The elegant colonial city of Salta is the entrance point to Argentina's Northwest, a region of stark eroded river canyons, spectacular high altitude Andean Plains and mountains cloaked in diverse cloud forest. A starting point to Aqua-Firma's guided exploration of this area is the region's colonial heartland (Salta was a major city when Buenos Aires was only a village) and the twisted and fascinating rock formations of the Quebrada a las Conchas, the 'Valley of the Shells'. After exploring the valley you might feel that sipping a glass of the region's finest wine from the vineyards around Cafayate is an activity that needs thorough investigation!
The Andean Northwest is Argentina's most 'traditional' region with a proportion of the population coming from indigenous South American origins. Quechua, the language of the Incas, is still widely spoken here. At the height of Inca expansion - just before the arrival of Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish 'Conquistadores' - this was the southernmost outpost of an empire that extended to up to the borders of present day Colombia. To the south of Salta, the ruins of Quilmes give an insight into an ancient indigenous town that was later dominated by the power of the Incas.
Leaving from Salta we arrange journeys on the famous Tren a las Nubes, which in English means 'The Train to the Clouds'. This is an engineering marvel rising steeply from Salta and climbing more than 3000m on a system with 21 tunnels, 31 bridges and 13 viaducts. Crossing spectacular canyons and gorges the train reaches the arid and beautiful high Andean plain, reaching its high point at the Chorillos Pass, 4575m above sea level. This is undoubtedly one of the Great Train Journeys of the World.
Aqua-Firma can also take you to walking in some impressive areas of protected cloud forest stretching northwards along the Andes eastern edge towards Bolivia. These national parks, Finca El Rey and Calilegua, boast over 200 bird species and wildlife such as pumas, spider monkeys and tapirs. Tropical cloud forest covering Andean mountainsides is not what most people would immediately associate with Argentina, but it is a testament to just how diverse a journey through this country can be.