Argentinian North West: Quebrada de Humahuaca to Iruya

An alternative title to this post might be The longest day in a Volkswagen Gol, ever. Although that shouldn’t take away from the spectacular landscapes we passed through to reach Iruya, or the lovely people we met as a consequence of giving lifts to those whose car had broken down. Our destination though, if the Guinness advert was anything to go by would be worth it.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, first we had to pass through the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a drive that takes in some of the most extraordinary and ridiculous rock formations you’re likely to see.

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Quebrada de Humahuaca en route to Iruya, Argentina

Eventually you reach the turn-off to Iruya, only 53km you’ll think to yourself, without realising that the road will be a real challenge in your Volkswagen Gol.

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Cemetery en route to Iruya, Argentina

Iruya is a tiny village 53km off the main highway down a road that is made of rubble and passes over a spectacular mountain range. The thing about the road is, it is generally only wide enough for one vehicle, so when you inevitable meet another car or, God forbid, a local bus, you have only a couple of choices: reverse for 10km until you reach the last ‘passing place’, or squeeze past the bus with a 1000m drop off to the side if you misjudge things.

Valley en route to Iruya, Argentina

Valley en route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

En route to Iruya, Argentina

Bus, en route to Iruya, Argentina

Bus, en route to Iruya, Argentina

High point of the journey to Iruya, Argentina

High point of the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Iruya is beautiful Andean village, spectacularly perched on a mountainside at the end of a truly wonderous valley, which defies description as you drop over the mountain range en route to it. That said, after an hair raising journey squeezing past buses on mountain passes, if you arrive only an hour before sunset and the journey in has taken three time longer than you’d anticipated thanks to the road, you may find yourself thinking, “What am I doing here?”

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

Scenery on the journey to Iruya, Argentina

People seemed genuinely happy to see us, although that may have been because we had half the village wedged into the back of the car thanks to their truck suffering a mechanical failure back up the valley. The village is very nice in a dramatic ‘clinging to the mountainside with cobbled streets’ way.

Iruya, Salta Province, North West Argentina

Iruya, Salta Province, North West Argentina

Safe in Iruya with unexpected passengers, Argentina

Safe in Iruya with unexpected passengers, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Iruya, Argentina

Something we’d failed to spot on the way to Iruya was passing over the Tropic of Capricorn. Despite the failing light we managed to see it on the way back.

Tropic of Capricorn, Argentina

Tropic of Capricorn, Argentina

3 thoughts on “Argentinian North West: Quebrada de Humahuaca to Iruya

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