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WEST ANDEAN CIRCUIT

SALTA

ARGENTINA

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SALTA

THE WEST ANDEAN CIRCUIT

Travellers wishing to pay a visit to the past, in Santa Rosa de Tastil, should not be surprised by encountering the Tren a las Nubes (Cloud-Bound Train) at San Antonio de los Cobres; or by the glaringly white impact of the Salinas Grandes salt mines, at 3300 metres above sea level.

These are just three examples of the interesting West Andean Circuit, a one-day trip driving 320 kilometres on the Ruta Nacional Nº 51 National Route.

Artisan Fair Salta Argentina TravelTravellers will go through the Campo Quijano town; admire the Quebrada del Toro Gorge; spend some time in Santa Rosa de Tastil and take a guided tour to the Museo Arqueológico Archaeological Museum; get to know the church and the people of San Antonio de los Structure of the Polvorilla Salta Argentina TravelCobres, named after the famous Sierra del Cobre (Copper Mountain) there found, rich in this mineral, and where they will find the La Polvorilla viaduct, a piece of fantastic railroad engineering work.

From this point, travellers can go back either by the same roads or by taking less known roads.

Access to the Abra del Acay mountain pass (4895 metres above sea level) is through the Ruta Nacional Nº 40. Going further ahead is the town of La Poma, of outstanding beauty due to the design of its houses. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended for this trip.

Another very interesting road is the Salt Way (Camino de la Sal), a road formerly used by those trading in this commodity.

SPANISH VERSION
SALTA - ARGENTINA
Salta Argentina
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Subdestinations in Salta
* Northeast Circuit
* West Andean
Circuit

- Campo Quijano
- Bishop's Slope
- Tastil Ruins
- San Antonio de
los Cobres

- Train to the Clouds
* Southeast Circuit
* Valleys Circuit
From San Antonio de los Cobres, following the Ruta Nº 40, travellers arrive to Salinas Grandes. The circuit is completed by passing by Purmamarca, in the Jujuy Province, and then either going up to Humahuaca or returning to the city of Salta passing by San Salvador de Jujuy.

Another option is to continue through the Ruta Nacional Nº 51, upon the Sico pass to Chile, or otherwise connecting with the Ruta Provincial Nº 129 to Tolar Grande and Antofagasta de la Sierra, in Catamarca.

Travellers must not forget to keep warm. The maximum altitude is 4080 metres at the Abra Blanca mountain pass.

Other spots on the West Andean Circuit:
  • La Poma.
  • Palermo.
  • Payogasta.
  • Recta del Tin Tin.
  • Rosario de Lerma.
La Poma
At 3015 metres above sea level, it is a town 91 kilometres south of San Antonio de los Cobres, standing alongside the Río Calchaquí River, half way down the valleys of the same name, and surrounded by sheer beauty. West of the town, above the Palermo snow-capped peaks, rises the Ciénaga Grande (Big Swamp) Mountain peak at 6030 metres. The name La Poma comes from the Quechua word puma, a feline also known in Spanish as mountain lion whose tracks can still be found in the area. Travellers arriving on rented cars or driving their own vehicles, should bear in mind the fuel factor.

The Quebrada de Escoipe Gorges
It connects the Lerma and Calchaquí Valleys. The road unravels alongside the Río Escoipe River, and when reaching the ravine, the vision of the greenish rocks adopting a variety of shapes is memorable.

At the foot of the Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop's Slope) begins the sightseeing hillside road, with impressive landscapes unveiling at each turn. Two kilometres before Piedra del Molino, with an altitude of 3620 metres and the final point of the ascension, a side road leads to the Valle Encantado Valley, a place where erosion has carved beautiful formations.

Piedra del Molino stands in the midst of an extended high plain called Cachipampa. With a gentle slope towards the west, begins the 11 kilometres long descent ending at Tin-Tin (with a curious 13 kilometre long straight line running through the Ruta Provincial Nº 33), which is a lower plain notable for its varieties of cacti and the attractive Amancay (Hippeastrum ambiguum) flowers, growing all over the place during the southern hemisphere's summer.

The Quebrada del Toro Gorge
The Quebrada del Toro Gorge is a gulch with very eroded and almost perpendicular walls. Spontaneous vegetation includes trees in the lower areas, and shrubs and huge cacti in the upper zones. A practically obligatory stop on the way is the town of El Alfarcito with its picturesque chapel. Through the ravine, cacti ornate the multicoloured mountain's slopes along with the greenness of the vegetation, the blue of the sky and the diaphanous atmosphere.

Recta del Tin - Tin Straight Line
It is a 13 kilometre straight line, running at around 3000 metres above sea level. It was built by the natives using bonfires as landmarks with a perfection equivalent to that achieved today by modern technology and its precision instruments.

 


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