Private Journeys

Off the beaten track Argentina: Remote Puna adventure

13 days from £3,534pp

Argentina

Arg_Salta_Puna_El_Penon_DN_Free

Essentials

Altitude

A small minority of visitors may suffer temporarily from altitude sickness. Symptoms vary; most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. You need to take things easy on the first day travelling from Purmamarca to Tolar Grande and resist the temptation to jump out of the vehicle every 5 minutes to take pictures. The conventional advice is to avoid drinking alcohol and eat sparingly the first day over 3,000m, fortunately meals on this trip are not overly rich. 

Transport

Domestic flights are by scheduled jet. The vehicle used from Salta to Purmamarca and up into the Puna is a Toyota Hilux or similar, a 4WD pick-up which can accommodate 4 guests and a driver but we recommend that three is the maximum number for a comfortable trip. For other (paved) roads and transfers, normal 2WD cars are used.

Accommodation

Accommodation in the Puna is simple, the two small inns in Tolar Grande and El Peñon are cosy and comfortable considering their remoteness. Occasionally it may be necessary to use alternative, very basic accommodation. Food is simple throughout the Puna region. In Buenos Aires, Salta and Cafayate accommodation is in mid-range or upper-mid range hotels.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 5, 10, full board days 6-9.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Your experienced, qualified driver-guide on the Puna expedition is also a great source of information relating to the history, geology and geography of the area. There are only a small handful of guides equipped to take on this expedition with visitors.

Summary Of Nights

13 days, 12 nights: Buenos Aires 2; Salta 2; Purmamarca 1; Tolar Grande 2; El Penon 2; Cafayate 2; Buenos Aires 1.

Budget

The Puna expedition is full board, on days 6-9 your only living expenses should be drinks. Elsewhere, a budget of around US$50-70 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants in cities and you will pay considerably more.

Currency

The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso.

How To Take It

For our latest currency advice for Argentina please see our FAQs section.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 – 12% in restaurants.

Your driver-guide on the Puna expedition is also a great source of information relating to the history, geology and geography of the area. There are only a handful of suitably qualified driver/guides sufficiently competent and experienced to undertake this journey and you will no doubt take this into account when you come to showing your appreciation at the end of the trip.

Insurance And Documents

Travel insurance is essential.
Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey Grade

This holiday incorporates is an expedition in the true meaning of the word. You are setting off into a virtually uninhabited wilderness with unmade roads and little or no infrastructure. This is one of South America’s epic road journeys. You will be travelling with an experienced English-speaking guide, well acquainted with the conditions and the route, and able to entertain you with anecdotes and   acquaint you with the region’s history, geography and geology.

Owing to the unpredictability of the conditions, or bearing in mind your preferences, the itinerary is for guidance only, and changes may have to be made without notice. The expeditionary nature of this journey is part of its appeal, and a flexible attitude will help you fully to enjoy the experience.

Travel here is far from monotonous – the views change frequently and there’s almost no-one else around. Without mobile phone or internet access, you feel an exhilarating sense of isolation from the outside world. You’ll spend four full days exploring the Puna, travelling for several hours a day (with many stops for views, photos, and strolls).

Altitude combined with remoteness, lack of medical facilities and simple accommodation makes the Puna suitable for resilient travellers. The start point Salta is 1,200m and end point Cafayate 1,650m. However, almost all travel in-between is at altitudes of 3,000m – 4,500m. Sleeping altitude in Tolar Grande, Antofagasta de la Sierra and El Peñon is 3,500m. 

Climate

In Buenos Aires, October to November and March to April see temperatures between 15 and 25°C and a good deal of sunshine. January to February is hot, with temperatures over 30°C. Winter (June-August) sees daytime temperatures dip to 10-12°C.

Salta has plenty of sun throughout the year but it can be cool in winter, but it is drier with little rain falling Apr-Oct. Jan-Feb is the wettest period.

Much of the journey will be at altitudes of over 4,000m; the climate is equally extreme. There are sharp differences in temperature between night-and day-time, sun and cloud. Very cold nights are most likely in the height of the dry season (July-August) with sub-zero temperatures, but days can still be mild and sunny. The Puna can be visited year round but there are rare occasions when extreme weather can cause disruption due to floods or snow. This is mostly in the peak of the Andean summer rains (January-March) and the middle of winter (July-August). The best time to visit overall is September to December and April to June.  

Clothing And Special Equipment

In the southern hemisphere summer (Dec-Mar) it will be hot in both the cities – Buenos Aires and Salta – and the countryside, so take loose-fitting light clothing for maximum comfort.

If you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might bring something a bit smarter as well (although formal attire will not be required).

With regular changes in altitude and weather coming from the Andes, you need to come prepared for all seasons at all times of the year. In the Puna you may experience anything from a day of snow flurries and bitterly cold gale-force winds and a spectacular still day of warm sunshine in the low 20s. Nights are always cold with sub-zero temperatures possible. Layers are essential – a thermal long sleeved base layer won’t go amiss – in any case bring a warm jacket, hat, gloves. Sunscreen and sunglasses are essential.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus; typhoid. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Country info

When is the best time to visit Argentina?

Argentina is so large it’s always a good time to go somewhere. The southern hemisphere summer is the reverse of our own, with Dec-Feb being high summer in Patagonia. Spring (Oct-Nov) and Autumn (Mar-Apr) can still be very pleasant and are quieter. While summers in the lake district are reliably warm and sunny, the further south in Patagonia you go the more unpredictable the weather. In Winter (June-Sept) some hotels in Patagonia close, while others stay open for skiers. Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Córdoba enjoy a Mediterranean-type climate, with cool winters and very warm summers. North-west Argentina (Salta and Jujuy) enjoy sunshine and warm temperatures year-round but are influenced by altitude and the high Andes, with occasional cold snaps (June-Sept) and a rainy season (Jan-Feb). Iguazú Falls and Misiones has a subtropical climate, although it can be chilly July-Sept.

What is the official language of Argentina?

Spanish.

What is Argentina's official currency?

Argentine Peso (updated Oct 2019)

Argentina is cash-orientated, although in Buenos Aires and main tourist centres cards are widely used. In remote areas you may find only cash is accepted. It’s best to take US Dollars cash and change these into Pesos within Argentina. This can be done at a Casa de Cambio (passport needed) and at some hotels. Many (mid-range and up) restaurants will also accept US Dollars for payment and give you change in Pesos. Tips are always paid in cash, even if you pay for a meal using a card.
Although ATMs are available in Argentina some clients have reported difficulties withdrawing cash so it’s best not to rely on them. Local ATM fees can be high and the amount you can withdraw is usually much lower than in the UK. When using an ATM with a debit card you may be offered a choice of account type from which to make your withdrawal. Select ‘credit card’ (not ‘checking account’ or ‘savings account’ options).
Check your insurance limit for carrying cash and avoid having lots of Pesos left over: these are accepted at the duty-free shop in Buenos Aires airport but outside of Argentina it’s hard to exchange unwanted Pesos.

What's the time difference between Argentina and UK?

GMT -3 hrs. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, from Sep/Oct to early Mar, but not every year.

Which other countries combine well with Argentina?

Chile, accessing the country by crossing the Andes over one of several scenic passes: from Salta in the northwest to the Atacama Desert, from Mendoza to Santiago, via the lakes crossing from Bariloche to Puerto Varas in the lake district and from El Calafate to Torres del Paine in Patagonia; Brazil, via the land crossing at Iguazú.

What are the festivals and other cultural or sporting events in Argentina?

Tango Festival: Buenos Aires, August.
Polo Open: Buenos Aires province, weekends in November.
Gaucho Festivals: The pampas, early November.

How do I adapt to the altitude in Argentina?

Whilst a typical holiday in Patagonia presents no challenges with altitude, Argentina’s north-western provinces offer a taste of the high Andes with some spectacular road trips on offer. Travel to high altitude can cause mountain sickness and even if you feel fighting fit it’s important to take things easy and stay hydrated (drink plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and caffeine) as you get used to the thin, dry air. You may initially notice a headache, dizziness or breathlessness and this usually improves with acclimatisation. If you are pregnant or taking the contraceptive pill, have a medical condition such as heart or lung condition, anaemia, asthma, high blood pressure you should seek the advice of your GP before booking.  We also recommend you check your travel insurance covers travel to high altitude.  If you’re taking the family, remember small children may be less capable of communicating altitude-related symptoms effectively: keep an eye on them too. Rest assured we will plan your itinerary carefully, taking into account any time spent at altitude. If you have any questions or concerns about altitude please speak to your travel expert.

Further advice on travel to altitude is available on www.travelhealthpro.org.uk

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Guided walking tour in Buenos Aires
  • Guided walking tour of Salta
  • Full day exploration of the Humahuaca gorge
  • Excursions on the Puna expedition
  • Optional Quilmes archaeological site (entrance fee not included, you pay at the gate)

What's not included in the price

  • International flights to Latin America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

What's included in the price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
  • All land and air transport within Latin America
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Guided walking tour in Buenos Aires
  • Guided walking tour of Salta
  • Full day exploration of the Humahuaca gorge
  • Excursions on the Puna expedition
  • Optional Quilmes archaeological site (entrance fee not included, you pay at the gate)

What's not included in the price

  • International flights to Latin America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Consultant

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Escorted Groups team.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made team.

Meet the team