Bicycling Northern Argentina Plus! Ruins of Quilmes

Views from a guided bike tour in Northern Argentina
  • Length 12 days
  • From USD$4845
  • Style/Level Classic 4.0
  • Countries Argentina
  • Begin/End Salta / Tucuman
See related tours

Get off the beaten path in Latin America. Explore the famous Camino Inca or Inca Trail – a major trade and cultural route between Buenos Aires, Bolivia and Peru. Pedal paved roads through deserts, canyons, cloudforests, and wine country. Bike through Argentina’s rich past and experience the archeological ruins of once-prosperous, pre-Incan societies that thrived amidst the splendor of the spectacular Rio Grande Valley.
  • QUEBRADA DE LAS CONCHAS – See these twisted, dazzling geological formations.
  • PURMAMARCA – Visit a gorgeous small village situated at the base of a mountain of seven colors: a hub for artisans from Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.
  • CUESTA DE LIPAN – this pass is rightfully gaining notoriety with cyclists throughout the world. See wild guanaco, and llama as you ascend 26+ switchbacks before reaching the 13,600 foot summit.
  • QUILMES – Explore these justly famous ruins.
  • THE CANYONS OF CAFAYATE – Hike these gorgeous canyons.
If this sounds great but you’d like a shorter tour check out our Bicycling Northern Argentina tour, which includes the first 8 days of this tour.

Is cycling in South America for you? Check out our What to expect: Cycling in South America page.

Highlights

  • Ruins of Tilcara–the Pucará, Salta, 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 deserts, lush green valleys, quiet villages, and wine country, Cafayate’s wine country

Includes

Keep 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.

Road surface quality varies significantly expect sections of rough chip seal and potholes. Because there are very few roads in this area we’ll shuttle in and out of towns to avoid traffic.


Date Price Private room fee Note

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  • Total distance 639-719 km (394-444 miles)
  • Average daily distance 30 -86 kms (18 – 53 miles)
  • Tour style Classic
  • Tour level 4.0

Highlights: Salta, bike fitting, warm-up ride

We’ll meet early this afternoon in Salta. After introductions we’ll do a bike fitting, and take a short loop ride. Known to Argentineans as “Salta la linda,” or “Salta the beautiful” because of its delightful colonial architecture, pleasant weather and beautiful natural surroundings. We’ll be back in Salta in a few days so on your first day we recommend you enjoy the town square and lively city. Dinner is together this evening.

Meals : Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Villa Vicuna

Highlights: Cycle through cloud forest, views of the Andes

Today we’ll shuttle to the suburbs of Salta to cycle through a cloud forest to the outskirts of San Salvador de Jujuy, capital of the Jujuy Province. Today’s ride highlights the contrasts of the area as you pedal in and out of a cloud forest with song birds, ferns and bromeliads before descending back into desert and cactus country. We’ll have a picnic lunch at the border between the Salta and Jujuy provinces. San Salvador de Jujuy offers tremendous views of the Andes range which run the length of Argentina.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging : Altos de la Vina

Highlights: Cuesta de Lipan, Salina Grande

Today we shuttle 1h 15 minutes further north to Purmamarca, the town famous for its mountain of seven colors the “Cerro de Siete Colores.” Today you have a ride up to the great salt flats above Purmamarca. Considered one of the most epic and scenic rides in the region you’ll begin in Purmamarca at 2,325 meters (7625 feet), up the Cuesta Lipan to 4170 meters (13678 feet), downhill to the Salt Flats. The ride starts gently and offers stunning views from the first pedal stroke. The van will support the climb so if you decide to take a lift over the pass you can shuttle to the salt flats, or get back on your bike at the top and ride. There is nothing quite like the surreal feeling of walking in this immense basin of salt so we encourage everyone to give it a go! This afternoon we shuttle back to Purmamarca and our hotel.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging : Hosteria Posta de Purmamarca

Highlights: Hike through the Cerro de Siete Colores

We have a rest day today on the bike. In the morning we will offer a 40 minute shuttle to Tilcara de Jujuy to visit the famous archelogical site of Pucara de Tilcara. And in the afternoon we will journey further north to Purmamarca, the town famous for its mountain of seven colors the “Cerro de Siete Colores.” Put on your walking shoes and join us for the 4 km gravel path around the colorful mountain, or extend your hike further into the hills. This small village is also a great place to wander and shop for souvenirs at the traditional market in the square. Potter, painter, and ballad singer Barbarita Cruz was instrumental in preserving traditional pottery methods by offering workshops for both adults and children. You’ll also find woolen goods, musical instruments, and traditional food like empanadas, and dulce de leche in numerous forms. We recommend visits to the church and cemetery, the 600+ year old Algarrobo tree. We’ll have dinner together this evening. Our hike today will be at least 4 km long (more for those who wish)

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hosteria Posta de Purmamarca

Highlights: Guided walk of Salta

We shuttle back towards Salta today and then mid-morning jump on our bikes and pedal through the hills and back into town. Just before the descent into Salta we’ll recommend a great place for lunch where you can relax and enjoy views of the city. We’ll reconvene this afternoon for a guided walk of the city to learn about its pre-Columbian history.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Villa Vicuna

Highlights: Lush green valleys and quiet countryside

Leave the city for the quiet countryside and green valleys south of Salta. As you ride today notice the whitewashed colonial farm houses amid fields of one of the finest types of tobacco in Argentina. Our destination is the lake resort area of Dique Cabra Corral and our hotel tonight has a beautifully situated pool!

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Del Dique

Highlights: Spectacular scenery, Quebrada de las Conchas, Cafayate

We start our day with a shuttle before embarking on what some people consider their “most beautiful ride ever.” Decide for yourself as you pedal through the magical Quebrada de las Conchas, passing 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. Our destination is the colonial town of Cafayate, famous for its wines and a base for adventure travel in the area.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Killa Cafayate

Highlights: Hiking through canyons

Enjoy a relaxing morning exploring Cafayate. This afternoon we have a hike planned with a local guide to dive a little deeper into the rock formations and landscapes of Quebrada de Las Conchas. Dinner tonight is on your own and opportunities abound to sample local wines and specialties.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Killa Cafayate

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 the Spanish occupation for 130 years until 1667 when the Spaniards forced the population to march toward Buenos Aires. Hundreds died along the way, 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. Ride by Amaichá, famous for its museum complex dedicated to Mother Earth. The museum’s buildings, statues and exterior features are all made from stone and were all the work of one man, Hector Cruz.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Altos de Amaicha

Highlights: Biking over “Infernillo” pass

We leave the Quilmes valley to ride (or shuttle) up and over 1000 meters (3300 feet) to enter the valley of Tafi 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. The climb takes you through a desert environment with cactus covered mountains to the summit – Spanish conquistador’s used this pass to enter Argentina as they traveled East from Peru. You’ll notice a dramatic difference in the landscape as soon as you begin your descent to the valley; the vegetation suddenly becomes lush. Explore Tafi and enjoy lunch on your own before we rendezvous to our shuttle to our hacienda!

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Estancia Las Carreras

Highlights: Tropical forest, San Miguel de Tucuman

We have a 50km (30 miles) 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. The last 10 km of the ride takes us through one of the world’s largest lemon groves. We’ll shuttle into 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.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Bicentenario

Highlights: San Miguel de Tucuman

Our tour ends today. Whether you’re off to Buenos Aires or heading back home, buen viaje!

Meals : Breakfast

Visit our Tour Level page to learn more about terrain levels and how we determine day and tour levels.



Pre-trip planning checklist



  • 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
  • Everything was perfect. The guides, scenery, hotels, other cyclists and our friend, Doug, became a bike vacation convert!

    Jean A., Seattle, WA
  • 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