The Andean Northwest

Although it is often overlooked by travelers, the Andean Northwest is one of the most unique regions in Argentina. Bordered by Bolivia to the north and Chile to the west, indigenous traditions are more alive here than anywhere else in the country; many people speak Quechua, and their handicrafts resemble those made by the Andean people in nearby Peru and Bolivia. Although seeing the rich and ancient indigenous culture in action is enough of a reason to visit the highlands, this region is also home to some of the most spectacular and varied natural attractions in the country. A large part of the region remains in the lowlands, with the Altiplano beginning around the rocky cliffs of Quebrada de Humahuaca and climbing into altitudes of over 4,000 meters in the mountains. A stunning array of landscapes and climates, ranging from the lush, humid cloud forests of the Yungas national parks to the chilly, arid deserts of Parque Nacional Talampaya, has led many outdoor enthusiasts to discover the appeal of Argentina’s northwest.

That is not to say that the cities in the area don’t hold anything to interest tourists; the colonial city of Salta, appropriately nicknamed “Salta la Linda” (Salta the Beautiful), dates back to 1582 and is full of stately antique buildings. It also holds a wide variety of restaurants, nightlife, and accommodation options. The hillsides of Quilmes in the Valles Calchaquíes contain ruins of a pre-Colombian fortress that is one of Argentina’s most important archeological sites. If you wish to experience a truly unparalleled part of Argentina, the Northwest is not to be missed. Updated: Sep 08, 2010