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Situated in the enchanting province of Jujuy and in one of the most spectacular areas of Argentina, the small mountain town Humahuaca is a place not to be passed up when on the traveling trail in Argentina’s north.
Humahuaca is more specifically situated in the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a fantastic array of valley and hillsides that have somehow been miraculously coloured every shade of the rainbow in one part or another. These valleys and hills run along a long and narrow path and contain a few small villages, vast amounts of open space, and some incredible Spanish ruins from the 16th century that have been rebuilt a few times after earthquakes shook the area in the last few hundred years. Today, the area is a tourist destination for its beautiful landscape, coloured hills, ruins, rebuilt churches, plant and animal life, Humahuaca, and the complete experience of traveling through this North West passage.
The area around Humahuaca is characterized by its high and low peaks, tumbling hills, and vast valleys, as well as its odd changes in climate when some of the higher peaks can see 35C degrees in the day and down to 0 degrees at night. Humahuaca itself sits at 3000m above sea level amongst cactus scattered hills, one of the highest villages in the area between Jujuy to the Bolivian border.
Humahuaca can first be appreciated for its sheer beauty. The small village of 600 inhabitants, nestled in between desert-like hills, is made up of narrow cobblestone streets, small shops and restaurants, a city plaza and church, and walking paths to take you alongside the river or to the nearby ruins. The people of Humahuaca are friendly and welcoming to visitors, found during the day at their shops or selling foods, handicrafts, textiles, or other products from the region in the streets, and can be found at night sitting outside or in the city plaza listening to music or watching their children play. There are a few restaurants that host nightly shows of regional folk music and dance, perfect for relaxing, speaking with locals, and enjoying their famous dish, Locro (meat stew). Handicrafts and textiles can be found in stores or sold on the street and are made from many different types local materials and are one of a kind in Argentina, definitely worth the purchase.
Apart from the city, there are few interesting sights to see here.
Situated only 9km outside of Humahuaca, Cotaca is home to an extensive amount of pre-Columbian ruins that are spread across almost 40 hectares of land. They have not yet been excavated however many of the ruins are high enough above the land that it is possible to see the outlines of street and groups of buildings and homes. You can either arrive at the ruins by walking from Humahuaca, however keep in mind that the weather can be very hot here and walking during mid-day during the warm months is not recommended. You can also hire a taxi or car from Humahuaca to drive you there and back for a few hours.
This fantastic mountain village is about 50km from Humahuaca down a long dirt road that twists and turns through the hills of this area, a slightly nail-biting journey, but definitely worth the effort. Iruya is literally situated in the middle of the mountains with gorgeous cobblestone streets that are steep and narrow, rows of houses and shops, and a gorgeous low-valley river. Right outside of the city are a few different hiking trails that lead to other villages and alongside the river in the area. You can arrive at Iruya with a bus from Humahuaca in only few hours and either stay the day or stay overnight in a local house.
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