South America Living

Quebrada de Humahuaca in Argentina

The Town of Purmamarca With "El Cerro de los Siete Colores" ("Hill of Seven Colors" in English)

The Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Gultch in English) is an elongated mountain valley that spans approximately 155 km (96 miles) in JuJuy province, Northwestern Argentina.

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Its sides are flanked by multi-colored rock formations that scale down into the Rio Grande that snakes through the center in various shapes and with various amounts of flowing water. During the summer (December through February) most of the riverbed runs dry.

The area is a popular daytrip from San Salvador de JuJuy or as a stopover on the way to Boliva (border at La Quiaca) from Salta. The indigenous communities of Purmamarca, Tilcara, Humahuaca and Iruya are tourist-ready with local crafts, artwork and clothing shops, restaurants plus more hostals than you would expect in an approximate 6-8 block radius.

Primary Indigenous Villages of Quebrada de Humahuaca

One and a half hours by bus from Jujuy. Purmamarca means “Town of the Virgin Land” in the local Aimara language. It is most known for the spectacular hilside backdrop to the town – “Cerro de los Siete Colors” (Hill of Seven Colors in English).

For where to stay, eat and things to do view:  Travel Guide to Purmamarca

Two hours by bus from JuJuy (1/2 hour from Purmamarca). A nice town to walk around in with museums, botanical gardens, church (Our Ladyship of the Rosary) as well as “Pucará de Tilcara” – reconstructed pre-inca ruins that are a 30 minute or so trek through paths carved into the hillside. You can take a bus from Salta to Tilcara; 4 hours.

The Dr. Eduardo Casanova Archeological Museum gives background information on the pucaras and of course, has artifacts on display. Archeologists and anthropologists from Buenos Aires contribute to the exhibits.

Additional museums are: José Antonio Terry Museum (paintings, artwork); Ernesto Soto Avendaño Museum (sculptures) and the Fundación Hugo Irureta Fine Arts Museum.

Three hours by bus from JuJuy or 5 hours from Salta. Traveling to Humahuaca from Salta is a more direct route to get to the border town La Quicaca from Salta (than traveling to Jujuy then to La Quicaca) and great for a stop-over. Popular for treks throughout the surrounding area as well as transport to Iruya, which cannot be accessed from JuJuy directly. YouTube Video – Morning Stroll Through the Village of Humahuaca

Note: Busses from Salta to Humahuaca run infrequently, there is not daily service..

A smaller, more remote village accessed by bus from Humahuaca (3 hours). Popular as a daytrip from Humahuaca. Steep, narrow cobblestone streets, Ruinas de Titicote” (Titicote’s Ruins) and a white-washed, hilltop church.

Bus service to nearby San Isidro, another small village. Tranquility in large doses is the primary draw here.

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