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Its international profile may be low, but as more people discover northwestern Argentina's scenic canyon country, with its pre-Columbian ruins and colonial churches, it's hard to imagine it won't be the antipodean counterpart to New Mexico's "Land of Enchantment." The Quebrada de Humahuaca, with its painter's palette of hidden canyons and pre-Inka fortresses, has become a World Heritage Site, while the city of Salta is one of southern South America's best-kept colonial cities. In and around the town of Cafayate, the Calchaquí valleys not only boast equally scenic canyons and the sprawling hillside ruins of Quilmes, but also some of ...

Its international profile may be low, but as more people discover northwestern Argentina's scenic canyon country, with its pre-Columbian ruins and colonial churches, it's hard to imagine it won't be the antipodean counterpart to New Mexico's "Land of Enchantment." The Quebrada de Humahuaca, with its painter's palette of hidden canyons and pre-Inka fortresses, has become a World Heritage Site, while the city of Salta is one of southern South America's best-kept colonial cities. In and around the town of Cafayate, the Calchaquí valleys not only boast equally scenic canyons and the sprawling hillside ruins of Quilmes, but also some of the world's highest vineyards, renowned for the dry but fruity white Torrontés. To the south, almost contiguous with Cuyo's Ischigualasto Provincial Park, Talampaya National Park is a desert backcountry of spectacular box canyons with polychrome landforms not unlike Utah's Bryce Canyon. From Buenos Aires, the region's traditional gateway is the city of Córdoba, a colonial educational and commercial center when Argentina's current capital was a lackluster backwater. It's best known for its Jesuit religious and cultural heritage, and for its nearby mountains - the easternmost breeding site for the Andean condor.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    All year, but the winter dry season (July to October) provides best access to some high country sights; January and February brutally hot in some areas