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SALTA (Argentina), ATACAMA DESERT (Chile) & UYUNI SALT FLATS (Bolivia)

The marvelous landscape of Northern Argentina

The Immense Atacama Desert

The colorful mountains of Jujuy

FROM 1380 USD 9 Days / 8 Nights
Highlights

Northern Argentina trips
Salta Tours
Humahuaca Gorge
Tilcara & Purmamarca
Travel to Chile – Atacama Tours
Bolivia Trips – Uyuni Salt Flats

SALTA (Argentina), ATACAMA DESERT (Chile) & UYUNI SALT FLATS (Bolivia)

Tour salt flats, deserts, colonial cities & more - 9 days

Salta (locally known as La Linda -The Beautiful, and one of the best preserved colonial cities) is the perfect base for your adventures in the northwest of Argentina. Travel the stunning Cloud safari, and discover the local culture of the traditional Andean towns. Continue to San Pedro De Atacama, a laid back oasis town on the edge of the driest place on earth, and finally arrive at the immense sea of salt in the South of Bolivia. This trip, created for true thrill seekers, will stick with you for many years to come.

 

Day 1 – Start your Adventure in Argentina: Salta

 

Salta is the selected jumping-off point for travelers seeking to explore the North of Argentina. From here, you can visit the most outstanding natural wonders of the area: the Humahuaca Gorge or the Seven Colours Hill in Jujuy, a bordering province which is world-renowned.

 

 

Salta has it all: the geographical diversity (red, green and brown tinted mountains) and a vast history which is palpable in these time-honored lands where men fought for the freedom of Argentina. Between the colonial architecture, the lively cafés in the main plaza (great people watching spot), and the vibrant and authentic peñas, places where locals grab a table to watch their favorite folkloric singers and join in for some dancing after a wine (or two), you’ll never be at a loss for activities.

 

 

Upon arrival you will be driven to your hotel. Take the rest of the afternoon to explore the city. Bear in mind that this is a stress-free hub: la siesta (afternoon nap) is kind of a religious ritual for locals, which means that between 1 pm and 5 pm shops are usually closed.

 

 

 

 

Say Hueque Tips

 

 

Go ahead and discover the best insider tips to visit the city; the best restaurants in town (you must try the tamales!), the most important historic buildings, and popular peñas– “¿Bailamos?” (Shall we dance?) is all you need to say to start the party! Read about it all in our Salta Travel Guide.

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Day 2 – Humahuaca Gorge, Salta & Jujuy trips

 

We’ll pick you up early in the morning to begin your 13-hour trip exploring the Humahuaca Gorge, declared a UNESCO Heritage Site. Humahuaca Gorge is home to a bunch of amazing natural monuments like the Seven Color Hill, the Pucará de Tilcara (a ramshackled yet well-restored native fortress), and the Paleta del Pintor (Painter Palette) at Maimará village, an impressive multi-colored mountain range. Our adventurous path will then lead us through the Yungas, the green-tinted jungle of the North, past all of these breathtaking natural monuments until ultimately reaching the picturesque town of Humahuaca. Wander amongst colonial houses and streets, get a feel for the old-world serenity that still survives in this setting, and grab some lunch (not included) in one of the typical taverns; the humita (a traditional corn-based dish) is something you definitely must try!

 

 

In the afternoon, we’ll keep on traveling to get to the little Uquía Church, where you’ll see some peculiar paintings of the colonial period, called Pinturas Cuzqueñas. For the potential astrologists, we’ll pass by the famous Tropic of Capricorn milestone and finally arrive in the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, the second big capital of the Argentine North region, after Salta. We’ll visit the cathedral, the main square, and the presidential house of the Tacita de Plata (silver cup), as history nicknamed the city of Jujuy because of its resemblance to the wealthy Cadiz in Spain.

 

 

At the end of the day, we’ll drive you back to your hotel in Salta. If you feel like having a particularly nice evening, walk Balcarce Street and choose the bar or peña that suits you the most!

 

 

 Northern Argentina trips are an amazing experience.

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Day 3 – Salta Argentina

 

This is your free day, and your opportunity to discover this incredible city at your own pace. Salta has lots of architectural monuments to admire, which can help you learn a little bit about the history of the city. Our recommendation for this day is to start your personal tour around the Colonial area of the city, where you can view structures like the grand Cathedral, a beautiful building painted in a creamy pretty pink color, San Francisco Church, where you’ll see the highest bell tower in South America, and the San Bernardo Convent, built in the XVII century.

 

 

For museum lovers, we have a place that you cannot miss: the MAAM (Museum of High Mountain Archaeology) was created to educate the whole world about the discovery of the “Niños del Llullaillaco” (Llullaillaco Kids), three Incan kids who remained hidden in their icy tombs on top of the Llullaillaco volcano for more than 500 years before being unearthed. Come to discover what nobody told you about the Inca civilization, and the secrets that these mummified children came to reveal!

 

 

At night, go shake your hips to the rhythm of the Spanish guitars and criolla music in the peña Balderrama, a classic restaurant and bar where local artists and musicians are known to meet up. Try the locro, a juicy stew of meat, corn, and potatoes !

 

 

Travel to Argentina the lands of good dancers!

 

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Day 4 – From Salta, travel to Chile - San Pedro de Atacama

 

Time to keep moving! Early in the morning, we’ll take you to the bus station to board a public bus to San Pedro de Atacama, the gateway to the orange-tinted sands of the notoriously driest desert in the world.

This road trip will definitely rouse your adventurous spirit. You’ll cross the Andes Range through the “Paso de Jama”, one of the highest international passes in the world, and ride 200 km away (125 miles) until finally arriving in San Pedro de Atacama. The scenic route we take will be 12 hours in which you’ll enjoy stunning Altiplano scenery. It is important to point out that today you are leaving Argentina and crossing an international border. Please, keep your passport handy!

 

 

Upon arrival at the bus station of San Pedro, you will make your way to your hotel. Enjoy the evening eating a pastel de choclo (a korn base cake) at one of the cozy restaurants of Caracoles Street (the main road), or maybe buy some artesanías (handcraft souvenirs) at the market. Be bold in this secluded corner of the globe, and mingle with locals in the unpaved roads.

 

 

Important! It is not allowed to take any fresh food, plants, seeds, etc. from Argentina to Chile. They are very strict, and fines can be high. If you are not sure if something is allowed or not, please declare it (they will provide you with a form) and they will inform you on whether you can carry it or not.

 

 

 

 

Say Hueque Tips

 

San Pedro de Atacama is also one of the best places to stargaze in the whole world. With this altitude you’ll see the clearest skies ever. Be sure not to waste the opportunity and get out there to chase some starlight!

 

 

Atacama Tours are the best oportunity to stargaze in the world.

 

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Day 5 – Atacama Tours: the Moon Valley

 

¡Buen día Atacama! It’s your first morning in this magical place. We know that yesterday you had a long trip, so take your time to enjoy the morning and rest, because in the afternoon, we’ll get active again.

 

 

Today we’ll take you on a 4 hour adventure in the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), an out-of-this-world place. Driving straight to the desert, we’ll start noticing mysterious forms of salt and clay as we get closer to the “Three Marias” area. These statues are the female guardians of this cosmic desert, so don’t forget to bow and make a wish to the desert gods.  The Atacama Desert is one of the world’s driest and most hostile zones.

 

After this first encounter, take the winding and hidden path of the Salt Caves, and discover the peculiar salt gemstones that have been formed over centuries from the lack of humidity and the altitude of this zone. The highlight of your adventure will appear at the sunset when all the colors of this incredible landscape change their palette. The forbidding Licancabur Volcano will turn pink while the valley awaits the rise of its lunar mother.

 

 

After the excursion, you will be dropped off in downtown Atacama, and from there you can make your way back to your hotel on your own. You can also combine this tour with an optional mountain bike excursion. Just ask your Say Hueque travel advisor and we’ll guide you through.

 

 

Atacama Tours show you the Moon Valley, an incredible place in Chile.

 

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Day 6 – Atacama Tours: Tatio Geysers & Machuca

 

This morning, you will travel to where the crevices of the Earth exhale their millenary breath. At about 4 a.m., we’ll pick you up to take you 100 km (60 miles) away from San Pedro de Atacama into the Andes range in an 8 hour trip to see the geothermal field of Geysers del Tatio (the highest in the world). Here, you’ll see 40 geysers and 70 hot springs fighting the super low temperatures of the first morning hours (their waters can reach up to 85°C /185 °F). Take the most impressive photos, swim in the Tatio spring’s rich mineral waters, and enjoy a complete breakfast with this magnificent backdrop.

 

Upon returning we’ll visit the quaint Machuca village (at 4000 m.o.s.l), a little atacameño (from Atacama) town with barely 20 adobe houses and a traditional church that locals visit daily to ask the Virgin to give them water and to preserve roads so travelers can get to town and buy their enthralling handcrafts. Though they used to survive working as llama shepherds, nowadays they count on foreign visitors to improve their quality of life.

 

 

For travelers, this is the perfect opportunity to get closer to the inner mountainous culture of the region, and to try one of the best sopaipilla (a kind of fried tortilla). After visiting Machuca, we’ll drop you off in downtown Atacama. You can return to your hotel on your own or just enjoy your afternoon wandering around town.

 

 

Atacama Tours take you to see Tatio Geysers and Machuca village

 

 

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Day 7 – Uyuni Tours: 4WD Adventure

 

Few people are prepared to really live an adventure. In this 3 day trip to Uyuni Salt Flats you will live more than one, and that’s for sure! The journey to Uyuni is different than anything you might have seen before. Why? There are a couple reasons; shimmering salt flats stretching as far as the horizon goes, pink flamingos living in the highest lake on Earth, colossal volcanos, and multi-colored waters—did you get the bigger picture?

 

 

In the early morning we’ll pick you up from your hotel to start a 10 hour trip in which you’ll cross borders and have your first impressions of jaw-dropping Bolivian landscapes.  We’ll pass through Chile and Bolivia immigration offices and, once on the Bolivian side and at 14,435 feet above sea level, you will change to a 4WD jeep with a maximum capacity of 6 people.

 

 

During the first day you’ll visit the National Park Eduardo Avaroa and see the Bolivian high plain, the Laguna Verde, and Laguna Blanca (Green and White Lagoons), all lying at the enormous feet of  Licancabur Volcano. The next stop will be the nicknamed ‘Dali Desert’ (or Valley), a part of of the Siloli Desert. If you thought nature was already surrealistic in Bolivia, get prepared to blow away all of your expectations.  

 

 

People named this valley after some of the great painter’s masterpieces which picture similar landscapes: unexpectedly-shaped rocky formations isolated in a 4700 m.o.s.l (15,584 feet) sandy plain. What you must definitely look out for in Dali Desert is the Árbol de Piedra (Tree Stone), a volcanic rock formation which is a forbidding example of nature’s artwork.

 

 

You’ll be amazed by the thermal water pools (or “foreigners soup” as locals call it), and the Sol de Mañana geysers, which are intermittent springs coming up at 194º F. The journey ends up at Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon, named after the red algae which grows beneath the waters), the main nesting center for more than 30,000 flamingos of 3 different species, as well as alpacas (kind of llamas) which graze nearby. These places are located at an average height of 4.500 meters (14,764 feet) above sea level and it is possible to spot endemic flora and fauna such as flamingos, vicuñas and other animals.

 

 

 

 

 

Say Hueque tips

 

Things to take into account: You’ll spend the night in a basic shelter, consisting of  shared rooms for 6 people. Please note, since you will be visiting a remote and  less-developed area, the accommodation is basic. It is important that you bring a sleeping bag to spend the night, especially during the months of June, July, August and September- though they can also be rented on arrival.

 

 

*This day you will be crossing the border between Chile and Bolivia. Please note that Bolivia requests: the certificate of yellow fever vaccine to enter the country, and a visa for citizens of some countries.  Please, check if you need it before traveling. You can apply for a travel visa at your home country’s Consulate.

 

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Day 8 – 4WD Adventure to Salt Hotel

 

Welcome to the second day of your adventure! You will have an 8 hour excursion to visit the Siloli Desert, surrounded by The Great Uyuni Salt Flats and some colorful lagoons.

 

Keep on exploring the rock formations carved by wind erosion and hit the next circuit of colored high plain lagoons, Laguna Honda and Cañapa, with their brackish and gleaming waters. Take a moment to admire the particular vegetation of the coastline; its teal-colored waters where the great Caquena, Tapaquillcha y Cañapa volcanos echo their images. You’ll be able to see flamingos here, but remember that they are really sensitive animals, so please don’t feed them and try to take pictures from afar.

 

 

Then, we will continue to Chiguana salt flat, crossed by a train railway that is still in use, and to San Juan town, a one-street village where little more than its adobe church and graveyard are to be found. Nearby sits your special accommodation for the night, the Salt Hotel, and this is not just a symbolic name. In this hotel, most of the facilities are made of salt; salt tables, salt chairs, and salt couches. Enjoy a hot shower and a mineral-filled, restful sleep.

 

 

Uyuni tours take you to the amazing Highplains full of pink flamingos

 

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Day 9 – 4WD Adventure to Uyuni

 

Today we’ll take on the highlight of the trip: the Great Uyuni Salt flats. We’ll depart bright and early in the morning to start our 6 hour outing. First, we’ll take a general tour around the widest (6575 miles) and highest (11975 feet over the sea level) gleaming  salt flats in the world. Get to grips with this open and endless space. Challenge your eyes: sky and soil will seem to merge in rainy season (November-March) when the endless brackish desert floods. But don’t worry, the salt always glistens during the dry season too—No matter the time of year, you’re sure to see a natural spectacle that’s hard to forget.

 

 

The expedition will continue towards Isla Incahuasi, the island amid salt flats, and the perfect place to catch a spectacular sunrise. Then it’s time to model for the famous perspective photos every traveler comes to get. It’s always a funny and creative moment for everyone, and a good souvenir to take back home.

 

 

We’ll continue on our way towards the eyes of the salt flats (two perfectly round pools) before heading to Colchani town, located at the limits of Uyuni Salt Flats,  where you can buy local handcraft. The day will finish in a fabled place; a train cemetery. Covered in a bunch of abandoned train bodywork, this will be the best scenario for the last pictures of this adventurous journey. From here, you will head to the tranquil Bolivian Uyuni city, where you will arrive in the late afternoon.

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE BEFORE BOOKING: The landscapes that you will see during this adventure trip are absolutely amazing, but you must know that the quality of service is underwhelming. Food is included but it is very basic. Accommodation, too, is really humble. Some nights will be in shelters with shared rooms and without private bathrooms. Some places lack hot water and sometimes, are even without water. Places can be dirty, and weather during the night can be 20º Celsius (68°F) below zero. Drivers don’t speak English and are not tour guides, they are just drivers. You will be in places where the altitude is 5000 mts (16404 feet) above sea level.

 

 

So, we want to make it clear to you that the service is not good during these days, but landscapes are fabulous and make the trip really worth it! This is an adventure trip and the most remarkable parts about this journey are the unique landscapes that you will be able to enjoy. If you don’t care about this lack of comfort, we can guarantee that you will enjoy one of the most spectacular destinations of South America. It is very important that you know this before booking this trip.

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Included

Transfers and tours mentioned in the itinerary

3 night accommodation in a hotel (Salta), 3 night accommodation in a hotel (Atacama), 2 night accommodation in mountain huts during you 4×4 adventure (Bolivia)

Daily breakfast

Bilingual guide (English / Spanish)

During the 4×4 adventure, you will be accompanied by a Spanish speaking driver.

One way bus Salta / San Pedro de Atacama.

Meals according to itinerary: lunch (day 7 ), lunch and dinner (day 8)

Not Included

International or domestic flights or buses.

National Park Entrance fees

Travel / Medical Insurance – To get a free quote please follow this link: World Nomads

Accommodation & Prices

SALTA (Argentina), ATACAMA DESERT (Chile) & UYUNI SALT FLATS (Bolivia)


INN/ B&B

USD 1380

COMFORT

USD 1530

SUPERIOR

USD 1800

*Prices in US Dollars.
*Valid until April 2020 (Not valid in Christmas, New Year and Carnival).

*Prices are per person, based on 2 people in double occupancy. Single rates are available on request. Flights are not included in the price, but can be arranged on request.

*Please note that this tour is also available in Luxury Category. Ask your Travel Advisor for the details and quotation on this category.



Flights needed for this itinerary

No flights needed for this trip. Trip starts in Salta and finishes in Uyuni.

Flights in South America cost approximately $100 to $250 USD per segment (destination). We offer special rates on flights for this tailor-made itinerary.

Included

Transfers and tours mentioned in the itinerary

3 night accommodation in a hotel (Salta), 3 night accommodation in a hotel (Atacama), 2 night accommodation in mountain huts during you 4×4 adventure (Bolivia)

Daily breakfast

Bilingual guide (English / Spanish)

During the 4×4 adventure, you will be accompanied by a Spanish speaking driver.

One way bus Salta / San Pedro de Atacama.

Meals according to itinerary: lunch (day 7 ), lunch and dinner (day 8)

Not Included

International or domestic flights or buses.

National Park Entrance fees

Travel / Medical Insurance – To get a free quote please follow this link: World Nomads

Trip Reviews

SALTA (Argentina), ATACAMA DESERT (Chile) & UYUNI SALT FLATS (Bolivia)

Joe Brash

Joe Brash

(4 / 5)

I don’t want hassle and you ensured that wasn’t any

We went on the web looking at trip adviser and other websites to see which companies had organized tours for people. Your name came up fairly frequently along with several others so I emailed all of them. You were the first to reply and your answers seemed sensible so we decided to work with you.

Everything worked ok. We were always met at the airports on schedule, the hotels were always ready etc. I don’t want hassle and you ensured that wasn’t any

Mendoza was lovely – small, excellent service, relaxed. Buenos A was also very good – also excellent service. We liked the hotels.

There were many excursions – so to choose one is difficult. But memorable ones include – the boat trip, walking with the penguins nr Ushuaia (you didn’t book that for us but we did), fossil valley at estancia Christina from el calafate, the walks in torres del paine. Horse riding in torres del paine was unfortunately cancelled due to illness of horses – but that would have been a favourite.

On the negative side the guide in Puerto montt/varas was not an enjoyable experience – he was very late at the airport (30 minutes) and said he had been there all the time – I get annoyed by people who lie to me. He was inflexible. But all other guides were good – the standard was very good.

Some friends want to do a tour similar to us and we have suggested a number of modifications which I think your team could have suggested to us:

- renting cars a bit more – we could have rented in Puerto montt and driven ourselves to various places including chiloe, we could have rented in Atacama etc

- some tours we should have been booked on and we added them as we travelled – in Atacama we were not booked on a tour down south to the lake – which is one major reason for going to that area. In Ushuaia we were not booked on the penguin tour but again that is a major reason for going there.

- Chiloe was the most disappointing stay – having read the book where so many people say it is wonderful, we thought we could have skipped it and visited other places – if the timetable was limited.

- you should have suggested to us that there are tours of cities – walking tours – toursfortips.com for example. That would have been good for several of the cities – Atacama, Santiago, Mendoza. We did join the tours because we know about them from USA but you should have mentioned them as an option.

- all the hotels were fine – however probably you could have warned us that Atacama was hot and that we should choose a hotel with a pool!! The hotel we had was ok but a pool would have made life better.

- in hindsight there are some days when we could have caught a flight instead of staying at a hotel. But that is my fault I should have studied the flight times in more detail – for example going from Atacama to easter island we had to stay a night in Santiago but there must have been a way to save this?

- places not included which should have been – Salta, the wetlands, an estancia somewhere, we should have stayed another couple of days in BA. We will come back to visit Brazil and pop down to see some of these.

Thanks for everything – now back to reality of grandchildren and gardening!!


02.04.18

Enrica Wong

Enrica Wong

(4 / 5)

The 4WD tour in Bolivia was very good.

Hi Patty,

I first learned about Say Hueque searching in the Internet. I worked with you because of the good reviews and you had a tour option that fitted my needs.
Knowing I had someone to contact if I needed and being able to tailor the tour as needed was my highlight of traveling with you.

The Ayres hotel in Salta wasn't very good and it wasn't the hotel I had initial chosen, it was quite dated, could just have been the room I had.

My favorite excursion was The 4WD tour in Bolivia. Eddy, the driver in Bolivia was very good, even though he only spoke Spanish.

The tours in San Pedro always started late, I don't mind waiting, but it would be good if you got notified because you're not sure if they're still coming. On the last day in San Pedro, I had to wait about an hour before my pick up came.

Thanks,
Enrica


03.09.17

Comments About:

Atacama & Uyuni, Featured Trips

Bee Yap

Bee Yap

(5 / 5)

I really enjoyed my trip and am very pleased with all the arrangements.

Hi Patty!

Thank you for your email. I would be happy to provide my feedback. I really enjoyed my trip and am very pleased with all the arrangements. Everything that was within Say's control was on time, the hotels were great and the itinerary/timetable was planned out really well! It was really great to have you constantly in contact with me to make sure the trip is going well, I think this makes a huge difference from other agencies.

I first learned about Say Hueque by word of mouth. A friend was researching Patagonia via Say Hueque and referred me to it. Everything was well arranged and on time. Having Patty as a contact point helps a lot which makes the difference.

I have a few favorite hotels:
• Pudu Lodge - Chalten - good location from the hiking trails, good breakfast.

• Ushuaia - good location from the main streets, nice spacious room/living room area, good breakfast. Added a nice touch with champagne and chocolates for New Year's Eve

• Hotel Clasico - Buenos Aires - nice room, good breakfast
My favorite excursions have been to the Salar de Uyuni, Calafate glacier and Ushuaia. The guides, they were all quite good and knowledgeable.

Everything was very well organized for me. My own personal regret is not enough time in Buenos Aires. As you can see from my feedback, I really do not have complaints.

I may want to do another trip with Say at a later time, perhaps spend some more time in Buenos Aires and other places in Argentina, like Mendoza.

Thanks, Bee


06.01.17

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MY TRIP: SALTA (Argentina), ATACAMA DESERT (Chile) & UYUNI SALT FLATS (Bolivia)

TOTAL LENGHT: 9 days

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Trip Reviews
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Places that you want to visit

Patagonia


Buenos Aires


Mendoza


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SALTA (Argentina), ATACAMA DESERT (Chile) & UYUNI SALT FLATS (Bolivia)
Testimonials

Joe Brash

I don’t want hassle and you ensured that wasn’t any

Enrica Wong

The 4WD tour in Bolivia was very good.

Bee Yap

I really enjoyed my trip and am very pleased with all the arrangements.

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