At more than 11,280ft (3,440m) above sea level, Yavi stands frozen in time, its arid Andean landscapes contrasting with the willow trees that grow by the river, and the houses made of clay.
Located near the Bolivian border, 2.5 hours from the backpacker haven of Humahuaca, this barely populated village is the last town in Argentina that belonged to the Royal Road. During the days of Spanish rule, precious minerals were transported through here from Peru, making Yavi a powerful marquisate.
Visitors can check out the Marques de Tojo’s elegant colonial-style house, now a museum, and the 17th-century church with its gold-plated altar.
A short hike takes you to even smaller Yavi Chico, which has an archeological museum and –
For those who wish to stay, there’s a municipal campsite just by the Marques’ house, or the Hostal de Yavi.
In prehistoric times, the
This unique feature makes
Just 11mi (17km) from the
As this area is part of the Leoncito National Park, it’s best accessed from the nearest town,
Though few travelers know about this national park, it has a very rich cultural and palaeontological heritage. It was once home of the Huarpes Tribe and, long before, of the
The park’s extremely arid landscape and dramatic rock formations resemble the Grand Canyon. Temperatures can get up to more than 99°F (37°C) – some of the activities within the park may be suspended when this happens, and during summer months hikes are generally not held during siesta (afternoon nap) hours.
The main features of the park are the Potrero de la Aguada (a natural amphitheater carved by wind and water) and Farallones (walls of red sandstone over 656ft (200m) high). You can do some hikes, such as the Guanacos trail, on your own, but must register at the park’s office beforehand. Other hikes, like the Farallones (four hours) or Las Huellas del Pasado (two hours) require a guide.
This is quite an isolated area, and there’s no public transport, so make sure you have plenty of water, food, and proper clothing (and a full gas tank if driving). There
The Pampa Negra was formed by more than 800 volcanic cones, turning it into a black desert. This moon-like landscape has one of the highest and most varied concentrations of volcanic activity on earth. Still an off-the-beaten-path destination, La Payunia can only be visited with an authorized guide.
Travelers can either hire a guide to join them and self-drive, or do a day trip with a tour operator. This is to preserve the solitude of this volcanic wonderland and to prevent visitors from getting lost or getting their vehicle stuck in the soft black sand. If you self-drive, you’ll need an SUV.
All guided tours depart from Malargue, 93mi (150km) away. There’s no accommodation nearby and the visit lasts the whole day, so you only need to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Come to the El Cuyo region for the wine – stay for the mountain treks, unbeatable stargazing, and surreal rock formations. Insider Marisa shows the way.
Whether you prefer private campsites with lots of amenities or like to pitch your tent in the remote wilderness, you’ll find plenty of options.
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