Created in 1996, Los Cardones National Park may best be known for its scenic portion of the Calchaquies Valley, which offers visitors a glimpse of the unique mountainous/tropical geography of Argentina's Salta province. In fact, the ride here from Salta is almost as impressive as the park itself, winding you up a particularly breathtaking stretch of Route 33 known as the Cuesta del Obispo. Once you've managed the road's steep elevation changes, however, it will be time to trek or ride through the park's arid, scenic landscape, encountering a striking array of colors, desert wildlife, cardon bush and unusually large native cacti reminiscent of the American west. There are also several rivers encompassed by Los Cardones, providing plenty of opportunities for aquatic exploration and adventure.
Nearby towns such as Cachi and Cachi Adentro act as more immediate base camps, offering a great introduction to the area's simple, authentic lifestyle, as well as an opportunity to sample some of the province's less renowned (but still delicious) wines.
Location:100 km (62 miles) SW of Salta City, Salta, Argentina