Argentina desert tour, extreme north
Description of Argentina desert tour, extreme north
Enjoy the emptiness on this two week holiday in the north west of Argentina, travelling by 4x4 and plane to cover the vast distances. Desert enthusiasts will be in heaven on bumpy drives across the shimmering salt flats, past striking pumice rock formations at Piedra Pomiz and volcanoes like the Galan and Peinado Volcano.
From Buenos Aires you’ll fly up to Salta, your gateway to the north, and enter the world of ‘puna’ – high altitude desert. There are difficult roads and long drives, but you’ll be rewarded with remote, desolate valleys.
Argentina’s deserts are colourful. There are white sand dunes, sparkling salty plains, and the famous stripy hills, the Quebrada de las Flechas and the Quebrada de las Conchas, where layers of clay, chalk and ash create patterns that are almost too weird to belong to nature. When you reach the deserto del labirinto, you’ll find an orange desert surrounded by burnt red mountains, and on your way back to Salta you’ll stop at Humahuaca’s, to see the famous Hornocal mountain range, as colourful as a stripy blanket.
The culture up here that of ghost towns and little pueblas. Incan fortresses and Incan mummies add historic mystery to the journey. At Quilmes you’ll find the largest pre-Columbian archaeological site in the country, an impressive 30 hectare settlement among the hills.
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PlanetWe must always keep the environment at the forefront of our minds and we are always careful to take all litter with us, disposing of it responsibly in big cities and towns. We mustn’t leave cigarette butts either. Bringing a reusable water bottle is a great idea and if purchasing any snacks, we encourage our travellers to avoid excess packaging.
This tour travels through some very remote regions, some of which have barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining their pristine nature. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of in nearby towns.
In conjunction with our local team, we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – again in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things, but we hope we can help to ingrain these values into the local culture.
We also stay in small guesthouses which makes a point of using local produce for the meals provided – local in the sense of being from the village, not from elsewhere. Not only is this a great introduction to the culinary culture of the region but it helps in a small way to cut down on food miles.
Deforestation to provide grazing for cattle and soybean cultivation is a massive problem in Argentina and if you’d like to help, you can do so by supporting organisations such as WWF who campaign to protect vulnerable environments from large-scale agriculture and also by perhaps choosing alternatives both at home and from menus in the country itself, on days when lunch and dinner are not included e.g. in Buenos Aires.
PeopleKeeping money in local economies is extremely important. Using local guides ensures money stays within local economies and means we will be treated to such valuable, in-depth and honest knowledge which we perhaps wouldn’t get from a western guide. It also means we are keeping carbon emissions down.
We stay at locally owned guesthouses and hotels and where appropriate, employ the services of local people in order not only to gain a greater insight into the complex traditions here but to ensure that they gain financial benefit from our visit, rather than just being ‘exhibits’.
Most people like to take photos on their travels, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that the photogenic person in front of you may not want their picture taken. We always ask if it’s okay, and respect their wishes if they say no. Another way of showing respect is to try speaking Spanish, or at least learn a few phrases. This will surely bring a smile to local people’s faces and they will appreciate that we are making an effort. Argentina has suffered at the hands of the ‘dirty war’ and many human rights abuses, so it also wouldn’t hurt to clue up on human rights in Argentina and be open to listening to what locals have to say on the subject.
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