North of Salta, on the border with Jujuy, lies one of Argentina’s top wonders, the Salinas Grandes. This is a salt flat that, while not as big as the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia, is still a spectacle to see.
These salt flats are still extremely large (320 km or 200 miles) and sit at 3450 meters (11,320 feet). This puts these as the 4th largest salt flat in the world! If that’s not reason enough to visit this part of Argentina, then I don’t know what is.
In this guide, I’ll go over how to reach this area, what tours are best, and what they entail.
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Where is Salinas Grandes Located?
If you’re interested in visiting these salt flats, you’ll have to head to the Jujuy region. The closest town to them is Purmamarca. The total trip time from the town to the salt flats is around 4 hours round trip or maybe less.
Many people stay in the town of Prumamarca to see El Cerro de los Siete Colores, Salinas Grandes, and everything the town has to offer.
There are plenty of amazing things to do in Jujuy, Argentina and this is one of them!
How to Get to Purmamarca, Argentina
If you’re like us and coming from Humahuaca, head to the bus station. Ask around or go to one of the booths and ask for Purmamarca.
We got on a bus, and someone came around and punched us a ticket to where we were headed. The cost was around $1,000 pesos, but it’s changing daily.
If you’re coming from Salta, go to their bus station and do the same thing. There will be booths offering service here. Two possible companies are Balut and Tramat.
After we hiked El Cerro de los Siete Colores, we took a bus to Tilcara, where we hiked to La Garganta del Diablo Waterfall.
How to Get from Purmamarca to Salinas Grandes
Once you’ve made the decision to stay in Purmamarca, now it’s time to plan your trip to the Salinas Grandes! It’s easy to take a tour from the town center on any given day but especially Monday through Saturday.
Salinas Grandes Tours
If you are in Purmamarca, head towards the bus station. On the road from the city center to the bus station, there will be guys yelling “Salinas.”
They are going to sell you a tour/ride to the salt flats, but they’ll only go when the van is full. It’s super affordable but the cost in pesos can differ.
Around the time that I was there, it cost around $8 USD, which at the time of my writing will be around 9,000 pesos.
Once you leave, it will be around four hours until you’re back in Purmamarca.
I have heard that there is public transport but the tour is cheap enough that I don’t think there’s a real need in doing it.
The tour from town is nice because you know for sure you’ll have a ride back and don’t have to wait.
Salta to Salinas Grandes
Even though I stayed up in Humahuaca first before heading down to Salta, I didn’t visit these salt flats until I was in Salta for a couple of weeks. It’s the way things worked out for me.
If I were you, I’d stay a couple nights up in a town in the Jujuy province if you’re interested in visiting Salinas Grandes.
The tour we took was through Uquía Turismo and it’s their office is located right at the city center in Plaza 9 de Julio.
It cost us $24 USD each, which was a good deal because going by public transportation would cost nearly the same.
Driving a rental car here is easy and the roads are well maintained. You won’t have any issues finding your way.
Things to Know Before Visiting Salinas Grandes
Even if you decide to go on a tour of the salt flats, there are a few things you should know before going. After all, this is a desert climate, so it’s best to be prepared!
Things to Bring
Keep in mind that this area of Argentina is a desert. If you come here during the summer, expect hot days with a lot of sun. It can get cold in the morning but usually warms up in the afternoon.
Here are some things to bring that I never leave without:
What do the Tours Offer?
If you’re taking the tour from Purmamarca to the salt flats, then there are two spots you’ll be stopping at before arriving. The first will be a viewpoint to look out at the winding road.
The second is the highest point along this road that you’ll reach. There’s a stone that you can take pictures at and you’ll be high up! You’ll reach heights of 4,170 meters (or 13,680 feet).
Salinas Grandes Altitude Sickness
This next part correlates perfectly with what I talked about above. This area of Argentina is high in elevation and you should take the proper precautions when traveling here.
Altitude sickness is possible, but to help with it, I’d suggest drinking plenty of water. You can also take ibuprofen, which has helped me in the past. Ultimately, it’s always a good idea to have altitude medicine from a doctor or pharmacy if you plan on reaching high altitude.
If you’re taking the tour from Salta, then there are a few more things added that you’ll do. You’ll make those same stops along the way, but after visiting Salinas Grandes, you’ll be given time to explore Purmamarca.
We also all went and ate lunch at a fantastic restaurant together.
There is an entrance fee of around $5 USD but this won’t apply to you if you went on a tour. But there’s an added area that will cost extra money, which I will go over shortly.
Either way, the entrance fee is well worth it to see everything here. This price shouldn’t stop you from experiencing it. If you do plan to go to the Uyuni Salt Flats, then maybe skip this one.
Ojo del Salar
Further inside the Salt Flats is a place called Ojo del Salar, or Eye of the Salt Flat. The cost was minimal but it’s a large circle in the middle of the salt flat.
This circle is filled with water, making it almost like a little lake or pond. We took photos here, and it was cool to gaze inside it to see what was there.
Bathrooms and Food
There isn’t many options for food inside the salt flats but there is a restaurant right outside the entrance that I heard was pretty good. You can get a good meal and use their bathrooms for around 5,000 pesos.
At the entrance, there will be bathrooms for use, but they cost around 100 pesos for us at the time.
Best Time to Visit Salinas Grandes
If you want to lower your chance of it raining during your trip to these salt flats, head here during the months of May to December. This is the dry season in this part of Argentina.
If you do it during the rainy season, there might be more opportunities for unique photos as there’ll be more reflections on the salt flats.
Best Places to Stay in Purmamarca
- Hotel Marqués De Tojo: If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay, look no further than the Marques de Tojo. You’ll fall in love immediately; I guarantee it.
- Hostal Paseo de los Colorados: Looking for something cheaper with free breakfast? Hostal Paseo de los Colorados has you covered!
My Experience of the Salinas Grandes in Jujuy: Is it Worth It?
If you’re already planning on visiting Bolivia and the Uyuni Salt Flats, you might want to skip this adventure. But if you want to see Northern Argentina and are visiting Purmamarca, you might as well stop by!
I had already seen this region a couple of weeks earlier, but we decided last minute to visit these salt flats when my girlfriend arrived. It was a good price to see the town of Purmamarca and these salt flats.
Personally, I think it was rushed a little bit but it does take three hours to get to Purmamarca from Salta. We didn’t get as much time to explore the town because lunch took a long time.
The things they take you to do in Salinas Grandes don’t compare to those in Bolivia. If you do want to come visit these salt flats, I highly suggest staying in the town of Purmamarca for a few nights when doing so.
Final Thoughts About Visiting Salinas Grandes in Jujuy, Argentina
Overall, I think it’s a good experience visiting these salt flats if you’ve never seen something like it. It’s an affordable tour either from Salta or Purmamarca. Jujuy is a magical place and if you visit this area in Northern Argentina, you might as well stop by the salt flats!