I’m Flor Zaccagnino, the founder of Viaje y Descubra. Welcome to my travel guide on Purmamarca in the Jujuy province of northern Argentina.
I was born in Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina) 33 years ago. Traveling has always been a big part of my life ever since I was a child. I love nothing more than going on a road trip with my family in Argentina or Uruguay.
Growing up, I studied Hospitality Management because I wanted to work in a field related to travel and have a place to apply my language skills. I can speak fluent Spanish, English, Portuguese and a bit of Italian.
When I turned 20, I traveled to the US for an exchange program in Orlando, Florida. It was a dream come true to work at Disney World. Then I decided to start a travel blog and continue my travels – making it a full time job. Today I have visited 34 countries and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Inspiration to Visit Purmamarca in Jujuy
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to get the chance to travel all around Argentina. The first time I visited Purmamarca was with my family a few years ago. We took a road trip to Salta and Jujuy. This was my first taste of northern Argentina and I quickly fell in love with the region.
Last year I decided to explore the entire country – from north to south, driving more than 5000km. This epic journey began in Jujuy. I was reassured on this visit that Purmamarca was in fact my favourite place in northern Argentina.
Purmamarca is a small little town with a magical atmosphere. The simple fact of opening my hotel window and being able to see Cerro de los Siete Colores is an unforgettable experience that I recommend to everyone.
Spending a Couple of Quality Days in Purmamarca
I recommend spending at least four nights in Purmamarca. It’s a great spot to base yourself for the highlight of the region: Quebrada de Humahuaca.
On my first visit there I spent four nights in Tilcara which is 20km away from Purmamarca. I stayed in an Airbnb that was located in the middle of the mountains. The second and most recent visit had me staying directly in Purmamarca because it was my favourite place on that first trip.
This turned out to be a wonderful decision. I stayed in a hotel in the main square with Cerro de los Siete Colores in the background. It was the most incredible place. On this second trip I only had two days here because I was in a rush to visit the whole country from La Quiaca to Ushuaia.
I experienced the town of Purmamarca and Cerro de los Siete Colores. We did the Paseo de los Colorados by car which is normally a walking tour. We also checked out Salinas Grandes, Maimará, Tilcara, Uquía and Humahuaca with its great Serranía de Hornocal – another hill full of unique colours.
You can learn all about my experiences on this trip on my blog. It has many useful links to the best places to stay like apartments, hotels and hostels.
The Rich History and Heritage of Purmamarca
Purmamarca in the Aymara language means “Pueblo de la Tierra Virgen” (Town of the Virgin Earth). It’s a town of pre-Hispanic origin and was declared a National Historic Site whose urban layout was centred around the beautiful main church of the town, Santa Rosa de Lima Church.
This northern Argentinian town has preserved its culture with stunning architecture and the customs of daily life happening around the square. In that square, a market has been established where typical products are sold.
You can find amazing items to bring back home such as Vicuña and llama wool ponchos, knitted scarves and hats, tapestries, striped coloured pants in strident colours, seed rattles, silver necklaces and bracelets, miniatures of female collas loading their clay pots, among other souvenirs.
Purmamarca was founded in the year 1594 with architecture protected by law. Buildings combine a colonial style with the peculiarities of the materials found in the Jujuy region such as adobe walls and cardon roofs.
10 Best Things To Do in Purmamarca
The beautiful village of Purmamarca neighbours the incredible Cerro de los Siete Colores and is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Quebrada de Humahuaca. There is a lot to see and do not only in the town itself but in the wider region. Below are my top ten recommendations.
1. Marvel at the Incredible Cerro de los Siete Colores
My favourite place in Purmamarca is Cerro de los Siete Colores. I grew up seeing photos of this famous hill and I finally got to visit two years ago. I recommend visiting early in the morning to appreciate its colours better. There is a stunning viewpoint where you can admire the town and hill.
2. Enjoy a Walk or Drive on the Paseo de los Colorados
Paseo de los Colorados is best experienced by walking but you can also admire the landscapes by car. It’s a short loop track that takes in the incredible red shades of the surrounding mountains and landscapes. Not only will you find stunning red colours but also grays, greens and violets.
3. Appreciate the Painter’s Palette in Maimará
Maimará is located less than 20km from Purmamarca. This charming little village is home to the “Painter’s Palette” – the earthly name given to this colourful mountain which seems to have been painted by the divine. Marvel at the mix of brown, red, orange, yellow, ochre and pastel colours.
4. Day Trip to the Picturesque Village of Tilcara
Tilcara is a 25-minute drive from Purmamarca and it’s worth visiting for the day. Here you can enjoy the main square and the artisans market. Don’t miss the Pucará de Tilcara which is a pre-Inca fortress built on a hill just outside of the town. This fortification offers phenomenal views!
5. Drive the Cuesta de Lipán to Salinas Grandes
Cuesta de Lipán is a road that connects Purmamarca to Salinas Grandes. The road traverses down a hillside in a whimsical and winding fashion. It’s one of the coolest roads in South America! Once you arrive at Salinas you will be blown away by the vast white salt flats that stretch for miles!
6. Admire the San Francisco de Paula Church in Uquía
The San Francisco de Paula Church in Uquía was built in the 17th century. It was declared a National Historical Monument in 1941. This church is the most famous attraction of Uquía. Inside you can find famous pictures called “los ángeles arcabuceros” – purchased from Cusco in the colonial era.
7. See Monumento a los Héroes de la Independencia
In Humahuaca (an hours drive away), you can visit the Monumento a los Héroes de la Independencia which offers amazing views. The monument is located on Santa Bárbara Hill, opposite the main square of the town. It was built to honour the Argentinian Army who fought for independence.
8. Climb up the Breathtaking Serranía de Hornocal
Serranía de Hornocal is a must-do on your travels to Jujuy. The climb to the top of this 14-coloured hill takes you up a 4000m pass to a viewpoint further along where you can admire the breathtaking colours. Visit after 4pm when the sun brings out the most vivid hues.
9. Explore the Magical Remote Village of Iruya
If you plan on visiting Purmamarca and the Jujuy region for more than a week then you should have enough time to visit the magical Iruya village. I haven’t visited this village yet but it’s high on my bucket-list. You can explore the quaint streets of the village plus go on some great hikes.
10. Try the Delicious Cuisine of Purmamarca
In all of northern Argentina, but especially in Purmamarca, the gastronomy is nothing short of exquisite. Try mouth-watering dishes like humita, tamales and empanadas. Some of the best empanadas in the world can be found in a little store at the main square (in front of the church).
I also recommend experiencing a Peña: a typical place to eat, drink and enjoy some festive local music. Make sure you check out Tierra de Colores, El Rincón de Claudia Vilte and Entre Amigos, just to name a few.
Falling in Love with the People of Northern Argentina
One of the best things about visiting Purmamarca and Jujuy in general is getting to know the amazing people of this region of Argentina. They are polite, friendly and they really care about the experience of their visitors. Thanks to the people, I had an amazing time at Purmamarca.
Try going away a little bit from the touristy spots and visit the places that locals visit like Peñas. In a Peña you will experience the real traditional food, music and dance. Here you can talk to locals. They will be happy to be around you and sing songs together – a nice “coplita” to the local heritage.
Remember that being able to speak Spanish goes a long way in Argentina and Purmamarca is no different. You will get a lot more respect with locals this way even if you only know a few important sayings or phrases.
Fond Memories of my Time in Purmamarca
Some of my fondest memories in Purmamarca were actually in the Peñas rather than out exploring the landscapes. I just remember how fantastic the food was. I’ve become a big fan of the food in northern Argentina.
But the best memory I have is dancing with my father. We had no idea how to dance but it was all about sharing that moment together in the Peña. This trip was amazing because I spent quality time with my dad.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
The first thing you need to know is that in the north of Argentina you will be transported to a land high above sea level – 2324m in Purmamarca to be exact. This means that if you’re not acclimatised you will have to take slow movements, walk slowly, drink lots of water and take it easy for a while.
Chewing coca leaves is a great way to settle your stomach and still your mind. It’s totally legal. You can also drink some mate tea with coca leaves. This is a great idea especially at places like Salinas Grandes or El Hornocal.
Make sure you bring a variety of clothing. Even in summer, the nights can get a little chilly. A sweater or light jacket can go a long way to keeping you warm. During the day, you will be donning shorts and t-shirts. Don’t forget your sunglasses, a decent hat and some sunscreen. The sun is very strong.
You don’t need to bring much to enjoy all that Purmamarca has to offer. The region is all about nature, landscapes and the people. Take care of the environment, collect moments (not just photos) and tell all of your friends to come to Argentina! We will be waiting for you 🙂