NOA Circuit: how to organize a journey through the arid beauty of northwestern Argentina

2019/08/21 NOA Circuit: how to organize a journey through the arid beauty of northwestern Argentina

It is one of the most chosen tourist destinations by argentines and foreigners to vacay in summer and winter.  Its incredible landscapes and the mystique of its traditions and native customs make this region a unique place to visit.  The ideal routes between several provinces that can not be missed for a complete tour.

The argentine Northwest  (NOA) is one of the autochthonous regions of the country integrated by the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero.  There, just by looking at the horizon and appreciating its varied colors, the traveler is already invited to immerse himself in their customs and traditions;  and to caress his spirit that proposes to enjoy the calmness and also to be encouraged to the adventure.  It has about 300,000 square kilometers with sharp climatic and landscape transitions: the Puna (Jujuy) descends from its 4000 meters of the Chaco salteñas plains.

Its peaks over 6000 meters high, the ancient civilizations remains, adobe villages, Jesuit chapels, rivers, streams, wineries, crafts, all part of an arid landscape, warm and mysterious at the same time.

The argentine Northwest
The best way to travel the NOA is by car and to get into its immensity, get away as soon as possible from the asphalt.

Gathering several points of interest in a single trip is usually a tempting idea when planning vacations.  The reasons usually go from saving money to the comfort of going through different sites in a single and complete trip.

Laura Pandiani, a tourism graduated and teacher at the International School of Hotel Management Vatel told Infobae that “the Argentine North can be considered as a block in terms of geographic and cultural characteristics.  With an air ticket to one of the capitals, plus the rental of a car or some excursions you can get to know it thoroughly.  It is a good option to think about a trip of several days – from 10 to 15 is ideal – and to make more than one province “.


The routes usually have narrow stretches where it is very important to pay attention to the state of the roads and count according to the challenge of the area with the right vehicle.

“If you decide to travel to this region, the best way to do it is by plane to Salta and from there you can add provinces and cities to visit.  It is the best option as there are more flights frequencies with some airlines to that province.  It is also recommended to hire a local tourism company or guide if you do not know the area very well, “said the specialist.

“In Salta and Jujuy you can find the main car rental companies.  It is important to travel the region in a sturdy vehicle and carry replacement tyres just in case, ” added.

the Argentine North
The routes on the way to Cafayate within the Calchaquí Valleys are in an acceptable state and can be traversed in the same way, although the resistance of a 4×4 is not available.

 Some of the sections that must be taken into account are those that include Cafayate, Amaicha del Valle and Ruinas de los Quilmes in Tucumán.  From there you can continue to the Tafi del Valle area by car or bus.

It is also interesting to visit the Museum of Archeology and High Mountain (MAAM) where the three mummies of frozen children where found at the Llullaillaco Volcano range in 1999. A great local legend to know and admire that the MAAM put it very well in  historical value and context

The Salta location of Cafayate is known worldwide for its wineries.  The vast majority of them specialize in the cultivation and large-scale production of torrontés, one of the grapes belonging to Argentina’s most emblematic white variety, which is produced only in this country.

The torrontés belongs to the “creole” grape group varieties whose main characteristic is the mixture of flavors among which are: chamomile, fruit salad, peaches, honey, orange peel, muscatel grape and oregano.

The Calchaquíes Valleys can also be traveled in the same way by joining Salta Capital with Cachi and Cafayate.  There are tourism companies that offer to travel to those places in 2 days and one night circuits. 

This route is really beautiful and has a unique beauty landscape. The stretch can be done by the provincial route 33, passing through Quebrada del Escoipe and Valle Encantado.  It has one of the most attractive panoramic views.  You can continue 20 km in “zig zag” to Piedra del Molino, one of the highest points located at 3348 meters above sea level, where you can see condors.

In Jujuy there are full day excursions from the province’s capital to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, for example.  There are also alternatives for those who want to stay in a destination in that area such as Tilcara or the salt mines, famous for their photos that travel the world.

Yala, Posta de Lozano, Volcano, Tumbaya, Purmamarca, Maimará, Angosto del Perchel, Huacalera, Uquía, Humahuaca, Azul Pampa, Tres Cruces are some of the tourist spots that can be visited in Jujuy.  Other localities that are found out of the ravine are Abra Pampa, Puesto del Marqués, Pumahuasi, La Quiaca.

 The NOA has it all: insured landscape, diverse infrastructure, routes in acceptable condition to travel, very good gastronomy.  Now you have to organize yourself to explore it and especially enjoy it.