The colourful North-West of Argentina is one of the least visited regions in the country and yet one of its most intriguing. In its landscape, culture and origins, it feels a million miles from the cool sophistication of the capital and the rugged wind-swept Patagonian steppe. Nestled on the border with northern Chile and southern Bolivia, this is a colourful mix of adobe architecture, vivid and dramatic canyons and rock formations, forests of giant cacti and traditional villages with a distinctive norteño Andean culture. Salta is usually the starting point for exploring this region, itself a charming small city. Head south to high altitude vineyards and the attractive Calchaqui Valley with pretty adobe towns such as Cachi or Molinos to explore. Traditional haciendas, former colonial mansions and simple family-hosted mountain lodges offer truly local style accommodation along the way.
From Salta, 4WD adventures lead you down winding dirt roads that head deep into the Andes, emerging at the Puna heights to ride side-by-side with the Train to the Clouds. This is an incredible feat of engineering that climbs to an altitude of 4,000 metres across an equally impressive aqueduct at La Polvorilla. To the North of Salta lies the province of Jujuy. The Quebrada de Humahuaca or Humahuaca Gorge takes you to picturesque villages, such as Purmamarca and Tilcara that maintain the architectural features and customs of the pre-Hispanic cultures. The twisting ascent from Purmamarca leads to the massive white salt flats of Salinas Grandes and across to either Bolivia or Atacama in Chile, a truly breath-taking drive across the Paso de Jama, in every sense.