Discover Northern Argentina Plus! the Ruins of Quilmes

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.***

There are no upcoming tours scheduled at this time.

Tour Style: Hold A Space Request Private Departure Download Itinerary Tour Map
  • Trip At-A-Glance
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
Trip At-A-Glance

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 12 Days
  • Total Distance / 639-719 km (394-444 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / Average of 10 riding days: 64 - 72 km (39-44 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 1.0
  • Countries / Argentina
  • Begin/End / Salta/Tucuman
  • Price / From USD$3375
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • 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

    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.

    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. Our bikes in South America are aluminum frames and the road bikes come with a carbon fork. The hybrids have front shocks, and 26 inch wheels.
  • Includes
    Shuttle from the Salta airport, 11 nights accommodation, 11 breakfasts, 3 packed lunches, 7 dinners with wine, including a special "finca" visit

  • 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.
  • Overall Tour Level
    1.0 difficulty level 1.0

    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.

  • Daily Ride Summary




    Day Level



Terrain Legend

Gentle Gentle

Rolling hills Rolling hills

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
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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

  • Meals: Dinner

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

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

  • Meals: Breakfast

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

  • Meals: Breakfast

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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

  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

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!

Meals: B

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

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.

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. Our bikes in South America are aluminum frames and the road bikes come with a carbon fork. The hybrids have front shocks, and 26 inch wheels.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Refer to your Tour Packet/Itinerary to see step-by-step arrival and departure information for your tour, meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • Begin your chosen training program.
  • Final payment is due 90 days (120 days for Bike &Barge/Boat tours) prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail we send 10 days prior to the due date for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Start reading one of the books or watching one of the movies from our Reading and Movie Lists:
  • Plan what you are going to pack and start packing! Refer to the Packing Lists on our website at
  • We'll email you your access code to Digital Daysheets, Hotel Itinerary, Participant Roster, names and contact information of your Tour Leaders, emergency phone numbers, and other important departure information about 2 weeks prior to your tour start date. All this will be provided to you via a feature called Experiences via the RideWithGPS App (tracks available but not necessary for navigation on Classic, Expedition and Bike & Boat tours).

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour





  • Sailing the boat, every afternoon relaxing on the boat after biking and swimming, lovely dinners, hearty breakfasts, bee keepers, traditional dinner out, rides through the islands (up and down!), guides, fellow passengers, crew on the boat-- really it was ALL great.

    Cheryl A., Colchester, VT - June 2021

Awards, Memberships and Reviews