Travel to North West Argentina

  • I've just joined this forum, so I am still fumbling my way around... please forgive typos/typoes.


    In pre-Covid days I was running a pretty successful tour company in Salta with my wife Alicia, who was born here.


    Since March 2020, I've reverted to my first love of journalism, covering the Maradona soap opera for the British tabloids, slightly more serious stuff for the Daily Telegraph and becoming the north Argentina correspondent for the Buenos Aires Times.


    I'd like to share a piece I wrote back in August about the impact on tourism here, which I imagine has been mirrored throughout the country, but has struck particularly hard in those places where it's such a huge part of the economy: How many of us will be left?


    Sadly, prospects of survival for many agencies are even bleaker than when I wrote that article, as it looks as if foreign tourism, the lifeblood of many agencies like mine, won't be returning until the tail-end of the year (if we're lucky).


    Please feel free to contact me if you're planning a trip up to Salta, Jujuy, or Catamarca, or across the border into the Atacama in Chile or Salares of Uyuni in Bolivia.


    You don't have to do a trip with us: I'm happy to help wherever I can!





    Reply

  • Welcome to the site Nick !!


    Looks like you have had a pretty tough time in the tourist industry ...it will come back but when?


    My specialty pre-pandemic was consulting in the duty-free shop business - that to, has disappeared and we are not sure when that will be back either.


    I have now become an expert on domestic markets in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay on anything and everything that can be drunk or sold in a shop...

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    Welcome to the forum, Nick.

    I've just read your BA Times article and it's pretty grim reading. I can't see it improving until late this year, as you say.

    Your website is very slick and welcoming, and I couldn't help noticing that Cafayate is featured, which reminds me of a motorcycle trip I did from BA to Salta, passing through Cafayate and Quebrada de las Conchas to El Carril.

    A spectacular ride, as was the next week to Cachi.

    • Official Post

    Hi ponchonick ,


    welcome to the forum. I have read your well-written article on the state of tourism in the NOA. We had a trip in the making (planned and just waiting for the right season and low work combination) in the NOA, which we would have done on our own. We have visited the NOA previously and we use a travel agency from Buenos Aires which arranged local guides, transportation and accommodations for us. We rode a combination of 'combis' and simple cars, depending on the number of tourists. Now the idea of being for so many hours in a shared vehicle with strangers is not at all appealing. At the same time, not all NOA can be toured independently. We especially enjoyed our 4x4 off the road trips (Iruya was a real gem!).


    My mother was planning on visiting in November 2020 and I really wanted to book a tour with Socompa to have an Italian-speaking guide. I am glad to hear that they are still managing to stay afloat, and I am not surprised to read that they have fled to Italy. I have seen several Italians leave (temporarily) their foreign homes when the pandemic started. This caught me by surprise, to be honest. A restaurant owner in CABA did that, and acquaintances in the US returned back to Italy when the virus was ravaging in the US.


    Right now, I am still torn: I felt the same impulse but Europe was doing very bad at first, and were rather unscathed. Whereas now Europeans are being vaccinated, and we are scrambling to get vaccine and to avoid them getting stolen, stored in the wrong conditions or offered to friend of those 'high up'.

    • Helpful

    Good to have you contributing to the forum.


    The worlwide tourism industry does seem to have been hit the hardest for obvious reasons especially those areas that rely mostly on foreign visitors. There are now signs that Europe is over the worst however even it still has a long way to go. Can't see much improvement here soon however hopefully things will look more positive by the time Spring/Summer arrives. Argentina is a longhaul destination for many tourists which doesn't help.


  • Hi Serafina,


    Thanks for your reply.


    Yes, Socompa is still operating, or rather (like us), just in cold storage until business hots up again. I think we have to get through this winter first, to see how we emerge from that.


    November 2020 might be OK, but I think next year would be safer...


    Good to have you contributing to the forum.


    The worlwide tourism industry does seem to have been hit the hardest for obvious reasons especially those areas that rely mostly on foreign visitors. There are now signs that Europe is over the worst however even it still has a long way to go. Can't see much improvement here soon however hopefully things will look more positive by the time Spring/Summer arrives. Argentina is a longhaul destination for many tourists which doesn't help.

    Yes, UK Man, you're right: though I think when we're through the worst of this (whenever that may be), and people start thinking about travelling again, they might opt for longer holidays in further flung places just to make the most of their time, rather than short long weekend hops around Europe. Those are my fingers crossed, anyway!


    Welcome to the forum, Nick.

    I've just read your BA Times article and it's pretty grim reading. I can't see it improving until late this year, as you say.

    Your website is very slick and welcoming, and I couldn't help noticing that Cafayate is featured, which reminds me of a motorcycle trip I did from BA to Salta, passing through Cafayate and Quebrada de las Conchas to El Carril.

    A spectacular ride, as was the next week to Cachi.

    Yes, the Valles Calchaquies are wonderful, aren't they!


    We live in Cerrillos, two towns along from El Carril on the road to Salta...

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    For those of you interested in visiting the north west, I've added an album of photos of a recent recce of a new road linking the Quebrada de Humahuaca and Calilegua Cloud Forest: hope you enjoy them!


    Here: Cloud Forest of NW Argentina

    Superb shots ponchonick

    Would you happen to know if the R40 from Cachi to Cafayate has been tarmacced/resurfaced yet?

    I've travelled that road twice, back in 2016 and it was all gravel. Very tricky on a road motorcycle.

  • Hi Splinter, no, it hasn't: it's still ripio. It wasn't in bad coniditon last time I went just before Easter, though (possibly because there's not so much traffic). It was in a terrible state because they weren't grading it very often (apparently the roads people hadn't been paid)...

  • I’m trying to remember how long ago our one and only trip around the northwest was. Too long ago, for sure, as it is simply spectacular.


    Our first stop out of Salta was Cachi, where we stayed at a llama ranch. We were the only guests, and when the staff left for the night, we were the only humans on the property. As we looked out our wide-open window, marveling at the beauty of the full moon over the wild territory between us and the mountains, we were startled by a cat leaping up from the ground and into our room. We were happy to welcome our visitor, especially when we considered that the purring little guest could just as easily have been a mountain lion.