In northwestern Argentina, in the province shaped like a boot or shoe, Jujuy, there is a colorful area called “Quebrada de Humahuaca”. The Quebrada de Humahuaca was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003.
Quebrada de Humahuaca is one of the must-see places when touring northwestern Argentina. It is 170 kilometers on both sides of the Rio Grande (Big River) and has more than 10,000 years of history.
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What to See in the Humahuaca Quebrada?
Quebrada de Humahuaca is a very attractive place due to its nature and its colorful mountains. It is ideal for people who like to enjoy hiking mountain routes, visiting colonial villages, knowing other traditions and customs, etc.
The most important villages that are part of this amazing place are, Humahuaca, Uquía, Huacalera, Tilcara, Maimará, and Purmamarca.
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In my case, I arrived at Humahuaca from La Quiaca, the border with Bolivia. I’ve been moving by bus between the villages and walking to get to know the area better.
The village of Humahuaca is located almost 3000 meters above sea level. Humahuaca is small and it is one of the best known villages of la Quebrada. You can walk very easily and, despite being small, there are many interesting things to know about it.
Like the Clock Tower, the Independence Heroes Monument, and the local craft stalls where we can find everything! From spices, coca leaves, fabrics, tapestries, paintings, typical meals, and tamales to objects with the most diverse shapes and colors and intended for the most varied uses.
About 25km from Humahuaca is the Mirador del Hornocal. You can reach it on your own by car rental or with an excursion. If you go on your own, you will have to pass the village of Pucara to Apacheta and from there, turn right to the viewpoint. Please note that the local community charges a contribution bonus to pass.
In this area, you can also visit Calete and Ocumazo. In the former, you can see an archaeological site in ruins and in the latter, the Aboriginal community offers activities of the countryside in its natural environment.
We continue to walk the Quebrada de Humahuaca in the direction of Purmamarca and we reach the village of Uquía.
Here, we can visit the Church of San Francisco de Paula, which is a National Historic Monument and has the collection of Cuzqueñas paintings called Los Angeles Arcabuceros.
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If you go by car or with an excursion, you can visit Colonia San José and its hill, Yacoraite, or “La Pollerita Colla” (pollerita means little skirt). The hill has this name because it has a wavy shape that looks like a skirt. Archaeological ruins can also be visited in the area.
Another village of the Quebrada de Humahuaca. In Huacalera, you can visit its church, a sundial next to the Tropic of Capricorn, and La Huerta, which is an archaeological site that can be visited by walking or by horseback.
In the area between Tilcara and Huacalera, there are other charming places that you can visit and these are Juella, ideal for hiking, and El Perchel, a narrow place where the hills close over the route.
It is one of my favorite villages of the Quebrada de Humahuaca. Here, I stayed two nights and enjoyed its carnival.
Tilcara is a very interesting village, where you can stroll through its streets, enjoy the craft stalls and local food in the main square.
Hiking trails (also on horseback) to Devil’s Gorge, Pucará de Tilcara, and a high botanical garden are some of the things you can do around here.
If you go during the carnival season, you will have a great time, yes, you have to be prepared to get flour and chopped paper throuwn at you and you have to carry a branch of basil.
Another village with a lot of charm and life in the carnivals is Maimará. Here, you can visit the Painter’s Palette, which is a colorful mountain ridge that frames the village, a high cellar called Fernando Dupont, the museum of peasant life, and the cemetery.
A few kilometers from Maimará is the Posta de Hornillos where you can visit its historical, archaeological, and costumbrista museum. This site was a pit stop on the way to Alto Peru.
The village of Purmamarca is located at the foot of 7 Colors Mountain, which we can see from almost every street.
In the main square, handicraft stalls are set up and in the surroundings, you can see shops of clothes, handicrafts, and local products.
Of course, you cannot leave Purmamarca without going to the viewpoint of Cerro de Los 7 colores. It is less than a kilometer from the square and you are charged to climb it. I was charged 5 pesos, which today is about 0.30 euros.
Where to sleep in the Quebrada de Humahuaca
As I told you, my visit to the Quebrada de Humahuaca was near the end of February, the time of carnivals. There, the carnivals are not only on a weekend, but instead, they start almost at the beginning of the year! So, the month of February is quite moving and if you go in the big week, with the most important days, I can’t even begin to tell you about it.
I’ve had a hard time finding decent accommodations at a good price. I have to search thoroughly to find a good price from there, and, after a month dancing through Peru and Bolivia, I found myself in Argentina with prices similar in Europe.
I’ll leave these links for you to take a look at. I used these two sites as a base of operations so I wouldn’t have to change places every night.
Where to sleep in Humahuaca. I don’t remember the name of the hotel where I slept. I arrived without a reservation.
Prepare your trip to Argentina
- How to Prevent Altitude Sickness
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- Itinerary 1 week in Salta province
- What to see in 2 days in the city of Salta
- 1 day in the Train to the Clouds
- 4 days road trip to “Valles Calchaquíes”
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