Sweeping red-rock ravines, winding mountain roads, and cacti-dotted plains make up the landscapes of the Calchaqui Valley. Stretching between the Salta, Tucumán, and Catamarca provinces, in the foothills of the Andes; the scenic region is dotted with photo-worthy natural wonders, high-altitude vineyards, and ancient ruins.
Day and multi-day tours from Cafayate and Salta cover the most impressive sights of the Calchaqui Valley. The journey between the two cities is full of photo opportunities, passing beneath the soaring red cliffs of the Quebrada de las Conchas. Stop along the way to admire unique rock formations such as the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), El Anfiteatro (The Amphitheater), and Los Castillos (The Castles). West and north of Cafayate, highlights include the historic town of Cachi, the cacti valleys of the Los Cardones National Park, and the pre-Columbian ruins of Quilmes.
Things to know before you go
- The Calchaqui Valley offers ample opportunities for active travelers—hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding excursions are all available.
- There’s no admission fee for exploring the Calchaqui Valley—you can drive the highways and admire many of the sights for free.
- Prepare for the desert climate by bringing sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water.
How to get there
The Calchaqui Valley covers a vast area between the Salta, Tucumán, and Catamarca provinces, but the most visited sections lie between Cafayate and Salta. Highways 40 and 68 run through the heart of the valley, linking many of the towns and attractions. Buses run between the two towns, but it’s far more convenient to explore with your own transport or as part of a tour, allowing multiple stops along the way.
When to get there
It’s possible to explore the Calchaqui Valley at any time of year. If you’re visiting in the summer months, it’s worth making an early start to avoid the midday heat. Winter temperatures are better suited for hiking and outdoor activities, although it can get very cold at night.
Wine Tasting in the Calchaqui Valley
The Calchaqui Valley harbors one of Argentina’s most important wine regions and its most famous wine is Torrontés, a crisp dry white wine. Most wine tasting tours set out from Cafayate, and wine lovers can stroll the mountainside vineyards, visit the traditional bodegas (wineries), and sample a variety of Torrontés, as well as Chardonnay, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. For a greater insight into the region’s wine-making heritage, head to the Wine Museum (Museo de la Vid y el Vino) in Cafayate. While in town, be sure to sample the wine ice cream at Helados Miranda, a local favorite.
- Acsibi Caves
- Los Cardones National Park
- Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop’s Slope)
- Toro Gorge (Quebrada del Toro)
- Salado River (Rio Juramento)
- San Lorenzo
- San Bernardo Convent
- Cultural Center of the Americas (Centro Cultural America)
- Historical Museum of the North (Museo Historico del Norte)
- Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes)
- Cathedral of Salta
- San Francisco Church
- San Bernardo Hill (Cerro San Bernardo)
- Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo)
- Tin Tin Straight Line (Recta de Tin Tin)