The Cono de Arita: A mysterious and little-known place in Salta

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  Julieta Fraguío 24/09/2021

The Cono de Arita is one of the most amazing natural formations in Argentina, it is located in the puna of Salta between the towns of Caipe and Tolar Grande 600 kilometers from the city. Its name Arita was given by the ancient aboriginal people who lived in the area, in the Aymara language it means “sharp”, it was the best adjective that this community found to describe this gigantic brown formation.

The Cono de Arita is at the southern end of the Salar de Arizaro, which more than 3,690 meters above sea level. This salt flat is the largest in Argentina and the third in the world, after Uyuni in Bolivia, and Atacama in Chile. The name of the salar means “roost of the vulture” in the Kunza or Atacameña language and it is due to the condors that flew over the area when the cattle were transferred on foot to Chile by this route, it was a long journey that the inhabitants made to be able to sell them. 

Another name used to refer to this salt flat in Quechua was "hurtful footprints" due to the sharp salt and the peaks that form on the surface.

How the Cono de Arita is formed

This geo conical shape is composed of volcanic rocks and salt. It has a height of about 200 meters and 800 meters in diameter and a perimeter of 2.4 kilometers, for many it is the most perfect natural cone in the world.

Several studies carried out by geologists showed that this formation is nothing more than a volcano that was not strong enough to explode, so it does not have a crater or launched lava, the landscape that It is surrounded by black salt, which is drawn to the surface by underground magma. 

During your visit you may see mining workers and transporters of load because it is an area with high content of salt, marble, iron, lithium, copper and onyx that are used for national production.

Due to the remains that were found in the place, it is believed that the cone was a ceremonial center (Pachamama was invoked, protection for children and the elderly was requested and the land was thanked, among others) of those who inhabited the area before the arrival of the Incas (pre-Hispanic civilization). For this reason, the inhabitants consider it the “Sacred Mountain”.

If you are interested in learning more about this mysterious geo-shape, I recommend the Tour to Tolar Grande, which together with a specialized local guide, you will be able to tour the entire area, see the Cone closely of Arita and know every detail of this site. In addition, they have transfers from your hotel and other emblematic sites of the Salta puna such as San Antonio de los Cobres, Abra de Alto Chorrillos, seven caves and Desierto del Diablo are added to the 4x4 tour.

When you can visit the Cono de Arita

As one of the main tourist attractions in Salta, the Cono de Arita receives several visitors throughout the year, but it is important to bear in mind that at certain times the climate becomes more extreme due to its terrain. arid and rains, so it is advisable to avoid them.

Summer (December to March) is the rainiest season of the year and generally the visitors avoid it, since the roads are muddy and flooded and the access to the Cono de Arita is very difficult. Temperatures at this time are around: the maximum is 32 °C, while the minimum is at 13 °C.

Other The season of the year that it is important to consider is winter (June to August), where the minimum temperatures are around 2 °C and the maximum temperatures are 16 ° C. During this time of year the access roads to the Salar de Arizaro are frozen with a small layer of ice that makes traffic with trucks or cars look complicated.

In conclusion the best time to visit the Cono de Arita is during spring (September to November) when the temperature fluctuates around 25 °C or autumn (March to June), where temperatures are around 22 °C. In both seasons it is recommended to stay hydrated due to the dry weather, use sunscreen, sunglasses and a cap, since the sun and the reflection of the sun in the salt is quite uncomfortable for vision. 

How to get to the Cono de Arita 

The Cono de Arita can only be accessed by car, to get there keep in mind that from the city of Salta it is 600 kilometers (12 hours approximately) by National Route 51 has to get to Tolar Grande. 

From the entrance to the town and following the signs it is about 70 more kilometers, along the way you will see the signs that mention the Salar de Arizaro and the entrance to the gravel road that leads directly to the Cono de Arita.

To hire a package to Salta, meet tourshotels or rent a car, go to contact and we will provide you with all the information.


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