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Artistic Contrasts and Otherworldly Experiences in Northern Argentina

Enjoy wine, art, and otherworldly terrain on a trip through the Calchaquí Valleys.

Jurriaan Teulings
Origin travel expert
Welcome to the naked earth

The highland desert of northwest Argentina lends itself to a road trip like no other. From the regional capital of Salta, a circular route through the Calchaquí Valleys leads through some of the world's most dramatic landscapes shaped by the sun, wind, and tectonics.

Along the way, there are quaint villages and a sprawling wine estate, a spectacularly remote art museum, and the chance to take a quick detour to a UFO landing site.

Sometimes it feels like a road trip on Mars
Cathedral-like rock formations on the road between Salta and Cafayate
Are these cacti of interest to Aliens? The amount of UFO sightings in this area would suggest that's the case
A state of the art museum, miles from civilisation

A two-day drive away from modern civilization is the remote hamlet of Colomé – the unexpected site of the oldest winery still in use in Argentina.

Founded by the last Spanish governor in 1831, it was brought back to life in 2001, when Swiss businessman Donald Hess bought it and spent four years transforming the estancia into a luxury hotel. This wasn't enough for him though: an avid art collector, Hess also decided to build a museum here, dedicated to his favorite artist: the American light artist James Turrell.

A contemporary art museum is the last thing you'd expect after two days on a dirt road
James Turrell's work is as mind-blowing as the desert surroundings
Dimly lit with clean white lines — in sharp contrast to the highland desert just beyond the walls
A quirky encore

The cobbled streets of the adobe village of Cachi lie beneath the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. Roofs are made of cactus wood, and the atmosphere is decidedly quirky. Just outside the village, the star-shaped "Ovnipuerto" is the designated landing site for UFOs. Sightings have been reported so often in the area around the village, that many consider it an Argentinean Roswell.

Cachi, an impressive 2,280 meters above sea level
Looking for a close encounter with Argentina?

Message our curators now and they'll put together an incredible road trip through the Calchaquí Valleys.

✍🏻

Jurriaan Teulings
Dreamt of becoming an astronomer or a circus clown and got a law degree, before finding the ultimate fit for his free-range mind in travel writing and photography. Spent the past two decades traveling and spreading the gospel of Dutch stroopwafels across 99 countries, winning awards of plexiglass, bronze, and beads. Happy place: the Atacama desert. Terrible driver.

Images of the James Turrell museum by Florian Holzheer, courtesy of estancia Colomé