Explore the Calchaquí Valley region's towns, diverse land formations and local wineries over the course of two 12-hour days. Expect pickup and drop-off at your downtown Salta hotel for each day trip. You'll spend your one hour of free time each day purchasing lunch from a local restaurant or eating a packed lunch if you bring one with you. By experiencing both tours, you'll see the best of the Calchaquí region!
Calchaquí Valley Scenic Drive and Day Trip to Cachi from Salta:
After hotel pickup in Salta, get comfortable for the 5- to 6.5-hour journey through the spectacular scenery of the Calchaquí Valley. During the drive, your guide provides informative commentary (drive time is dependent on the weather and how long you spend at the different stops along the way).
Begin the drive by heading south through the Lerma Valley, passing by the towns of El Carril and Chicoana. Make a 20-minute stop for photos at Puente Malcante (Malcante Bridge), and then keep going down Route 33 through two gorges — Quebrada de los Laureles and Quebrada de Escoipe — where you’ll pull over at a mirador (viewpoint) for another photo op.
Continue to Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop’s Slope), a viewpoint on a winding road that boasts panoramic views of the Enchanted Valley and its corn fields and fruit trees. Then head to Piedra del Molino (Millstone), a rock landmark that stands at an elevation of 11,100 feet (3,384 meters) — your highest point on the tour! Take another 20- to 30-minute break to admire the beautiful mountain views, and then make your way to a lookout point of the Nevado de Cachi, a range of snowcapped mountains.
When you reach the town of Payogasta, you're given a 1-hour break to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant (own expense) or eat your packed lunch if you brought one with you. Finally, arrive in Cachi, where you have another hour of free time to tour the village however you wish. Perhaps take a walk to stretch your legs and admire the village's historical architecture, from its whitewashed adobe homes to its 16th-century church, a National Historic Monument. Or visit the Archeological Museum (Museo Arqueológico), home to an interesting collection of artifacts from this region, some of which date all the way back 10,000 years (optional; entrance at own expense).
When your time is up, meet your guide for the return drive to Salta. The 3.5- to 4-hour journey takes you through Los Cardones National Park (Parque Nacional Los Cardones), which you’ll traverse via the Recta del Tin Tin, a 7.5-mile (12-km) stretch of straight road that lies at an elevation of 9,800 feet (3,000 meters). Hear from your guide about the theories behind the road, whose exact origins are unknown; many believe that the Incas created the original thoroughfare using a series of fires to create the alignment. Stop for about 20 minutes, and then finish the drive back to Salta, where your day trip ends with hotel drop-off.
Calchaquí Valley and Cafayate Winery Day Trip from Salta:
Your day trip starts with hotel pickup by your local guide for the drive to Cafayate, about 120 miles (190 km) south of Salta. Leave town on Route 68, passing through the Lerma Valley; stop about 90 minutes in for a coffee break in Posta de las Cabras or La Viña.
Continue your journey all the way down into the Calchaquí Valley, reaching the villages of Talapampa and Alemania at the entrance to Quebrada de las Conchas (Gorge of the Shells). Drive through the gorge, stopping four times for photo ops of various rock formations and canyons, including the Amphitheater (Amfiteatro) and Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo).
When you arrive in Cafayate, you have a 1-hour break for lunch. You may eat with your guide at a local restaurant reserved for the tour (restaurants vary by day), find a different restaurant on the town square or look for a pretty spot to enjoy a picnic if you brought a packed lunch (lunch is at your own expense). Afterward, meet back up with your guide and group to head to a local winery.
Wineries vary by tour; you may visit Domingo Hermanos, El Tránsito or Vasija Secreta. Enjoy a 15- to 25-minute behind-the-scenes tour of the winery, learning about the high-altitude winemaking process in Cafayate and checking out the vineyards or barreling facilities. Then enjoy a wine tasting of three to four varietals like malbec, cabernet, mistela (a dessert wine) or torrontés (the region’s signature white varietal).
After your tasting, return to Salta, where your day trip ends with hotel drop-off. (Note: If there is time, you may visit a second winery before returning to Salta.)