Exploring the Humahuaca Valley, Jujuy


Cerro de las Siete Colores

Cerro de las Siete Colores

One of the most inspiring places I visited in Argentina was the Quebrada de Humahuaca located in the northwest of this country in the province of Jujuy. This is a unique mountain valley, rich in the religious beliefs, rituals and festivals still retained by the Indian people of the area. All this cultural peculiarity together with its beautiful qualities of nature qualified it as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2003.

We travelled 154 kms by mini bus from Salta province to Purmamarca (Jujuy). The road was in pretty good conditions and landscapes were wonderful. Mountains along this route are part of the eastern range characterized by its different shades of brown, green and red. Its reddish colours are due to the high concentration of iron in the area.

Hotel Manantial del Silencio was our refuge for one night. A cosy country style hotel located in a quiet place a short walk from Purmamarca’s square. Service was excellent, great food and friendly staff. Pretty, comfortable rooms well equipped with a lovely bathroom and plenty of hot water.

At night we went for a walk to the centre of Purmamarca and found a very nice and relatively quiet place ideal for those who enjoy being in a calm atmosphere. You can just sit in the square and watch the local people doing their everyday activities or have a wine, a coffee or a nice cup of tea in one of the tiny coffee/bars opened for tourists.

Purmamarca square

Purmamarca square

In the morning we returned to the town and were immersed in a lively atmosphere as we walked through the narrow roads and eventually reached a multi-coloured main square full of noise and movement. Local people display everyday a variety of hand made products and trade with visitors. You will mostly find textiles and leather articles quite affordable.

Purmamarca – meaning “Town of the Virgin Land” in Aimara language – is settled at the foot of the polychromatic “Cerro de los Siete Colores” (Hill of Seven Colours) which delights the senses of all the tourists that visit it.

Pucara TilcaraOur next stop was about 176 kms from Salta. We visited Tilcara, a small and friendly village known for its well preserved Pucara (ruin). This is a pre-Inca fortification strategically located on the top of a hill to be easily defensible and to provide good views over a long stretch of the Quebrada de Humahuaca. The nice experience about visiting this place was that we were escorted by Jose -a local guide- who shared interesting information on this National Monument.

After travelling 245 kms from Salta we finally arrived to Humahuaca, a fantastic colonial city. This is the perfect place to live if you are looking for tranquillity, being amongst charming and lovely people as well as having delicious products offered by the Pachamama (Mother Earth). It is worth walking along its narrow paved streets: you will see pretty colonial houses made of adobe that still conserve its shapes.

Miguel Angel Quishpe – our local Coya Indian guide in this town – was fantastic. I was mesmerized by his charm. He has brilliant communication skills, and is very knowledgeable and inspiring. I was pleasantly surprised by the poetry Miguel Angel prepared to welcome us to Humahuaca … “No te rias de un Coya” (Do not laugh at Coya people)… my eyes watered!

I will be sure to return to Humahuaca, particularly over Carnival in February – its festivities are legendary!

Humahuaca

Humahuaca

By Sonia Lopez, slopez@metropolitan-touring.com

Join Metropolitan Touring to explore Humahuaca: http://www.metropolitan-touring.com/content.asp?id_page=2061

For more images of Jujuy and Salta, see our Flickr gallery

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