A small town that hangs from the mountain, at 2,780 meters high. A place for adventurers looking to get off the beaten track. A destination where silence, tranquility and a return to the roots reign, where no one is in a hurry and the nap time is sacred.
This is Iruya, a town that belongs to the province of Salta, but which is accessed from Jujuy and if the weather allows it, of course, because the rains in summer, for example, usually cut the road.
How to get there
There are several options to get to Iruya: private vehicle, excursion or collective, with two lines that travel daily, Transporte Iruya and Panamericano.
The village of Iruya in the middle of the mountains. Photo Shutterstock
On those buses the experience is almost like a movie. On the one hand, at each stop there is a vendor with tortillas or empanadas, and a singer of coplas. On the other, the vertiginous cornice road is an adventure and the landscape, beautiful. The mountain always accompanies on the left and the precipice, on the right.
Numerous curves and streams of water are crossed and there is the question of height: in the place Abra del Cóndor you reach 4,000 meters above sea level. From there the descent begins.
When the church of San Roque and Nuestra Señora del Rosario is visible in the distance, it means that we are close. As we move forward with the collective, the typical postcard of this town is formed, which has around 1,500 inhabitants, low buildings, cobbled streets with intense climbs and the great yellow chapel.
What to do in the village
As soon as tourists set foot in Iruya, vendors greet them with local foods, weaving and handicrafts.
Calm and tranquility in one of the streets of Iruya.
The locals walk around with typical clothes, especially women, who wear long skirts, hats and woven purses or backpacks.
In the local gastronomy, the recipes also follow ancestral traditions. Quinoa, chauchas and a huge variety of Andean potatoes (oca, tuni, churqueña, colorada, runa, among others) are the most used ingredients. Recommended dishes: green potato stew, quinoa stew and quinoa cake.
There are two classic mountain hikes among visitors. One is towards the Mirador de la Cruz and the other, towards the Mirador del Cóndor. They are on opposite sides of the town and offer amazing panoramas.
If you have to choose, the second is the most recommended, because it allows you to contemplate condors a few meters away. Of course, you have to arm yourself with patience because it is a difficult journey, of constant ascent and that can demand up to three hours.
The church, classic postcard of Iruya, Salta. Photo Shutterstock
For those who are not just passing through this town, the visit to San Isidro, a small town 8 km, higher up the mountain, is a must. In the rainy season (December to March) it can only be accessed on foot or on horseback. The tour is full day.
The trail goes along the riverbed; It does not have a steep slope, but the terrain is complicated, with many stones, and the watercourse is crossed several times. If you are walking, you have to be prepared to get wet, and much more than just the ankles.
The access to the village, which seems stopped in time, is a stone staircase. A sign reads "Welcome to San Isidro." There is a white chapel, a viewpoint and a small hostel where you can eat empanadas.