Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta
Follow the mythical Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta the most beautiful landscape that Argentina has to offer.
This tour crosses enticing vineyards, high-lying desert land, large salt flats, tower-like mountain ranges and bright red valleys. Lively Andean communities and colonial-style cities give this tour an enchanting cultural aspect that, together with the scenery, makes this challenging journey one of the most rewarding destinations in South America.
Day 1: Arrival in Mendoza. On arrival in Mendoza, pick up your rental car at the airport and then drive to your hotel in the beautiful wine suburb of Chacras de Coria, 15 km south of Mendoza in the Luján de Cuyo wine region. Overnight at the Parador del Angel in a superior room with breakfast.
Day 2: Free day in and around Mendoza. There is a lot to do here: cycling, rafting, hiking, exploring the area with your own car or visiting some of the many wine cellars with one of our tour guides. A recommended tour leads to Tupungato, where you can visit wineries and enjoy a wonderful view of the high peaks of the Andean Cordillera (camino de los cerros – the wine route). Overnight at the Parador del Angel in a superior room with breakfast.
Day 3: From Mendoza to Barreal (250km, 63km on unpaved roads, 4 hours drive). Today a spectacular journey from Mendoza to Barreal awaits you. First up is Potrerillos to Uspallata, which is picturesquely situated in a large open valley on the way to Aconcagua National Park. Then drive on the gravel road along the Mercedario massif to the small summer village of Barreal. This place serves as a vacation spot for the residents of the area. Overnight in Barreal in the Posada Paso de los Patos in a standard room with breakfast.
Day 4: From Barreal to Villa Union (388km, 123km on unpaved roads, 7 hours drive). Today you drive to Villa Unión. Most of the road is paved. You should start early in the morning so that you reach the moon valley in the early afternoon. So you have enough time to visit the Ischigualasto National Park and then drive 100 km from there to Villa Unión. Overnight in Villa Unión in the Hotel Cañon de Talampaya in a standard room with breakfast.
Day 5: From Villa Union to Belen (340km, 90km on unpaved roads, 6 hours drive). In the morning you should plan a visit to Talampaya National Park. You will be able to admire the bizarre red rock formations there. After the morning visit, take the path up the Cuesta de Miranda to Chilecito. This winding ascent is said to be one of the most amazing pass crossings in Argentina. From Chilecito we continue towards Belen. You cross a wide and barren landscape, a long straight path with few curves, about 200km long. This road is in good condition and has little traffic, making it easy to drive. Overnight at Hotel Belen in a standard room with breakfast.
Day 6: From Belen to Cafayate (270km, 40km on unpaved roads, 4 hours drive). Today we continue on Ruta 40 towards Cafayate. The street was recently renovated and is in good condition. The 30km on gravel roads are also easy to drive. A tip is to visit the ruins of the Quilmes Indians in Quilmes. Overnight in Cafayate at the Cafayate Wine Resort in a standard room with wine view and breakfast.
Day 7: Free day in Cafayate. After a morning walk in Cafayate, we recommend a trip to the Quebrada de las Conchas (Valley of the Shellfish). In the afternoon, the lighting conditions are more impressive. You drive 46km up Ruta 68 towards Salta to the Garganta del Diablo (devil´s throat). The valley begins there. You turn around and drive back towards Cafayate. Take your time and make a stop at the high points (the amphitheater, the obelisk, etc.). The valley is shaped with incredible bright red rock figures and many photo stops should be made. The sunset in Las Dunas is a unique experience. Overnight in Cafayate at the Cafayate Wine Resort in a standard room with wine view and breakfast.
Day 8: From Cafayate to Molinos (112km on paved and unpaved roads, 3.30 hours drive). After breakfast, continue on Ruta 40 up to the Calchaquíes valley. The route is relatively short, but it mostly leads along a gravel road with many photo stops, so you should plan around 4 hours of driving time. First you come through the arrow gorge, where the horizontal rock stratum has been pushed upwards by the pressure of nature and rises like arrows against the sky. Arrival in Molinos, where you can visit a pretty old church. The interior roofs of the churches are decorated with cactus wood. These cacti are called cardones. There is also a museum about the history of the former inhabitants. If you arrive here at lunchtime, you can have lunch in the Hacienda de Molinos. Overnight at the Hacienda de Molinos in a standard room with breakfast.
Day 9: From Molinos to Salta, via Cachi (200km on paved and unpaved roads, 6 hours drive). In the morning we continue north on Ruta 40 towards Cachi. The inhabitants of this area deal with agriculture and goat farming. Different products are grown, but predominantly the cultivation of peppers. At harvest time, when they are laid out to dry, they form huge red carpets. In addition, goat wool and lama wool are processed in hand weaving mills and beautiful wool items such as the famous ponchos are made. A detour to Seclantas is worthwhile to take the so-called Artisan Road. Then continue to Cachi, a very picturesque place where you should definitely visit the church and the museum. Continue through the National Park Los Cardones, which is famous for its gigantic cacti. A straight asphalt path goes through this area to the Cuesta del Obispo and then with many curves down towards Salta. Overnight in Salta at the Antiguo Convento Hotel in a standard room with breakfast.
Day 10: Free day in Salta. Here you have the choice between many options: rafting, hiking, exploring the area by car or you stay in the city that is proudly called “Salta the Beautiful”. Stroll through the streets, visit the MAAM Museum with the famous mummies. Or take the cable car to the San Bernardo hill, where you have a wonderful view of the city and its surroundings. Overnight in Salta at the Antiguo Convento Hotel in a standard room with breakfast.
Day 11: Your journey on the Route 40 from Mendoza to Salta comes to an end … Today you drive to the airport in Salta to drop off your rental car and start your return flight.
IT´S YOUR TRIP
CEO Matthias Ruch
Phone: +49 – 89 24295183
D-82065 Baierbrun, Germany