Northwest Argentina Tour: Salta, Cachi, Cafayate, Tilcara & Buenos Aires

A 12 day trip to Argentina 
4.71 out of 5 stars
7 reviews

This Northwest Argentina tour offers rugged landscapes and alluring villages, the grand facades of Spanish colonial buildings and the humble lives of the Gauchos. Northwest Argentina offers a glimpse of South America at its best. Come for the food, come for the tradition, come for the nightlife and the scenery and the people: whatever brings you here, you'll never want to leave.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Buenos Aires, Salta, Cachi, Cafayate, Tilcara, Purmamarca, Jujuy, Humahuaca

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Touch Down in South America

Begin your tour when you land on the outskirts of one of Latin America’s most spectacular cities, Buenos Aires. After being transferred to your luxurious hotel in the heart of the city, you’ll have the chance to take a guided tour of this magnificent metropolis. You can walk, drive, or even bike around this fascinating capital, taking in all of her unique and remarkable sights. Ogle at the incredible span of the Avenida 9 de Julio, the widest avenue in the world. See the impressive façade of Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires’s premier opera house featuring some of the best acoustics on the planet.

Have dinner at one of the local parrillas (grills) dotting the cityscape, where you’ll enjoy perfectly prepared Argentina beef and a sumptuous bottle of local Malbec in the presence of the vibrant nightlife of this one-of-a-kind city.

What's Included: transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 2: Exploring Argentina’s Capital

Set out early and hit the highlights of Buenos Aires’s many barrios (neighborhoods), each with a flair and character that is all their own. You’ll be dazzled by the multi-hued edifices in La Boca, ground zero of the Italian immigration to Argentina and one of the city’s most colorful neighborhoods. You’ll enjoy the stateliness and elegance of Belgrano, where expansive public parks and up-scale restaurants and boutiques line the wooded tile sidewalks.

Visit the country’s political center at the Plaza de Mayo and the Casa del Gobierno. Casa del Gobierno is the executive mansion of the President of Argentina and is popularly known as the Pink House (Casa Rosada) due to the vibrant color of the building’s exterior. Or tour the unparalleled cemetery in Recoleta, where Argentina’s elite have been buried for years, and whose peaceful and gorgeous grounds have earned commendation from BBC and CNN as among the most beautiful in the world. 

The evening brings a special treat, as you’ll enjoy one of Argentina's great cultural events: a tango concert. Hosted in one of the many clubs throughout the city, you’ll enjoy a show filled with passion, romance, and emotion while you dine, enjoying an incomparable feast for all the senses.

What's Included: breakfast, tango concert, dinner, accommodation

Day 3: A Day as a Gaucho

Today features a day-long excursion to the Gaucho heartlands near San Antonio de Areco. This area is home to the annual Dia de la Tradicion, a celebration of the history and heritage of the Argentina cattle hands who have plied their trade for generations. Bilingual guides will lead you on a tour of an authentic estancia, the ranches of the Pampas, where you’ll be wowed as local Gauchos demonstrate their skills and show off some fancy tricks. You’ll be fascinated by daily life in one of these famous estates.

Lunch is an asado, Argentina’s answer to a barbecue, where the open flames lick the tender cuts of beef while rich, spice-filled sausages sizzle alongside. The experience offers you the perfect glimpse into a meal that is as much a part of Argentine culture as their rapid sing-song Spanish. Surrounded by the splendor of the seemingly endless plains, the aromas of campfire cooking, the lilting lyrics to a Gaucho love song, and the warmth and friendliness of the local ranchers, don’t be surprised if you find your heart stolen away.

You will spend the evening in Buenos Aires to enjoy more of the vibrant nightlife of this magical city.

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

Day 4: The Colonial Treasures of Northwestern Argentina

Hop aboard a flight to Salta in Argentina’s historic northwest, where you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your elegant and comfortable accommodations. Set out with a native Quechan guide who will show you everything this gorgeous town has to offer. You’ll visit the exquisite Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana (MAAM).  MAAM features exhibits dedicated to pre-colonial culture, and the discovery of the famous “Llullaillaco Children,” three Incans who were discovered at the peak of Llullaillaco in 1999.

Spend the rest of the day perambulating the streets of this unique and fascinating town. You might want to visit the Museo Historico del Norte in the halls of the former cabildo. Or, take in the view of the town and it surroundings atop San Bernardo Hill. The evening features a folkloric show and dinner, where you’ll feel the power of culture and tradition in every step, every breath and every word. 

What's Included: breakfast, transfers, flight, tour, folkloric show, dinner

Day 5: Along the Incan Trail

Today is a full-day tour displaying some of the most awe-inspiring and breathtaking scenery of the Salta Province. You'll see snow-capped mountains that rise breathtakingly from the sparse and rugged plains. You’ll pass the rising crest of Bishop’s Hill and drive through the arid expanses of Los Cardones National Park, filled with desert flora like shrub bushes and cacti. There is also evidence of the prehistoric life that once teemed in the region, from skeletal fossils to dinosaur tracks. Also experience the human side of existence in this area in towns like Seclantas, where local artisans offer fine handicrafts and souvenirs from this indescribable landscape.

Should time allow, you’ll embark on a two-hour tour of the pre-Columbian civilizations near La Paya. Then, continue to Cachi, a town filled with remnants of Spanish colonialism and hemmed in by towering peaks reaching more than 15,000 feet above the ground.

What's Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 6: A Scenic Drive to Cafayate

Set out to explore the mountainous terrain of the region as you turn to Cafayate, nestled deep within the Cachaquies Valley. Observe the precipitous cliffs and brilliant white peaks of the nearby mountain ranges and the breathtaking contrasts of colors and textures. You’ll be wowed as you make your winding way along the riverbed and past the jagged crags of the Quebrada de las Flecha, where red sandstone escarpments rise from the earth in an uncanny resemblance of arrowheads.

Your final destination is the lush and verdant wine country of northern Argentina, where the Malbec is excellent but the white Torrontes grapes are second to none. An afternoon of relaxation is sure to be the perfect end to your morning of exploration. For a unique sweet treat, sample the local ice cream made from local wines, where the creamy texture and sharp bite combine to form an inimitable dessert delicacy.

What's Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 7: Going Gourmet in Salta Province

Today features a tour of three of Cafayate’s best vineyards and wineries, offering you a chance to taste the incredible offerings of local viticulturists. You'll taste the smooth texture and fruity notes of a Torrontes, and the bold and vibrant Malbecs that put Argentina on the world wine map. Tastings at the wineries give you the chance to learn more about the grapes and the wines they produce. You'll also get information about ideal food pairings and suggestions on how to serve, as well as insight into growing grapes and making wine in this unique environment.

Following the wine tour, you’ll be taken to one of the area’s famous goat farms. The tangy and creamy cheese offers the perfect complement to the light acidity and bold tannins of Cafayate’s wines. The evening sees you back in Cafayate, ready to enjoy another night in this one-of-a-kind village.

What's Included: breakfast, winery tour and tastings, accommodation

Day 8: A Spectacular Drive Through Calchaquies Valleys

Take a drive through one of the most fantastic stretches of scenery in the world. Fill your eyes with the rich contrasts of vibrant color. The red hills are etched by the green fields below, the slate grey peaks rise to the endless blue of the horizon, the sand blends to an incomparable ochre that casts the entire area in a warm orange glow. Stare in wonder at the unique geographical formations that fill the landscape, with light and airy names that perfectly encapsulate their one-of-a-kind splendor. From the soaring spire known as “The Obelisk” to the ridges and lines etched deep in the sandstone sides of the “Devil’s Throat.” Catch glimpses of ancient civilizations long since abandoned like the Ruins of Quilmes. You’ll ride past former colonial towns resplendent with the former glory of 16th century Spain until you reach Tilcara, a town surrounded by soaring mountains and filled with the air of aboriginal heritage. 

What's Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 9: Touring Tilcara

This morning you will visit perhaps the most famous site in Tilcara, the famous Pucara de Tilcara, a pre-Incan fortification that has stood in whole or in part for more than 10,000 years. Declared a National Monument by the Argentina government in 2000, this phenomenal structure is home to the only publicly accessible archaeological site within the Quebrada de Humahuaca valley. There is also an excellent museum with a permanent collection of more than 5,000 historical artifacts. Nearby you’ll also find a quaint and pretty botanical garden filled with cactus species native to the area.

In the afternoon, you will cross past the Tropic of Capricorn to discover the myriad charms of Humahuaca. Enjoy breathtaking views over the surrounding landscape and a church tower with an attraction that is truly unparalleled. Every day at noon, right as the clock strikes, a figure of Saint Francisco Solano appears to bless the assembled crowd before retreating to the tower.

What's Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 10: Purmamarca and Jujuy’s Salinas Grandes

Visit the enchanting town of Purmamarca in the morning where local artisans offer fine handicrafts at the local market. The view is dominated by the unspeakable allure of Cerro de los Siete Colores, the Hill of Seven Colors, one of the most recognized landmarks in all of northwest Argentina. Climbing the Hill gives you a vista from which to view the town, as well as an up-close look at the beautiful striation of stone and sediment that results in the almost other-worldly hues. The colors stretch across the face and run down the entire length of this incomparable formation.

In the afternoon, you’ll turn to survey the immense stretch of Salinas Grandes, the Great Salt Flats of Jujuy. The horizon blends to endless haze and the indelible power of the land sweeps you off your feet. You return to TIlcara for your last evening in the rugged and unforgettable Argentine north.

What's Included: breakfast, accommodation

Day 11: Returning to the Capital

Board a flight and return to Buenos Aires, where you can relax in your elegant hotel or hit the streets for some more sightseeing. Shops for leather goods of all kinds can be found in the various neighborhoods of Palermo, and colonial-style houses are everywhere in the charming barrio (neighborhood) of San Telmo.

Take in a fine steak dinner for your last night in Argentina: Cabana Las Lilas offers perhaps the best beef in the city, and Rodizio and Costanera Norte offers fantastic coastline views as well as mouthwatering asado.

What's Included: breakfast, flight, accommodation

Day 12: Heading Home

After one final morning of exploring Buenos Aires, board your flight to take you back home. You will be filled with the memorable sights, sounds, and stories of a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to this country that is truly in a class by itself.

What's Included: breakfast, transfer

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Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.