A magical 2 day trip: Iruya
- Published: Friday, 22 July 2016 00:00
When one thinks of the Argentine North, the first image crossing your mind is mountains, colors, scents and towns that appear to be frozen in time. One of the best examples is Iruya, a mountainside village located between the Colanzulí and Milmahuasi rivers in the Salta province, some 300 kilometers away from the capital. Filled with steep, cobblestoned streets and lost in the middle of the mountains, Iruya is, without a doubt, one of the most curious and isolated landmarks in the whole region and a place impossible to leave out of your schedule if you want to fully discover the area.
At 2700 meters above sea level, arriving in this town is truly a challenge since it is only reachable from Jujuy after ascending to over 4000 meters before descending again through a road with many curves and an outstanding view.
Even though it was officially founded in 1753, documents have been found in Humahuaca speaking of people living in the area at least a century earlier. These people were descendants of the ocloyas, a town that was once part of the Inca Empire. We can still see traces from these years in Iruya’s everyday life; some traditions, clothing and activities like bartering are still relevant. People normally exchange cattle, vegetables and manufactured products to survive, with the addition of tourism which has become an important income for the residents in the last few years.
If you have your own vehicle, you can get to Iruya by taking a detour in Humahuaca through Iturbe before crossing the Abra del Condor at 4000 meters above sea level. After this point, there is a 1220 meters descent in only 19 kilometers before arriving in town (keep in mind that during summer, the river might block the access). Iruya welcomes you with an impressive view of its church in the middle of the hills, balancing, almost like falling off the mountains. It is also possible to catch a bus; Transporte Iruya and Panamericano offer a 3 and a half hour ride from Humahuaca. We highly recommend sleeping at least one night or you will be forced to only spend a couple of hours in this beautiful place (check Milmahuasi Hostel for more info about accommodation).
Once you are there, a good plan is a hike up to the Condor’s viewpoint. You only need to cross the bridge over the river and follow the only road that takes you up to enjoy one of the most impressive views of the village and its surrounding mountains.
This is definitely one place you will never regret visiting and will delight you with the immensity and breathtaking Northwestern beauty.