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Off the beaten track Argentina: Remote Puna adventure

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Feeling as remote as the wilderness of Amazonia or Antarctica, the Puna de Atacama is a vast, other-worldly, arid landscape of extremes. On your six-day, guided expeditionary road trip you will be almost alone in rarefied, high-altitude desert mountain scenery as alien as the surface of Mars. 

A rugged plateau straddling Argentina and Chile, the Puna has intensely varied scenery with high mountain passes, salt-carpeted depressions and a crescent of volcanoes within which are glass-still lakes, pewter-shaded lava fields, ochre-hued volcanic cones and silvery pumice desert, slashed through by glacial streams. It's immense: the size of England, dotted with just a handful of hamlets. The region has been inhabited in the past: Inca ruins stab the volcanic peaks and ghost towns - abandoned mining villages - are fascinating to explore.

Your holiday here is bookended with a brief discovery of two of Argentina’s most fascinating historic cities, Buenos Aires and Salta. 

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Buenos Aires.

Day 2

Guided walking tour of Retiro and Recoleta.

Day 3

Fly to Salta. Afternoon guided walking tour.

Day 4

At leisure in Salta. Optional day walks.

Day 5

Your expedition begins: drive to Purmamarca.

Day 6

Enter the Puna: drive to Tolar Grande.

Day 7

Explore the Puna from Tolar Grande.

Day 8

Further explorations of the Puna en route to El Peñon.

Day 9

Explore the unique, pearl-white pumice fields.

Day 10

Leave the Puna and descend to Cafayate.

Day 11

At leisure in Cafayate.

Day 12

Return to Salta airport via Las Conchas Canyon, fly to Buenos Aires.

Day 13

Transfer to the airport for international flight.

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What our experts say

This is one of my favourite holidays to Argentina. I love the expeditionary feel of this trip – you truly feel as though you’ve left Earth behind and have ended up in an incredible, alien landscape. If you have already visited Argentina, enjoy exploring and would like to experience something completely different then this is an adventurous holiday that would definitely be worth considering.

David

David Nichols

Product and Marketing

Places visited on this holiday

Off the beaten track Argentina: Remote Puna adventure

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Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Along with Rio, this is a city worth crossing the Atlantic for in its own right. Dynamic, stylish and nostalgic, it’s the continent’s most European city, but does not lack South American verve. Its contrasting neighbourhoods reveal colonial plazas, shady avenues, quirky antique fairs, street art, world famous theatres and football stadiums and spruced-up metropolitan port districts. Studded with extensive parks, cutting-edge boutique hotels, designer boutiques and a myriad of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, it’s a restless place, challenging to find your way around but well worth the effort. It’s the beating heart of Argentina, the hub for visits throughout the country.
When's the best time to visit Buenos Aires?

Buenos Aires is at its hottest Jan-Mar (very humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40C during the day). It can be cold and cloudy Jul-Aug, so weather conditions are best for a visit in spring and autumn. Dec-Feb and Jul are local holiday times: Porteños head for the beach.

What's the official language in Buenos Aires?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Buenos Aires?

Argentine Peso.

Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. Please note that in 2016 many of the ATMs were not functioning properly; we are recommending that for the moment you take a good supply of US dollars cash. There are many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling frequently poor. 

What's the time difference between Buenos Aires and the UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Buenos Aires?

Beach time in Mar del Plata (392 km by road, 5hrs); Colonia or Montevideo in Uruguay across the River Plate: travel by ferry, bus or plane; a stay on a working estancia in the pampa south and west of the city; Iguazú Falls (2hrs approx by air).

How long is the flight to Buenos Aires from the UK?

Average flight time is 14hrs 20mins on a direct flight from London. There are also flights requiring a change of plane in Europe or the USA.

What are the festivals and cultural and sports events in Buenos Aires?

Tango Festival: Aug. The world's – top tango festival, nine days  of concerts, shows, free classes, exhibitions, open-air milongas (Avenida Corrientes is closed for a massive display) and other tango-related festivities.

Opera season: Mar-Dec. Take in a concert or opera at the refurbished Teatro Colón which attracts internationally esteemed artists. 

Argentine Polo Open: Mid Nov-mid Dec. Polo is a passion for many Argentines. This is the year’s main attraction, taking place in Palermo’s 16,000 seater stadium.

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Salta and the northwest Andes
Quebrada de las Conchas
Spiritually and culturally closer to the neighbouring Andean countries than the rest of Argentina, the remote northwest provinces have loads of attractions for visitors. These range from snow-dipped peaks, salt flats and arid, rust red canyons to lush forests, pre-Columbian ruins, lonely lime-washed chapels and a necklet of baroque colonial towns. The sunlit slopes are cloaked with vineyards, and everywhere there’s a warm welcome from the local people, many of whom have indian roots. At 1,200m above sea level, Salta is a delightful base for exploration of the region with a sumptuous cathedral, palm-shaded plazas and a cable car lift for views over the fertile countryside.
When's the best time to visit Salta and the Argentine Andes?
Salta has plenty of sun throughout the year but it can be cool in winter, when the trees and vines have lost their leaves, but it is drier with little rain falling Apr-Oct. The popular Train of the Clouds runs weekly Apr-Nov. The many festivals in the region mostly take place Dec-Mar.
What's the official language of Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Argentine Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs (many on calle España) using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. offering favorable rates for cash dollars. There are also banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash;  rates for euros and sterling are harder to find and frequently poor.

What's the time difference between Salta and the Argentine Andes and UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Salta and the Argentine Andes?

Mendoza in Argentina’s prime wine-producing region (direct flights 3 times a week, 1hr 40mins); Iguazú Falls (daily flights to Puerto Iguazú, 1hr 50mins) Chile’s Atacama desert around San Pedro de Atacama (12hrs scenic drive); southern Bolivia (11hrs drive to the border at La Quiaca).

How do i get to Salta and the Argentine Andes?

A flight from Buenos Aires to Salta takes 2hrs.

What are the festivals and cultural and sporting events in Salta and the Argentine Andes?
Many religious, artisan and agricultural festivals and processions take place throughout the region from January through Carnival to Easter every year.
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Medellin Centre

Medellín, long considered an edgy city to say the least - synonymous with the activities of its most famous resident, Pablo Escobar - has undergone a miraculous transformation.  

Now considered the engine of Colombia, it is bursting with enterprise, both commercial and artistic, with top quality gastronomy, music and enthusiastic partying also high on the agenda. There isn’t much to see here of the Spanish colonial heritage, as the drive towards modernisation has resulted in its replacement by glittering and innovative modern buildings and parks featuring sculptures and street art, free for all to observe and admire.

Medellín hosts many festivals and other social events, the most famous being the flower festival which takes place in August every year  (in 2018 it starts on 3 August) and features a parade of floral floats which must be the most colourful in Colombia.

On any walking tour, riding the cable cars, or en route to any one of many internationally renowned restaurants, you can feel the vibe of youthful optimism and pride which permeates the city.  It’s also a good base for visits to other attractions with good road and air links to many parts of the country, including the nearby coffee region, the Pacific beaches at Nuqui, and hikes in the surrounding hills.

When's the best time to visit Medellin?

The region in which Medellin is situated is an all-year destination. It enjoys a pleasant, temperate climate with plenty of sun and enough rain to keep the landscape verdant, and Medellin is known as the city of Eternal Spring for good reason. 

What's the official language of Medellin?

Spanish

How do I get local currency in Medellin?

Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in all major towns and cities, including Medellín, using a UK credit or debit card, though you may have to advise your bank first and amounts that can be withdrawn may be lower than in the UK. Be aware that some ATMs are often out of service but there should be a working one nearby. Banks will offer advances on a credit card, but with a lot of paperwork. Money exchanges (casas de cambio) change US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor).

What's the time difference between Medellin and UK?

GMT - 5 hrs

What places combine well with Medellin?

Medellín has air links with major Colombian cites such as Bogotá, a contrasting city with a large colonial centre and the famous gold museum;. and Cartagena Colombia’s most graceful and atmospheric cities, on the Caribbean coast. You can easily drive from Medellin to the beautiful Zona Cafetera coffee country - self-drive or escorted; visit the upcoming resort Honda on the Magdalena river, or travel to Nuqui on the Pacific coast in the steamy tropical  Chocó region.   

How do I get to Medellin?
You can fly direct to Medellín from New York, Miami, Lima, Mexico City, Panama City among other important cities. There are frequent domestic flights from Bogotá to Medellín, 1hr; several daily from Cartagena, also 1hr approx, adn from about 10 other Colombian cities. Colombia also has a good road network, though the mountianous terrain means journeys can be long.  

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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Off the beaten track Argentina: Remote Puna adventure

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