Welcome to the land of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. Imagine embarking on a road trip that takes you through the heart of Argentina, showcasing its natural beauty and captivating culture. If you’re an adventurous soul seeking an unforgettable experience, then a road trip along Route 51 from Salta to San Antonio de Los Cobres is just what you need.
Located in the captivating province of Salta, in the northwest of Argentina, this road trip is a unique opportunity to explore the rugged Andean region and immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture. From picturesque mountain ranges to ancient archaeological sites, Route 51 offers an abundance of experiences that will leave you awe-struck.
Throughout this journey, you will have the chance to witness the breathtaking beauty of the region, where the interplay of majestic mountains, azure skies, and vast expanses of wilderness creates a mesmerizing scene. Along the way, you will also encounter charming towns, meet friendly locals, and taste delectable regional cuisine.
But this road trip isn’t just about the destination; it’s about the journey itself. As you traverse the winding roads and ascend to higher altitudes, you will be rewarded with panoramic views that will take your breath away. The changing landscapes, from lush valleys to arid deserts, will continuously surprise and enchant you.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking adventure, this road trip offers something for everyone. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and connect with the natural wonders of Argentina. So, buckle up, turn up the music, and get ready for an unforgettable road trip experience along Route 51.
Nestled in the heart of the northwest region of Argentina, Salta is a captivating province that boasts a rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty. Known as “La Linda” (The Beautiful) for its charming colonial architecture and picturesque landscapes, Salta is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Argentinian experience.
The city of Salta, the capital of the province, is a vibrant and lively hub that perfectly blends traditional charm with modern amenities. Stroll through its cobblestone streets and encounter beautifully preserved colonial buildings, museums, and lively plazas. Plaza 9 de Julio, the city’s main square, is a bustling area surrounded by historical landmarks, including the neoclassical Salta Cathedral and the Cabildo de Salta, a prominent colonial-era building that now houses a museum.
Salta is also renowned for its impressive array of museums, including the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña (High Mountain Archaeology Museum), which houses mummies and artifacts from the Inca civilization. For art enthusiasts, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art) showcases a diverse collection of contemporary works by local and international artists.
One of the greatest attractions of Salta is its natural beauty. The province is home to stunning mountain ranges, verdant valleys, and expansive vineyards. The Quebrada de Cafayate, a breathtaking canyon with colorful rock formations, is a highlight for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Take a leisurely drive along the famous Route 68, marveling at the intricate formations like the Amphitheater and the Devil’s Throat.
But Salta offers more than just beautiful landscapes and rich history. The region is known for its delicious cuisine and local specialties, such as empanadas, locro (a hearty stew), and humitas (tamales). Don’t forget to pair these delectable dishes with a glass of Salta’s renowned wines. The region’s high altitude and unique microclimates contribute to the production of exceptional wines, making it a wine lover’s paradise.
As you explore Salta, you will come across warm and welcoming locals who are proud of their cultural heritage. The province embraces traditional folkloric music and dance, and you may even have the opportunity to witness a lively peña, a traditional gathering where locals gather to sing, dance, and celebrate their culture.
Salta is a destination that offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the Andean region and create lasting memories. So, get ready to embark on a journey through this enchanting province as you start your road trip along Route 51.
Overview of Route 51
Route 51 is a scenic road that stretches between Salta and San Antonio de Los Cobres, offering travelers an incredible journey through the mesmerizing landscapes of the Argentinian Andes. This legendary route is not for the faint of heart, as it winds its way through challenging terrains and reaches high altitudes, promising an exhilarating adventure filled with breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.
The route covers a distance of approximately 163 kilometers (101 miles) and takes around 4-5 hours to complete, depending on your pace and the stops you make along the way. Throughout the journey, you will ascend to altitudes of over 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), offering panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, vast salt flats, and dramatic canyons.
The road follows the path of the famous Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) railway track, providing a unique opportunity to witness the stunning landscapes that were once only accessible by train. As you drive along Route 51, you will feel a sense of awe and wonder as the majestic Andean scenery unfolds before your eyes.
One of the highlights of Route 51 is the mesmerizing ascent to the Abra del Acay, the highest point of the road trip at an altitude of 4,895 meters (16,061 feet) above sea level. Here, you can take a moment to soak in the breathtaking views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and immerse yourself in the tranquility of the high-altitude environment.
Along the way, you will pass through charming towns and villages, providing glimpses of local life and culture. These include the town of Campo Quijano, known for its picturesque railway station and delicious regional cuisine, and Santa Rosa de Tastil, home to ancient Inca ruins and a fascinating archaeological site.
The journey culminates in the town of San Antonio de Los Cobres, a remote and rugged outpost nestled amidst the mountains. This small town offers a glimpse into the life of the Andean communities, with their rich cultural traditions and warm hospitality. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the town’s central square, where you can browse the local handicrafts and savor traditional dishes.
Route 51 is not only a road trip; it’s an adventure that will take you off the beaten path and into the heart of the Argentinian Andes. It’s an opportunity to connect with nature, immerse yourself in the local culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, prepare yourself for a remarkable journey as you embark on this iconic road trip through the stunning landscapes of Route 51.
Starting Point: Salta
Your road trip adventure along Route 51 begins in the vibrant city of Salta, the capital of the Salta province. Salta serves as the perfect starting point for your journey, offering a range of attractions, amenities, and an ideal blend of historical charm and modern comforts.
Before setting off on your road trip, take some time to explore the city and its rich cultural heritage. Wander through the charming streets adorned with colonial architecture, visit museums that showcase the region’s history and art, and indulge in the delicious local cuisine that Salta is known for.
A must-visit in Salta is the Plaza 9 de Julio, the bustling main square that serves as the city’s social hub. Here, you’ll find the majestic Salta Cathedral, a prominent architectural gem that showcases a stunning blend of neoclassical and Baroque styles. Take a moment to sit on the benches, soak in the lively atmosphere, and people-watch as locals go about their day.
Another highlight of Salta is the Cabildo de Salta, a colonial-era building that now houses the Historical Museum of the North. Step inside and explore the exhibits that offer a glimpse into the province’s rich history and cultural heritage.
For art enthusiasts, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Art) boasts a diverse collection of contemporary artworks from local and international artists. From paintings to sculptures, the museum showcases the vibrant art scene of Salta.
No trip to Salta is complete without indulging in the local gastronomy. Head to the Mercado San Miguel, a bustling market where you can sample a variety of traditional dishes, including empanadas, tamales, and locro. Pair your meal with a glass of local wine and immerse yourself in the flavors of the region.
As you prepare to hit the road, make sure to stock up on supplies for your journey. Salta offers a range of amenities, including gas stations, grocery stores, and vehicle rental services, to ensure a smooth start to your road trip.
Once you’re ready to embark on your adventure, hop into your vehicle, and get ready to soak in the stunning landscapes that lie ahead. Leave the city behind as you set off towards the rugged and captivating beauty of Route 51, eager to discover the awe-inspiring sights and experiences awaiting you along the way.
Salta, with its historical charm and vibrant atmosphere, serves as the perfect starting point for your road trip along Route 51. So buckle up, turn on your favorite road trip playlist, and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the Argentinian Andes.
Day 1: Salta to Campo Quijano
On the first day of your road trip along Route 51, you will leave the bustling city of Salta behind and embark on a scenic drive towards the charming town of Campo Quijano. This picturesque journey will introduce you to the stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage that await you along the route.
As you leave Salta, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by the majestic beauty of the Andean region. The road begins to wind its way through lush valleys, offering glimpses of the snow-capped peaks in the distance. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the breathtaking views.
On your way to Campo Quijano, make a stop at the Quebrada del Toro, a breathtaking gorge carved by the Rio Toro. This picturesque stop presents an opportunity to stretch your legs and admire the rugged beauty of the Andean landscape. Marvel at the towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls that line the canyon walls, and take a moment to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
As you continue your journey, you’ll reach the town of Campo Quijano, located at the foot of the Cuesta del Obispo. This small and charming town is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and its friendly and welcoming locals. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s cobblestone streets lined with adobe houses and soak in the tranquil atmosphere.
While in Campo Quijano, be sure to visit the Train Station, a historical landmark that serves as a reminder of the town’s prominence during the era of the Tren a las Nubes. Explore the station’s museum, which offers insights into the region’s railway history and the challenges faced during the construction of the railway line.
As you indulge in the local cuisine of Campo Quijano, don’t miss the opportunity to savor some traditional empanadas, a local specialty that combines a delicate pastry filled with a variety of savory ingredients. Pair your meal with a glass of regional wine and enjoy the flavors of the Andean region.
End your day by taking in the captivating sunset views from the Cuesta del Obispo viewpoint, located just outside of Campo Quijano. From here, you can witness the sun casting its golden glow over the vast valleys, creating a truly enchanting panorama.
After a day filled with awe-inspiring landscapes and charming towns, settle into your accommodation in Campo Quijano, ready to recharge for the adventures that await you on day two of your road trip along Route 51.
Day 2: Campo Quijano to Santa Rosa de Tastil
As you begin day two of your road trip along Route 51, get ready to continue your journey through the magnificent landscapes of the Argentinian Andes. On this day, you’ll leave Campo Quijano behind and make your way towards the fascinating archaeological site of Santa Rosa de Tastil.
Leaving Campo Quijano, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by an ever-changing panorama of breathtaking beauty. The road winds through the stunning landscapes, offering glimpses of rugged mountains, winding rivers, and vibrant flora. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife sightings, as the region is home to a diverse range of species.
After driving for some time, you’ll arrive at the Quebrada de las Conchas (Gorge of the Shells). This natural wonderland is famous for its unique rock formations, sculpted over centuries by wind and water erosion. Take a moment to explore and marvel at the intricate designs created by nature, such as the Amphitheater and the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Don’t forget to capture some stunning photos to commemorate your visit.
Continuing along the route, the road ascends to higher altitudes, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. You’ll pass through quaint villages and rural settlements, where locals continue to live in harmony with nature and preserve their traditional way of life.
After a few hours of driving, you’ll reach the mesmerizing archaeological site of Santa Rosa de Tastil. This ancient Inca town, dating back to the 15th century, offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s pre-Columbian history. Explore the ruins and discover the architectural marvels that once characterized this thriving Inca city. The site is known for its well-preserved constructions, including ceremonial plazas, residential areas, and grain storage warehouses.
As you walk among the ruins, imagine what life was like for the Inca people who once inhabited this majestic site. Learn about their advanced agricultural techniques, intricate knowledge of irrigation systems, and the cultural significance of the site.
Take some time to visit the onsite museum, which provides further insight into the Inca civilization and showcases the artifacts discovered during archaeological excavations. These artifacts offer a glimpse into the daily life, customs, and beliefs of the ancient Inca people.
After exploring Santa Rosa de Tastil, you can choose to either return to Campo Quijano for the night or continue your journey to San Antonio de Los Cobres, the final destination of Route 51. Either way, be prepared for more breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable experiences as you continue your road trip through the captivating region of the Argentinian Andes.
Day 3: Santa Rosa de Tastil to San Antonio de Los Cobres
As you embark on the final day of your road trip along Route 51, get ready to witness the rugged beauty of the Andean region at its finest. Leaving Santa Rosa de Tastil behind, you’ll continue your journey towards the remote town of San Antonio de Los Cobres, a place filled with charm, history, and stunning landscapes.
Leaving the archaeological site, the road ascends to higher altitudes, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Brace yourself for an incredible adventure as you traverse winding roads that lead you deep into the heart of the Andes.
As you drive through this enchanting region, you’ll encounter incredible natural wonders along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for the breathtaking salt flats, such as the famous Salinas Grandes, a vast expanse of pure white salt that stretches as far as the eye can see. The mirror-like surface of the salt flats reflects the sky above, creating a surreal landscape that is truly awe-inspiring.
Along the route, you may encounter herds of llamas and alpacas grazing peacefully in the high-altitude pastures. These adorable and iconic Andean animals add to the charm and unique character of the landscape.
As you approach San Antonio de Los Cobres, you’ll be greeted by a town that seems to be frozen in time. This remote outpost, nestled amidst the mountains, offers a glimpse into the life of the Andean communities and their rich cultural traditions.
Explore the town’s central square, where you’ll find the Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua, a humble yet beautiful colonial church that serves as a spiritual center for the local community. Admire the architecture and take a moment to appreciate the peaceful atmosphere surrounding this sacred place.
San Antonio de Los Cobres is also home to a fascinating railway heritage. Take the opportunity to visit the Train Station, where you can learn about the history and significance of the Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds). This iconic railway journey takes travelers on an unforgettable adventure through the breathtaking landscapes of the Andean region.
As you conclude your road trip, take a moment to savor the incredible journey you’ve experienced along Route 51. The sights, sounds, and memories created during this adventure will stay with you for a lifetime. Reflect on the beauty of the Andean landscapes, the rich history of the region, and the warm hospitality of the people you’ve encountered along the way.
San Antonio de Los Cobres serves as the perfect endpoint for your road trip, offering a sense of accomplishment and a connection to the wonders of the Argentinian Andes. Take a moment to soak in the serenity of the surroundings before you bid farewell to this mesmerizing region.
San Antonio de Los Cobres: A Brief Overview
Located in the rugged Argentine Andes, San Antonio de Los Cobres is a remote town that captivates visitors with its enchanting beauty, rich cultural heritage, and incredible landscapes. Situated at an altitude of around 3,775 meters (12,383 feet) above sea level, this charming outpost offers a glimpse into the unique way of life of the Andean communities.
The town is known for its warm hospitality and friendly locals who take great pride in preserving their traditions and way of life. As you explore San Antonio de Los Cobres, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with the local community and gain insights into their fascinating cultural heritage.
One of the notable landmarks in San Antonio de Los Cobres is the Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua, a striking colonial church that stands as a testament to the town’s deep-rooted religious beliefs. Admire the architectural details and step inside to experience a moment of tranquility and reflection.
San Antonio de Los Cobres is also renowned for its railway heritage. The town serves as a key stop along the iconic Tren a las Nubes (Train to the Clouds) route, a legendary railway journey that takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the region. Marvel at the engineering marvels of the railway line, which includes intricate viaducts and winding tunnels.
Immerse yourself in the history and significance of the Tren a las Nubes by visiting the Train Station, where you can learn about the challenges faced during the construction of the railway and the impact it has had on the local communities. The railway provides a lifeline for the town, connecting it to the outside world and bringing visitors who are eager to experience the magic of San Antonio de Los Cobres.
Aside from the cultural attractions, San Antonio de Los Cobres is surrounded by awe-inspiring natural beauty. The town is nestled amidst stunning mountains, offering breathtaking vistas of snow-capped peaks and deep valleys. Capture the beauty of the landscape with your camera, or simply take a moment to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
While in San Antonio de Los Cobres, be sure to sample the local cuisine, which often features hearty dishes influenced by both indigenous traditions and Spanish flavors. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the regional specialty, llama meat, which is tender and flavorful.
As you bid farewell to San Antonio de Los Cobres, take with you the memories of an unforgettable journey through the captivating landscapes of Route 51, the warmth of the local community, and the sense of awe inspired by the rugged beauty of the Andean region.
Embarking on a road trip along Route 51 from Salta to San Antonio de Los Cobres is a journey that immerses you in the mesmerizing landscapes and rich cultural heritage of the Argentinian Andes. From the vibrant city of Salta to the remote town of San Antonio de Los Cobres, this road trip offers a unique opportunity to connect with the beauty of the region.
Throughout the route, you’re treated to stunning vistas of snow-capped mountains, expansive salt flats, and breathtaking canyons. The changing landscapes create a sense of wonder and keep you on the edge of your seat as you traverse winding roads and ascend to considerable altitudes.
Along the way, you’ll encounter charming towns and villages, providing insights into the traditional way of life of the Andean communities. From the well-preserved colonial architecture of Campo Quijano to the archaeological wonders of Santa Rosa de Tastil, these stops offer glimpses into the past and opportunities to connect with the local culture.
San Antonio de Los Cobres serves as the perfect endpoint, showcasing the rich cultural heritage and warm hospitality of the Andean communities. The town’s historical church and railway heritage offer further layers of fascination, while the surrounding natural beauty leaves you in awe.
This road trip is not just about the destination, but also about the journey itself. It’s about disconnecting from the ordinary and immersing yourself in the extraordinary. It’s about embracing the unknown and being open to the surprises and wonders that await you.
As you reflect on your road trip along Route 51, you’ll carry with you the memories of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cultural experiences, and the welcoming spirit of the Argentinian people. This journey offers a unique blend of adventure, nature, and history—an experience that leaves a lasting impression and a desire to explore more of the captivating beauty that Argentina has to offer.
So, pack your bags, hit the road, and embark on this remarkable adventure along Route 51. The Argentinian Andes are calling, ready to enchant you with their majestic landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality. Get ready for an unforgettable road trip that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.