5 Ways to Explore Argentina's Central Sierras

This region isn’t on most travelers’ lists of places to visit in Argentina – but locals have long been aware of its astonishing landscapes and warm hospitality.


Photo © iStock/Roberto Michel

Go Trekking in Los Gigantes

Cordoba, Argentina’s second-oldest city, is known for its universities, relaxed atmosphere, and well-preserved colonial architecture. But adventure-seekers should head to Los Gigantes, on the Camino de las Altas Cumbres – these are towering, vertical rock formations with small green valleys in between.

The most impressive is the Valle de Los Lisos, with 11 trekking circuits organized into 40 paths classified by difficulty. These will lead you to caves, waterfalls, underground rivers, and streams enclosed by huge, rocky walls.

The reserve is private and there’s a fee for use of the circuits. If you want to stay the night, there are several mountain shelters that must be booked in advance, or you can camp. All inclusive-tours are also available, with guides, meals, and accommodation packages for one to three days. Prices start from US $60 ($1500 ARS). 

Los Gigantes. Photo credit: iStock/Martinelli73

Relax in Valle de Traslasierra

The peaceful village of Nono has the perfect anti-stress formula. Beside the pristine Chico River, you’ll find extensive golden beaches gleaming with mica, and banks lined with huge, rounded rocks that form natural pools and small waterfalls. Let yourself be enveloped by the sound of the water, the song of the birds, and the smell of the herbs that grow here, and enjoy being in the middle of an authentic natural spa.

If you prefer a bit of adrenaline, you can kayak, ride horses, or rappel in the area. Or you can climb neighboring Mount Champaqui, the highest peak in Cordoba Province.

Find Adventure (and Maybe Aliens)

Some areas of this region are considered energetic centers, due to the high quantity of quartz in the terrain. Uritorco Mount is one of them. A favorite of backpackers and campers, this mount is a center for legends and mysticism, including some alien theories – you might consider it the Roswell of Argentina. Some people believe extraterrestrials called Erks live in an ethereal city under the mount. It’s fairly easy to climb, and if you spend the night there, you’ll see some lights in the sky that scientists can’t explain.

A 25-min drive from Capilla del Monte, you’ll find one of the region’s loveliest trekking circuits, Los Terrones. The moderate trails run through an incredible landscape of red rock formations that form mysterious shapes.

Not far away is San Marcos Sierras, a little hippie town where a community of people lives off the grid. The main mount here is Alpha Mount, ideal for viewing the sunset. Follow the path along the Quilpo River and immerse yourself in one of the purest areas of the province, where you can actually hear the silence.

Discover a Slice of Europe

La Cumbresita, one of the most beautiful villages in the province, is a little Tyrolean hamlet with authentic German-style architecture and food. Set in the middle of the mountains, the town is entirely pedestrian. From the center of town, several paths will take you to small falls, streams, and natural pools. Don’t forget to try one of the local artisan beers.

For a different flavor, La Cumbre, Cruz Chica, and Los Cocos are three charming villages with a British influence. Several grand English manor houses have been converted into hotels if you want to relax in style. Try to find your way out of the grass labyrinth in Los Cocos, or take the chairlift up the mountain, and zip line or alpine-slide your way down. Or visit the Road of the Artisans, which links the villages of La Cumbre and Villa Giardina, to buy some local handicrafts.

Chapel in La Cumbrecita. Photo credit: iStock/Martinelli73

Visit the Home of a Legend

In Cordoba province, you’ll find many vestiges of Spanish colonialism, as well as a strong Jesuit legacy. Many of its buildings are still standing, and some have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites. One of the most important is the 17th-century Jesuit estancia in Alta Gracia. This village is also known as the childhood home of Che Guevara. Today, his home is a small museum, where you can see his room, his bed, and some of his personal objects.

Jesuit Estancia, Alta Gracia. Photo credit: iStock/RnDmS

When to Go

If you want to skip the crowds, avoid going to Cordoba Province during the summer (January and February), winter break (July), and national holidays. The best seasons? Spring and autumn: good weather, fewer crowds, and best prices.

Want to know more about Argentina? Listen to the World Nomads podcast. How drinking mate defines Argentinians, how to kiss properly when you greet someone, and meet Popi, the scientist who's saving penguins.

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