Following the Rio Grande along the ancient Inca Road, the Humahuaca Ravine (Quebrada de Humahuaca) is known both for its natural wonders and historic importance. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ravine boasts magnificent scenery—sweeping desert valleys and jagged cliffs striped in shades of pink, red, lavender, and gray—dotted with ancient ruins and Quechan villages.The Basics
Following Highway 9 north from Salta or San Salvador de Jujuy takes you through the heart of the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Highlights include overlooks, archaeological sites, and traditional Andean villages. You also won't want to miss the Painter's Palette in Maimará or the Hill of Seven Colors in Purmamarca, both striking examples of the region's multicolored cliffs. The handicrafts markets in Purmamarca, the pre-Inca ruins of Pucara de Tilcara, the historic adobe church of Uquia, and the grand Monument of Independence in Humahuaca are other noteworthy sites.Things to Know Before You Go
- It's possible to take in the highlights of the ravine on a day trip. Most tours set out from Salta or San Salvador de Jujuy.
- There are numerous towns and villages throughout the valley, with plenty of options for accommodation, restaurants, and souvenir shopping.
- Humahuaca Ravine is set at an altitude of about 11,500 feet (3,505 meters). If flying in from Buenos Aires, it may take a day or two to acclimatize.
How to Get There
Humahuaca runs for some 96 miles (155 kilometers) along the path of the Rio Grande in Northern Argentina, all the way to the border of Bolivia. Highway 9 runs through the valley, and most travelers start their explorations from Salta or San Salvador de Jujuy. Airports in both cities have regular flights to Buenos Aires. Although local buses connect the main towns, it's far easier to explore with your own transport or by joining a tour, especially as many overlooks are located along the road itself.
When to Get There
Winter (June–September) is one of the most pleasant times to explore the ravine, with dry, sunny days and mild temperatures ideal for sightseeing. The region's indigenous towns host a number of lively festivals and celebrations throughout the year well worth attending. Key events include Pachamacha on August 1, Carnival in early spring, and the Inca religious celebration Inti Rami in June.
Must-See Sites Around the Quebrada de Humahuaca
Just south of the ravine, the Salta region has a number of sites worth visiting, and many travelers opt to rent a car or join a multi-day tour to combine the two. Don't miss the Great Salt Flats (Salinas Grandes), the third-largest salt flats in the world; the historic town of San Antonio de los Cobres, the starting point of the legendary Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes); the giant cacti valleys around Cachi; and farther south, the dramatic red-rock formations of the Calchaquí Valley.