Explore Argentina's Salta and Catamarca Provence

saltaMost of us visiting Argentina flock to popular Buenos Aires, Mendoza and other hotspots, but the outback of Salta and its adjoining Puna Desert in the Catamarca are some of the gems waiting to be explored.  At altitude of over 3000m, Salta and Catamarca are located in northwestern Argentina; this giant adventure playground shows you another side to Argentina. The scenery of the region rivals that of Atacama and Uyuni allowing you to come up close to its volcanoes: llamas, flamingos and vineyards.

As you travel south of Salta down to Puna and Catamarca, you pass through the red-rock canyons of Quebrada de las Conchas, home to the Devil’s throat – a sort of stone amphitheatre.  Next is Cafayate, one of Argentina’s most famous wine towns, known for the fruity white Torrontes, the red malbec, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Leaving Cafayate you travel along the famus Ruta 40 (at more than 5000km is the Route 66 of Argentina) before turning off into the Puna.  Climbing steadily through cactus-covered gorges you pass small desert villages of adobe houses.  The Puna’s white sand dunes is perfect for sandboarding, you also get first hadn experience of its 55km long field of pumice stone – the hightest concentration of punmice stone on earth.  Explore the red rock canyons in Quebrada de las Conchas.

Out in the Puna you can reach heights of over 4000m to soak up the stillness – no wind and the only voice you hear is those of your those close to you.  You come up close to the Carachipampa volcano, explore the base of Antofagasta volcano and from here at 3700m, you can see Alumbrera volcano.

To top off the area at 3700m is the Laguna Grande. This huge still lake is the home of up to 15000 flamingos.  The area is also home to golden deer-like vicunas and an ostrich-like bird called a nandu. Up here is the Galan crater, 35km in diameter, one of the world’s biggest volcanic cauldrons, also home to slender vicunas.