The trekking to the clouds experience is not only a great adventure but a cultural experience. Enjoy hiking remnants of old Inca Trails seldom trodden and enjoy an in-depth look at the Andes in Northern Argentina.
Trekking to the clouds from your base in Salta provides great rewards for your efforts, wonderful landscapes combined with interesting historical and cultural experiences are to be enjoyed. The full, 4 day version of this picturesque trek begins at the foot of the El Gólgota mount in the tiny town of Ingeniero Maury some 70 km from Salta itself. The trek ends at the Quebrada (Gorge) de San Lorenzo, only 20 minutes drive from your starting hotel in Salta.
Our trek will take us along the remnants of old Inca trails through wildly contrasting landscapes ranging from very dry and arid mountain ranges to the humid rainforests of Salta’s Yungas region. During our time out trekking we will see the locals of the area doing what they do, working the fields and handling livestock at over 3,000 meters above sea level.
Our route takes us to the archaeological site of “Sillón del Inca” (Inca´s Seat), the ruins of a complex which once belonged to the most Southern frontier of the Inca Empire. We will see some of the locals of the area doing what they do, working the fields and handling livestock up over 3,000 meters above sea level.
Camping sites and meal times provide great opportunities to interact with the group and sometimes with locals, especially when we camp near their villages. We always strive to provide quality in both the variety and type of meals and snacks to keep you well fed and full of energy. Our camps include a dining tent, tables, benches, cutlery and tableware plus a glass of Argentine wine is included every night.
TREKKING TO THE CLOUDS EXPRESS This version of the itinerary is offered with one day less of trekking for those with limited time open to them. The first two days of the circuit are the same, spent with the main group, and then a detour is taken to get you back to Salta that day. After a hike of around 4 kilometers you will have a transfer in 4×4 vehicle back to your hotel.
DAY 1 – We will take transport along the road towards San Antonio de los Cobres getting off in the village of Ingeniero Maury. After organizing our backpacks for the day we will provide box lunches, fill our water bottles and then start walking. The first part is uphill with the trail being well-marked and the gradients easy/moderate but continuous. As we climb the Quebrada del Toro starts looming before us in all its glory as well as the snowy peaks of Cerro San Miguel and Acay. After three hours of walking uphill we will reach La Virgen del Caminante (The Pilgrim´s Virgin), a reference point for many hikers and climbers in the area. From here the path continues with alternating ascents and descents. Our destination are the Sillón del Inca ruins where we will camp for the first night. Upon arrival at the site we will have some free time to wander around the area and examine this archaeological site that was once part of the Inca Empire.
DISTANCE 9.0 KM – WALKING TIME 6/7 HOURS – STARTING ALTITUDE 2.378 MTS – TOTAL ASCENT 1.063 MTS – TOTAL DESCENT 479 MTS – ENDING ALTITUDE 2.959 MTS
DAY 2 – Today we will trek from the Sillón del Inca and the trail will lead us over elevations in excess of 3,000 meters above sea level and, if we are lucky, we might see some Andean Condors swooping overhead. At one point we will reach 3418 meters above sea level and have some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, the whole Lerma Valley and Salta, or not, if its cloudy!
At the end of the afternoon hiking we will reach our 2nd campsite which will be in the company of local people, who have their farms nearby, one of which we might be camping on. We can share our experiences with them, via the guide if your Spanish isn’t up to it, and learn about their lifestyle and traditions.
DISTANCE 11.4 KM – WALKING HOURS 6/7 HOURS – STARTING ALTITUDE 2.959 MTS – TOTAL ASCENT 665 MTS – TOTAL DESCENT 741 MTS – ENDING ALTITUDE 2.882 MTS
DAY 3 – On this third day the trail will take us closer to the typical forest of the Yungas. We will leave our camp after breakfast and begin to descend and in this part of the trek the views are completely different from the previous two days. After a short time walking we will see that more and more trees and vegetation begin to appear on the mountain slopes and rivers and waterfalls are formed by the increasingly humid environment. The trail continues in a gentle decline to a point where two mountain rivers meet, here those who chose the Express version of Trekking to the Clouds will go back via another trail, continuing a few kilometers down the river to the meeting point where the vehicle will await to take them back to Salta. The rest of the group will continue upstream to enter the Yunga region. There will be a slight rise that then gets more steep towards the end of the walk and our 3rd campsite.
DISTANCE 14.0 KM – WALKING HOURS 7 HOURS – STARTING ALTITUDE 2.882 MTS – TOTAL ASCENT 730 MTS – TOTAL DESCENT 1,052 MTS – ENDING ALTITUDE 2.560 MTS
DAY 4 – We will begin the last day of our tour already well immersed in the Salta Yungas forests. The trail winds through lovely landscapes gradually approaching the city again. Walking on the edges of the mountain slopes we will enjoy the flora and fauna of the region and, every so often, come into contact with local people who farm in these tough conditions. The last part of the trek takes is into and down the Quebrada de San Lorenzo into the small town of the same name. After a few celebratory drinks its back to Salta for a well-earned shower at your hotel.
DISTANCE 13.6 KM – WALKING HOURS 7 HOURS – STARTING ALTITUDE 2.560 MTS – TOTAL ASCENT 409 MTS – TOTAL DESCENT 1,489 MTS – ENDING ALTITUDE 1.479 MTS