Five Villages in Quebrada de Humahuaca to Visit in Just 24 Hours

A tour around Quebrada de Humahuaca and its magic has a lot of advantages. Discover the must-visit places you can cover in one day, and that will allow you to get deep inside the local culture while admiring the landscapes.

In Argentina, there are colours —loads of them. Yet, if you’re looking for true natural rainbows, go on reading. Quebrada de Humahuaca, declared a World’s Cultural Heritage in 2003, is to the northeast of the country, in the province of Jujuy. Its charm lies in the high and colourful mountain range outlining the route and welcoming towns at its foot. These peoples bring culture, tradition, and history to the tour, making it an unmissable experience.

These small villages can be covered in just 24 hours, so this trip planning allows you to visit many charming places in a few days, embarking on a lively and unique adventure full of art, tastes, beliefs, culture, and nature. You can cover them by bus or car, so you’ve got no excuses. Keep on reading and find out about the five towns you must add to your magical trip itinerary around Argentina’s wonderful work of art.


1. Tilcara

Urban mural on walls, literary cafés, quaint spots, homemade and traditional gastronomy, craftwork, and full-of-live folk clubs or peñas. Tilcara, in Jujuy, has made worldwide travellers fall in love with it for its warmth and beauty. As the city is small, you can walk all over it in a few hours, getting your camera memory card full for sure.

A tip: you can set up camp here as it has a wide offer of accommodation, restaurants, and cultural activities, and it is very close to the main attractions of the area (distances to the unmissable spots are short from here). 

Tilcara represents the Quebrada de Humahuaca’s heart for its strategic location. Yet, it has its own attraction: Pucará, one of Argentina’s main archaeological sites. Set up tactically, it worked as a control and military point, and it was simultaneously a Pre-Columbian settlement. From the city centre, it is a few minutes away on foot (only 1 km). The surrounding landscape beauty and the importance of these stone historical constructions make it stand out in this village and the Argentinian north.

Pegado, the high mountain botanic garden, displays plant species that grow several metres above sea level and are typical of the region: cactus, elephant cactus, and medicinal and aromatic herbs are part of the list. This place is perfect to crown your 24-hour tour.


2. Purmamarca

Unbelievable as it seems, colours keep multiplying in this corner of the map. Shades of red, orange, and brown on the ground embrace new scheme colours, forming the famous Cerro de los Siete Colores (seven colour mountain). At the foot of this giant lies one of Argentina’s magical destinations: Purmamarca.

If you look up while walking around the narrow streets of this small village in Jujuy, you’ll find a portrait painted near the sky. Some of the most classic postcard-like pictures frame the 9 de Julio square, and the fair around it magnetises everyone with the craftwork displayed (you’ll end up with excess luggage for sure). What can you do in this fascinating place in one day? Apart from walking, savouring regional tastes, and exploring the art shops, we’ll add some must-do things to your itinerary. The historical carob tree, a legendary tree, protagonist of myths, that has witnessed landmarks during 600 years, the Santa Rosa de Lima church, and the building commonly called Cabildo for its old colonial architecture. 

To wrap up your 24 hours, the Camino de los Colorados is a must. You don’t need to make an effort to gaze in admiration at the Cerro de los Siete Colores as it’s in plain sight. Yet, if you want to double it down and paint your trainers with the shades of the ground, walk around this three-kilometre trail surrounding it. The tour lasts about an hour, but it will be longer because you’ll want to take a picture every ten steps. When should you do it? Early in the morning or in the afternoon so as to avoid the intense noon sunlight.



3. Iruya

It is located in the province of Salta, but it can only be accessed from Jujuy. Iruya is one of the main reasons the province is called La linda or the beautiful province. It is the most distant stop (two and a half hours from Tilcara, or two from Humahuaca by car or bus), and maybe that’s why its charm is enhanced. In this city, the journey will finish with a postcard-like view, which you will never forget. Colourful houses hanging up on the mountain, a yellow church with its distinctive dome standing out in the scenery, and the village’s name written on stones. In other words, love at first sight.

What’s it about Iruya? Apart from its captivating vibe, welcoming and kind people, shops, views of the mountains, and traditions, it is distinguished because it appears to have stood still in time. Its colonial architecture, small adobe houses, and narrow stone-paved passages take tourists to a tale-like Argentina from another time. Actually, it was declared a National Historic Site. Mind you! Bring your trainers because everything goes up here, and you’ll be at 2,780 metres above sea level, so every step adds up. Yet, you can cover it completely in a few-hour walk. 

Don’t forget to cross the bridge that spans the river to get the best pictures! And for a panoramic view, visit the Mirador de la Cruz viewpoint.


4. Maimará

More than 2,300 metres above sea level, there’s a portrait painted by nature itself. Maimará is at the heart of this work of art. A city where peace and tranquillity reign and where you’ll find unique shades of colour on every mountain. It is just below the Cerro General San Martín, known for its captivating painter’s palette —an area where hues of yellow, ochre, purple, and red zigzag down, creating a fascinating view. It’s not hard to spot: its beauty is unmistakable. 

What’s more, visiting the interesting cemetery makes the journey exceptional, as it has a singularly detailed architecture decorated with dried flowers. Of course, the rule is also obeyed here, and embracing geography adds its magical touch to the region. 


5. Humahuaca

Even though it is the biggest settlement of the gorge with 6,500 inhabitants, it hasn’t lost its village essence. Narrow streets, abode houses, lanterns brightening up the nights, craftwork shops, and culture in every corner. Humahuaca has a lot to offer for a day tour.

The Sargento Mariano Gómez square, surrounded by shops and restaurants, is a great starting point. In front of it, you’ll find the Monumento a Los Héroes de la Independencia monument, created by the artist Ernesto Soto Avendaño to honour and commemorate those who fought for our independence. You’ll have to go up several steps to see it, but the view of the city from there is worth it. Once there, explore the vegetation and its bronze structures. Another interesting point to add to your walk is the Torre Santa Bárbara, the quaint bell tower of an old church.

Humahuaca is another place to set up camp and get to the amazing gorge thanks to its development and offers. It is even the place from where you can visit the Hornocal or the so-called fourteen-colour mountain, the famous mountain range at 4,761 metres above sea level. A true wonder of Argentina.


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