Just Wanderlust Blog » A discerning, food-loving, & culturally curious road warrior seeks the world's beautiful and bizarre destinations.

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Off The Beaten Path In Argentina: Quebrada De Humahuaca & Purmamarca

Located in the Northwest corner of Argentina, the Quebrada de Humahuaca is a mountainous valley that is so beautiful, I’m still wondering why it wasn’t more well known!  It’s an Unesco World Heritage site.  It reminded me of jagged mountains I had seen in Iceland, the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, and the red rocks and cacti I’d seen in the American Southwest – as if someone took the most striking characteristics of these places and put them all in one place… and then splashed the mountains with streaks of watercolor.

The pictures definitely don’t do the place justice since it’s one of those places you have to experience first hand (nothing like being surrounded by towering mountains to really give you a sense of just how small we are and how majestic and huge the world is) but that didn’t stop me from snapping photos anyway!

I also loved how different the way of life is in the little towns in the Quebrada de Humahuaca.  The locals resemble Bolivians and Peruvians way more than they do the porteños in Buenos Aires.

The towns were also a lot more authentic with barely-paved roads, mud houses, and the requisite “handicraft” markets for the tourists who do make it out there (unsurprisingly most of the tourists are Argentine).

If you’re making it out this far, don’t forget to stop by Purmamarca!  This quaint town sits at the bottom of the uh-mazing Hill of Seven Colors (Cerro de Siete Colores).  Have you ever seen a more colorful hill?

While the Hill of Seven Colors is the main attraction, the surrounding mountains and the scenic town were definitely worth the pit stop:

The little detour to Purmamarca was probably the highlight of the weekend next to the grandeur of the Salinas Grandes!  Who knew Argentina had such stunning landscapes, right?  I love discovering places like this that are somewhat off the tourist radar — it’s like winning the travel lottery!

If you’re planning to go:

  • The Quebrada de Humahuaca is just shy of 100mi long so I recommend you either rent a car or hire a private tour to take you out there.
  • Some companies will try to take you around to the sites within a day, but I think this place needs at least 2 days to explore.
  • If you’re partial to higher end hotels, there are only a few options out here.  If you need a recommendation, I stayed at Las Marias Hotel Boutique and really enjoyed it!
  • Contact lens wearers take note – be prepared for sudden gusts of wind and dust.
  • Skip the handcrafts at the markets.  I heard the goods are actually made in (gasp!) China.
  • Brush up on your Spanish.  Most people in this part of Argentina don’t speak English and if they do, it’s really little.  Menus are also in Spanish.

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EDGYMIX-TRAVEL FOR FASHION - August 22, 2012 - 9:49 am

Wow..beautiful photos….I missed out this places in Argentina !!! definitely need to go back AGAIN!! aahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Just Wanderlust - August 22, 2012 - 9:49 pm

It’s so weird that most US travelers don’t even know about this place. Everyone just goes to Buenos Aires or Patagonia, but I really liked the Quebrada de Huamahuaca area. Simply stunning landscape.

EDGYMIX-TRAVEL FOR FASHION - August 24, 2012 - 9:31 am

hmm..I actually met a lot of Americans been there before. You know how extreme are american. some they don’t travel at all, some they travel like crazy!!!…But going to Buenos Aires or Patagonia are definitely the easiest:))

Just Wanderlust - August 24, 2012 - 1:10 pm

Yep, there are Americans that go… in fact more than Europeans now! But I think it’s a less known attraction for Americans. I’ve never heard of anyone saying they wanted to Argentina to see the Quebrada de Humahuaca… but you do hear people in the US talking about the Grand Canyon. I think Americans sometimes miss out on a lot of really beautiful sites around the world because it’s more common to travel just to the popular destinations and cities – but there’s so much beauty in this world to just limit yourself like that!

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