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Experience Plus - Bicycle Tours since 1972
Discover Northern Argentina Plus! the Ruins of Quilmes
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Bicycle Tours in Argentina: 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.***

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.

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. Mileage: 28 km (18 miles) to Purmamarca; as much additional mileage as you want north.

Lodging: Hosteria Posta de Purmamarca

Day 3: Purmamarca

Highlights: Rest day, bike up to 13,000 feet, Cerro de Siete Colores, walk or bike the surrounding hills, salt flats at 12,000 feet.

We have a rest day today in the town famous for its "Cerro de Siete Colores." Walk or bike 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. Dinner is on your own. Mileage: Optional; approximately 40 km (25 miles) up to Abra de Porterillos at 4170 meters.

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. Mileage: About 60 km (37 miles).

Lodging: Jujuy Palace Hotel

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. Dinner is on your own. Mileage: 91 km (56 miles).

Lodging: Altos de Balcarce

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. Mileage: 61 km with optional 8-20 km available (37-49 miles).

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. Take a stroll through town before enjoying dinner together. Mileage: 88-130 km (54-81 miles).

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. Dinner is on your own tonight; opportunities abound to sample local wines and specialties. Mileage: your choice, 28 km possible on paved roads (0-17 miles).

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 Spanish occupation until 1667 when they were finally conquered; the Spaniards forced the population to evacuate the village and march toward Buenos Aires. Nobody survived the trek, and the town of Quilmes fell into ruin. Wander through the partially restored ruins for a stunning view of the entire valley and visit the museum. Continue for another 14 km to arrive to the small town of Amaichá, famous for its museum complex dedicated to Mother Earth. We'll eat together in the hotel tonight. Mileage: 68 km (43 miles).

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. Mileage: 35-61 km (22-39 miles).

Lodging: ACA Hosteria-Sol del Valle

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. Mileage: 100 km, of which 60 are downhill.

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!
  • Highlights
    Ruins 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 country
  • Includes
    "The Usual" plus... Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; Shuttle from the Salta airport, 11 nights accommodation, 11 breakfasts, 3 packed lunches, 7 dinners with wine, including a special "finca" visit
  • Countries
    Argentina
  • Begin/End
    Salta/Tucuman
  • Arrive/Depart
    Salta (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 Distance
    531-799 km (328-493 miles)
  • Daily Distance
    0-130 km (0-62 miles)
  • What to Expect
    Arrive in Salta a few days early and adjust to the altitude before our transfer to Humahuaca with sits at nearly 10,000 feet. Great downhill bicycle rides for the first 3 days. Spectacular scenery along the rides.
  • Rating
    201-301
    Some climbing on Days 5, 7, 10. Shuttles available for 201 cyclists. Optional rides abound.
  • Notes
    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.
  • Terms
Dates Price Single
Supplement*
Next
Step
Sep 26 - Oct 07, 2014 $4350 $600 Book It
Apr 27 - May 08, 2015 TBA TBA Book It
*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 single supplement rate. This fee will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available this fee will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.
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Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.

Map Key

Green pinStart
Yellow pinCity (on route)
Red pinEnd
Other city dotCity (not part of route, provided for reference)
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