Arriving to Purmamarca, a charming and traditional northern town located at 2300m above sea level, we were immediately impressed. Purmamarca, meaning desert town in the Aymara language, is precisely that- a quaint village that is located, much like an oasis, in the heart of the north’s desert landscape.
Upon checking into Hotel Amauta, we felt right at home. With a combination of traditional design, comfort and rustic charm, the owner, Mercedes, welcomed us to her home. Originally from Buenos Aires, Mercedes came to Argentina’s north to enjoy a vacation in the quiet countryside, and she found herself falling in love with the beautiful desert landscapes and hiking trails. Within 30 minutes, she had generously provided us with the names of her favorite coffee shop and local artists. We knew we were going to like it here!
Purmamarca’s lovely town center is made up of a few local cafes and restaurants, as well as a local market with some great bargains to be had. We found many beautiful hand-woven shawls, hats and sweaters that were made from the ever-so-soft llama wool, as well as leather goods, carved cactus figurines and artisanal jewelry.
Beyond the shops, we also walked the scenic trail, Sendero de los Colorados and enjoyed some spectacular mountain scenery. With colorful orange and red rocks, eroded by centuries of wind and rain, we encountered seemingly-melted stones at every turn. While the trail only took just over hour to walk, one of the highlights was seeing a traditional homesteader’s farm tucked right up against a massive red-rock canyon, with ample space for the farmer’s black horses to wander as far as their tether allowed. Besides the Sendero de los Colorados, the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors) also provided some inspiring photographs and lovely views of the area before we enjoyed a traditional pena and llama-steak dinner.