A Private Off-Road Expedition through the Puna Desert
A comprehensive seven night itinerary and private expedition through Argentina's extraordinary north western landscapes and desert terrain of the Puna
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- 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
At a glance
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.
Example Trip Itinerary
Private transfer to your hotel in Buenos Aires (from international airport)
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.
Private Transfer to Buenos Aires Domestic Airport
Flight from Buenos Aires to Salta
Private transfer from Salta airport to your hotel
Accommodation in Salta
- Living room
- Outdoor Heated Pool
- Full spa
- Dry Sauna
A converted colonial farmhouse set in 290 acres of land, the House of Jasmines is one of the most romantic retreats in all of Argentina. Recently acquired by a French family with great experience in luxury hotels, the lodge was previously owned by Robert Duvall. Each of the rooms (of which there are just seven) is beautifully decorated with period antiques, four poster beds and other luxurious touches. The lodge also features an excellent restaurant, a pool area and spa. Located in the valley just a short drive from the capital of Salta, the lodge is an excellent base from which to explore the area.
- 7 rooms including one two-room suite
- Cottage with two independant rooms complete with a patio each
- Decked seating area
- Swimming pool (unheated)
- Dining room
- In-room spa and beauty treatments (can be arranged in advance)
Finca Valentina is a charming, small boutique hotel situated at the foot of the Andes, just outside Salta in Northwest Argentina. A refurbished country house, it maintains the local traditional architecture with the layout, light and comfort of modern living. The main house of the finca offers five standard rooms and a two-room suite. Outside, there’s also a cottage with two independent rooms, each with a private patio. The lounge and the dining room are completed by a fireplace and are pleasant, modern and strewn intermittently with the odd antique or gaucho garb. Hear the quiet preparation of meals from the cook in the kitchen whilst reading a book from the finca’s charming gardens or the outside decked seating area, sometimes shared by the owners’ three lovely labradors. Located in the south-western outskirts of city, you get the peace and splendid views of the Andean countryside as well as being close to the sights of Salta.
Like its sister hotel in Buenos Aires, Legado Mitico Salta is a boutique hotel with style, service and culture. Each of the amply sized rooms is themed on a different Argentinean historical figure. Decoration is a tasteful blend of dark woods, paintings, antique feature pieces and the modern comforts one expects in a luxury boutique hotel. Service is prompt and friendly and the hotel boasts very pleasant communal areas including a solarium, breakfast bar, patio and a well-stocked library.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The valley of Calalaste, just a few kilometres away from Vega Colorada is the best spot to find wild camelids.
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.
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 the small town of Tolar Grande, right in the middle of the Puna and the driest part of the desert.
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.
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 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.
Huge Salt Flats sit in the heights of the Argentinean Altiplano, close to the border with Chile.
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.
Flight from Salta to Buenos Aires
Private transfer from Buenos Aires to the Pampas
Accommodation in The Pampas
- Nineteen rooms
Manantial del Silencio is a charming rustic lodge set in the small town of Purmamarca. The lodge is located in a truly beautiful spot with stunning views and has nineteen comfortable rooms decorated in a traditional style with period pieces and a pleasant pool area. Each has large windows overlooking the vibrant colours of the gardens and surrounding mountains and a private bathroom. Unwind on the sun loungers by the pool or in the dappled shade of the garden. For the ultimate pampering, relish one of the many beauty treatments available at the quaint spa and wellness centre which has free access to the hydro-massage tub. A buffet breakfast is served daily and the award-winning restaurant serves Andean and international dishes created by chef Sergio Latorre. This elegant hotel is a great spot which to explore the surrounding area, including the stunning hikes around the Cerro de Siete Colores (the ‘Rock of Seven Colours’).
- Twelve rooms
- Swimming pool, spa and gym
- Buffet breakfast
A well-equipped and rustically elegant boutique hotel found on the edges of Tilcara town, Las Marias has done well to reflect the wild character of the Jujuy landscape and with all the modern luxuries. Built in an Adobe design with hues that mirror those of the surrounding countryside, Las Marias’ twelve bedrooms are spacious, luxurious and each has a private terrace with fantastic views. There’s a good spa and swimming pool to cool off and whilst a buffet breakfast is included in the rates, there’s only a snack bar offering lunch and dinner; otherwise we can recommend and reserve tables for you at some great local restaurants.
- Nine rooms all with private terraces
- Dining room
- Wine Cellar
- Swimming Pool
A charming boutique hotel set the in sleepy town of Tilcara. The stone construction is very much in keeping with the surrounds set on three different levels in the style of the Andean farming terraces. The hotel is around a five minute walk from the town square. Service is friendly and personal.
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.
Private transfer from the Pampas to Buenos Aires airport
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A Private Off-Road Expedition through the Puna Desert
How We Work
We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.