duration 1 hour; max. altitude 3,800m
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Day trek on pilgrim route with llamas from Tilcara in La Quebrada de Humahuaca.

    After breakfast we will meet up with our local guide who will take us walking in the mountains surrounding Tilcara. This is a unique experience not only because of the incredible surroundings, but also because we will be accompanied by a caravan of llamas that our guide regularly walks with in the mountains.

    We will trek on a trail traditionally used by pilgrims at Easter time, to arrive at a place called Zanjas at around midday. Here we will meet members of the local community, the Martinez family, with whom we will share a traditional lunch. The terrain can be quite rough and we will go at a slow pace because of the altitude. Located at 3,000 metres above sea level, the area around Zanjas contains numerous natural sites of interest such as waterfalls and multi-coloured rock formations, in addition to archaeological sites that we can explore during the afternoon. It takes another 2 hours of walking to arrive back at Tilcara in the early evening.

    There are several good restaurants to choose from in the evening, all within walking distance of the hotel.

    Walking approx. 16km; duration 8 hours; max. altitude 3,000m
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Visit Pukara de Tilcara ruins; transfer to Salta.

    This morning is free to explore the town of Tilcara, and you’ll have the option of joining the tour to visit the nearby ‘Pukara de Tilcara’ remains of a pre-Incan fortification. Optional excursions such as mountain biking can be booked in the town. In the afternoon we will drive back to Salta. Weather permitting we will split this journey with a short 30 minute walk.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    To Quebrada de las Conchas; trek with local guide; transfer to Cafayate.

    Today we drive south into the province of Salta and meet another local walking guide in ‘Quebrada de las Conchas’ where we will undertake a fascinating trek to discover the geological wonders of the area, pausing for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we continue south to the town of Cafayate where we will spend the next two nights. The region is renowned for its vineyards and Cafayate is a lively and interesting town that acts as an ideal base in which to stay.

    Walking approx. 6km; duration 4 hours; max. altitude 1,700m
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Free day in Cafayate; optional activities.

    Today is a free day so it is up to you whether or not to spend the time relaxing with a glass of wine, strolling around Cafayate or doing an activity. There are several options available to book locally including a cycling tour of local bodegas or a relaxing massage at a spa.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Drive spectacular route to Cachi via Molinos and Seclantas.

    Departing Cafayate we travel north on Ruta 40, the picturesque road that wriggles down the full length of Argentina. Our destination is the town of Cachi. Along the way we will make various stops at points of interest to discover some of the cultural heritage of the area in addition to making some short walks.

    After passing Angastaco, we’ll stop for lunch in ‘Finca El Carmen’ a beautifully situated family property in a lush green valley surrounded by swathes of mesmerising rock formations. Further up the road we reach Molinos and a village famous in Argentina for producing ponchos as well as other handicrafts. Here is a great opportunity to buy quality handmade products direct from artisans. We spend the next three nights in Cachi.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Short walk to Cachi Adentro; lunch at winery; free afternoon.

    Today we’ll have a late start and then go on a short walk to Cachi Adentro. We’ll visit a small boutique winery and have lunch. In the afternoon we’ll return to the town of Cachi and have a free afternoon.

    Walking approx. 3km; duration 2 hours; max. altitude 2,500m
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 9

    Trek to Finca La Paya; boutique winery visit; free time in Cachi.

    Today we will go on a 5 hour trek from Cachi to a place called Finca La Paya. Here we will enjoy a superb lunch and be given a personalised tour by the host Virginia of her boutique winery that is also on the premises. It is quite likely that you’ll want to buy a bottle or two after tasting it, so be sure to remember to bring some money with you on the walk just in case! In the afternoon we return to Cachi and there is some free time for an extra walk in the surrounds hills next to the town, or to simply relax.

    Walking approx. 11km; duration 5 hours; max. altitude 2,500m.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    Stunning driving route down Cuesta del Obispo; End Salta.

    After breakfast we will drive to Salta Airport along the incredible ‘Cuesta del Obispo’ road, with photo opportunities aplenty. Depending upon timings, we will stop for a short walk in either Valle Encantado or Cachi Adentro, and have lunch in Sala de Payogasta.

    The trip ends for those booking Land Only in Salta, and Flight Inclusive bookings include the internal flight back to Buenos Aires.

    Those booking Flight Inclusive will arrive back in Buenos Aires this evening and there is time for a final night out in the city should you wish. The trip ends tomorrow with a transfer to the airport for the onward international flight to London.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Argentina

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay.

No visa required for holders of British passport.

If you are crossing the border into Argentina from Chile on your trip, we will need to know your profession in order to provide when entering Argentina.

The Argentine government charges a reciprocity fee which applies to Canadian and Australian citizens. The amounts are as follows: Australians - US$100 (multiple entry) Canadians - US$75 (single entry) This fee must be paid before you enter Argentina. For full details, and to make the payment, please visit: https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes

Vaccinations

Argentina

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers in Argentina, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

Dengue fever is also a known risk in Argentina. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Due to a recent outbreak of Yellow Fever in the Misiones province of Argentina, vaccinations are strongly recommended if you intend to visit the Iguazu Falls.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 6 lunches included

Weather

From November to February is the warm season in this region of Argentina and thunderstorms can occur. The cold seaon is June to August. Our departures are scheduled in April/May where the average daytiime temperature is about 22 Degrees Celcius, and in September/October when the average is around 25 Degress Celcius. It is a very pleasant and dry climate and we should encounter good conditions for walking. Temperatures can drop quite a lot at night time because of the altitudes.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 3 (Moderate). Please see the introductory pages of the trekking holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading. The walks on this trip are not long in terms of distance but they are varied and interesting and showcase the region in all of it's natural glory. We experience some high altitudes throughout the trip, with the highest being at Salinas Grandes (3450m above sea level), but we sleep at a lower level in Tilcara. The itinerary covers quite a lot of ground and so it involves some long journeys, however this time spent on the road is a highlight in itself, as we follow some spectacular and dramtic routes and regulalrly stop for photo opportunities. Altitudes: Salta 1152 metres Cafayate 1683 metres Cachi 2210 metres Salinas Grandes 3450 metres Tilcara 2461 metres Purmamarca 2800 metres You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

Those booking 'Flight Inclusive' will have a night in Buenos Aires at the beginning and end of the tour staying in a well-located hotel in the Retiro district of the city.

In Salta we stay in a wonderful old property in the city centre. All properties are mid-range with en suite facilities.

Single supplement from £570 land only (from £670 flight inclusive)

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2016

    Walking in the High Andes

    The sights seen on this trip are truly spectacular. I never believed you could see such a range of colours in one vista, almost the full spectrum! That, plus the quality of the walks, make this an amazing and unforgettable experience. The various included lunches were surprising. The mid-trek lunches were prepared by the accompanying local guides (how do they do it; keeping white wine chilled after a 4 hour walk?). The other two lunches, at the Fincas, were of outstanding quality.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking with llamas has to come top (but only just). There are two treks with the llamas, one a full day, one shorter. The llamas go at their pace, which tends to be slow. Those worried about walking at altitude can be reassured, no racing here! The walks in the Quebrada de las Conches and Chalcaqui Valley rival the siq at Petra, but longer and less populated. Condors wheeling in the deep blue sky.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Fantastic. Luciano was a thoughtful, knowledgeable and helpful guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some scrambling, but don't be worried by this: the guides are very conscientious and quick to help anyone experiencing difficulties.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Call us on 020 8772 3936