Argentina

Don’t Sleep On Salta

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Henry Watson is a student at Gonzaga University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is currently studying abroad with ISA in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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Don’t Sleep on Salta

Covering a surface area of 2.78 million square kilometers, Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world. Additionally, stretching nearly 3,800 kilometers from north to south, the geographic diversity in Argentina can rival that of any other nation.

Climbing up the Gargantua del Diablo outside Cafayate

Climbing up the Gargantua del Diablo outside Cafayate

We’ve all seen photos of the daunting peaks, immense glaciers and emerald blue waters that make up the iconic vistas of the Patagonia region. What many people haven’t seen is the beauty one can find in the province of Salta.  With the world famous region of Patagonia in the south of Argentina, many travelers overlook exploring the beauty of northern Argentina. If you’re traveling to Argentina don’t make the mistake of immediately heading south- Salta is a must see! Never in my life have I experienced such drastic changes in terrain – from the dense jungles, red rocked deserts, salt flats and beyond, there is an abundance of adventure to be had in Salta! Below I’ve highlighted some of my favorite destinations:

Still finding red sand in my backpack...

Still finding red sand in my backpack…

Serraní de Hornocal: Located 25 kilometers from the quaint town of Hamahuaca, the Hornocal mountains look like something you could only find in a Dr. Seuss book. As far as the eye can see, layers of colorful limestone ranging from earthy reds, electric yellows and deep blues can be seen from top to bottom. Each color captured my eye and told the story of millions of years of creation. If the view doesn’t take your breath away, the altitude just might! Be warned, with altitudes approaching 14,000 feet, the journey to the top is no easy task. With world class views come world class roads, right? Wrong! Our 2008 Chevy Classic was no match for the steep mountain roads. After getting our car unstuck for the third time, we began to lose hope.  If it weren’t for the generosity of a few locals with an empty pickup truck, we most likely would not have made it to the top. Between the beautiful scenery and our new friends, this became one of the most memorable stops of our journey.

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Hitchhiking to the top with new friends

Hitchhiking to the top with new friends

Salinas Grandes: After a grueling day in the mountains, the salt flats of Jujuy made driving our underpowered Chevy feel more like filming an Audi commercial. Covering an area of over 200 square kilometers, the flats seems to go on forever making it easy to lose one’s depth perception. The seemingly endless expanse of perfectly flat land sprawling in all directions was a stark contrast to the peaks we battled just hours before.

The Salinas Grandes

The Salinas Grandes

Red Rocks Everywhere: The entire province of Salta is covered with sedimentary red rocks with hues of some of the deepest and most vibrant shades of red I have ever seen. It was as if the entire spectrum of red was painted on a canvas before my eyes. I truly felt as though I was seeing the world through rose tinted glasses. After centuries of being sculpted by wind and rain, each rock has its own unique shape and story.

 Each rock formation has so much character after being carved for millions of years by water and wind

Each rock formation has so much character after being carved for millions of years by water and wind

Cafayate: To end our desert journey, we went on a hike that I will remember for a lifetime. Our hike started by following a trickling creek through the dry mountainous desert and ended with a picnic by a 40-foot waterfall we found.

Well deserved swimming hole after a three hour hike in the desert sun!

Well deserved swimming hole after a three hour hike in the desert sun!

There are no bad days to be had in Salta. My nine-day trip only left with desire to return. I promise if you make the trip, you will find yourself in awe of the beauty around every corner. With hundreds of vineyards spread throughout the province, there’s nothing better than reflecting on your on the day’s adventures with good friends and a glass of wine.

Nothing to be salty about!

Nothing to be salty about!

The world awaits…discover it.

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