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Into Argentina

December 4, 2012

From San Pedro de Atacama there are two local passes that allow you to pass into Argentina. The first and most popular is Paso de Jama which is paved all the way and the second is Paso de Sico which is unpaved. After our exertions on Bolivia’s Southwest Circuit we decided that we would take the Paso de Jama – and this was the most direct route to Salta anyway.

upland wetlands

Before leaving San Pedro you have to visit customs and immigration, even though the actual border is 100 miles away. After this the road starts climbing and climbing up to 4500m and past the entry to Bolivia and the Bolivian Southwest circuit as we kept driving through the high pass towards Argentina.

Salar on Paso de Jama

Next to a large salt lake we came across a film crew of around 100 people who were sitting down for lunch which they generously shared with us. They were waiting for sunset to capture 1 shot before driving back down into Chile.

A bit further on we came across a couple of fellow travellers who waved us down. These were an odd couple of a Polish backpacker, Michael, and an Argentinian cyclist, Aerial. Aerial’s bike was literally falling apart and he was desperate to get home to Buenos Aries. We gave them a lift to the border post – a bit of a squash in the cab as we’ve only got two seats but with 30 kms left to go and very little traffic they were more than grateful for the uncomfortable ride.

Michael & Arial

The Argentinian border post was pretty deserted and we passed through quickly and kept driving through the mountains. The road passes a big salt flat called Salinas Grande which is mined for salt. We stopped for the night in a small gravel pit where we could get some shelter from the wind.

Down from Paso de Jama

From here it was a few hours easy drive down to Salta after driving through the town of Purmamarca and the beautiful multi-hued canyon it’s in.

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