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8 or 13 Days of Lodge-based Multi-Sport
$6995 USD plus optional extension $2995
per person based on double occupancy
Single Supplement: $1000
March 24-31 plus the 6 day extension March 31–April 5
Deposit: $2000 Meeting Place: Salta, Argentina Gateway City: Buenos Aires, Argentina River Rating: Class II-III
ROAM has been operating trips in Argentina and Chile for more than a decade. We regularly explore Torres del Paine and Fitzroy with guests and operate deluxe lodge-to-lodge trips in the Lakes Districts among other locales. Over the years, we have met and collaborated with many wonderful people in Latin America. One of these amazing characters is Diego Valsecchi, co-founder of Desafio Winery in Cafayate, Argentina.
Diego is an Argentine renaissance man. He can grow a garden and grapes, make award-winning wine, kayak any stretch of river imaginable, raise sheep, butcher them and then hand craft a wood-fired parrilla and pizza oven to bake you fresh bread, pizza and grill the lamb to perfection. In his spare-time he is an attentive father and loving husband. To say that Diego deserves all these accolades is an understatement.
Throughout our time working together in Futaleufu and parts of Patagonia, Diego has raved about his homeland in Argentina. He is passionate about many things but particularly the Cafayate region where he co-founded his winery. Subsequently, ROAM is delighted to be partnering with the Valsecchi family to introduce our newest multi-sport adventure. Miraculously, we’ve been able to contain many of Diego’s ideas into one exciting adventure.
We’ve planned an active multi-sport exploration of Salta and Cafayate’s wine regions that offers hiking, biking, rafting, tastings, harvesting and, in ROAM style, many incredible dining experiences. For those feeling even more adventurous, there’s a 6 day/5-night extension into more remote parts of the desert and salt flats. Let us also say, this is not your typical holiday. This trip will be spontaneous, intimate, challenging, decadent and fun as we explore a part of Argentina few know but none ever forget once experienced.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Arrive Salta, check in to your hotel & visit the Museo Arquelogia de Alta Montana
- Visit Mercado San Miguel & La Viejas Estacion for traditional music & dining
- Horseback ride, bike and hike near San Lorenzo
- Raft through steep canyons on the Class II-III Juramento River before overnighting in a wine hotel
- Explore the quaint colonial town of Cafayate and sample the local wines including Tannat, Bonarda, Malbec & Torrontés
- Visit Cafayate’s Wine Museum & explore local wineries by foot
- Explore outlying vineyards by bicycle (with vehicle support)
- Hike to seven beautiful waterfalls then visit Quebrada de las Conchas, famous for its dramatic multi-colored strata
- Participate in a grape harvest and enjoy a gourmet lunch at Dsafio Vineyards
- Explore the vast expanse of salt flats and Parque Los Cardiones as we return to Salta for flights home
What to Expect on the Lakes District Multi-Sport
Day One: Arrive Salta – check into hotel and explore regional cuisine.
A ROAM representative will meet you at the airport and bring you to our hotel. For those arriving early, if you only hit one museum in the city, Museo Arquelogia de Alta Montana should be it. Dedicated to anthropology and preserving Andean culture, the biggest draw of the MAAM are the mummified Inca children discovered by scientists in 1999 at the Llullaillaco Volcano. The three children were perfectly preserved by icy conditions at the summit after historians believe that the Incas sacrificed them as an offering to the gods in a fertility ceremony around 1490. Their hair, clothes, and even internal organs remained intact due to the excellent preservation. Though it’s a small museum, there’s lots of artifacts and insight into Incan culture and mountain archaeology with excellent English descriptions.
Tonight, we’ll venture out for some truly regional cuisine. That includes locro (a hearty stew of meat, corn, and potatoes), humita (steamed husks filled with corn and cheese), and tamales (steamed leaves filled with corn flour, meat, and potatoes). We can find these dishes at traditional family-run restaurants, street vendors, and markets around the city. We’ll visit Mercado San Miguel where you can wander amongst the produce and meat vendors, buy artisan cheeses, nuts, and regional sweets then visit La Viejas Estación for traditional Salteño cuisine and live music.
Overnight Salta – Legado Mitico Salta Hotel Boutique
Day Two: Horseback ride, mountain bike & hike options near San Lorenzo
Today we will visit a nature reserve in the popular Villa San Lorenzo. Cooler and more humid, than Salta, it’s where the high-altitude forests (las yungas) begin. The village is also popular place for Argentine summer homes. We’ll enjoy the natural surroundings by hiking along the paths to viewpoints, going horseback riding or mountain biking, or simply enjoying some wine alongside the river and waterfall. Later we’ll stop at El Castillo de San Lorenzo, a lovely historic hotel and restaurant, for a regional meal amidst the lush surroundings. In late afternoon we’ll return to Salta for dinner and get ready for our next adventure.
Salta claims to be the birthplace of empanadas in Argentina, or at the very least, it’s rumored to have the best ones. Either way, you should definitely go on a quest to eat as many empanadas salteñas as possible while you’re here. So how are they different from typical empanadas? Salteñas are usually baked in a clay oven, they’re a bit smaller than others, and they’re usually filled with sliced beef (rather than minced) that’s mixed with things like onions, potatoes and egg. You can also find them filled with stewed chicken or cheese and onions. In Salta, they’re accompanied by a spicy tomato and pepper dip.
While Salta’s nightlife is much more laid back than the intensity of Buenos Aires, Calle Balcarce is still a fun place to have a great dinner, drinks at a bar or two, and then make your way to a discotheque for some dancing… but not until around 1 AM of course.
Overnight Salta – Legado Mitico Salta Hotel Boutique
Day Three: Calchaqui Valley and Juramento River, enroute to Cafayate
Today we’ll depart Salta and head towards Cafayate. Along the way we’ll stop to river raft the Juramento River through steep canyons and class II and III rapids. The rapids form below the Cabra Corral Dam where there’s a reservoir created by several rivers in the Calchaquí Valley. If time permits, we might hike down the trails surrounding the reservoir to look for dinosaur footprints and ancient rock paintings. Tonight, we’ll overnight in Cafayate at Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel. Situated next to a winery this 32 room, upscale and antique-laden hotel delivers wine-fueled R&R, whether you’re sipping vino poolside or indulging in the complimentary sparkling wine served each afternoon.
Day Four: Visit the Wine Museum, explore local wineries by foot
For education about the wine region, the Museo de la Vid y el vino (Museum of Vine and Wine) offers a multimedia-driven exhibit on area wine growing and winemaking history and traditions. The first part of the museum deals with the life of the grapevines and viticulture using a series of images and poems. The second section teaches visitors about the winemaking process and displays some of the equipment used by producers. You’ll want to visit before you hit the vineyards to learn all about why the grapes grow so well in this high-altitude climate.
Most of Cafayate’s winery options are set within walking distance. Today we’ll stroll to Bodega Nanni, Bodega Domingo Hermanos, Tierra Colorado and El Porvenir de Cafayate for vineyard and cellar tours, as well as tastings of elegant local wines like malbec, tannat, and torrontés. Cafayate is renowned for the Torrontés grape which is only grown in Argentina, so we’ll be sure to try the crisp white wines it produces. For lunch, we’ll enjoy an outdoor terrace while grazing over a variety of small plates, like baked macaroni and cheese with truffle oil, beef empanadas, or bandiola, an Argentinean pork shoulder sandwich.
Overnight Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel
Day Five: Explore outlying vineyards by bicycle (with vehicle support)
Today we’ll bike to Finca las Nubes, El Porvenir de los Andes, Amalaya, Bodega Etchart, and many more! A short bike ride north of town, Burbujas de Altura serves sparkling wine made with 100 percent torrontés. To the south, we’ll visit Bodegas Etchart, which dates back to 1850 and pours award-winning wines in a gated-off ranch setting. A 15-minute ride into the hills leads to the modern Piattelli Vineyards, where you can sit on the gorgeous open-air terrace overlooking the vineyards to taste through a variety of wines while indulging in traditional Argentinian lunch fare. Or just over a mile from the town center at Bodego El Esteco, founded in 1892, taste a range of signature local varietals at the transporting colonial-era property, set behind grand iron gates. We may tack on a meal at the on-site restaurant La Rosa, where they sometimes grill whole goats and use fresh vegetables and herbs from their garden. Or for something more casual, La Casa de las Empandas is all about—what else?—empanadas, but some of the best you’ll have. For traditional Argentinean grilled meats, we’ll visit the authentic Parrillada El Gallito for a no-frills grill to get our fill. And we’ll be sure to hit one of the heladerias (ice cream parlors) on the square for another local favorite: wine-flavored ice cream and sorbet.
Overnight Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel
Day Six: Cascada del Rio Colorado
A great half-day hike for the adventurous minded, we have a choice to cycle or drive out to the trailhead where we’ll start this trek up to several beautiful waterfalls. An enjoyable but challenging trek, this route requires river crossings, some scrambling and lots of adventurous obstacles along the way. The entire trail will lead you to 7 waterfalls, so bring your bathing suit to take a dip and cool off.
Next, the Quebrada de las Conchas is home to some of North Argentina’s most mesmerizing landscapes, famous for its jagged rock formations and dramatic multi-colored cliffs. Today’s hike will take you to all the most memorable viewpoints, including the Garganta del Diablo, the Amphitheatre, Los Castillos, La Punilla, and La Yesera.
Overnight Grace Cafayate – This luxurious resort consists of a hotel with 12 rooms, as well as 20 private villas, which look over surrounding vineyards. On the grounds, you can visit the spa, play a round of golf, or ride horses through the valley setting, overlooking the Andes.
Day Seven: Wine Harvest
Today we will participate in the grape harvest and have a gourmet lunch at Desafio Vineyards.
This will be the highlight of the trip with many surprises. Diego says it best…
“At the heart of Valsecchi Wines, our commitment is to handcraft wines that express the true soul of the vineyard, producing the finest wine the vine can inspire. We apply biodynamic principles, working harmoniously with nature’s energy and the rhythm of our cosmos. We place utmost value in environmentally-friendly, low-impact practices.”
Wine Art is the expression of Diego’s winemaking philosophy. This starts with the accurate timing of hand-harvesting the grapes, where the soul of the wine appears. Part of that soul is derived from the synergy of family and friends who dedicate themselves to the harvest each year. Their contributions bring the most amazing energy to the wines. Respect for the grapes by not compromising quality for quantity infuses this soul.
“Making wine is my offering to everyone. It is my art, it is how I translate this inspiration through my hands” as expressed by the founder, Diego Valsecchi. “Bringing forth the soul of the wines is the challenge we remain committed to, our Desafío”.
Overnight Grace Cafayate
Day Eight: Day in the desert – National Park Los Cardones
For those who are leaving us today, we’ll take scenic drive back to Salta via Cachi. This is a great adventure to finish the trip as it takes up to see what the vast expanses of salt flats and winds through Parque Los Cardones. We’ll see where salt is mined from a dried lake while you take those obligatory perspective photos on gleaming, high-altitude flats. We’ll arrive into Salta in the late afternoon for flights homeward.
Volcano, Deserts & Salt Flats Extension
Day Eight: Purmamarca Hike
For those doing the extension, today we will drive 5 hours and then hike in to the hotel in Purmamarca called Hotel El Manantial del Silencio. Featuring a large garden with a swimming pool at the foot of the Hill of Seven Colours, the hotel offers bright and spacious mountain and garden view rooms and a wellness centre. A massage or spa treatment may be a welcomed treat after the journey.
Overnight Hotel El Manantial del Silencio
Day Nine: Purmamarca – Tolar Grande
Today we go from Purmamarca to San Antonio de los Cobres (3350 m). Along our journey we will go through Salinas Grandes, and then we keep driving on the highlands to San Antonio de los Cobres. The road goes through the so-called Labyrinth Desert, a clay, pink dust and gypsum crystals formation. Later, just before reaching Tolar Grande, we will see Salar of Arizaro and one of the most amazing views of the Andean range, with Llullaillaco and Socompa volcanoes. Arriving at Tolar Grande is a wonderful surprise as this village of 200 souls living at 3200 meters above sea level is lost between the salt desert and volcanoes. Dinner and breakfast the following day are prepared and served at a local house.
Overnight Casa Andina
Day Ten: Tolar Grande – Antofalla – El Peñon
Today we’ll travel from Tolar Grande to El Peñon going through some incredible landscapes at high elevation. It’s an early departure driving through Salar de Arizaro but there’s time for a visit to a natural pyramid with volcanic origins known as Cono de Arita. Continuing our trip through Campo Amarillo to cross over later the Antofalla Salt Lake and its respective” forgotten town”. This salt flat will amaze you with its beautiful landscape. After lunch in a “local house” the journey continues crossing the Salt Lake to a viewpoint of the entire region. After a photo stop, we’ll continue through the Calalaste gorge were the main feature is its animal life dominated by vicuñas and suris. We will arrive in Antofagasta de las Sierras by mid-afternoon. This region is known for its volcanic activity and allows us to appreciate the amazing geology surrounding us. It’s also the place with the highest concentration of vicuñas in the country.
Overnight Hosteria El Peñon
Day Eleven: Pumice field visit and Carachipampa Volcano lagoon
After breakfast we’ll tour through a very unique pumice field. It’s a strange but dazzling landscape carved into the rock that gives birth to its name “pumice”, which was produced from a big volcanic explosion and the escape of gases during the cooling period. This afternoon it’s back to El Peñon, and along the way we’ll visit a young volcano, Carachi Pampa, which is an intense black colour produced by basalt spilling. In its base, there’s a lagoon where you may find pink flamingos.
Overnight Hosteria El Peñon
Day Twelve: El Peñon to Cafayate
After breakfast we depart from El Peñón through the puna in Catamarca, where we will have an incredible view of the dunes. Descending in altitude, we will begin to enter the Calchaqui Valley. If the time allows it, we can visit the Quilmes ruins. Arriving in Cafayate, we’ll have lunch at the Grace Cafayate. The afternoon will be filled with optional spa treatments and a delightful dining experience to celebrate this amazing adventure.
Overnight Grace Cafayate
Day Thirteen: Return to Salta for Flights home
After breakfast we will make our way back to Salta for flights home.
Legado Miticio, Salta
Legado Miticio Salta is a luxurious boutique hotel with impeccable service. Our guests will quickly discover how they have fused tradition with modern expression for new levels of comfort. Salta culture has inspired each room be it from Argentina’s first peoples or those emblematic characters who left their mark on Argentine history, music and art.
Patios de Cafayate Wine Hotel
Amidst the vineyards of the winery El Esteco and with the breathtaking Calchaquí Valleys in the background, the estate’s farmstead – that once belonged to Michel Torino’s family and was founded in 1892 -, is today the soul of this unique hotel that boasts thick walls, corridors with glazed domes, Spanish roof tiles, wrought iron gates, murmuring fountains, colonial water wells and a vast collection of vintage furniture and pictures. A unique and exclusive wine experience in Cafayate. Patios de Cafayate is a must for those who want to enjoy the surrounding landscape, the history and the art of the region, as well as the incredibly welcoming and warm local people. The hotel’s 32 rooms, located among large colonial-style patios, welcome you with their comfort, their roominess and their antique pieces of furniture, but also with the most up-to-date features and services. The radiant afternoons in the valleys are freshened by neatly kept gadens and a magnificent pool surrounded by arbors bulging with grapes. A llamas stockyard, from where you can take horseback rides through the vineyards, reaffirm the traditions of the area. A peaceful stay, sunny days, cool evenings, a glass of fine wine an exquisite food. Hillsides that change their colours with sunrise and sunset and a skilled staff that turn this hotel into a perfect place where to live a unique experience in these distant latitudes, the “Calchaquí Valleys”.
This luxury hotel, with spa and residential villas in the Calchaquies Valleys in northwestern Argentina, south of the province of Salta, with its elegance and simplicity make this boutique hotel a unique place in Argentina. The hotel forms part of ‘La Estancia de Cafayate’, a secluded 1,360 acre residential and sporting estate in the heart of an area famed for its spectacular scenery, outstanding wines and equestrian sports. The property consists of a main hotel building and a further 20 branded residential villas. This luxury accommodation in Argentina is complemented by a beautiful restaurant with open kitchen and terrace, together with a wine and cigar bar. There is also a swimming pool and a luxurious spa. The architecture of this luxury property includes the discreet charm of having taken great care in choosing designs cues from local traditions and to echo the dramatic surroundings of Cafayate and the Calchaquí Valley. Hotel guests will have access to all the superb facilities at La Estancia de Cafayate that include one of the most prestigious golf courses in South America, a lively clubhouse and polo fields as well as access to the estate’s vineyards. This hotel is perfect for anyone looking for a spa hotel in Argentina set amid awe-inspiring scenery.
About the Region
Salta is in northern Argentina and situated 3,780 ft above sea level at the foothills of the Andes, which are the longest continental mountain range in the world. The weather in Salta is always warm and dry, with annual averages of less than 30 inches of rainfall. Nicknamed Salta la Linda (“Salta the beautiful”), it has become a major tourist destination due to its old, colonial architecture, tourism friendliness, excellent weather and natural scenery of the valleys westward. Attractions in the city proper include the 18th century Cabildo, the neo-classical style Cathedral, and the 9 de julio central square along with San Bernardo hill and its surroundings. The city’s museums exhibit a wide range of artifacts and artwork from the native civilizations that flourished in the area (Salta is located in the southernmost region of what was the Inca empire, belonging to the Collasuyu, one of the four areas of the empire until the Spanish conquest), as well as from the 16th century Spanish conquest and the colonial and post-colonial periods. Salta used to be the starting point of the “Train to the Clouds” and is on the route to red-soiled Cafayate, as well as to other nearby tourist destinations.
Cafayate sits approximately 5,500 feet above sea level in Argentina’s Calchaquí Valley. A quaint colonial town, anchored on a central public square, it was founded in the mid-19th century as a mission. For more than a century now, it’s beckoned winemakers to one of the highest grape-growing regions in the world, with certain areas topping out at around 10,200 feet. It’s this proximity to the sun, wind, and other natural elements that produces richer flavors and deeper colors in the grapes cultivated here, including cabernet sauvignon, tannat, bonarda, syrah, and some chardonnay. Today’s vineyards predominantly grow hearty, robust, and fruit-forward malbec, as well as torrontés, which produces fragrant, elegant white wines with lovely, crisp fruit. The history-rich town is the perfect base for tasting, while shoppers will appreciate the artisanal finds while browsing the stalls of local crafts, jewelry, and art at Mercado Artesanal on the main square.