[JUJUY, ARGENTINA] — Play the voiceover from the Voice of God dude in movie trailers: “In a world where…” and you’ll get a feeling what it’s like to make the trip to Salinas Grandes, a well-worth-it side detour from traveling up the Humahuaca Gorge in Jujuy province.

Taking a steep and windy left from the main road, you go up and over the switchbacks, often through the clouds, into a high arid plain, with the Salinas Grandes (salt flats) looming as a mirage at the distance. You see it and you keep driving. It seems close, but it is far away. Cranking great Salteno music on the stereo and chomping on cocoa leaves, it is like descending into the dream sequence of your own personal movie. There are no special effects, because it is real. Or unreal, once you get down to the shimmering reflections of the salt flats off the main road. The clouds. The shallow water. The unbelievable silence. The intense sun that fries you in minutes.

My trusty and encyclopedic guide, Augustin, parked his powerful Ford F250 off the side of the road with the doors open and music adding to the perfectly surreal effect as we enjoyed a fine lunch-ona-rock with wine, cheese and cured meat sandwiches. Even spending just moments there, you will remember the hallucinatory views for the rest of your life. When friends see these pics, they go “Ooooooh, where’s that?”

Here’s an overly long video that brings to life the geography of Salta:

5 Discussions on
  • Hi,
    What time of the year did you travel to Salinas Grande?
    I am traveling in January and have heard that the salt flats in Bolivia get a lot of rain at that time. It looks like there was some water on the Salinas Grandes when you where there?
    Just trying to decide which one to go to.


    • Hey Chris! Thanks for writing.
      I’ve heard that Bolivia has a little bit more fluctuation in rains on their salt flats and I think my guide said less so in Salta — water is much more constant there. I’ve seen Bolivia can be bone-dry in Instagram.

      Salta has it’s own microclimate and from what I’ve read, you can go there pretty much year round. These pics are from the first week in March a couple years ago if that helps. As for which, I haven’t been to Bolivia yet, but always wanted to, but have heard that it is a lot more arduous and a LOT of driving to get places — and you def need a guide– sometimes treacherous. I hear everyone always gets a flat. At least one. But Salta is pretty easy to get around on your own. But you def should have a 4×4 because you do need to cross some streams. If you do want a guide, highly recommend Augustin, he was so smart, professional and had a beast of a truck if you wanted him to drive you around. You can fly into Salta and he can take you up into the hills and show you all the secret stuff and save time trying to find it on your own.

    • Hi Lauren! Thanks for commenting. The route was Salta south to pick up Hwy 33 which is that treacherous part that goes into the mountains. Then up to the Altiplano, across to Cachi, then down to Molinos, where I stayed at Estancia Colome. Then on down to Cafayete. You could make the trip straight to Cafayete. Then Hwy 68 back up to Salta. I’ve heard some have made that in a day but that’s a very very long and rough drive. I have heard they have paved some of the Ruta 40 south of Cachi since I was there. You can find a map of that route on this post:

      Or here it is on Google Maps.
      That map also shows the second roundtrip I did, from Salta up to Jujuy and the Salinas Grande. Let me know if you have any other questions! Have a blast!

    • Also, the video is kind of a summary of my whole trip over a week. And the ending of the beach is after flying to Buenos Aires the fly to Punta del Este then driving on to Jose Ignacio Uruguay

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