Great Salt Flats (Salinas Grandes)
Visit the Great Salt Flats (Salinas Grandes) on a day trip from Salta or a half-day tour from Purmamarca. The scenic journey is almost as impressive as the destination; most tours stop at the Hill of Seven Colors in Purmamarca and Cuesta de Lipan, a dramatic mountain road. Though there are numerous points from which to enter the salt flats, most tours travel down Highway 52, which cuts right through the center of the salt desert and affords the best views.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Great Salt Flats (Salinas Grandes) offer the ideal backdrop for forced perspective (optical illusion) photographs; bring along props to create your own unique photos.
There’s no shade at Salinas Grandes and the white ground can make the sunlight even stronger, so ensure you bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
Though you’ll find the occasional food or handicraft stall dotted along the highway, facilities are very limited at the salt flats so it’s best to pack lunch and plenty of water. Most tours include lunch.
How to Get There
The Great Salt Flats (Salinas Grandes) lie across the Salta and Jujuy regions of northwestern Argentina, around 154 miles (248 kilometers) north of Salta—the journey takes 3-4 hours along roads that are mostly unpaved. To save time, set out from Purmamarca, which is around 78 miles (126 kilometers) east of the salt flats and therefore a 1.5-hour drive. There’s no public transport to the flats, so join a tour to skip the stress of car hire.
When to Get There
Though its possible to visit the salt flats at any time of year, Argentina’s dry season (May- September) is best for taking the ever-popular forced-perspective photos. Visiting between January and March means that the flats are often flooded, though the glistening blue pools form a mirror-like surface over the salt crust.
A Road Trip to the Salt Flats
Following a circular route from Salta means you can take in a number of regional highlights along the way. Head west along Highway 51 in order to make stops at the gorge of Quebrada del Toro, the ancient ruins of Tastil, and Mt. Acay mountain pass. Stop in the historic town of San Antonio de los Cobres, the starting point of the famous Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes), and then return to Salta via the hairpin bends of the Cuesta del Lipan mountain road and the Hill of Seven Colors.
- Tin Tin Straight Line (Recta de Tin Tin)
- San Antonio de los Cobres
- Humahuaca Ravine (Quebrada de Humahuaca)
- San Salvador de Jujuy
- Toro Gorge (Quebrada del Toro)
- San Lorenzo
- San Bernardo Convent
- Cathedral of Salta
- Cultural Center of the Americas (Centro Cultural America)
- Historical Museum of the North (Museo Historico del Norte)
- San Francisco Church
- Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes)
- San Bernardo Hill (Cerro San Bernardo)