From the salt mines to the jungle
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From the salt mines to the jungle
From the salt mines to the jungle
It’s a mountain bike tour that will take you from the subtropical jungle to the argentinean altiplano, from the Salt flats “Salinas grandes” to several mountain passes located at more than 4.000 meters above sea level.
This tour is a wonderful introduction to the Andean Altiplano, or Puna, as the vast region below the High Andes in Argentina is known, centers around the Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Canyon), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most amazing places of the Altiplano. The southern reaches of the Inca Trail once ran through here, later becoming part of the Spanish Royal Road that stretched from Peru down to Buenos Aires in colonial times.
You’ll intimately explore towns like Purmamarca and Iruya, with its traditional narrow, cobble-stoned streets and adobe homes, still inhabited by the descendants of the once-mighty Inca. Below the Puna lie the Yungas, a long, thin belt of sub-tropical jungle coming north from Bolivia, fed by the waters of the High Andes. Lush, green rainforests with incredible varieties of plants and amazing birdlife. The contrast from the arid desert landscapes above, add much impact to this beautiful scenery.
The region also provides an incredible setting for mountain biking, a marvelous way to deeply experience this amazing destination. Another opportunity to live our amazing country with great mountain biking, only as MTB Tours knows how to do!
LOCATION - Humahuaca, Iruya, Purmamarca, Salta
|· 18 Seater exclusive van equipped with TV and video.|
|· Mountain bike transportation during the extent of the tour|
|· 4×4 support vehicle equipped with two-way communication radios (everyday, with on-board service, including granola bars, fruits when possible, and other snacks and drinks)|
|· Bilingual Tour Leaders, equipped with two-way radios, and local guides|
|· Mechanical assistance and spare bike available (in case yours break down)|
|· Half board: breakfasts and lunches included, dinners and meals while on transit not included|
|· Seven nights at hotels and inns in double and triple base|
|· Medical insurance|
|· Daily Trip Information Notes, with maps, routes and detail on the region|
|· Pre-trip information package with details on how to prepare, what to bring, and more detailed information|
|· Meals not detailed in the program, drinks, alcohol drinks, air tickets, transfers not detailed in the tour program, bike parts, phone calls, laundry expenses and personal expenses|
|· MTB Rental|
Guests starting with us in Buenos Aires will depart in our van on Friday afternoon en route to Salta (flight to, and accommodations in Buenos Aires are not included in tour price). The shuttle from Buenos Aires to Salta takes 20 hours, arriving on Saturday.If you choose to fly to Salta, we will meet you there on Saturday. The group will rendezvous in Salta this afternoon. We’ll have free time to have an overview of the city. Plaza 9 de Julio, the Cathedral, San Francisco Church and Balcarce Street can’t be missed. Time for an Argentinean asado (Barbacue), while we receive a briefing for the next days program.
Day 2: Salta - Purmamarca
Getting on our minibus early with the bikes loaded, we’ll drive to bordering Jujuy Province on Old Road 9. We’ll bike through the exuberant sub-tropical rainforest, a truly amazing setting, and a great contrast to the scenery to come. The narrow, winding road will take us through thick foliage, a true rainforest, where we can spot amazing native birds. We’ll stop for lunch at the small town of La Ciénaga, where we’ll load to the bikes and shuttle to Purmamarca. This enchanting town marks the entrance to the Quebrada de Humahuaca. The town itself is charming, and you’ll feel almost like you’re taking a step back in time. The locals are descendants of the Incas, whose great empire reached Northwest Argentina. Tonight we’ll sleep at a cozy “Hosteria”.
33 miles – 1280 ft elevation gain
Day 3: Purmamarca a las Salinas Grandes
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll drive up towards another trip highlight: the vast, completely white and extremely dry Salinas Grandes (Great Salt Flats), in Jujuy Province.
The drive goes over the Cuesta del Lipán, bordering cliffs through a deep canyon, and reaching 4200 ms (13,779 ft), from where we’ll have an amazing view of the nearby Quebrada de Humahuaca. We’ll see guanacos and vicuñas, the wild relatives of the llama.
Once over the Lipan Slope, we’ll reach the huge salt flats, and after learning from locals about the salt extraction process, we’ll have lunch together. A great ride ride awaits us: Our first cycling contact with altitude uphilling await us to then ride down the Cuesta de Lipán back into Purmamarca.
We recommend exploring the picturesque town and visiting the market in the central plaza. Be sure to visit the viewpoint of the truly amazing Hill of Seven Colors, a nearby slope of exposed rock in all imaginable shades of reds and ocres. We’ll return to the “Hosteria” for a night of deserved rest.
27 miles – 1000ft elevation gain
Day 4: Purmamarca - Iruya
This morning we’ll begin driving from Purmamarca through the wonderful Quebrada de Humahuaca, passing through the towns of Tilcara, Tumbaya and Humahuaca.
We’ll have plenty of time to take in the amazing scenery that will surround us. After Humahuaca, we will detour to Iruya and that’s where one of the most beautiful rides of the tour starts. We will be riding over a dirt road taking us up to 3,900 ms of elevation, and passing through small towns like Iturbe and Chaupe Rodeo.
Once reaching the highest point, at the famous Abra del Condor (the Condor´s Pass), we’ll get on our bikes and begin another great downhill ride, following a zigzagging, narrow dirt road, crossing small farms and settlements, with ancient terraces built into the slopes.
The natural scenery does not cease to amaze here – arid landscapes, huge mountains cut by deep canyons, and all imaginable colors exposed in the eroded slopes. The town of Iruya awaits us, another pre-Columbian town of narrow cobble stones streets and adobe homes.
The beautiful church in the central plaza is not to be missed here. Tonight we’ll be lodged at a local simple inn.
26 to 35 miles – 1400ft elevation gain
Day 5: Hike from Iruya to San Isidro
Today we’ll walk from Iruya to the tiny settlement of San Isidro, located 4,5 miles north of Iruya.
We’ll ascend slowly but steadily, crossing a river several times, through canyons enveloped by the always-amazing mountains of this region. We’ll hopefully get a glimpse of the Andean Condor flying high above.
Once in San Isidro, we’ll stroll this ancient town, and have a chance to shop for wonderful regional handicrafts at the small market. In the afternoon we’ll return to Iruya.
9 miles of single tracks
Day 6: Iruya - Humahuaca
We’ll drive out of Iruya on a different road, and once again reach the high pass where we’ll get on our mountain bikes, riding towards the Quebrada de Humahuaca.
Another awesome zigzagging ride from 3,900 to 3,000 ms. We’ll eventually re-route, heading to Humahuaca, where we’ll spend the night. Free time to explore “Humahuaca” in the afternoon.
34 miles – 1200ft elevation gain
Day 7: Humahuaca - Ocumazo
After breakfast we take our bikes and start riding on the road that leads to “Abra de Zenta” from 2.900 meters to 3.300 meters over the sea level.
After 10k of continuous uphill we take a detour to the south to “Quebrada de Ucumazo”. The red colored hills combined with the green fertile valley, the slope done by years and years of erosion and the zig-zag of the dirt road are the perfect way to finish this fantastic tour.
In our hotel in Humahuaca we’ll have our lunch and celebrate the end of the tour. In the afternoon you are invited to visit Serranía de Hornocal, a fantastic scenic spot where to see sunset at 14.000ft
20, 5 miles – 2100ft elevation gain
Day 8: Good bye Humahuaca
We leave Humahuaca after breakfast. There’s a three hours drive back to Salta Capital.
Those travelling back to Buenos Aires with us will continue overnight and we’ll arrive in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning, after driving over paved roads during 20 hours.