From Salta you can do several trips in the surrounding country side. I had been told about a two-day trip to the north and a three-day trip in the south.. Looking at the map we saw that the Northern trip was ‘only’ 700km on a good road. We decided that this should totally be doable in a day.. It is doable in a day. However, two days is better as it will give you more time to enjoy the scenery and allow for more stops.
The most northern point we were heading to was the rainbow mountain of Humahuaca. On the way there we stopped in Tilcara for a very nice stew for lunch and to visit the Incan ruins of Pucara.. The ruins are visible from afar and show a very interesting pyramid in a style I had never seen on an Incan site before. After paying the entry fee, we got a leaflet explaining the ruins and the advice to “read up on the site as we moved from place to place”… Once I reached the top and the pyramid, I understood why.
The pyramid was built about 80 years ago to honor the archaeologists that discovered the site. To make room for said pyramid, which was built in an central American style that has nothing to do with the Incan culture, several buildings and the city square were destroyed. The leaflet adds that the pyramid has been left standing to show the evolution of archeology over time and that this is a praxis that would certainly no longer be practiced today.. No kidding.
From Tilcara we continued on towards Humahuaca, while the scenery grew consistently more incredible. We arrived at the rainbow mountain shortly before sunset, which is probably the best time to visit. The setting sun lights up the colors of the mountain and wihle we had problems identfiying the 14 specified colors, there certainly are a lot of them.
The road back was mostly in the dark, which was a pity since I would’ve definitely enjoyed looking at the scenery again and a stop in Pumamarca would’ve been nice as well.
But live and learn.. And learn we did, or almost.. We decided to do the southern loop not in a day.. But in two days. Three days, as advertised, would’ve been nice as well.