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Seeking Help With Uruguay and Argentina Itinerary

Seeking Help With Uruguay and Argentina Itinerary

Old May 28, 15, 10:21 pm
  #1  
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Seeking Help With Uruguay and Argentina Itinerary

My husband and I are headed to Uruguay and Argentina next May, and I would like to get our international award tickets soon. Can you please critique our itinerary? I am most confused about how to get around the Salta area. My husband does not drive a manual car, nor is he the type to drive across streams. Shall we hire a driver, if we can find on for $200 a day or less, or should we take buses? I can't find an automatic car, a well-reviewed driver, or a bus schedule for the area.

By the way, my husband is not an outdoorsy kind of guy. He speaks some Spanish, so I think he will like strolling around cities and chatting with people. I also promised him that I would not drag him around all day, and that he would find the trip "relaxing."

Thank you in advance for your help.


Day 1: Fly LAX to Miami, then Miami to Montevideo

Day 2: Arrive Montevideo mid-day, then do a walking tour, sleep in Montevideo

Day 3: 8 AM bus to Carmelo, Uruguay (arrive 11;20 AM), overnight at winery, bike to wineries and olive growers for the next three days

Day 4: Sleep in Carmelo

Day 5: Sleep in Carmelo

Day 6: Take 5:30 PM ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires (how to get from Carmelo to Colonia, what to do with luggage--maybe walk around Colonia for a couple of hours), sleep in BA

Day 7: BA walking tour, sleep in BA

Day 8: BA walking tour, sleep in BA

Day 9: 1/2 day BA walking tour, then 5:30 PM flight to Salta, arriving at 7:30 PM, then sleep in Salta

Day 10: Salta to Cafayate (Quebrada de las Conchas on the way), sleep in Cafayate

Day 11: Day trip to the Inca Ruins of Quilmes, sleep in Cafayate

Day 12: Visit Cafayate wineries, sleep in Cafayate

Day 13: Cafayate to Cachi, sleep in Cachi

Day 14: Cachi to Salta, sleep in Salta

Day 15: Salta to Permamarca, sleep in Permamarca

Day 16: Permamarca to Salta, sleep in Salta

Day 17: Fly Salta to BA, BA to DFW, DFW to Orange County
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Old May 28, 15, 10:34 pm
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Day 17 will probably involve a change of airports at Buenos Aires. Be sure to allow lots of time for traffic and also for departure procedures at EZE.
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Old May 28, 15, 11:29 pm
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Hi MSPeconomist,

Thanks for your input. Yes, there is a 6.5 hour layover in BA for change of airports. I went over the routing with an AA agent.
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Old May 29, 15, 2:17 am
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It is possible to rent automatic cars in Salsa. When I booked a rental car in January, the tour operator I went through (sunny cars) also had automatics on offer. Pricey, though - one week in a Chevy Aveo manual was EUR 400, a week in the same car with an automatic came to EUR 1000 and change.
Ended up renting from a local outfit , and they had Land Cruisers and Audi SUVs that all were equipped with automatics on the lot.

Here's a list of rental companies in Salta - if you speak Spanish, just call them all and ask: http://www.welcomeargentina.com/salta/alquilerdeautos.html
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Old May 29, 15, 8:22 am
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Day 6: There are buses/coaches from Carmelo to Colonia. The harbour at Colonia is literarily next to the coach station and less than 1km away from the town centre, so you might be able to check in and drop your luggage before exploring the town for a few hours.

Days 13/14: The drive from Cafayate to Cachi I did some 10 years ago (time flies!) and the road was gravel in not great condition. This may have changed over the last years but in any case I would recommend, if possible, to rent an SUV (not necessarily 4x4) or a "strong-built" car (neither a Chevrolet Corsa nor a luxury Mercedes, let's say). Car rental agencies should have automatic versions, though they will most probably be more expensive than shift.

The drive to Purmamarca is through a fantastic route and RN40 from Cafayate to Quilmes is also in good condition. It's a personal opinion but I would allow one more day for the Quebrada de Humahuaca. With Purmamarca as a base, I'd check out Tilcara, Humahuaca and Maimará.
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Old May 29, 15, 9:51 am
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bhomburg -- Thank you for your information about car rentals in Salta. I have two questions for you: 1. Was a small car, like the Chevy Aveo you rented, good enough for the roads that you encountered? 2. How, in fact, were the roads in this area? I have read reports about hairpin turns, and having to go over rivers. Is that true?

Marambio -- Thank you also for looking at my itinerary, and your suggestions about cars. Regarding the roads, were there big holes that would not be good for the Chevy Aveo that bhomburg drove? Please explain.

Your suggestions about the itinerary intrigue me. Do you think we should cut out one night from Cafayate, thus staying there two nights instead of three (going to Quilmes in the morning, and wineries in the afternoon), and then one more night in Purmamarca? Please explain. It looks like it's about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Purmamarca to Quebrada de Humahuaca. So you would do that as a day trip from Purmamarca? We cannot extend our trip more nights in total, but I could possibly steal a night from Buenos Aires.

So would you do something like this:

Day 10: Salta to Cafayate (Quebrada de las Conchas on the way), sleep in Cafayate

Day 11: Day trip to the Inca Ruins of Quilmes early AM, Cafayate wineries later, then sleep in Cafayate

Day 12: Cafayate to Cachi, sleep in Cachi

Day 13: Cachi to Salta, sleep in Salta

Day 14: Salta to Permamarca, sleep in Permamarca

Day 15: Day trip to Quebrada de Humahuaca, stopping at Tilcara, Humahuaca and Maimará, then sleep in Permamarca

Day 16: Permamarca to Salta, sleep in Salta
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Old May 29, 15, 1:57 pm
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I did most of the Salta itinerary in 2008/09. .

I would suggest that you go from Cachi to Quilmes and stay there overnight to catch the sunrise (I believe it faces east). Not much else to do between Cafayate and Quilmes and it isn't that far.

As for Cachi-Salta, road wasn't too bad. It is paved in the park and steep sections.

We had a small 2DR FWD car (Renault?) and it was fine for the roads. Not need for any kind of SUV-like vehicle.

Tilcara could be another place to stay instead of Purmamarca. Stayed at a very nice hostal there.

IIRC, out itinerary was

Day 1 - Arrive in SLA afternoon and spend the night there (we stayed in the old convent)

Day 2 - Drive over Los Cardones NP and stayed near Cachi (bit further south in an estancia)

Day 3 - Drive to Cafayate on Ruta 40

Day 4 - Day trip to Quilmes. We were going to go further south to Tafi de Valle but the road was too bad to make it back up to Salta in one day. Overnighted in Coronel Moldes

Day 5 - Drove through Salta and Jujuy to Tilcara

Day 6 - See Pulcara and Quebrada de Humahuaca (quite a ways up the valley and off the highway on a dirt road)

Day 7 - Up to San Antonio de los Cobres and Pulvarillo, back down to Salta

Day 8 - flew off to Bs As in the afternoon

Last edited by YVR Cockroach; May 29, 15 at 2:37 pm
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Old May 29, 15, 3:49 pm
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A first quick comment.... I think you are spending too much time in Carmelo, there isn't a lot to do there. I would rather spend 1 more night in Cafayate where that additional night will give you a far better return that the same additional night in Carmelo.

There is an expert guide over on Trip Advisor (Angie/Giena) is I believe her name and handle... she is the Northern Argentina expert, you need to get in touch with her. Im trying to dig up an email contact for you, will revert back once I can locate this information.
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Old May 30, 15, 6:20 am
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Originally Posted by Marambio View Post
Day 6: There are buses/coaches from Carmelo to Colonia. The harbour at Colonia is literarily next to the coach station and less than 1km away from the town centre, so you might be able to check in and drop your luggage before exploring the town for a few hours.
We stored luggage a week ago in Colonia.

There is luggage storage at the bus station in Colonia, but not the ferry station. (We dragged our luggage to the ferry station, because I thought there was storage there, but we were redirected to the bus station. It is a short walk, but it was frustrating since we had just come from the bus station.)

At the bus station, one piece is 20-some (24, 26?) pesos, for up to 4 hours. (It is in 2 hour blocks, so a bit less for up to 2 hours, a bit more for up to 6, and etc.) Regardless, it was easy and affordable at the bus station.
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Old May 30, 15, 10:42 am
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Originally Posted by pho9187 View Post
Marambio -- Thank you also for looking at my itinerary, and your suggestions about cars. Regarding the roads, were there big holes that would not be good for the Chevy Aveo that bhomburg drove? Please explain.
My concern was that you ended up renting either the cheapest car (usually a Chevrolet Corsa or a Chevrolet Classic) or a high-end car like a Mercedes, both types not being the most adequate for the kind of roads you'll be driving in. An Aveo seems good enough.

Originally Posted by pho9187 View Post
Your suggestions about the itinerary intrigue me. Do you think we should cut out one night from Cafayate, thus staying there two nights instead of three (going to Quilmes in the morning, and wineries in the afternoon), and then one more night in Purmamarca? Please explain. It looks like it's about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Purmamarca to Quebrada de Humahuaca. So you would do that as a day trip from Purmamarca? We cannot extend our trip more nights in total, but I could possibly steal a night from Buenos Aires.
Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Valley) is the whole region where Purmamarca is located, so you'll be in the Quebrada by being in Purmamarca. The Quebrada starts in a town called Volcán, just north of San Salvador de Jujuy, and finishes at Tres Cruces, north of Humahuaca. I think the Quebrada is very beautiful and is worth exploring for more than a day. By staying an extra night in Purmamarca you can also drive or take a tour to the Salinas Grandes and see the Puna, which is the huge, desert-like steppe surrounded by mountains that covers most Jujuy.

Cafayate is also very nice but two nights would be enough in my opinion. From Cafayate to Quilmes it's a very short drive and the ruins are quite small. You can do them in a morning and then have a wine tasting tour in Cafayate in the afternoon.

One last piece of advice from some who's driven across the Northwest many, many times.- Bear in mind that when driving in Salta and Jujuy you'll pass through many areas without any mobile phone coverage whatsoever and with little traffic. Even though most roads are in very good condition, make sure you have a spear tyre in the car and know how to change it. Also, you'll go through lots of mountain roads, so always add extra time when calculating your journey - 100km in Buenos Aires or Uruguay you can drive in an hour; 100km in Jujuy you'll possibly drive in two to thee hours because of the constant zig-zags in the road. Finally, since there aren't as many petrol stations in Salta or Jujuy as in Buenos Aires, make sure you always go full tank with fuel.

Last edited by Marambio; May 30, 15 at 10:48 am
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Old May 30, 15, 11:10 am
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Ive been able to locate Angie so if you want an expert guide (money well invested) for the Salta and related portions of your itinerary, please PM or email me and I will put you in touch with her.
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Old May 30, 15, 10:19 pm
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Thank you YVR Cockroach, Gaucho100K, wcj1, and Marambio (again).

Gaucho100k: You may be right about too much time in Carmelo, but one week driving around Salta seems like enough. I may "exchange" Carmelo for another night in Montevideo--we'll see. My husband has a big interest in Uruguay--when he studied Spanish, he was fascinated with the history there. I did see Angie's posts on TripAdvisor. I read a review of her--in 2011, she was charging $250 per day, plus gas and her food. Yikes!

YVR Cockroach: Great suggestion about the Quilmes sunrise. What do you think of staying in Cafayate the night before, and driving down to Quilmes in the dark, just in time for the sunrise? Your suggestion about staying in Tilcara instead of Purmamarca is fantastic--I just read in Lonely Planet that Purmamarca is too touristy. BTW, if you remember any of your hotels/estancias, please share (especially the estancia near Cochi).

wcj1: No luggage storage at the Colonia ferry station? Wow, maybe they're worried about security. Anyway, what is the situation at the bus station--are there lockers (I always worry about the key not working), or is there a cute little man who takes your money and hands you a ticket? Does this cute little man actually watch your luggage? Also, did you visit Carmelo, or Montevideo, besides Colonia? For any of these three cities, please share what you did and how much time is needed.

In any case, here is the itinerary as it stands. I am still hazy about the Salta area portion. Is this the best way to see the region? If anyone has any further suggestions for improvements, please advise. Thank you.

Day 1: Fly LAX to Miami, then Miami to Montevideo

Day 2: Arrive Montevideo mid-day, then do a walking tour, sleep in Montevideo

Day 3: 8 AM bus to Carmelo, Uruguay (arrive 11:20 AM), overnight at winery, bike to wineries and olive growers for the next three days
(or maybe add another night in Montevideo instead)

Day 4: Sleep in Carmelo

Day 5: Sleep in Carmelo

Day 6: Take 5:30 PM ferry from Colonia to Buenos Aires (how to get from Carmelo to Colonia, what to do with luggage--maybe walk around Colonia for a couple of hours), sleep in BA

Day 7: BA walking tour, sleep in BA

Day 8: BA walking tour, sleep in BA

Day 9: 1/2 day BA walking tour, then 5:30 PM flight to Salta, arriving at 7:30 PM, then sleep in Salta

Day 10: Salta to Cafayate (Quebrada de las Conchas on the way), sleep in Cafayate

Day 11: Day trip to the Inca Ruins of Quilmes early AM, Cafayate wineries later, then sleep in Cafayate

Day 12: Cafayate to Cachi, sleep in or near Cachi -- any suggestions?

Day 13: Cachi to Salta, sleep in Salta

Day 14: Salta to Tilcara (stop at Salinas Grandes en route), sleep in Tilcara

Day 15: Sleep in Tilcara (what should we do here?)

Day 16: Tilcara to Salta, sleep in Salta

Day 17: Fly Salta to BA, BA to DFW, DFW to Orange County
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Old May 30, 15, 10:23 pm
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Marambio, I changed the itinerary as per your suggestions--hope it looks better. So very nice of you to spend so much time helping. Thanks!
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Old May 31, 15, 8:43 am
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Originally Posted by pho9187 View Post
Day 14: Salta to Tilcara (stop at Salinas Grandes en route), sleep in Tilcara

Day 15: Sleep in Tilcara (what should we do here?)

Day 16: Tilcara to Salta, sleep in Salta

Day 17: Fly Salta to BA, BA to DFW, DFW to Orange County
You can also sleep in Purmamarca both days, it's up to you. Purmamarca is cuter but both Purma and Tilcara have good hotels. Purmamarca is closer to the Salinas Grandes, which I would do in day 15 for the (very spectacular) drive through Cuesta de Lipán is better done in the morning. Also bear in mind that whilst Purmamarca is at 2400 meters above sea level, the Salinas are at 4200 meters a.s.l and the climb is quite steep, so better do it the following day. Some tours take you to the Salinas and then to some very tiny towns in the Puna like Abdón Castro Tolay ("Estación Barrancas" in some maps). The roads up there, save for RN52 which goes from Purmamarca to the Salinas and then all the way to Jama and Chile, are all gravel.

Salta to Purmamarca or Tilcara is roughly a 3/4 hour drive making stops and at a leisure pace. You'll pass through San Salvador de Jujuy on the way - no need to stop there other than for petrol (load your tank there, the next service station is in Tilcara; no petrol in Purmamarca as fas I can recall).

On the first leg from Salta to S.S. de Jujuy you can either drive though the normal route (RN34 through General Güemes) or through the older route, RN9 through La Caldera, La Ciénaga Dam and El Carmen. That older route is better known as "Camino de Cornisa" (Cornice Road) and while it is less straightforward (lots of zig-zag), it is also much more beautiful. I would give it a try.

Originally Posted by pho9187 View Post
Marambio, I changed the itinerary as per your suggestions--hope it looks better. So very nice of you to spend so much time helping. Thanks!
My pleasure. I have lots of friends and relatives in the Northwest and even lived for a while in Tucumán, so I got to really know the place and I like it a lot. As such, all I want is other people to discover it as well
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Old May 31, 15, 9:43 am
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Originally Posted by pho9187 View Post
YVR Cockroach: Great suggestion about the Quilmes sunrise. What do you think of staying in Cafayate the night before, and driving down to Quilmes in the dark, just in time for the sunrise?
I find Quilmes quite charming, enough so that I'd want to stay there. It also gets hot very quickly and I am not sure if driving in the dark is the most advisable (I've done it, on dirt roads). Unfortunately, the hotel appears to be closed so you'd have to drive from Cafayate.

Your suggestion about staying in Tilcara instead of Purmamarca is fantastic--I just read in Lonely Planet that Purmamarca is too touristy.
Pumarmarca isn't too bad. Tilcara is just as touristy. However, you can get to Pucara (the adjacent ruined city) quickly.

BTW, if you remember any of your hotels/estancias, please share (especially the estancia near Cochi).
Places we stayed and recommend

Hotel de Convento Antiguo in Salta

Case de Campo La Paya in La Paya (about 10 Km south of Cachi). They can make you dinner too. Just a note note to stay here if it is hot during the night (if heat bothers you).

Killa in Cafayate

Las Terrazas in Tilcara

Hotel de Castillo in San Lorenzo


As for what to do in Humahuaca, go off road and take it the view!
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