Iguazú Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Together, they make up the largest waterfall system in the world……. and they are truly breathtaking. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu. The Iguazu River rises near the city of Curitiba and even though most of its course flows through Brazil, most of the falls are on the Argentine side.
Falls between two countries
The falls form the boundary / border area between Argentina and Brazil. Access to the falls is possible from both countries and it is definitely worth visiting from both sides as the prospective from each country is totally different and unique. Also the border crossing located near the falls between these two countries is less restrictive becuase of the sheer number of tourists visiting both sides of this amazing place.
The Argentinean side boasts more structured walkways than the Brazil side. You walk along the top of the falls instead of having a front view of the water ‘wall’. The changes through when you get to Devils throat, the prime attraction on the Argentinian side. Here you will see a panoramic view of section further up the river than the Brazilian side. This view point is Mirador Garganta del Diablo.
This side is much easier to access, is better organised and has better landscape views of the ginormous falls.
Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Valley), is located in the Jujuy province of Argentina. It is narrow mountain valley that contains many villages in which are the oldest settlements in Argentina. The valley runs north to south and can be easily accessed when travelling to/from Bolivia or Chile.
There are many highlights along the valley, these are my favorites (Some are just outside the valley)
Purmamarca actually is located off the main road in the valley. It is on the road towards Attacama desert in chile via the amazing Paso de Jama. This makes it a great stop on the way to and from Chile. The town is very small and was the most ‘touristy’ town in the area. Best for a day trip, check out the main square which is full of markets stalls. Another site is the Cerro de los Siete Colores (The hill of seven colours). It has a unique color range that is the product of a complex geological history including marine sediments, lake and river movements elevated with the movement of the tectonic plates.
I found Tilcara to be the best place to stay as it has alot of hostel options and great restaurants (more than the other towns). Traces of human habitation in the area date back more than 10,000 years, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements of Argentina. There is also an amazing day hike to ‘Devils Throat’, that has great views of the area, waterfalls, and a water aqua-duct.
Humahuaca is widely known for its location at the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a long valley east of the central Andean Altiplano. It is the main town in the valley, located north of Tilcara and Purmamarca. The centre of the town has a lovely square which leads up some amazing stairs to a monument to the heroes of the Independence. (Monumento a los Héroes de la Independencia)
Serranía de Hornocal
The Serranía de Hornocal are a range of mountains located 25 kilometers from the city of Humahuaca in the Argentine province of Jujuy. Exposed in the range is the limestone formation called Yacoraite that extends from Salta, Argentina, through the Argentine Quebrada de Humahuaca and then through the Bolivian Altiplano to Peru. When you finally reach the colored mountains, you’ll be at 4761 meters above sea level.
Iruya is small mountain town located in the Salta region of North West Argentina. The town is accessed by a gravel road from Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Valley). So technically it is outside the Quebrada de Humahuaca, but it was my favorite place in Argentina, because of its remoteness. I have a dedicated post on Iruya
Iruya is small mountain town located in the Salta region of North West Argentina. The town is accessed by a gravel road from Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Valley). The road climbs to 4000m before descending to 2600m where Iruya is located.
This ride starts in Salta, in the northwest Argentina. Shortly after leaving the city, you’ll find yourself in a remarkable jungle which only last an hour before you’re transported into a landscape of red rocks similar to Utah in the USA.
The road is superb, as of 2017 is new and has very little traffic.
My tracking from Salta to Quebrada de Humahuaca. Tracking files can be downloaded here. (GPX/KML)
From lush rich green forests to landscapes straight out of the roadrunner cartoon, the landscapes here do not disappoint. Once you arrive to the valley (Quebrada de Humahuaca) you’ll find amazing coloured mounatins and great village indigenous villages. Check out my post on Quebrada de Humahuaca.
Iruya is a small mountain outside the Quebrada de Humahuaca, but is well worth the ride. You can check out this separate post on Iruya.
Time Lapse Video of the Road to Iruya
Serranía de Hornocal
The Serranía de Hornocal are a range of mountains located 25 kilometers from the city of Humahuaca in the Argentine province of Jujuy. Exposed in the range is the limestone formation called Yacoraite that extends from Salta, Argentina, through the Argentine Quebrada de Humahuaca and then through the Bolivian Altiplano to Peru.
The ride to serranis de hornocal is all dirt with some amazing dramatic scenery. When you finally reach the coloured mountains, you’ll be at 4761 meters above sea level.
Time Lapse Video of Serranía de Hornocal
Why is it a ‘Best Ride’
This part of Argentina was easily my favorite. It’s full of earthy landscapes, rich culture, good roads and colorful little towns. The weather is mild, even though you are sometimes at 4000m above sea level. Also from here, your options for onward rides are endless. I decided to head west towards Argentina’s own salt flats and then over the Andes into Chile.
Time Lapse Video of a section from Salta to Quebrada de Humahuaca
Agua Negra Pass is a border crossing between Chile and Argentina. At over 4700m it is one of the highest passes between the countries in the world and is only passable outside the winter months.
The road is gravel from the Chile side and brand new asphalt on the Argentina side. (A proposed tunnel has been started from the Argentina side to allow easier access to the Chilean port town of La Serena.
The road from Chile is a gradually climb from the beautiful Elqui Valley region. This should not cause any issue with altitude sickness if you climb at a normal pace. The Argentina side is similar however because the road is asphalt you will be able to climb faster, therefore take your time.
My tracking from La Serena (Chile) over the Agua Negra Pass to Argentina. (GPX / KML files)
The pass has some stunning landscapes and is relatively quiet in regards to traffic. It is also very cold at the top of the pass (even in summer it was 0 degrees)
Just before you reach the top, on the Chile side, you will experience riding/driving through a glacier. I’m not sure how is cut but the glacier is split to allow the road to pass through it. awesome stuff.
Penitentes are snow formations found at high altitudes. They take the form of elongated, thin blades of hardened snow or ice, closely spaced and pointing towards the general direction of the sun. You can find these amazing formations at the top of the pass. For a stunning drone view of these formations check out this video
Why is it a ‘Best Ride’
Well, apart from the snow formations, riding through glaciers and the stunning landscapes. The ride is also very challenging, only passable in summer and with temperatures ranging from 30 degrees to Zero. Want to see the whole trip in a time lapse? Check out the video below.
This section is of Ruta 40 is from Bajo Caracoles to Tres Lagos, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Type of Road
As of 2018, loose hard packed gravel. Because it is a mountainous road, it may become impassable during heavy rain. Some river crossing.
When is the best time to Ride?
Anytime outside Winter
Why is it an ‘Epic Ride’
Maybe ‘Epic’ is not the right word… This ride is more interesting because of the challenges and not so much on twisty roads and amazing scenery. But if you’re heading south, there aren’t many other roads to take 🙂
It’s a isolating crazy ride, full of wind, and barely any fuel stations.
Patagonia is a sparsely populated region located at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains as well as the deserts, pampas and grasslands east of this southern portion of the Andes. For overlanders, Patagonia has always been top of the ‘must-do’ on
Patagonia is a HUGE place that incorporates both Argentina and Chile. Highlights are many. You could stay for ages but you’ll be pushed north by the short summer period, longing to the day you return.
Carretera Austral is the legendary name given to the official Ruta (Route) 7 in Chile. The road runs from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. It exists entirely in the Patagonia section of Chile.
The construction of the road started in 1976 and was one of the biggest infrastructure projects at the time in Chile. Unlike Argentina, on the other side of the Andes Mountain range, constructing a road south into Chile was not easy. Argentina had the flat plains to run the road along when the mountain terrain became to difficult. This is seen in the famous Ruta 40 in Argentina, which mostly runs along the easier, flat lands away from the Andes. Chile dint have this luxury as the stunning terrain is full of steep mountains, fjords, forests, canals and glaciers. Apparently, 10,000 army personal were involved in the roads construction. When finished the road was completely dirt. Today work is underway to pave the entire length, a task that will take some time. Until then, enjoy the road before it becomes ‘too accessible’. Check out my post on the Carretera Austral.
Perito Moreno Glacier
The Perito Moreno Glacier is classed as one of the ‘Must Sees’ of a trip to Patagonia, and with good cause. Its incredible! Firstly the size, the photo below show the width of the section that is view-able from the platform. incredibility this is 5kms wide!! More amazingly, it is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which has an area of 12,363 km2. Check out my post on this amazing site.
El Chaltén is a small mountain village in Argentina. These days it is solely based on tourism and its the capital for hiking and all mountaineering activities in Argentina. It is located inside the Los Glaciares National Park, meaning the surrounding landscapes are sure to please. The most famous peak, Mount Fitz Roy is located near the town.
Seven Lakes (San Martin de Los Andes to Bariloche)
As the name implies, this 107km road goes through several lakes in the Patagonian area of Argentina. This area is also very close to the border of Chile and has some very accessible crossings. As a generalization, the roads running parallel to the Andes in Argentina are less spectacular than Chile. This is mostly due to the fact that Argentina was more flat lands (Pampas) then Chile. Therefore, it is much easy to run roads on flat land than mountain ranges. This section is the exception, the road zigzags around the lakes before moving back on the flat lands both north and south of this region. Because of this, if you are heading north or south of this area, I’d recommend jumping across to Chile. Check out my post on the Seven Lakes Road
Cerro Castillo is a jagged rocky peak located on the Carretera Austral. At the bottom is the small town of Villa Cerro Castillo. There is a good day hike to a lake located half way up the mountain. Check out my post here.
Marble Caves (Carrera Lake)
The Marble Caves (Cuevas de Mármol) are located on a peninsula of solid marble. Lake General Carrera sits at the base… 6000 yrs of the lakes waves have formed this unique cave… add the blue glacier water from the lake and you’ll find a very surreal mix of cathedral caves with ice blue reflections. Check out my separate post here
The Perito Moreno Glacier is classed as one of the ‘Must Sees’ of a trip to Patagonia, and with good cause. Its incredible! Firstly the size, the photo below show the width of the section that is view-able from the platform. incredibility this is 5kms wide!! More amazingly, it is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field which has an area of 12,363 km2 . (The section in red is the section that is 5kms wide!!)
As the name implies, this 107km road goes through several lakes in the Patagonian area of Argentina. This area is also very close to the border of Chile and has some very accessible crossings. As a generalization, the roads running parallel to the Andes in Argentina are less spectacular than Chile. This is mostly due to the fact that Argentina was more flat lands (Pampas) then Chile. Therefore, it is much easy to run roads on flat land than mountain ranges. This section is the exception, the road zigzags around the lakes before moving back on the flat lands both north and south of this region. Because of this, if you are heading north or south of this area, I’d recommend jumping across to Chile.
Paso Rodolfo Roballos is a border crossing pass between Chile and Argentina. It is one of the last crossings from the Carretera Austral (Ruta 7) that can be done with a vehicle. The turn off to the Pass is 17 kilometers north of the town Cochrane in the Aysen region of Chilean Patagonia. Once in Argentina the Pass joins the famous Ruta 40, where you can continue south.
The start of the pass is located on the Rio Cochrane (Cochrane River). A stunning, glacier feed river.
All dirt, no people, complete isolation
This is the Patagonia you have heard about… no traffic, no people, isolation bliss. In fact the border station is run with Solar panels. The staff are super friendly as I can imagine the number of people per day crossing this pass is very small.
Lagoons and Flamingos
Flamingos can be found hanging out in Lago Ghio on the Argentina side.
Complete isolation allows for some great wild camping
Straight after you have entered Chile, you will start the descent down Route 60. This road is excellent asphalt and well, i’ll let this picture from Google maps show parts of the road. Google Maps Location here.
Why is it a ‘Epic Ride’
Awesome climbs and descents, a very high, long tunnel, and part of the pan-american highway. The pass is not the greatest between Chile and Argentina but it is a common pass linking important regions in both Countries.