America

Excursion to the Salinas Grandes from Tilcara

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We continue our travel through Argentina and we continue exploring the wonders of the province of Jujuy. In this story, we explain the excursion we did for free to the Salinas Grandes. Do you sign up?

The sun came out and with more than eight hours of sleep in the body everything looked much more optimistic than the day before. We were at Tilcara, in the gorge of Humahuaca, and we wanted to make the most of the time until noon, when we should return to Jump. Since I had seen the photos on the Internet I was looking forward to visiting the Salinas Grandes and the hill of seven colors. A contrast of colors, earth and sky that had made us dream of the corner of the world where we were now.

Road to the Salinas Grandes

We had breakfast at the hotel, the Hostal Antigua Tilcara, and we asked one of the girls at the reception if it took a long time to get to the Salinas Grandes. The distance in kilometers was short, about 90 kilometers, but the road conditions prevented traveling that distance in less than two hours (do not trust the times given by Google Maps). We leave soon to avoid all the heat in the middle of the salt flats. We take the road to Pumamarca and from there the road to Susques. We pass by the famous seven-colored hill with the intention of visiting it around the corner. From that point the road began to ascend the mountain and much, until we reached more than 4300 meters of altitude.

That white dot that is seen in the background are the Salinas Grandes

To reach that height we climbed a winding road, in which the asphalt had disappeared in some sections. With so much curve, up and down we understood why it takes so long to travel ninety kilometers.

Arriving at the Salinas Grandes we saw vicunas. How beautiful!

Two hours later, the horizon suddenly widened upon reaching the Salinas Grandes. The road crosses a part of the saline and, after a short time, we saw a parking area with a flame of four meters made of salt and a booth where to hire the guided tour.

A giant salt flame and a souvenir stall.

Visiting the large salt flats for free is the sea of ​​simple. You just have to go there and hire the visit with a guide from the area in the booth. You cannot enter the salt flats with the car on your own and I do not recommend it either. We paid 200 pesos per car and a local guide got in with us and told us where to drive.

The Salinas Grandes occupy part of the provinces of Jujuy and Salta, and have an area of ​​212 square kilometers. A mining company is responsible for the commercial exploitation of salt. Our guide, whose name I can't remember, told us to park the car. In the middle of the whitish expanse, holes were opened that showed impressive turquoise blue waters.

The guide explained to us that the entire bottom of the saline is a lake, but that the density of the salt of the water causes a layer of saltpeter to form that is an average of 30 centimeters thick. That means that in some areas the layer is thicker and in others, much thinner. Stay with that data.

I approached the hole to see the water more closely and the guide warned me to watch, since the edges could sink and more than once they had to remove a visitor from the water. We returned to the car to drive to another point in the saline to see other water holes, but these created by man.

I promised them very happy ...

The ground is drawn with a pattern of honeycombs created from saline crust, with an earth-colored interior, and slightly lighter lines that define it. As we walked to the holes, the guide pointed out a point: the areas where the ground is whiter means that the salt layer is thinner and can be broken. So watch where you step.

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