The Hill of Seven Colors in Purmamarca, about 90 minutes drive from Salta, is a real natural beauty and the countryside surrounding the town is a photographers dream. Immerse yourself in stunning desert landscapes, remote villages, ancient traditions and living culture plus marvel at the huge white expanse of the Salinas Grandes salt flats.
Purmamarca itself is a laid back village, similar in ambience to the famous San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, but less developed. The main draw of this dusty little place is the beautiful Cerro de Siete Colores or “Hill of Seven Colors”, which forms the backdrop as you can see in the photo below.
Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see the multi-colored, twisted sediment beds in their best light. We will spend some time in the village, walk to a viewpoint for the multi-colored hill and also around the immediate surrounding desert to take some great photos. The main plaza is also an interesting place to wander and window (or actually) shop.
Everyone who is interested in traveling in this region has probably heard of the famous salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. What most people don’t know is that there are huge salt flats in Argentina too. Salinas Grandes salt flats will be visited in combination with the Purmamarca Hill of Seven Colors excursion. The drive between the two places is an adventure on its own.
Apart from the two main visits of the Hill of Seven Colors in Purmamarca and the salt flats at Salinas Grandes, there are other interesting places en-route also in the Humahuaca Canyon area. One such visit is Pucara de Tilcara, located in the Quebrada de Humahuaca a short distance from Purmamarca. This site dates back to the 12th Century but there is evidence of human settlement in the area some 10,000 years ago.
The road from Purmamarca rises steeply through a myriad of switchbacks (called the Cuesta de Lipan), climbing some 2 km vertically through 35 km of road, amongst thousands of cacti strewn across desert. There are some great photo opportunities to be had with huge plants as you can see above. The highest point of the trip is at the Potrerillos Pass, some 4170 meters above sea level.
Continuing across the Puna, the high Andean plain, you will soon see a large expanse of white looming on the horizon. These are the Salinas Grandes salt flats, found at 3450 meters above sea level. The salt flats cover around 200 square km and were formed when an ancient, salt-rich lake dried up. The salt crust is some 30cm thick on average and is replenished during cyclic rains and evaporation.
The salt is harvested and while we are at the salar you will see this going on and of course be able to take the usual, jumping and funny pose photographs. After time spent on the salt flats it time to relax, sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery on your way back to Salta. Feel free to stay in Purmamarca if you wish, just ask us to arrange that for you.