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Cacti of Northwestern Argentina


Exploring nature and culture in the land of the Incas

15 Days – 14 Nights


Starts in Buenos Aires  – Ends in Buenos Aires.


Tour runs on request – Prices based on group size.


Northwestern Argentina is a land full of spectacular landscapes and with a vast cultural heritage. These lands were part of the the south quarter of the mythical Inca Empire -the so called Qollasuyu. The local native people call themselves Qollas. They are very proud of their heritage, and still preserve many of their traditions, their language and culture. The Andes in this part of Argentina are very dry, but they are crossed by a series of humid valleys, with Humahuaca standing out for its unique setting. Nestled amidst spectacular rock formations of the most incredible and diverse colors, this is the heart of one of the richest cacti flora on Earth.


Characterized by their ability to survive long periods of time without receiving a single drop of water, and also for their outstanding flowers, cacti come in a variety of sizes: from tiny Blossfeldias -only 1 cm in diameter when fully grown-  to giant Pasacana Tree Cacti reaching up to 10 m tall. Blossfeldias, Pasacanas and the highest diversity of cacti species in South America are present here, in northwestern Argentina. During our overland tour through this unique wilderness we will be able to see and photograph a great variety of Argentine cacti, including some near-endemic genera, like Gymnocalycium, the Chin Cacti, and some very beautiful and widespread examples, like Lobivia, Cleistocactus, Tephrocactus, Maihuenia, and others.


Our journey takes place during the highest peak of cacti blooming season in northern Argentina. The time spent in the field will give us ample opportunities to take good photos of the fantastic cacti flowers. This is a very comprehensive itinerary designed to enjoy finding and observing as many cacti species as possible, and also to explore the unique birds, mammals, landscapes and culture of northwestern Argentina.

Our itinerary in a Nutshell


On day 1 you’ll be welcomed by your Trogon Tours’ leader in Buenos Aires, and continue on a flight to Cordoba. We will start our overland journey here, and will focus on cacti of the Central Hills of Cordoba, where several species of Gymnocalycium -including G. capillense, G.quehlianum and G. mostii- thrive. From day 2 to day 5 we will explore the dry Andes foothills of the provinces of Catamarca, San Juan, and La Rioja. This is an area of outstanding scenic beauty, and photo opportunities abound. Those who enjoy birding, will have the chance to use their binoculars often, since there are several species of Andean birds here as well. During this part of the journey, we will have chances for such beautiful cacti as the red-flowering Gymnocalycium carminanthum, and also for Denmoza rhodacantha and Lobivia aurea to name but a few. We will spend days 6 to 8 exploring the mediterranean province of Tucuman, where among other cacti species, we will see Acanthocalycium thionanthum, Maihueniopsis glomerata , and Soherensia bruchii. It is here in Tucuman where we will also have the chance to explore the ruins of an old indian citadelle, called Quilmes; a wonderful place to learn about the local culture and wildlife. On day 9, we will drive towards the Province of Salta. This part of the journey is unique for its cacti diversity, and we will spend the day searching for such species as Parodia cabracorralensis, Cleistocactus hyalacanthus, Rebutia senilis and many others. On day 10 we will leave Salta and drive northwards, crossing the Yungas cloud forest, to finally enter the Humahuaca Valley. As we cross the cloud forest, we will have the opportunity to see some cacti restricted to these humid areas, such as Rhipsalis baccifera and Pfeiffera iantothele. Birds in this part of the tour are very beautiful and diverse, so we will also take some time to stop and enjoy watching them. We will spend days 11 to 14 exploring the high Andes of northwestern Argentina, from Purmamarca to La Quiaca, on the Bolivian border. Cacti here are the most spectacular of them all, including such species as Trichocereus pasacana, Oreocereus trollii, Maihueniopsis nigrispina, Tunilla longispina, Rebutia jujuyana and many others. This area is also spectacular for those who enjoy photography, as the Andes are both spectacular and colorful in this part of the world. We will visit some local markets, where the Qollas sell their handicrafts and a diversity of Andean products. Along the way, we will be amused by herds of domestic Llamas and Alpacas. Wild Vicuñas are also possibly seen here. We will stop at some high Andes lagoons to look for all three species of South American flamingoes, and will keep an eye in the sky to try and find the master of all Andean birds: the Condor. On day 15, we will take our return flight to Buenos Aires from either San Salvador de Jujuy or Salta, with the possibility to continue home that same day.

Some of the highlights


Around 100 species of Argentine cacti. A huge diversity of birds and other animals. The dry Andes of southern South America. Unique photo opportunities for fauna, flora and landscapes. The Humahuaca Valley. The Yungas cloud forest. The Cordoba Hills.


What is included?

Private transportation for all transfers and excursions. Accommodations on a twin/double basis. Single supplements on request. Full time tour leader to accompany the group from day 1 in Buenos Aires to day 15 in Buenos Aires. All breakfasts, lunches, box-lunches and dinners. No drinks included. Admission fees to all national parks and nature reserves.


What is not included?

International and domestic airfares and airport taxes. Tips to guides, drivers, hotel & restaurants personnel, etc. Drinks with your meals. Personal travel and medical insurance. Anything not specified in “What is included?”

Sobre los Tours

Todos los tours son guiados por mi y los servicios provistos por Trogon Tours

About the Tours

All tours are guided by me and services are provided by Trogon Tours..