A Private Off-Road Expedition through the Puna Desert

10-Day Example Trip
From
 
A comprehensive seven night itinerary and private expedition through Argentina's extraordinary north western landscapes and desert terrain of the Puna

We create fully personalised trips from start to finish. From locations to accommodation and guides, everything is selected to suit you.

From expert private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your time off.

We give back to two regional charities in Latin America from the profits of each one of our trips.

Use our trip ideas to inspire your bespoke experience

An expedition fit for the explorer in all of us, this seven night itinerary and private tour of Argentina’s underdiscovered North West and the Puna desert is where you will discover a whole new side to South America adventures.

Starting in Salta you and your private guide will traverse landscapes that look more like the surface of Mars than that of Earth. Through rocky gorges, high altitude vineyards, giant pumice stone fields, ancient volcanoes, salt lakes, frontier towns and desert oasis’, this is the very best and comprehensive way to see this magnificent region.

Focusing solely on this region, we can very easily add this tour onto a wider itinerary featuring other destinations in Argentina or indeed, another South American country.

  • All internal flights
  • All transfers: private guide and 4WD vehicle throughout the entire expedition
  • All activities and tours
  • All accommodation
  • All meals and drinks during the expedition

Trip Itinerary

 
Days 1-3: Buenos Aires
Flights & Transfers

Private transfer to your hotel in Buenos Aires (from international airport)

 
Two days in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires Morning

Spend your time relaxing and exploring this wonderful city. You have our top recommendations for activities, restaurants and shopping so that you can make the most of your time here.
Remember we can always organize you one of our privately-guided tours (history, culture, art...) to more specialist excursions such as personal shopping trips, helicopter tours, wine tasting and tango lessons. Feel free to discuss your options with your travel designer.


 
Days 3-4: Salta
Flights & Transfers

Private Transfer to Buenos Aires Domestic Airport

Flight from Buenos Aires to Salta

Private transfer from Salta airport to your hotel

Accommodation in Salta
Puna & North West Expedition: Day One

Salta - Quebrada de las Conchas - Cafayate

Starting from the city of Salta in the morning you will begin your expedition by heading to the Conchas’ Gorge; a deep ravine formed over the last fifty million years with huge deposits of minerals (clay and sandstone in particular) molded by water and wind that comes from an age when the region was dominated by a humid and warm climate with animals such as turtles and crocodiles. You will explore this unique Gorge with the option of taking a fantastic and easy hike through the colored heart of the Quebrada.
Driving on you will arrive at Cafayate, capital of the world’s highest bodegas and a gourmet lunch with wine at one of the best local bodegas. Check in to your chosen hotel in the region for the night.


 
Days 4-7: Cafayate
Puna & North West Expedition: Day Two

On your second day you drive south to explore one of the most deserted regions of Argentina and the pre Incan Quilmes ruins. Ascend to reach the high desert plateau of the Puna taking in the vicunas, giant white sand dunes, volcanos and lagoons, before you reach the oasis of El Peñón; your final destination for the evening.


Quilmes Ruins

Enjoy a private tour around the Ruins of Quilmes, an archaeological site that was once was the largest pre-Columbian settlement in the country. The area dates back to around 850 AD and was inhabited by around 5000 Quilmes people at its height. They are renowned for fiercely resisting Inca invasions in the 15th century, and continued to resist the Spaniards for 130 years, until being defeated in 1667.


Laguna Blanca

The Ruta 40 to El Penon

Puna & North West Summer Expedition: Day Three

In the morning: Visit Campo de Piedra Pómez, returning to the Posada for Lunch. In the afternoon, you climb in altitude, visiting the amazing Laguna Grande Reserve. Return to El Peñón for the evening.


Pumice Stone Desert

Visit Campo de Piedra Pómez, a strange and stunning landscape carved into the rock that gives rise to its name. The Pumice stone, of purely igneous origin, was produced by a massive explosion of the volcanic stratum. This explosion spread the ashes and debris in large areas and in different directions that were crystallized by the effects of the temperature and gave life to these wonderful rocks with special features, carved into strange shapes by the wind.


Laguna Grande

The Laguna Grande reserve is a place of unique beauty. A saline lake that sits at an altitude of 4150 metres, leading to the crater of the Galan volcano, the largest in the world. During winter, the water freezes completely, but when spring arrives, it becomes the largest gathering center of the Puna flamingo birds, also called Small Parina (Phoenicpterus jamesi), with more than 19,000 birds (25% of the known total population). It is also a place for summer congregation for the Andean flamingo (Phoenicpterus andinus) and it is a common nesting site of Southern flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis). Return to El Peñón for the evening.


 
Days 7-8: The Puna
Puna & North West Expedition: Day Four

Today you will explore a couple of important oasis' of the region in terms of supporting local inhabitants, shepherds and livestock that still wonder between the Puna and Chile's Atacama desert. These communities live still by the ways they always have, and their resilience is both admirable and eye opening to visitors - you will have lunch at one of their homes to meet them properly. Surrounded by volcanic peaks, lava fields and many more geological wonders you will see the Arita Cone before crossing the Arizaro salt lake.
Spend the night in the town of Tolar Grande.


Quebrada Calalaste

The valley of Calalaste, just a few kilometres away from Vega Colorada is the best spot to find wild camelids.


Antofalla

Antofalla is an important and spectacular example of a Puna oasis; in the middle of a high altitude desert there is a green valley, thanks to a natural pure water spring, full of Alamos, Molles and Sauce trees. Antofalla, together with Antofagasta and Santa Rosa, were important stations for Llama caravans connecting this part of the Andes with the oasis in the Atacama. This oasis is located just at the border of the longest salt flat in the world, among red mountains and lava strips. Antofalla is still inhabited by a tiny community of sixty people, who are mostly all shepherds.


Arita Cone

The Arizaro Salt Flat

You will cross the Arizaro dry salt lake just like the ancient journey the Arrieros (shepherds guiding caravans of animals to Chile) took. Arizaro means 'Vultures Cemetery', and comes from the period when many animals (cows and horses) perished during the crossing of the salt flat.


Arrive into Tolar Grande

Arrive into the small town of Tolar Grande, right in the middle of the Puna and the driest part of the desert.


Puna & North West Expedition: Day Five

From the Tolar Grande, you will be drive into the Labyrinth Desert, a ten million–year-old fossil dune desert formed by clay picks and gypsum crystals. Then it's onto Abra Chorrilos and the capital of the Puna, the town of San Antonio de los Cobres and El Mojon to see how once again these resilient communities survive and their importance to those passing through too. Experience the never ending horizon of the Salinas Grandes finally reaching the highest altitude of your journey with stunning views of the eastern cordillera of the Andes. Just before lunch you will arrive at the Andean village of Purmamarca for the afternoon and evening.


Tolar Grande - Climb the Western ridge of the Cordillera

Just outside of Tolar Grande - we drive to the base of the ridge and make a (slow) walk to the top of the ridge for an amazing view


The Labyrinth Desert

The Labyrinth Desert is a ten million–year-old fossil dune desert formed by clay picks and gypsum crystals. Nowadays it is possible to drive across this natural wonder, a must for keen photographers. Abra Chorrilos is where you will reach the highest point and there will learn from your guide about the Apacheta and its cultural importance for the Andean tradition.


Salinas Grandes

Huge Salt Flats sit in the heights of the Argentinean Altiplano, close to the border with Chile.


 
Days 8-9: North Jujuy
Puna & North West Expedition: Day Six

Purmamarca - Uquia - Humahuaca - Salta

The final day of your expedition, you will set off from Purmamarca to the Humahuaca Gorge, located in a large valley that ends on the border with Bolivia, located in the province of Jujuy in the far north of Argentina. It is a quite young valley, given that its formation dates from a million years. The Gorge is famous for its colourful mountains, awesome geological formations and historic villages. You will have the option to stop in the only authentic market at Volcan, before your transfer back to Salta.


 
Days 9-10: The Pampas
Flights & Transfers

Flight from Salta to Buenos Aires

Private transfer from Buenos Aires to the Pampas

Accommodation in The Pampas
One day in the Pampas

Choose from our selection of estancias for an authentic and luxury ranch-style stay in the sleepy Pampas plains. Ride out with gauchos, enjoy an afternoon asado (BBQ), fishing or polo lessons.


Flights & Transfers

Private transfer from the Pampas to Buenos Aires airport