- Countryside Canyons and condors
- Country life Gauchos and gringos
Flatteringly known as ‘Salta la linda’ (Salta the pretty one), this is a peak-filled place that’s one heck of a charmer…
This picturesque province in north-west Argentina is easy on the eye, with mountains, canyons and vineyards making up the vast landscape. The city itself lies in the foothills of the Andes, an old colonial stronghold with preserved Spanish architecture – there’s even a candy-pink cathedral. Pass through the Calchaqui Valley to the vertiginous vineyards of Cafayate, or head north to neighbouring Jujuy; just make sure you look out of the window, as the scenery changes from lush and green to red and dusty. The province spans desert in the Puna, home to a blue lagoon with exotic birds and bright white salt beds, with rivers, mountains and valleys forming the rest. This good-looking girl has been around since the Incas. Get acclimatised to the altitude and come check her out in person.
Do go/Don’t go
It’s hottest from November to January, with the lowest temperatures seen in June. The city stays mild for most of the year, but up in the mountains can be freezing.
- Planes For international arrivals, Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza Airport is the best bet, but you’ll have to switch across to the domestic Jorge Newbery for an internal flight to Salta, which will take around two hours. Most other options also go via Ezeiza and transfer to Jorge Newbery, including incoming flights from Rio de Janeiro and Santa Cruz in Bolivia.
- Trains Train services are not as fast or reliable as their European counterparts, so be sure to check before you travel. A must-do train journey is the Tren a las Nubes (www.trenalasnubes.com.ar), or ‘train to the clouds’, which departs Salta between May and November, crossing the Lerma Valley and Quebrada del Toro, to arrive in Puna, a desert 3,800m above sea level.
- Automobiles Overland distances are epic, so prepare to take internal flights if necessary. Some of the mountain passes can be hairy, and a four-wheel drive will come in handy. Automatic cars are hard to come by in these parts – get used to a clutch beforehand.
- Taxis Within the town itself and at the airport, taxis are easy to come by, but if you plan on exploring the region, it’s best to hire a car when you land, and even better if it’s a four-wheel drive as roads can get pretty treacherous.