Ruta 40

Getting to know the fantastic Route 40: secrets and beauties

A country that has so much to visit needs a road that helps to travel around the best it has. All along the Andes mountain range there is a road that goes through the country with the most changing and marvelous geography from one end to the other.

National Road Nº40 is the longest and spectacular one of Argentina. A unique road as every place it goes through. All along the 5,200 kilometers, from its 0Km in Cabo Vírgenes in the Province of Santa Cruz to La Quiaca in the altitude of Jujuy. It links three regions: Patagonia, Cuyo and North and it goes through 11 provinces.

It reaches up to 5,000 meters above sea level. It crosses 236 bridges and 18 significant rivers; it surrounds 13 big lakes and salt pans; it allows for access to 20 Provincial Reservoirs and National Parks; it connects 27 Andean crossings, it crosses 60 towns and cities and 5 world heritage sites: Los Glaciares National Park, Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands), Ischigualasto Natural Provincial Park, Talampaya National Park and the Quebrada de Humahuaca (Humahuaca Gorges). National Road N° 40 is, beyond any doubt, the best way to discover Argentina.

Its itinerary allows for amazing experiences and gives you the possibility of practising and getting to know many of the touristic products of the country such as fishing, snow, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, rural tourism, great cuisine, the wine road and touristic trains.

Travelling all around Cuyo
In the Cuyo region, the Route 40 goes through vineyards and wineries which mark the landscaping in La Rioja, Mendoza and San Juan provinces. Cuyo is characterized by endless lines of poplars aligned with roads, protecting the crops from the dry and warn wind called Zonda.

Near Bardas Blancas, in the South of Mendoza, the path is quite close to the Caverna de las Brujas (Cave of the Witches), a labyrinth of karst formation cavities and beautiful stalactites. By Malargüe, there is one of the largest astrophysical observatories that exist: batteries of tanks for cosmic ray detection of the Pièrre Auger complex.

The Maipú Volcano, in the Argentine-Chilean border, to the West of Mendoza, falls over the mirror of the Diamante Lagoon. T This remote and beautiful region can be accessed from the old and new Route Nº40.

One of the newest artificial dams of the country is located in San Juan, in the Cuesta del Viento, a step away from Route Nº40. Located in the 30 parallel there is a place which has been turned into an International Windsurf Center due to strong and constant winds. From Iglesia and Pismanta towns, famous for their hot baths, a route crosses from San Juan to La Serena, in Chile through Agua Negra (4.765 m). It goes right next to the extended fields of ice needles, called Penitentes.

In La Rioja, Route Nº 40 connects through the Miranda hill the plains of La Rioja to the Río Bermejo Valley through an incomparable scenario controlled by three colors: red for rocks, green for vegetation and blue for the sky.

Travelling to the North
In Catamarca, the archealogical remains of Shincal have been reconstructed and today they are one of the main touristic attractions. The Cuesta de Zapata (Zapata slope) offers a unique adventure only for four-wheel drive vehicles. A path which date from the 1770 can also be enjoyed; this path leads to the historic chapel of Hualfín.

In Salta, close the border with Jujuy, RN 40 moves apart from RN 51 and reaches the snowed volcano of Abra del Acay, the province’s highest altitude, with 4.895 m. above sea level. As in many other high mountain paths, the native population built “apachetas” (shrines): altars formed by stones, picked and/or deposited by horsemen or walkers in thanksgiving to the Pachamama for the good trip.

One of the most traditional towns located in the periphery of the Los Cardones National Park is Cachi which has a church whose interior – floor, roof, and altarpiece – made of cardon wood. Next to the church, the building of the magnificent Archeology Museum is located.

It is convenient to stop in Tucumán to taste a typical dish of the North region: locro.
According to the classical recipe, this stew is made on the basis of smashed white corn, charqui (dried meat), potatoes or sweet potatoes and pumpkin.

In Jujuy, most of the families have small cattle such as sheep, goats, and llamas which are cared by shepherds with devotion and affection. In the Abra Pampa town, the experimental station of INTA (National Institute of Agricultural Technology) to breed vicunas can be seen these graceful American camels in their pastures.

Very close to Abra Pampa, at Jujuy’s Puna, visitors can find the Valle de la Luna II, a wine-brownish color hollow.


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