Driving Argentina’s wild northwest: Mendoza to Jujuy on Ruta 40

14 Days/13 Nights

From USD 2775 per person in double basis

Small Group Trip
Date of departure: April 17th 2021
Group: Max. 16 people
English Speaking guide


Itinerary at a glance

Day 1 – Mendoza – Arrival Day
Day 2 – Mendoza – Exploring Argentina’s wine country
Day 3 – Mendoza – San Juan (Legendary Route 40)
Day 4 – San Juan – The Moon Valley
Day 5 – La Rioja – Talampaya National Park
Day 6 – La Rioja – Laguna Brava
Day 7 – La Rioja – Cuesta de Miranda
Day 8 – La Rioja - Belen to Cafayate
Day 9 – Salta – Piattelli Winery & High-altitude Wines
Day 10 – Salta – Cafayate to Cachi
Day 11 – Salta – Cachi to Salta City
Day 12 – Jujuy - Quebrada de Humahuaca – Tilcara
Day 13 – Jujuy – Salinas Grandes (Salt Flats)
Day 14 – Salta – Return to Salta City – Departure



Reception at Mendoza international airport and transfer to the hotel located in downtown Mendoza. Free afternoon to explore this fascinating city at the footsteps of the Andes Mountains. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Accommodation at Amerian Executive Mendoza.

Following breakfast, depart towards Lujan de Cuyo, home to some of the most famous names in Argentinean wine. We will visit the most prestigious wineries in the area while appreciating the Andes Mountains range. The tour includes a visit to three wineries, such as Lagarde, Luigi Bosca, Vistalba, Decero, among others. In each of these establishments, we will have the possibility of having a classic tasting of their different types of wine. We will have lunch with the best gastronomy of Mendoza in one of the wineries, at noon. At dusk, return to the city of Mendoza, after having lived a unique experience.

Accommodation at Amerian Executive Mendoza (B, L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

This morning we will leave Mendoza and drive north towards the city of San Juan. This journey of just over two hours is the first experience traveling through the legendary Route 40. This stage of the road is the most urbanized of the entire trip, since it connects the two most important cities in the region: Mendoza and San Juan.

Arrival at the hotel in the city of San Juan. In the afternoon, free time to visit some local establishments on your own or just rest.

Accommodation at Del Bono Suites (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

We will leave Route 40 and take a different route in order to visit Ischigualasto Provincial Park, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. After visiting the interpretation center and the paleontological museum, we will start the visit of the park.  The complete route is 40 kilometers of a unique geography, which resembles a lunar field. We include stops to take photographs and to walk through a sampling of rock formations eroded by the wind throughout centuries.

Then we will drive through red canyons, from where we will reach the small tourist town of San Agustín del Valle Fertil, where we will spend the night.

Accommodation at Hotel Rustico Cerro del Valle (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Early in the morning, we will leave San Juan for the day in order to visit a famous attraction in La Rioja province: Talampaya National Park. This is a protected area, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is located near San Agustín del Valle Fértil and by mid-morning the group will get to the interpretation center of the park ready for the visit.

Once at Talampaya,  we begin a tour through the canyon and one of the coasts of ‘Rio Seco de Talampaya’. The journey, which is done in modern vehicles and led by local guides, allows guests to be dazzled by the imposing reddish walls of more than 150 meters high that surround the road. During the tour, we can take incredible pictures. In the afternoon, the group leaves the National Park behind and heads north to the town of Villa Unión. This is a small town just over an hour away from the park, where we will spend the night.

Accommodation at Cañon del Talampaya Hotel (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

This time an adventure awaits us in the very interior of the Andes Mountains.

The road that we will travel on, it has a great cultural importance, since this region was historically inhabited by Diaguita communities, and still preserves vestiges of sacred sites.

The landscape becomes rockier as we enter the impressive Quebrada de Troya, a cornice path very close to the river, which offers a surreal landscape. During this journey, we will be able to see the rock formations that the erosion of the wind and the water made over centuries.

The route begins to ascend in the Andes mountains, and the landscape once again becomes a multicolored palette, as the Quebrada del Peñón begins to emerge.

During this stage of the trip, herds of vicuñas and guanacos – which appear throughout the hills – are usually seen, giving travelers an unforgettable postcard.

Finally, we will arrive at Portezuelo de la Laguna, the gateway to a plain, where the Laguna Brava is located. During the summer months, we can see pink flamingos that come to feed in the salty waters of the lagoon.

Weather permitting, we’ll take a tour at the shore of the Laguna Brava. Then we will return through the Quebrada del Peñón. In the middle of this road, we will stop to have a picnic at the Refugio del Peñón.

Late arrival before sunset to Villa Unión.

Accommodation at the selected hotel (B, Box-lunch, D)


Breakfast at the hotel.

Early in the morning, we will return to Route 40, moving away from the Andes Mountains for a while. After travelling for one hour, the road elevation changes as we enter the so-called “Cuesta de Miranda”, a landscape of majestic beauty where we can make photographic stops to preserve the memory of this picturesque mountain road.

Then we will descend the slope until we reach the town of Chilecito, one of the most important tourist spots in the region. From here, there is the possibility of visiting the various viewpoints of the city, offering a magnificent view of the valley and the hills in the distance. We can also visit the cable rail of the old La Mejicana gold mine and the Río de Colores, which climbs the Famatina hill.
In the afternoon, we proceed along Route 40, heading north. Passing the town of London, we deviate a few kilometers from the route, to visit the Ruins of Shincal, an archaeological settlement of great importance, since it is considered the main Inca city of the South. It was connected with the rest of the Empire through the “Inca Trail”.

After our visit, we will arrive at the town of Belén in Catamarca, a small town where we will spend the night.

Accommodation at Belen Hotel (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Early in the morning we will resume our trip on Route 40 towards north. The pre-Andean landscape starts to change as we approach the famed The Calchaqui Valley.

Here, halfway to the city of Cafayate, an archaeological site of great importance takes place: The Quilmes Ruins. There, the journey deviates a few kilometers to visit the ruins that this civilization developed on the slopes of the mountains.

After this visit, we return to Route 40 to continue north to the Salta city of Cafayate. Cafayate is a small lovely town, and it is considered as the capital of “high altitude wine” with excellent Andean gastronomy and home to beautiful landscapes. At dusk, check in at your accommodation.

Accommodation at Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort. (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Departure to the Cafayate ravine. After walking through vineyards for a few kilometers, with truly impressive views of the city and the entire valley, we will arrive at the Piattelli Winery, one of the most prestigious establishments in the region.

Here we will visit the facilities of the high-altitude winery, where a tasting of the best wines of the Piattelli winery is carried out. Together with winemakers, we will learn about the art of knowing how to enjoy good wine. The tour continues through the vineyards of the establishment, framed in a landscape of superlative beauty. Walking through these fields, the visitor will experience an unforgettable day.

At noon, a lunch will be provided “at the fires” for the group. It will consist of a starter, main course and dessert, accompanied by Malbec and Torrontés wines from the winery.

After lunch, the view from the establishment invites you to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Cafayate ravine, before returning to the city.

Then we will have free time to enjoy this picturesque little town.

Accommodation at Viñas de Cafayate Wine Resort. (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

This morning we will be back on Route 40 which will now offer a new color scheme. The reddish hills that surround the road, contrast with the gray mountains that can be seen in the background, creating a beautiful setting for this journey.

Shortly after leaving Cafayate, you will reach the town of San Carlos, famous for its looms made by the locals. Its colorful textiles can be seen in the places that are crossed by the route.

Then the landscape changes its tonality and acquires a lunar atmosphere while reaching the so-called Quebrada de las Flechas. In this section of Route 40, we will cross an imposing landscape that looks like something taken out of a science fiction movie. During almost four hours of travel, the views will change until you reach the town of Cachi, a picturesque Andean town located more than 2,500 meters above sea level.

After settling in, the group has free time to enjoy the beauty of this charming town.

Accommodation at El Cortijo Hotel (B, L, D)


Breakfast at the hotel.

This morning we will visit the surroundings of the town of Cachi. We will visit several viewpoints that surround the town as well as the Nevado de Cachi, the highest point that limits the Calchaquí Valleys.

Then we continue along National Route 40, our last kilometers along the “mythical Argentine route”, until we reach the town of Payogasta where Route 33 starts. During its journey, we pass through Los Cardones National Park, a unique conservation area where you can see an infinity of cacti and other species of high altitude flora, located on the route that formerly constituted the Inca trail.

Leaving the National Park, one of the most beautiful scenic routes of the route begins, “La Cuesta del Obispo”, a magnificent zigzagging mountain road where you can see all the splendor of the Andes.

After crossing the mountains, we will descend notably and continue crossing the Lerma Valley until you reach the City of Salta.

Upon arriving in the city, you will be dazzled by the colonial architecture of the second largest city in the Northwest.

Then, you will have free time to enjoy the lively nightlife of Salta, with its traditional empanadas house, or you could visit one of the folkloric clubs on Balcarce Street, where traditional dances and gastronomy are present on every corner.

Accommodation at Brizo Salta hotel (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

Today we will continue our travel towards Quebrada de Humahuaca, a corridor of small colonial villages that are a World Heritage Site, due to their charm and cultural wealth. 

After a four-hour-drive, we will arrive at the town of Humahuaca, the northernmost point of the route, visit the central square, the imposing monument of independence and its cathedral. And then we will visit Purmamarca, one of the most anticipated attractions of this region.

The contrast of this beautiful colonial town with the majestic Cerro de los Siete Colores is undoubtedly one of the most famous postcards of Argentina, here we will have free time to visit its small colonial streets, the artisan market and if time allows, visit the ‘Colorados’ formation, a hill that surrounds the town.

Before late afternoon, we will leave this charming town and head to Tilcara. On the way, we will explore the town of Maimará. Here you will be able to see one of the most beautiful sunsets, reflected on the hills of the so-called “” Paleta del Pintor ”.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Today we will visit the Salinas Grande, one of the largest salt flats in the country. This place is known for being the place from where the table salt is extracted from. It is a journey of a little less than 100 kilometers, through mountain roads.

Leaving the last villages behind, the road begins to ascend the foothills, giving birth to a unique scenic route: “La Cuesta de Lipán”, a zigzagging path with beautiful views of the Valley. During this journey, you will reach an altitude of 4100 meters above sea level and the natural landscape becomes arid, until it changes completely.

This place is near the Salinas Grandes and it is characterized for being an immense white blanket that covers the entire surface until it fuses with the horizon. This will cause an unforgettable visual effect between the celestial sky and the white ground.

Here you can visit the pools where the salt was extracted and have free time to explore the salt flats, where you can take the best photos of the trip in a truly surreal landscape.

In the afternoon, we will return by the Cuesta de Lipán to Tilcara. There we will visit the ‘Pucará de Tilcara’, an archaeological site in the outskirts of the city. Finally,  you will return to the hotel where the last night of the trip will be spent. Farewell dinner.

Accommodation at Las Marias Boutique Hotel (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.

At arranged time, we will take a private transfer from the hotel to the city of Salta to take our flight back. (B)

The program includes:

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