3 countries in 3 weeks

Deservedly shared between 3 countries, the altiplano and adjacent foothills are a magical mix of high deserts, otherwordly volcanoes, steep cloud-forests and timeless villages.

Day 1 - 3, Salta

Salta the Beautiful, the Argentines call it. An old colonial city, it has sophistication, culture and character in equal measure, and supposedly, the best empanadas (little beef pastries) in Argentina. You'll have a few days to check out the art galleries, wander round the leafy plazas and even visit a vineyard for a spot of wine tasting.

Day 3 - 4, Calilegua Cloud Forest National Park

Make an overnight 4x4 expedition into the heart of the park, and walk trails where you'll have a chance of seeing toucans, macaws and even a jaguar. Elevation in the park ranges from 1200m to 3000m and the views over the valleys, with their mystical cloud inversions, and trees draped in lianas and epiphytes, are otherworldly.

Dawn clouds rolling back in Calilegua National Park

Day 4 - 7, Humahuaca Canyon

A multicoloured canyon stretching all the way to Bolivia, and dotted with timeless villages, this will be your route to Bolivia. On the way, you 'll stay one night in Purmamarca and two in Tilcara - where you can either make a day's horseback ride or trek to the rim of the canyon.

Day 8 - 11, Tupiza, Southern Bolivia

After crossing the border, you'll be driven by landcruiser up to Tupiza, Bolivia's wildwest heartland, where Butch Cassidy and Sundance met their demise.

While the landscape blends seamlessly into the Humahuaca canyon of Argentina, culturally Bolivia is world's apart. By the time you arrive in the old cowboy town of Tupiza time will have slowed down.

Horse riding in these red canyons is a real treat and you'll make an overnight horse trek to an old indigenous village - Episcaya. You'lll also be able to hike or cycle to some spectacular viewpoints, and, surprisingly enough, eat some very good pizza!

Day 12 - 16, Salt-flats, village accommodation

Next, embark on a four day 4x4 circiuit exploring the inner reaches of the biggest salt flats in the world. Shimmering relections, pure whiteness, and unending skies make this a surreal and unique place. You'll stop off to bathe in thermal hotsprings and visit islands studded with giant catcii, before being dropped off under the volcano that marks the limit between the salt flat and the Atacama desert, and, conveniently enough, the border with Chile.

Day 16 - 20, San Pedro de Atacama, Hosteria Don Rey

The driest place on the planet. Some parts of the Atacama have registered only 1mm of precipitation in the last hundred years (and that was fog!)

While here, you'll make a jeep tour to some high altitude salt lakes harbouring 3 of the world's 4 species of flamingos. We'll visit some of the biggest volcanoes in the world, including a hike to the rim of the active Volcan Lascar.

One of the highlights, we think, is an evening spent with a French astonomer who has made his home (along with NASA and various universities) in San Pedro's desert - so clear is the sky.You'll see exploding stars, red giants, Saturn's rings, nebulae, and learn how to navigate by the night sky!

Day 21, Return to Salta and on to Buenos Aires

Price estimate (based on 2 sharing)

21 days - £2170 pp

Prices include - guiding, 4x4 transport, all accommodation, activities, transfers between locations

We can offer a significant reduction for 4 people on this tour.

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Purmamarca village and 'Seven Coloured' Hill

El Sillar, above Tupiza, is like China's Stone Forest, and stunning

Crossing the shimmering salt flats

The luxurious salt hotel, tables, chairs, walls, even the floor is made from salt...

Chilean are the world leaders in offroading, not surprising, given the terrain in Chile

Hiking a ridge in the Valley of the Moon, Atacama

 

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