Iruya, Salta

Leaving Tilcara behind, visitors may reach beautiful Iruya, one of the most beautiful in the North.

Tilcara was left behind and we already knew that only 42 kilometers stood between us and the City of Humahuaca. We had to be alert not to miss the detour that would lead us to Iruya.

On Route 9, our eyes began to look towards the right and to be delighted with the colorful formations that continue in the mountains of the Humahuaca Ravine itself.

We would not have imagined the beauty that awaited us in short, especially when the tour was just starting. The sun, with all its heat and majesty, was present above our heads. It was an ideal day to travel.


Reaching Humahuaca

  • 48 kilometers become alive

    48 kilometers become alive

  • Tilcara

    Tilcara

  • The sun, with all its heat and majesty

    The sun, with all its heat and majesty

  • Typical postcards of Northern Argentina

    Typical postcards of Northern Argentina

  • Life in these lands

    Life in these lands

  • Iruya remains quiet as usual

    Iruya remains quiet as usual

  • Nostalgia have been observed

    Nostalgia have been observed

Humahuaca is just one of the villages sharing the ravine and maybe one of the best known. Iruya lies 74 kilometers from Humahuaca. For years, it has been one of the typical postcards of Northern Argentina. A unique site that perfectly portrays life in these lands.

To reach this place, visitors must take National Route 9 (barely 26 kilometers) up to the detour into the gravel road that leads straight to the small village that is said to be “hanging from the mountains”.

The gravel road is not dangerous, but it is convenient to ask at the local agencies about road conditions. These 48 kilometers become alive and enable travelers to see one of the most beautiful sites in the country.


Lands of the Condor

Much has been told about Iruya and even today, after almost two and a half centuries from its foundation, it continues to surprise. There are no provincial or national records of the date on which the town was constituted as such, but it is estimated that it was around 1750.

Iruya used to stand on the road between Upper Peru and the new settlements all over the region.

Precarious and protective at the same time, the shelter the large mountains have always provided was an ideal spot where the stagecoaches carrying goods from the puna to the fertile valleys could have a rest. Two of these spots stood out and the two most important capital cities in the area were built there: Jujuy and Salta.

Today, Iruya remains quiet as usual. But fortunately, oblivion and nostalgia have been observed and understood by a tourist boom that has positioned the valley as the destination chosen by thousands of tourists.


It is Important To Return

Maybe that is why popular festivals, such as the carnival of Iruya or the offerings to pachamama, amaze not only local settlers but also thousands of visitors who wish to get close to the purest remains of primitive peoples.

One of the most outstanding festivals is devoted to the town’s patron saint: Our Lady of the Rosary, after whom the local church, founded approximately in 1753, has been named. Such celebration takes place on the first Sunday in October, when hundreds of pilgrims and members of the church congregation get together in the surroundings of the church and the main streets in town, where craftsmen and businessmen display their products for sale.


Another Jewel from the Past

San Isidro is another jewel from the past which can be accessed from Iruya. Visiting this small town is a must for all those touring the area. They can go on horseback if they rent a horse or else on foot, following the dry bed of a river for almost one hour. Thus, one of the most picturesque and colorful points in these mountains is reached.

Upon arrival, dozens of local craftsmen and producers offer their products and fabrics, as well as tapestries, aguayos, and blankets made of local llama and vicuña wool.

Sunset is the ideal moment to return, maybe carrying a little extra weight from some souvenir.

Remember to look up on the way back, because Iruya is one of the few places on the planet where not only can the flight of the condor be seen but also listened to. Visitors just have to stop and follow them with their sight to listen to the sound the wings of this ancient bird make when they cut through the wind. As it has always been, as it will always be.

Autor Pablo Etchevers Fotografo Eduardo Epifanio

Tour typeTour type: Visit to the Small Town of Iruya

Bear in mindBear in mind: During the summer season, strong rainfall hits Northern Argentina. Therefore, it is recommended to get information from the locals before leaving Humahuaca. This is very important, as the road is often impassable or even dangerous for those who are not familiar with it. It is advisable to get there on some excursion or local transportation.

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