Discover Northern Argentina Plus! the Ruins of Quilmes
Here's an exciting bicycle touring opportunity to get a little further off the beaten path in Latin America. This tour presents irrefutable proof that there is a lot more to see and do in Argentina than visit Patagonia! We'll bicycle through areas that were once home to a thriving pre-Incan population and the archeological heritage demonstrates the prosperity that came with being located in the spectacular Rio Grande Valley. A large part of the area includes the famous Camino Inca or Inca Trail and a major trade and cultural route between Buenos Aires, Bolivia and Peru. We start with three days of glorious downhill bicycling as we come down from our 10,000 foot perch in Salta. We'll pedal on paved roads through lush valleys, stopping to explore pre-Incan ruins, deserts, cloudforest, and wine country. We ride through the twisted and dazzling geological formations of Quebrada de las Conchas, see the famous ruins at Quilmes, and stop in San Miguel de Tucuman, the city where a delegation first declared Argentina's independence in 1816.
***If this sounds great but you'd like a shorter tour check out our Discover Northern Argentina tour, which includes the first 8 days of this tour.***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Shuttle to Quebrada de Humahuaca
Highlights: Quebrada de Humahuaca, Tilcara, Pucara' de Tilcara
We'll offer a shuttle from the Salta International Airport at 2:30 pm or from the center of Salta at 2 pm and drive north to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a UNESCO World Heritage site and our home for the next few nights. We stay in colorful and delightful Tilcara, one of the most famous towns in the Jujuy province which merges indigenous cultures with modern times. We'll plan to fit bikes and suggest a ride north up the canyon, toward Humahuaca and Bolivia (about 240 km away). We'll enjoy a welcome dinner together tonight. Mileage: Your choice for a short ride.
Distance: Test Ride. Meals: D
Lodging: Hotel Viento Norte
Day 2: Ride to Purmamarca
Highlights: Ruins of Tilcara, Cerro de Siete Colores, small indigenous towns, Purmamarca
After a safety talk this morning, we encourage you to either visit the Pucará de Tilcara if you have not already done so, or ride north in the canyon to see its colorful walls. The Pucará de Tilcara is a restored Incan fortress that overlooks the modern town of Tilcara; you can see the strategic position the Incas chose to build their fortress! When ready, glide down the canyon; none of the tourists traveling by bus have the opportunity to stop at the small villages along the way, so be sure to take time to explore places like Posta de los Hornillos and Maimará on your way. Delight in the vibrant walls of the Quebrada, made up of a variety of mineral deposits that merge to create a rainbow of rocks. We'll see this very well in Purmamarca, which is famous for the Cerro de Siete Colores, the mountain of seven colors.
Distance:27 km (17 miles) to Purmamarca; as much additional mileage as you want north. Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hosteria Posta de Purmamarca
Day 3: Purmamarca
Highlights: Rest day, bike to over 13,000 feet, Cerro de Siete Colores, walk or bike the surrounding hills, salt flats
We have a rest day today in the town famous for its "Cerro de Siete Colores." Walk the 4 km gravel path around the colorful mountain, or head off for some other hiking in these sedimentary rock hills. Anybody wanting a challenge can bike up the 25+ hairpin turns to reach 4170 meters (13,681 feet). Or, we'll help arrange a visit to the salt flats high above to see the incredible expanse of white, bordered by dominating mountains. Or, relax and wander the village, visiting the church and shopping in the main square where street vendors sell traditional crafts as well as woolen goods from nearby Bolivia.
Distance Optional: Approx 58 km (36 miles) up to Cuesta Lipan at 4170 meters and continue to salt flats. Shuttle back to Purmamarca.
Lodging: Hosteria Posta de Purmamarca
Day 4: San Salvador de Jujuy
Highlights: A 3000 foot descent, optional ride to thermal spas, Capital of the Jujuy Province
We fly downhill today to the capital of Jujuy province, San Salvador de Jujuy. Stop along the way at the villages of Tumbaya and Volcan or bike an extra ride up to thermal pools. Our landscape changes as we lose the sandy, rocky colors of the desert and enter a more urban area. San Salvador de Jujuy is a well-preserved colonial town and is home to a lovely cathedral, built in 1750, surrounding Plaza Belgrano. If the Indian market is open be sure to visit; most vendors dress in traditional costumes selling food, indigenous crafts and textiles.
Distance: About 66 km (41 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Altos de la Viña
Day 5: Salta
Highlights: Cloudforest, Salta, our first climb
Today is our first day with some physical effort as we climb out of the Jujuy valley to enter the Salta basin through a cloudforest. We spend tonight in the city of Salta, the capital of the Salta province, known to Argentineans as "Salta la linda," or "Salta the beautiful." Take time to visit the famous archaeological museums and the important sites of the city.
Distance: 94 km (58 miles). Meals: B, L
Lodging: Hotel Patios de Lerma
Day 6: Coronel Moldes
Highlights: Lush green valleys and quiet countryside
We leave the city for the quiet countryside and green valleys south of Salta: as we ride we'll see many whitewashed colonial farm houses amid fields of one of the finest types of tobacco in Argentina. Our destination is the small village of Coronel Moldes; you can relax or take an extra ride into the verdant hills around the lake resort area of Dique Cabra Corral. In the late afternoon we'll visit a finca, a typical tobacco farm and we'll learn about the gauchos and their work in the field. We'll enjoy dinner together at the finca, where the owner will cook us a delicious asado.
Distance: 75 km (47 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel del Dique
Day 7: Cafayate
Highlights: spectacular scenery, Quebrada de las Conchas, Cafayate
We'll start our day with a shuttle to a goat farm, where you can buy some cheese, or maybe some "dulce de leche" made with goat milk! Today's ride could easily be labeled "the most beautiful ride ever." We'll pedal through the Quebrada de las Conchas, riding by geological formations eroded into forms such as the "Devil's Throat," the "Frog," the "Amphitheater," the "Monk," and more. Take your time through the canyon as the late afternoon light creates an explosion of colors over the last 30 km. We arrive in the colonial town of Cafayate tonight, famous for its wines and a base for adventure travel in the area.
Distance: 90-139 km (56-86 miles). Meals: B, L, D
Lodging: Hotel Killa
Day 8: Day off in Cafayate
Highlights: Quebrada de Las Flechas, San Carlos
Enjoy a rest day in Cafayate today - we'll recommend a ride to the nearby town of San Carlos, or, for those interested, we'll help arrange a visit to the Quebrada de Las Flechas, a stunning expanse of rock formations jutting up perpendicularly from the ground, or back to the Quebrada de Las Conchas for a sunset walk. Opportunities abound to sample local wines and specialties.
Distance: Your choice, 28 km possible on paved roads (17 miles). Meals: B
Lodging: Hotel Killa
Day 9: Quilmes and Amaichá del Valle
Highlights: Wine country, famous ruins of Quilmes, Pachamama ("Mother Earth") museum complex
Our ride from Cafayate takes us by several of the vineyards that make this area's wine famous. We are riding along the valley toward the most famous ruins in Argentina - Quilmes. The indigenous community here resisted the Inca invasion first and then the Spanish occupation for 130 years until 1667 when they were finally defeated; the Spaniards forced the population to evacuate the village and march toward Buenos Aires. Hundreds died along the way, and the town of Quilmes fell into ruin. The survivors settled north of Buenos Aires and christened their new town, after the old and called it Quilmes. Wander through the partially restored ruins for a stunning view of the entire valley and visit the museum. Continue for another 17 km (10 miles) to arrive to the small town of Amaichá, famous for its museum complex dedicated to Mother Earth.
Distance: 66 km (41 miles). Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Altos de Amaicha
Day 10: Tafí del Valle
Highlights: biking over the "Infernillo" pass, through cactus and mountainous landscape
We leave the Quilmes valley to ride or shuttle up and over 1000 meters (3300 feet) to enter the valley of Tafí del Valle. Set in a fertile valley this famous town acts as the local resort for the people of the nearby city of San Miguel de Tucuman. We'll climb just under 1000 meters (3200 feet) through a desert environment with cactus covered mountains to the summit - the Spanish conquistadores used this pass to enter Argentina as they traveled East from Peru. You'll notice a dramatic difference in the landscape as soon as we begin our descent to the valley; the vegetation suddenly becomes lush and green.
Distance: 53 km (33 miles). Meals: B, L, D
Lodging: Hosteria Luna Huana
Day 11: Downhill rides to San Miguel de Tucuman
Highlights: Tropical forest, San Miguel de Tucuman
We have a screaming downhill through a luscious tropical forest, the yungas, a stark contrast from the Alpine meadow valley area of Tafi and the desert like environment of the previous days. We finish our tour in the city of San Miguel de Tucuman, the largest city in northwestern Argentina. This provincial capital is where delegates declared the country's independence from Spain on July 9, 1816.
Distance: 109 km (68 miles) - 50 km (31 miles) are downhill. Meals: B, D
Lodging: Hotel Presidente
Day 12: Journey's End
Highlights: San Miguel de Tucuman
Our tour ends today. Whether you're off to Buenos Aires or heading back home, buen viaje!
HighlightsRuins of Tilcara--the Pucará, Salta, goat cheese tasting, Purmamarca's Cerro de Siete Colores, the Mountain of Seven Colors, UNESCO World Heritage Site Quebrada de Humahuaca, Geological formations at Quebrada de las Conchas, Colorful deserts, Incan ruins, Rides through lush green valleys, quiet villages, and wine countryKeep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.
IncludesShuttle from the Salta airport, 11 nights accommodation, 11 breakfasts, 3 packed lunches, 7 dinners with wine, including a special "finca" visit plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Arrive/DepartSalta (SLA) / Tucuman (TUC). There is a reciprocity entry fee for entering Argentina through an international airport; USA, Canada and Australia passport holders are required to register and pay the fee online prior to arrival.
Total Distance639-719 km (394-444 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage of 10 riding days: 64 - 72 km (39-44 miles)
Rating301 Take this to a 401 level by doing all of the optional rides. Opportunities to climb a mountain pass on Days 3, 5 and 10.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes
* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.
6 Reasons to Bicycle Chile and Argentina
ExperiencePlus! owner and occasional tour leader Maria Elena Price shares 6 reasons you should explore Chile and Argentina.
Argentina Travel Planner
Read up on country customs, airport information, culinary specialites, and more!
Discovering the Magic of Northern Argentina
Javier Lardone reflects on what makes Northern Argentina a unique cycling destination.
Get Off the Beaten Path
Northern Argentina is awesome.
Meals on Your Bicycle Tour
Information on how meals work on ExperiencePlus! Bicycle tours
Movie Review: Wild Tales
Argentine director and writer Dami´n Szifrón holds bragging rights for Argentina's most popular film of 2014.
Tika's Secret about Argentina
Tour leader Tika Walde shares the secret of his favorite cycling destination in Argentina.
We Are ExperiencePlus! Meet your Tour Leaders
We'd like to introduce you to your tour leaders. We believe we have the best bicycle tour leaders out there, click through to see a slideshow about them.
An Argentine Gem Hidden No More
Link to a 2010 New York Times article featuring the town of Jujuy, and other places we visit on tour.
Article on Salta, Argentina
Salta, Argentina: Wind-Carved Land of Strong Wine and Difficult Love - from a 2006 NYT travel article.
Quebrada de Humahuaca Unesco World Heritage
The Quebrada de Humahuaca is a mountain valley that has been in use as a cultural route between the Andean highlands and the plains for over 11000 years.
- 6 Reasons to Bicycle Chile and Argentina
Wonderful, wonderful food including meals that were at the homes of local residents. Consistently good lodging. Excellent, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable guides. Much beautiful scenery.David S., Appleton, WI
Incredibly well-planned and supported in an exceptionally beautiful locale. My favorite things: The camaraderie of the group, interacting with the friendly, encouraging and knowledgeable support staff and the home-cooked meals eaten at the homes of ordinary local people.John T., Portland, OR
We went to a small winery on our day off in Cafayate. The guides drove us out in the van and after the tour we had lunch on the porch. It was a sunny day and the view was of the vineyards with the mountains behind us and in the distance. Was perfect Argentinean moment.Marion M., Toronto, Canada
Loved the trip up to the salt flat. Best bike days were the ride up through the cloud forest en route to Salta and the gorgeous canyon ride to Cafayate.Carolyn D., Concord, NH
The scenery, the roads, the weather, the food and of course the guides. Michele aka Butter Ball - was a delight and Javier aka Lover Boy was the most pleasant and knowledgeable guide I've experienced. The whole trip was great biking and most relaxing. What else can I say. Perfection!!Carol S., Ketchum, ID
Just a note to say THANK YOU. We had the absolute best time -- what a wonderful trip itinerary, and our guides, Michele and Javier, were FANTASTIC. They were not only loads of fun, they were always there for us, always wanting to do more, always explaining everything about the trip, the country, the history, the food...Carol and I are brewing up another trip with you -- hopefully next year in Italy.Carol H., Bellevue, ID
I loved the whole trip. The rides through the colorful canyons was almost like being home, just not so many people. The change of scenery from reds and oranges and desert like to green lush tropic like vegetation was great.Carolyn M., Centerville, UT
Another great ExperiencePlus tour!Harold M., Centerville, UT
The tour leaders were amazing. Each offered different skills and personality. Javier is a real asset with his language and history skills.Rich H., Cheyenne, WY
Everything was perfect. The guides, scenery, hotels, other cyclists and our friend, Doug, became a bike vacation convert!Jean A., Seattle, WA
I'm back home and not quite over my trip after almost a week. Loved Argentina and wanted to let you know how impressed I was with ExperiencePlus!. We had excellent guides who were efficient, fun and interesting. The country was vast and gorgeous, often feeling bigger than anything that we have in our West. Our week came off without a glitch and I would do it all again. Thank you for your help and support. I was the only one in the group who had not ridden many times with your organization and that says it all.Doug W., Tiburon, CA