Located in the spectacular mountains of Argentina, the Quebrada de Humahuaca is a 150 km long hiking route that is listed as a World Heritage Site and protected by UNESCO. The word ‘Quebrada’ literally means ‘ravine’ or ‘deep valley’ and Humahuaca is a nearby city which is home to around 11,000 people.
The impressive valley was carved out of the mountains by the River Grande and served as a vital trade route for the Inca Empire. In fact, archeological digs and research suggest that the Quedrada de Humahuaca route was being used as a safe pathway through the mountains as long as 10,000 years ago!
For tourists and visitors to this region of stunning natural beauty in Argentina there’s a great selection of accommodation on offer, plenty of restaurants where you can try the local cuisine and some of the most incredible hiking trails in the world.
The multi-colored mountains are truly unique and the area can be explored on foot, by car or with a llama trekking tour. While you’re on the Quebrada de Humahuaca trail you’ll be able to experience the wonderful panoramic views, see rushing waterfalls, meet the friendly locals and immerse yourself in the culture of the descendents of the famous Incan Empire.
How Do You Get To Quebrada de Humahuaca?
Thanks to modern transport links it’s relatively easy to reach this remote part of Argentina. The easiest way to get to Quebrada de Humahuaca is to fly into the Gobernador Horacio Guzmán Airport in Jujuy Province. Flight times are around 20 hours from New York and around 24 hours from Paris, including a connecting flight.
Once you arrive at the airport you can catch a bus to Humahuaca. The airport, in the city of San Salvador de Jujuy, is just under 170mk from Humahuaca.
If you want to rest and recuperate before you travel onwards you can spend a couple of days in the city before continuing on to Humahuaca. If you’re taking a guided tour then you’ll be picked up in San Salvador de Jujuy although you can arrange your own travel as well.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Quebrada de Humahuaca And The Ancient Inca Route?
The ideal time to visit the Quedrada de Humahuaca is when it’s not too hot and dry. Therefore, you should plan your trip between May and August when the weather is pleasantly warm and the skies are clear.
However, if you want to see the River Grande flowing at its highest then you should visit in the summer, between December and March, although it can get very humid with spiking temperatures during the summer months.
What to Do In Quebrada de Humahuaca?
There’s a lot to see and do in and around the area of the Quebrada de Humahuaca.
Quebrada de Humahuaca Trail.
To explore the beautiful trails that run through the rugged, colorful mountains along the impressive Rio Grande you can either take a bus tour, hire a private guide, join a llama tour or self guide your own adventures!
The entire trail is around 150 km long and takes a minimum of 3 days to complete the route although you can also do smaller day trips if you prefer. Along the way you’ll be able to marvel at the great scenery, the amazing geological rock formations and visit the colonial towns including Uquia, Iruya and Tilcara.
Taste The Unique Northern Argentinian Cuisine.
While you’re in the area you should definitely go out of your way to sample the local cuisine. Some of the best regional dishes include a corn and meat stew, known as ‘locro’, a dried salted meat called ‘charqui’ and a corn pudding called ‘humitas’.
Other regional dishes to try include a finger licking grilled goat’s cheese which is served with slow marinated llama meat; and for dessert you can try the delicious cacao leaf mousse!
You can buy local dishes in all the main hotels as well as local restaurants and cafes that you’ll find in the colonial towns along the hiking trails as well as in the city of Humahuaca itself.
Visit The Serrania del Hornocal.
One of the biggest hits for tourists and visitors to the Quebrada de Humahuaca is the Serrania del Hornocal. These astoundingly colorful, jagged rock formations are located just 25 km outside the city of Humahuaca.
To reach the Serrania del Hornocal you can join a tour in a van or go with a private guide in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. The roads are windy and can be dangerous for inexperienced drivers so it’s a good idea to go with a local guide who knows the roads and the best way to reach these geological wonders.
The rocks are most impressive at dawn and sunset when the warm hues of the sunlight bring out the best of the colors in the formations. Your guide will usually include at least an hour for you to explore the area on foot before you head back into the town to be dropped off at your hotel.
Visit Tilcara And See The Ruins Of Pucara.
One of the foremost pre-Hispanic towns to visit on the Quebrada de Humahuaca is Tilcara. This charming town is worth spending a few nights in to give you time to properly explore the town where you can drop by the bars, restaurants and the other tourist attractions. If you want to do some trekking during your time in Tilcara you can’t afford to miss the waterfall lined trail to Garganta del Diablo.
While you’re in Tilcara make sure to visit the town’s archeological museum as well as the ancient Pucara ruins. You can also appreciate the panoramic views of the valley and explore Tilcara’s historic center where you’ll find street performers and musicians as well as vendors selling souvenirs and local arts and crafts.
If you want to hear some traditional music you can visit one of the town’s penas or bars in the evenings where you’ll see authentic local folklore put to music with regional instruments.
Watch Pottery Being Made By A Local Artisan.
One of Humahuaca’s main artisan products are pottery bowls and pots. These are made from local clays and mud which are mixed before being baked and painted. While you’re staying in town you can visit one of the artisan’s workshops where you can watch them at work.
The artisans often take requests from visitors so you can have some pottery made for you personally – something which makes a fantastic souvenir of your visit.