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2 Days Tour to Iruya

Iruya

This magical place will forever remain in the memory of the visitor. Arriving in this isolated little village in the middle of the mountains is a true adventure. Iruya was founded in 1753 and is placed on the side of a hill. This is a town full of steep, pebble stone streets and buildings that appear to have been frozen in time and take you 200 years into the past. Iruya’s church is one of the oldest and most famous in the North and should not be missed.

 

  • COORDINATES: 22°46′56"S, 65°14′00"W
  • ALTITUDE: 2780 meters above sea level
  • POPULATION: ~6700
  • ZIP CODE: A4633
  • DISTANCE: approx. 320 kilometers from Salta
  • PHONE CODE: 0378

Getting to know Iruya

This region was mainly inhabited by peoples who descended from the Ocloyas, an ancient tribe that can be traced back to the Kollasuyo, one of the four regions of the Tahuantisuyo, the Inca Empire. A number of ruins around the town (like Titicónte, which is 8km away from Iruya) are the evidence of a more or less homogeneous settlement that existed before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors.
The first inhabitants practiced a small scale agriculture (corn, potatoes, yam) and raised animals for feeding purposes only (sheeps, goats, llamas). Trading between families is an old tradition that survives up to the present day.
Iruya is surrounded by two rivers (Coranzulí and Milmahuasi) and its name comes from an old word for ‘place with high grasslands’. The little shops and houses are built in a colonial style using mainly adobe, stone and hay. It is also common to see people walking around Iruya wearing the same style of clothes worn hundreds of years ago. The steep, pebble stone streets characterize this village even though it is starting to grow upwards with bigger buildings that do not seem to follow any building regulations. 
It is possible to reach Iruya by car or even with a bus from Humahuaca but once you are there, you will need all the power of your legs (or a mule) to enjoy the town and its surroundings.

Description of the tour

The tour starts early in the morning by picking up all the passengers from their hotel. We take the highway towards the North (avoiding San Salvador de Jujuy) to get to Humahuaca, one of the few routes that allow us to reach Iruya. Once we are inside of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, the tour visits three beautiful towns: Purmamarca, Tilcara and Humahuaca. The guide provides very interesting and helpful information about history, culture and life in this region. During this part of the tour, the following places are covered: Seven Colours Hill, Purmamarca’s church, Tilcara’s Pucará ruins, The Painter’s Palette (a beautiful multicolor mountain), Uquía, the Heroes of the Independence Monument and, of course, all the typical central squares in each town. Apart from these, the tour has some photo stops to enjoy a magnificent view around Maimará and the Tropic of Capricorn.
After Humahuaca, the tour continues to the East towards Iturbe (an old town that survives even after the train abandoned it years ago) before re-entering into Salta province.
We start climbing a road full of curves in the middle of a dry desert to reach Abra del Condor, the natural limit between Salta and Jujuy at over 4000 meters above sea level. This is a perfect spot to enjoy the view and the immensity of the mountains surrounding us before descending 1220 meters in only a 19 kilometer drive.
After crossing the Milmahuasi river (the one that shuts down the town for a few days every summer), we start seeing the town welcoming us in the middle of the hills.
It is important to highlight that accommodation is NOT included in the tour and it is recommended for you to book in advance or ask for us to organise it for you. The best way to enjoy Iruya is by staying at least one night since if you take the first bus from Humahuaca and leave on the last bus from Iruya, you can only stay there for 3 or 4 hours.
On the second day, the tour takes the same road to go back to Salta at around 9pm.

  • CIRCUIT: ~ 680 kilometers
  • DURATION: 2 days / 1 night
  • SCHEDULE: 7am (first day) / 9pm (second day)
  • INCLUDES: transfer, guide, snacks, insurance
  • NOT INCLUDED: meals, drinks, accommodation
  • PRICE: See the Tour Price List