Scenic Tour of Argentina: Mendoza, Barreal, Salinas Grandes & More

A 15 day trip to Argentina 
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Do you dream of big adventure? Do you imagine yourself deep within one of the planet’s great deserts, casting your conquering eye over the swath of wildlife that you just traversed? Do you long for a journey into the heart of life? If you’ve ever wanted to truly see the world, this scenic tour of Argentina will show you the way. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Pampa del Leoncito, Valle de la Luna, Talampaya, Parque Nacional Los Cardones, Salinas Grandes

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Arriving in Argentina

You touch down this morning in beautiful Buenos Aires, where a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your accommodations. Your hotel is an elegant and comfortable establishment located in the heart of Buenos Aires’s bustling Microcentro and steps away from Florida Street, one of the city’s main shopping areas.

The afternoon features a unique and unforgettable tour of Buenos Aires. The tour is centered around the city’s “four balconies,” public parks in some of the city’s most exciting and fascinating barrios (neighborhoods). You will experience a rarely seen glimpse into the history and culture of this one-of-a-kind capital. From the Plaza de Mayo to Plaza San Martin, and from Parque Lemaza in vibrant and colorful La Boca to Plaza Alvear in sedate and sophisticated Recoleta.

What's Included: transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Venturing Into Wine Country

Following breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport to await your flight to Mendoza, the capital of Argentina’s burgeoning wine industry and one of the most charming cities in the country. Drop off your bags at the luxurious and serene hotel. Your room overlooks the endless rows of grapes in a nearby vineyard or a stately courtyard where you can relax and simply revel in your surrounding. The staff is friendly, the food decadent and the wine superb.

In the afternoon, tour some of the region’s most famous wineries. You’ll gain first-hand knowledge of the unique growing conditions around Mendoza which lead to the world’s best Malbecs. You'll also learn about the history of viticulture in the area, and the incredible transformation of Old World grapes into New World wines. Of course, you’ll get the chance to sample some of the area’s famous products, delighting not only in the delicious varietals but also in the spectacular scenery.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, flight, tour, accommodation

Day 3: A Scenic Ride Through the Ruta de los Caracoles

Turn north from Mendoza to encounter some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes of western Argentina, weaving your way through a serpentine road known as the Ruta de los Caracoles – the Snail Road. Stop at the village of Uspallata, a vital stopping point in the road between Argentina and Chile, and a place that is filled with incomparable natural beauty. You’ll get a chance to look out over the wide valley and imposing peaks beyond, and take in the history of Las Bovedas. The structures have domed edifices made out of clay and were likely used in the mining of silver and gold that made up the area’s main economic activity for generations.

Continue past Uspallata to Barreal, nestled in the expansive Calingasta Valley in the heart of the rugged and romantic Andes Mountains. The horizon is dominated by the soaring spires of Mt. Mercedario climbing more than 20,000 feet in the air, as well as other massifs that soar over the valley floor. The evening sees you in San Juan and at a quaint and cozy hotel, where the meals are delicious, and every room opens out to a charming courtyard.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 4: Discovering the Magic of Northwest Argentina

Today features a full-day exploration of the breathtaking natural splendor that surrounds you on all sides, drawing you in with its overwhelming beauty and a grandeur that is unlike any other place on Earth. You’ll wind your way along minor roads through the Andes until you reach Los Patos River, where you’ll be afforded stunning vistas of the mountainous countryside. On your way to Barreal, a charming village in San Juan Province, you’ll stop by the Pampa del Leoncito, a high, arid plain that stretches all the way to the horizon. The jagged ridges of waterless sand give way to the craggy visages of the Andes beyond.

The evening sees you visiting the spectacular Leoncito Astronomical Complex, an observatory equipped with five telescopes offering sensational views of the heavens. From a 59 inch radio telescope designed to observe solar flares, to their grandest machine, an 85 inch, 40 ton telescope that can capture all of the incredible occurrences of the cloudless night sky high over the Argentine desert.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 5: Starting Out for the Oasis City

Today, you leave for San Juan, the capital of the province and one of the largest and most important cities in the Cuyo region. The drive features an incredible display of the richness and diversity of life in this part of the country. You’ll pass by long-used calcium mines and high desert plains before reaching the fecund valleys dedicated to producing some of Argentina’s finest produce, from wine grapes to gourds, melons to asparagus, and all foods in between.

The afternoon takes you to the colossal Ullum Dam, one of the great engineering feats of the San Juan Province, and then to a vineyard that offers a unique twist on Argentine winemaking, The evening is spent in the peaceful surroundings of your hotel, apart from the bustle of downtown San Juan.

What's Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 6: A Visit to the Valley of the Moon

Today features an incredible adventure to Ischigualasto Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose otherworldly setting has earned it the additional moniker of Valle de la Luna – the Valley of the Moon. The park is filled with staggering geographical formations with names that perfectly encapsulate their appearance, from the unbelievable outcroppings of The Submarine to The Sphinx, a formation with an uncanny resemblance to the famous Egyptian sculptures near Giza. Ischigualasto is also an important archaeological site, as it contains an incredible collection of Triassic deposits and some of the oldest known dinosaur bones on the planet.

After a day in the midst of this historic and inspiring park, you’ll arrive at your boutique hotel nestled almost imperceptibly within the verdant slopes of the San Agustin del Valle Fertil, with services that are second-to-none, a friendly and helpful staff, and a kitchen that is dedicated to giving regional cuisine an upscale twist.

What's Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 7: Turning to Talampaya

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site awaits you as you venture into phenomenal Tamalpaya National Park, home to some of the most beautiful desert landscape in Argentina, as well as some of the country’s most historically significant archaeological finds. You’ll be awed by the tumbling walls of Talampaya Gorge, falling more than 450 feet from the canyon’s top to the former river plains below. Observe the incredible petroglyphs and other artifacts of the civilization that called this area home thousands of years ago.

Following your excursion at Talampaya, you’ll ride the sensational Cuesta de Miranda, where the rich red hue that runs alongside clashes vibrantly with the verdant vegetation below and brilliant blue sky above, creating a truly unique conjoining of color.

What's Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Spending the Day in Captivating Chanarmuyo

Today is dedicated to reveling in the comforts of your lodge and the exciting activities that it offers. You can visit the impressive Chanarmuyo Estate, a winery that combines the best of technology with age-old techniques and tradition to produce delicious wines that are harvested in a way that is truly state-of-the-art.

You can also explore the nearby countryside in a variety of ways. You might hike along the Paiman Range that looms on the horizon, or visit the nearby dam. Alternatively, be adventurous and horseback ride or go 4x4 trekking. However you choose to spend the day, you can be assured that it will be in the midst of breathtaking beauty.

What's Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 9:  The Ancient Civilizations of Argentina

Continue north through the deserts of northwest Argentina to reach Londres, a town founded by the Spaniards in the 16th century. You will also find the ruins at El Shinkal, where the remnants of the mighty Incan civilization still stand.

Next, you will go to Quilmes, a village named for the people who first inhabited the area before they were forced to relocate to Buenos Aires in 1664. There are several impressive pre-Colombian ruins here, highlighted by the crumbling walls of what was once a mighty fort. Following your visit to Quilmes, you’ll spend the evening at a luxurious hotel right at the base of this impressive structure.

What's Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Cruising the Northwest, From Cafayate to Cachi

Today takes you to the lovely city of Cafayate. The city is known as the jumping-off point for voyages into the Calchaqui Valleys as well for the production of high-quality wines. You’ll pass through the unforgettable outcroppings of the Quebrada de las Flechas, the Gorge of Arrows, so named for the incredible formations jutting out of the earth like arrowheads of some gigantic warrior. You will pass the charming town of Molinos on your way. The village has stood for four centuries, built around an irregular grid that reflects the changing lifestyle of the denizens of the area.

Finish your tour in Cachi, a gorgeous place with stone streets and alabaster edifices, known for the Church of Cachi. The church dominates the Central Plaza and the interior beams, alters and confession booths are all wrought from the wood of a local cactus. You’ll visit all of these sites as well as the intriguing offerings at the Pio Pablo Diaz Archaeological Museum, where some 5,000 pieces are on display.

What's Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 11: Into the Clouds

Today you leave Calchi to climb to the settlement at San Antonio de Los Cobres, one of the highest cities in Argentina at more than 12,000 feet above sea level. San Antonio de Los Cobres is located in the midst of a mineral-rich region from which the town derives most of its economic activity. The town is best known as a stop along the famous Tren a las Nubes, The Train to the Clouds. You spend the evening at your hotel where you’ll get an incredible view of the surrounding landscape.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 12: Through the Puna to Purmamarca

Your day starts at the immense expanse of the Salinas Grandes, the great salt flats of Argentina, stretching some 2,300 square miles and dotted with important sodium and potassium mines. Then, descend the mountain via the Lipan Slope to the iconic village of Purmamarca. The surrounding scenery will dazzle you, as the Cerro de los Siete Colores – the Hill of Seven Colors – will delight your eyes in a multi-hued explosion of light and color, from dusty red and burnt ochre to vibrant violet to grey to green. The village itself is situated around the Main Church, built in the 17th and 18th centuries, and an Algarrobo Tree that has stood for more than 500 years.

The local crafts fair is renowned throughout the area as an excellent gathering place for local craftsmen and artisans, and a visit to it is not to be missed. Your evening is spent at your hotel, filled with Old World charm and incomparable vistas of the mountains and hills that frame the complex. 

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 13: One Final Day in the Deserts of Argentina

Today you will pass through the mesmerizing Humahuaca Gorge, with waves of crimson and cream making up its immaculate walls. Arrive in Tilcara, a picturesque town on the Grande River. You’ll have the chance to explore this enthralling village that is perhaps the archaeological center of Jujuy Province. Witness the still-standing walls of the famous Pucara, the only publicly accessible archaeological site in the area, now home to an excellent museum and a nearby botanical garden filled with native cactus species.

Your day concludes at the nearby town of Salta. The evening is spent inside the posh and gorgeous setting of your hotel, where elegance and comfort greet you at every turn, from the sumptuous interior to an exterior that shows Old World opulence.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 14: Returning to the Capital

Spend the morning exploring the many offerings of Salta, from the spectacular Cabildo to the enthralling Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana, or simply relax in the captivating 9 de Julio Square in the center of town. The afternoon sees you back to Buenos Aires.

Spend your last evening at one of Buenos Aires’s finest parrillas (grills): Cabana Las Lillas is regarded by some as the best place to get a steak in the entire city, while Rodizio offers spectacular views and a unique experience, as they bring you the classic Argentina Asado on swords. Later, relax in your hotel, in the heart of the capital's downtown district.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 15: Adieu to Argentina

Today, after one final morning in Argentina, you’ll be transferred to the airport where you’ll board your flight back home, filled with memories of this incredible journey and of all the unforgettable sights, sounds, places and people.

Browse the Argentina travel agency reviews for other ideas on customizing this Argentina trip.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized Argentina tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $350 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $250 per person per day

The customized package will include accommodations, airport transfers and other transportation within Argentina, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.