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Valleys, Gorges and Yungas

Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, Tucumán

The Valles, Quebradas and Yungas natural region is a mountain rainbow with natural treasures and a captivating pre-Hispanic culture.

Cradle of ancestral traditions and land of Pachamama, this region embraces the Quebrada de Humahuaca and the Calchaquíes Valleys with the exuberant Yungas jungle.

Cradle of ancestral traditions and land of Pachamama, this region embraces the Quebrada de Humahuaca and the Calchaquíes Valleys with the exuberant Yungas jungle.


Valleys, Gorges and Yungas natural region spans across a broad territory along the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, and La Rioja. Some of the destinations are very famous, but there is so much more to discover.

From San Salvador de Jujuy, Quebrada de Humahuaca is one of the main attractions, with its traditional villages and landscapes. To the east, Jujuy keeps a secret: in just a few kilometres, you go from the desert to the Yungas, a mountain forest that lures trekkers and bird-watchers, who can visit the Calilegua National Park, the Provincial Park of Potrero de Yala and other provincial and private reserves.

The city of Salta is usually the starting point of the famous “Vuelta a los Valles Calchaquíes” (Trip to the Calchaquíes Valleys) circuit along National Routes 40 and 68 and Provincial Route 33, offering the possibility to discover Cuesta del Obispo, Los Cardones National Park, the Artisans Route, Quebrada de las Conchas, Quebrada de las Flechas and Abra del Acay. You will also find the picturesque villages of Payogasta, Cachi, Molinos, San Carlos and Cafayate.

To the east and north of the province you can see the Yungas, protected at El Rey National Park (great destination to watch birds and fauna, in general), Baritú National Park, El Nogalar de los Toldos National Reserve and several provincial and private reserves.

There are several natural areas close to the capital city, such as Aguas Chiquitas Nature Reserve and Sierra de San Javier Provincial Park. To the south, Aconquija National Park offers paths to walk amid the yunga forest, apart from a significant archaeological site. San Miguel de Tucumán is also the starting point to enjoy Scenic Route 307, connecting the capital city with villages and nature reserves from the Calchaquíes Valleys, including Tafí del Valle and Ciudad Sagrada de Quilmes (Quilmes Sacred City).

San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca is a good starting point to learn about the attractions found in the region. To the east, National Route 38 and Provincial Route 9 run across the Yungas in Catamarca with small mountain villages, trekking options, flora, fauna, and a view to the Aconquija peaks. 

The central valley harbours several dams that are ideal for nautical sports, whereas to the south of the capital city lies the Capayán valley offering adventure trips. In the northern gorges, the mythic Route 40 spans along the valleys, from Londres to Santa María, offering archaeological sites as Shincal de Quimivil, as well as trekking and 4WD trips.

La Rioja
From the provincial capital you an access nature attractions like Los Colorados and Cueva del Chancho, at the southern tip of Valle de Antico, Guasamayo Reserve or Sierra de los Quinteros at the La Rioja plain, also known as Quebrada de los Cóndores.

How to get there and move around

Airports in Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca and La Rioja offer regular flights and bus services.

The most practical way to visit all these route’s attractions is by vehicle or booking tours. Some sections can be travelled by regular bus services.

The whole region combines paved and rubble roads in various conditions; some of them are mountain roads. Some locations are only accessible by 4WD vehicles. Check before taking the road.


Where to stay

Most destinations offer accommodation options of various categories, cottages and camping sites.

The offer is even greater in the capital cities or more tourist locations like San Salvador de Jujuy, Quebrada de Humahuaca, Salta capital city, Cafayate, San Miguel de Tucumán, and Tafí del Valle.


When to travel

You can visit this route all year round, but different regions have different climate conditions. At the Yungas, the rainfall season runs from December to March, and some roads may turn impassable. At the gorges, the weather gets very hot from December to March, and the nights, just as the winter season, tend to be very cold in the highlands.

If you want to experience or be part of any of the region’s popular festivals or carnivals, be mindful of the scarce lodging offer; you’d better book in advance.

Check the nature calendar to watch birds and fauna in general.


If you go by car, always respect maximum speed, particularly on mountain roads. It is worth going slow to appreciate the landscape.

In non-paved roads, particularly during the rainfall season (December-March), check if your vehicle is suitable; some roads are only accessible with 4WD vehicles. Before leaving, let someone know where you are heading.

Some areas in the region are over 4,000 metres high. Bear in mind that as of 2,500 metres you may feel signs of altitude sickness.

In altitude, night-time temperatures may plunge to below zero degrees, even in the summertime. Always take an extra coat and high-calorie food, and drink abundant water.

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