North Argentina is an extremely mountainous region featuring absolutely stunning mountain drives filled with adrenaline and vertigo. On these steep mountain slopes, called cuestas, you are challenged to take on sharp curves, frequent gear changing and minding the other traffic by honking at dead angles and measuring the passage for vehicles approaching head-on. If that is not exciting enough, just imagine marveling at the wonderful landscapes of Argentina and deep canyons and cliffs that on more than one occasion will take your breath away.
To prepare you for your high mountain drives, Dos Manos Travel Agency has compiled a list of the top 5 Mountain Tours in North Argentina, with their characteristics and whereabouts:
- Cuesta del Portezuelo(Catamarca)
Bordered on one side by the Sierra de Ancasti and the other by extremely deep ravines, the Cuesta del Portezuelo offers amazing sights of the natural beauty of the Central Valley of Cajamarca. The best way to get there is taking the turnoff on National Highway 38. On extremely narrow and zigzagging roads you will climb from 700 m.a.s.l. to the summit at 1800 m., where you have a good chance to see condors circling around you. The spectacular drive itself offers plenty of opportunities to stop besides the road to take in the magnificent scenery, which is especially beautiful in the flowering season.
- Cuesta del Obispo(Salta)
The mountain drive is reached 57 km. from Salta, on the Provincial Route 33. A wide road that is under permanent conservation goes up the slope from Chicoana at 1270 m.a.s.l. to its maximum altitude at the Piedra del Molino (the Mill Stone) at 3340 m., in the National Park Cardones. Meters before the summit there is a viewpoint where you can see the dizzying hillside in its entire glory. When weather conditions are favorable you can observe the Valle Encantado (the Enchanted Valley) with its many multicolored hills, a lake situated between high meadows and there are even cave paintings. When you keep going on a road known as the Recta Tin Tin, made during the Inca period, you arrive at the picturesque town of Cachi and eventually to Seclantás, very famous for its artisanal production of ponchos.
- Cuesta del Indio (Tucumán)
After going down the Provincial Route 307, you can take the road towards the Yunga Tucumana. Starting at 550 m.a.s.l. the serpentine road goes into the hills offering far stretched views. At 963 meters, within the Provincial Parque Los Sosa, is the Indian Monument depicting an Inca messenger (chasqui), from where you can see the striking panorama of hills and crests. After passing the 1750 meters mark, you reach La Angostura Dam, an ideal place for practicing water sports and fishing for mackerel and trout.
- Cuesta de Lipán (Jujuy)
From Purmamarca, at 2192 m.a.s.l. on the National Route 52 you will cross the 4170 m. high Abra de Potrerillos that leads to the town of Susques. The formerly dirt route was used for pakcing mules coming down from the highlands to the valley, but now it is a fully paved road that has a spectacular winding ascent. It is also the primary access to the Paso de Jama, on the border with Chile, and is a necessary stop for the tourists that want to visit Salinas Grandes.
- Cuesta de Miranda (La Rioja).
The most colorful and pulsating drive in the province of La Rioja, includes over 400 curves of which only 4 are paved and the rest is made up with firm gravel. Located 35 km. from Chilecito on the RN 40, this imposing roadwork demanded 10 years to complete. It was previously used by courageous herdsmen to bring livestock to the hillside towns. From the foot to the 2020 m.a.s.l. peak, you ascend 650 meters and see many distinctively red mountains due to the rich content of iron oxide and hydroxide, plus an incredible variation of flora and fauna.
Inquire with Dos Manos Travel Specialist in Latin America or directly with Dos Manos Travel Agency Argentina for the best itineraries, nearby attractions and up to date road conditions when you want to tour North Argentina!
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