SALINAS GRANDES ARGENTINA: Everything You Need to Know Reading time: 11 minutes
The Salinas Grandes in Argentina sit right on the border between the Jujuy and Salta Provinces. They are the fourth largest salt flats in the world (Uyuni in Bolivia is the largest), and they are absolutely stunning. The Argentina salt flats cover an area of more than 3200 square miles, at an altitude of 3450 meters above sea level. And, surprisingly they are easy and affordable to get to!
The closest town to the Salinas Grandes is Purmamarca, a small desert village that sits at the base of the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors). You can come for a day trip to Purmamarca as many do, though I suggest spending a couple of days here at least.
Purmamarca is the best town to base yourself if you’re planning to see the Salinas Grandes Argentina (Argentina salt flats). All the information I provide in this blog post will be about getting to the salt flats from Purmamarca. Therefore, I will be discussing the Salinas Grandes Jujuy, and not the Salinas Grandes from the Salta side.
How much does it cost to go to the Salinas Grandes from Purmamarca?
The price from Purmamarca in a van: 1500 pesos (700 extra for the Ojo del Salar)
How long is the trip from Purmamarca to the Salinas Grandes?
The total trip time is 4 hours round-trip between Purmamarca and the Salinas Grandes Jujuy.
How do you get to the Salinas Grandes from Purmamarca?
There are several vans/buses that leave Purmamarca every day between 8 am-5 pm. The van will leave once it reaches capacity, about 15 people, so there is no set schedule. You shouldn’t have to wait more than 30 minutes. One block from the bus station, on the corner in front of the Despensa Tahiel, you’ll hear a man calling out “Salinas, Salinas.” Once you approach him, you’ll need to give him your name and pay the 1500 pesos ($7.50 USD). He will then wait until the van reaches full capacity before he leaves. Sundays are a bit more tricky, as fewer buses go. But you should have no problem Monday-Saturday.
What is included in the trip to the Salinas Grandes from Purmamarca?
There are two short stops that you’ll make along the fully paved highway to the Argentina Salt Flats. Both stops are for about 5-10 minutes each, just enough time to snap a few photos and jump back into the van. The first stop is at a lookout point, where you can see the road weaving up through the valley. The second stop is at the altitude sign for Jujuy (Cuesta de Lipan, Lipan Slope- the highest point in Jujuy), measuring 4170 meters high. This seems to be one of the most well-known photos as I had seen it several times while researching Jujuy.
What are the facilities like at the Salinas Grandes Argentina?
At the entrance of the Salinas Grandes Argentina, there are bathrooms available for 30 pesos ($0.12 USD) per person, including toilet paper. There is no soap/water to wash your hands, but there is hand sanitizer provided. There are also a few women selling empanadas and tortillas rellenas. I got a ham & cheese tortilla for 250 pesos ($1.25 USD). On one side of the parking lot, there is also a row of merchants selling items, made from salt at these Argentina salt flats.
What is the Ojo del Salar and is it worth it?
While the trip itself is 1500 pesos, you have the option of paying an additional 700 pesos ($3.50 USD) to go to the Ojo del Salar. Our driver explained this to us once we were all in the van together. It is totally optional. If you don’t want to go, you can get out of the van at the entrance to the salt flats, and spend one hour near the main entrance area. You’ll need to pay 200 pesos ($1 USD) to enter.
If you do want to go (everyone in our group went, except one person), just stay in the van. The extra 700 pesos includes a Spanish-speaking guide who will jump in the van once you reach the salt flats. The driver will then take you right out onto the salt flats, driving another 5-10 minutes. Once you get out of the van, the guide will explain how you need to walk in a line because the salt layer is fragile.
You’ll walk a couple of minutes to see the “ojo” (eye) of the Salar. It is a natural pool in the salt layer, revealing the water underneath. The guide explains a bit about this natural pool, then you’ll have several minutes to take photos in the area, though you’ll need to be more cautious of where you walk. Only the guide is allowed to take photos of you from one particular side so as to avoid unnecessary foot traffic and destruction.
After about 20-30 minutes, you’ll pile back in the van and head to the main entrance area where the many rows of water are. You’ll have about 30 minutes to spend in this area taking photos.
The total time is just over one hour at the Salinas Grandes Jujuy. If you don’t go to see the Ojo del Salar, you’ll have one hour near the main entrance. If you do go to the Ojo del Salar, your time will be divided between both places, about 30 minutes each.
What are the Argentina Salinas Grandes like?
Near the entrance to the Argentina Salt Flats, you’ll see expansive areas of white ground until the horizon line. It feels other-worldly. To the left, you will see tractors forming several lines, like small rivers. This is so they can extract layers of salt. You are allowed to go near these rivers and take pictures with them. Unfortunately, things do feel a bit rushed while you’re here. I would have liked to spend an entire hour in this area closer to the entrance. It’s so unique that I wanted to stay longer and see it a bit more.
Is a trip to the Salinas Grandes in Jujuy worth it?
It’s so worth it, in my opinion. It was easy to get there, took only 4 hours total, and was absolutely stunning. I wish we had an extra hour there to be honest, because it did feel a bit rushed at times. I feel I could have really taken in the surroundings and enjoyed it even more if I had just a bit more time. If you are able to take your own vehicle, then it would be ideal. The salt flats are like a giant white surface, with seams that look like a basketball. I had been looking forward to this for so long, and I was not disappointed.
What to bring to the Salinas Grandes Argentina
The first two stops were quite windy and cold. While the salt flats are very bright and sunny, it can still be quite cold, especially if you visit in the fall/winter months. I came in early June. You can also leave your jacket in the van if you wish.
It can get pretty hot and sunny once you’re at the salt flats. You definitely might want to peel off your layers once you get here!
This is absolutely essential. The salinas are one giant reflective surface. It is very bright here and having some sun protection will do you good.
As mentioned, the Salinas Grandes are bright! You’ll definitely be happy to have some eye protection out there.
Half of the drive between Purmamarca and the Salinas Grandes Argentina is a very twisty road. If you are prone to car sickness (it me!) then you may be relieved to have something to help you out!
The trip costs 1500 pesos, the Ojo del Salar is 700 pesos, the bathroom is 30 pesos, food is around 250 pesos. You want to be prepared for any of these things, just in case.
The round trip takes just over 4 hours. If you’re like me, a constant snacker, you’ll be glad to have a little extra. I was good with a bottle of water, an apple, and I also purchased a tortilla at the salt flats just before heading back to Purmamarca.
Cocoa leaves/cocoa candy
This region in Jujuy is quite high in altitude. You’ll even pass the famous Jujuy sign showing 4170m altitude. If you are not adjusted to the altitude, you might benefit from having a little assistance in this department. I spent a month in Cusco, Peru just before going to Jujuy, and I am from the Rocky Mountains originally, so I didn’t have any issues with altitude at all. But if you come from a place near sea level, you might be affected.
I like to bring my LifeStraw filter water bottle with me. You can’t always drink the water in Argentina, especially in the north of Argentina, so it’s best to protect yourself and use a water bottle with a drinking filter.
Are there other tours available to the Salinas Grandes Argentina?
Yes! If you prefer to go in a more organized group, you can certainly arrange that in advance. It might also be beneficial to you if you have less time. There are trips available that leave from Salta or San Salvador de Jujuy and visit both the Salinas Grandes Argentina and Purmamarca in the same day:
From Salta: Full-Day Trip to Salinas Grandes and Purmamarca
From Salta: Salinas Grandes, Purmamarca & Los Colorados Hike
From Jujuy: Salinas Grandes, Purmamarca & Los Colorados Hike
There is even a 2-day tour to visit both the Salinas Grandes and Iruya.
When is the best time to visit the Salinas Grandes Argentina?
I visited the Salinas Grandes Argentina in early June. The day was very sunny but also quite windy. I was fine wearing a sweater and jeans. You absolutely need sunglasses any time of the year that you go because the reflection of the white salt is very bright.
May to December in the north of Argentina is considered to be the dry season.
December to March is the wet season. You can still visit the Argentina salt flats in the wet season, it will just have a different vibe. Make sure to dress warmer.
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