Yungas Cloud Forest

Yungas Cloud Forest

It is Autumn in Salta now, and rainy season is over.

As in much of the country which has suffered severe drought, this year we’ve had less rain in both Jujuy and Salta provinces, along with higher average temperatures between October and April and lower minimum temperatures from August to November.

Rainy season in north west Argentina is mainly January and February, with some precipitation (up to 100mm) in December and March. Generally, if you’re on a tour to Salta or Jujuy, you can be sure that once Easter is over it is pretty much dry until Christmas.

It gets quieter now in terms of tours to Argentina, and the cooler weather makes this THE best time to explore the more
sub-tropical areas of Salta and Jujuy.


Calilegua Cloud Forest is only a few hours northeast of Salta city, and as you’ll see from our Hiking page, we can visit on a three day trip walking trails which have hopefully now dried out after rainy season.


This is lush, sub-tropical vegetation, completely different to the arid, colourful Quebrada de Humahuaca to the west. It’s also called the Yungas which means “Warm Valley” in Quechua, the language of the Inca: Calilegua national park is home to 3,000 different varities of plant, 300 different types of birds and 100 different species of mammal. 


The vegetation changes dramatically rising from Selva Pedemontana (lower mountain jungle) at 500m altitude to Bosque Montana (mountain forest 2at 1,500m above sea level.


With an extra day in the picturesque hill town of San Francisco, on your private guided tour we can visit the hot springs of Termas del Jordan, in the river of the same name: as you can see from the photos on our Facebook page, we even saw capuchin monkeys on that trip.


For the intrepid hikers among you, now is the best time of year to make a four day trek from the Quebrada de Humahuaca to Calilegua, following the old trade route of indigenous people who met in the Quebrada to do trueque (bartering in which no money changes hands) with other tribes crossing from the Salinas Grandes salt flats and Altiplano to the west.


There is now a new road connecting Calilegua Cloud Forest with the Quebrada de Humahuaca, after decades of lobbying by locals to complete the gap between Valle Colorado at the north end of the Yungas and Santa Ana, an old mining town in the pre-Puna: only 15km in distance, but with more than 1,300m rise in altitude!


This dramatic mountain pass opened in October 2019, and was then promptly shut by a landslide during the rainy season of summer 2020… and then came the Covid shutdown.


With plenty of time suddenly on my hand, I finally completed a recce with my wife Alicia and son Calixto in June 2020, taking photos of the extraordinary change in scenery as we descended into the Yungas


For hikers, there is a stretch of the Camino Inca (Inca trail) here which is in excellent condition. Walking the Inca steps here, you’re immediately transported back to life before the Spanish arrived here 500 years ago.  

Outside Peru, Argentina has the most identifiable remains of Inca trail in South America, with 119km.


I returned with guests in December of that year: John and Christa from Florida joining us for their third long trip with Poncho Tours.

On these tours, we stay in the
rustic, homes of local families in San Francisco and Santa Ana which really adds to the authenticity of the experience.


As we’re in such remote locations with very little artificial light, we’re also rewarded with breath-taking views of the night sky.


San Francisco, incidentally, is where many of the original indigenous occupants of the Cloud Forest were moved to when it became a national park in 1979


When communications improved (well, there’s a bus from the nearby city of Libertador San Martin which takes about three hours), it was the go-to refuge for those people living in the steamy valleys of Jujuy’s sugar region seeking refuge from the punishing summer temperatures.


  •       Contact us now if you’d like to walk the Camino Inca and get off the beaten track in South America this year.
  •       Click here for our Cloud Forest map and here for our full 14 Colours & Cloud Forest circuit.






Jose Sisti
5 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Colours of Vallecito

A voyage of discovery into the untouched landscape between the Valles Calchaquies and the Quebrada del Toro, only accessible on foot, horse, or donkey.

This challenging hike covers 48 km over 3 days, rising to 3,558m altitude.

It follows the old trade route between the fertile valleys of the Calchaquies and Lerma and the mountain plateau.

You won't forget the experience of being far from the hubbub of modern life, in touch with the inner tranquility of times past.

This hiking tour combines perfectly with our Classic Wine route of the Valles Calchaquies Salta wine region.

3 Reviews verify
Andreas & Heidi w Dani
5 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Mountain Trekking in Iruya

This high-altitude trek through the multi-coloured hills around Iruya takes us into the heart of local communities untouched by the modern world.

We visit small settlements in the mountains surrounding the tiny hill town of Iruya, close to the Bolivian border. Following trails used for centuries by the locals, we stay with local indigenous families in tiny hamlets only accessible on foot. This trip is combined with a visit to the must see attractions sites of the UNESCO-protected Quebrada de Humahuaca, like the Seven Coloured hill of Purmamarca and the 14 Colours of Hornocal.

5 Reviews verify
Calilegua morning cloud pano
3 days
Group Size
1 to 4

Expedition to the Cloud Forest

Hiking verdant green trails in the sub-tropical Argentina Cloud Forest in Jujuy: an oasis of plants and birdlife.

This is part of the UNESCO region of the Yungas, which contains 300 different species of birds and 100 different types of mammal. Yungas is a word from the Inca language Quechua, meaning “Warm Valleys”.

For lovers of the holy grape, this trip can be combined with the emerging wine region of Jujuy province, Fourteen Colours and Cloud Forest or a
Bolivian wine tour.

Available April to November

Click here to view map route.

2 Reviews verify
6 days
Group Size
Up to 4

Mountains to Cloud Forest trekking

This is one of our most challenging north west Argentina hiking trips, recommended only for experienced trekkers: covering 58km over four days, we climb to an altitude of 4,200m, gradually descending to 1,325m, following the contours of mountain tracks along the way.

This hike offers a complete change in eco-system during four days: starting in the mountains which enfold the Quebrada de Humahuaca, we descend into the Yungas Cloud Forest of the east, following the trail of indigenous traders who travelled between the salt flats and the sub-tropical jungle.

There is an extraordinary range of landscape in these four days, and a warm welcome for modern hikers from the families in the refuges where we sleep overnight.

Available April to November.