With its 2.78 million km2 home to some of the most diverse climate and geography in the world, Argentina is one giant wonderland. Planning a trip can be intimidating – there’s just so much to see! While visiting Buenos Aires is a must, you need to experience some of the countries exceptional landscapes and indigenous culture, too.
Don’t have the energy or time for Patagonia? How about heading up north to Salta & Jujuy? Here are five places you must visit in northern Argentina.
Museo de Arquelogia de Alta Montana de Salta (MAAM)
The Museum of High Altitude Archaeology, located in the center of Salta next to its Cathedral, is unmissable. The star attraction is the frozen, mummified bodies of three Incan children, discovered in 1999 by archaeologist Johan Reinhard atop the 6,000m Llullaillaco volcano. Ranging from six to fifteen years old, the children were the objects of a capocha ritual: human sacrifices buried alive for the glory of the empire; their fate is considered among the highest honors in Inca culture.
While for purposes of preservation, only one of the children can be exhibited at a time, MAAM will leave you speechless thank to its thorough history lesson on Inca culture and the find itself. Not to be missed!
Upon first glance, this tiny hamlet 2800m above sea-level is nothing special. Yet the story behind it is heartwarming and inspirational. A decade ago its future looked grim, with many inhabitants of the area emigrating en masse in search of greener pastures. Then came Padre Chifri, a priest with a plan, ready to pull them back from the edge of the abyss. Except, before he could even get started, Padre Chifri was paralyzed from the waist down in a freak paragliding accident.
No matter: Sigfrido Maximilian Moroder overcame his personal trauma to deliver his promise. Setting up a pipeline system to bring down water from the mountains, he began a project that transformed Alfarcito into an integrated welfare-centre for the people of the Quebrada (Gorge) del Toro. Today, it has a primary and a high school in addition to a medical centre, as it continues to be, in the words of the late Padre Chifri, “a watershed that is a source of life, a source of good.”
Immerse yourself in the story of the man and the project he started by picking up a copy of Padre Chifri’s Después del Abismo at the local store. Everything on sale is locally produced; their high-altitude mountain honey is particularly delightful!
Lago Cabra Corral
You’d be forgiven for thinking that you are in rolling hills of Switzerland or the fjords of Norway, such is the magic of this place! Christened after its former purpose, literally a paddock for goats, Lago Cabra Corral holds the waters of all the rivers of the Calchaquí Valley region. An hour or so outside of Salta at a whopping 115km2, this artificial lake offers the perfect getaway from city life, with its variety of restaurants, cafes, adventure and leisure sports. Bungee jumping off the bridge is definitely an unforgettable experience!
Get there by bus, taxi or private car from Salta. Not be missed!
Purmamarca and the Hill of Seven Colors
Legend has it that when the town of Purmamarca was first founded, the big hill right on its outskirts had no color. Deeming this unacceptable, over seven nights the local children decided to paint the hill, adding a new color each night! The town holds a yearly celebration to commemorate their artistic feat.
Indeed, this drunken chameleon of a natural rock formation is one of the most popular and incredible things to see in the north of Argentina, offering ample reason for getting up early and catching its wonderful colors in the early-morning light.
Las Salinas Grandes
At an altitude of 3300m, between the magnificent peaks of the Andes, you find yourself in a sea of white. But it’s not snow: it’s something else, and it’s simply breathtaking.
The Great Salt Flats of Salta Province are spectacular – almost other worldly, if you will. What was once a lake, is today a massive, 525 km2 spread of salt. Moreover, it’s an amazing natural canvas offering plenty of funky CGI-like effects for lovers of photography. Sunglasses are a must.
Written by Mate Foldi