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  Jules Picart 03/08/2022

What is the best path from Skip to Purmamarca?

Important town with growing activity Purmamarca is the southern gateway to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, the most famous site in the province of Jujuy. From Salta, where you can rent a car, there are three routes to this wonderful place:
Fastest: follow Highway 9 to General Güemes and then Route 66 to San Salvador de Jujuy; it lasts about an hour and a half.
The most adventurous: Route 51 along the Train line at Clouds as far as San Antonio de los Cobres, and then track 79 that borders the Salinas Grandes until crossing route 52: here, all that remains is to pass the Lipan slope before calmly reaching Purmamarca. Give yourself 7 hours and check the condition of the track first, prefer a truck or a 4x4.
most beautiful: the cornice route, which crosses the mountain, and designates the section of route 9 between Salta and San Salvador de Jujuy. Due to the presence of Highway 9, it is not used much. It is also explained by the fact that it crosses the yungas, the Andean valleys that begin to emerge and make the road very narrow and winding in places. Avoid taking it at night or in rainy weather, but you won't regret the views it offers, especially when crossing from the province of Salta to Jujuy, and at the Las Maderas reservoir.

With the last option, the journey takes approximately two hours to San Salvador de Jujuy. There, there is nothing special to do, since this active city has not preserved anything of its colonial past. It is possible to pause in Plaza Belgrano to admire its fountains, its large trees and the buildings that surround it (the town hall, the government house, the cathedral and its museum), but the lack of shops and bars is quickly noticeable.

We quickly left San Salvador de Jujuy in the direction of its province, a mountainous region where the air becomes clearer due to the altitude. Direction to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site! This Andean Argentina, close to Bolivia both geographically and in its way of life, represents almost 10,000 years of history. Civilizations have succeeded one another and Quechua is still spoken today alongside Spanish.

About 20 kilometers to the north, along route 9 that borders the Rio Grande, calm in summer and dry in winter, there are the small towns of Villa Jardín de Reyes and Yala. Both lead respectively to the Termas de Reyes and the Lagunas de Yala along a route that can be completed in half a day as a loop. We recommend it to lovers of mountain walks, as a simple contact with nature to discover this green jungle, which is not yet very popular.

To get there, leave route 9 to the right to take a track of gravel, which is very winding and steep in places. Therefore, it is better to avoid going there in a city car. We enter the Potrero de Yala Provincial Park, with the first stop at the parking lot. Laguna Rodeo is an ideal place to rest and have a quiet picnic while admiring the beautiful landscape that surrounds it. There is a path that surrounds the lake if you feel like taking a walk, and there are some hiking trails available, of varying difficulties: jujuyturismo.com.ar/yala.php. For those who have forgotten their picnic, the La Turuca restaurant welcomes you on the heights of the lake, promising an unbeatable view of the place. Sleeping there is also possible.

We take the initial track to access other places, such as Laguna Comedero or Cascada de Reyes, hidden by the lush vegetation, until we reach Termas de Reyes. This large hotel built on the side of the mountain allows you to relax on the banks of the Reyes River, and offers a beautiful view of the valley sculpted by the riverbed from its different viewpoints.

Back to route 9, where the yungas landscape, until then green, gradually gives way to a more desert landscape composed by thorny bushes and cacti, cacti all taller than the others. We enter the ravine and see the variation of colors that make up the mountain floor, from ocher to gray and beige, depending on the time of day: this gives us an idea of what awaits us further north. The few villages we pass through are at more than 2000 meters of altitude. The town of Tumbaya, the last stop before Purmamarca, which is only 20 kilometers away, has a small yellow church in its center, well preserved inside and out, as well as a cemetery with some colored graves.


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