About two hours north of the city, you’ll find Salinas Grandes, a 12,000-hectare desert of ancient salt located more than 11,000 feet above sea level. To experience the full gravity of the environment, hike out half an hour (or book a longer bike tour from Salta Biking) until the roadside jewelry and empanada vendors become specks of dust on the horizon. The sound of salt crunching beneath your feet will make you feel like you’re alone on the moon, and once you find your way back to the parking lot, you can drive down the same dramatic switchbacks you came up to find lunch in Purmamarca. The small village sits at the base of the Cerro de Los Siete Colores, or hill of seven colors, where layers of rock laid down over millennia create technicolor waves that appear to be painted onto the horizon. To get close, hike the Paseo de los Colorados, a trail that wraps around the town. It’s only about two miles, but you’ll wear yourself out scrambling up the copper-colored hills to score the clearest views.
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