What is it?

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The Quebrada de Humahuaca is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The sides of the mountains here range in hue from ochre to gray to deep reds and greens. “Quebrada” translates to gulley or ravine in English, which doesn’t do justice to the place. The slopes of the Quebrada are lama territory, often covered with cacti and interspersed with archeological ruins pre-dating the arrival of the Inca Empire. These mountains will awaken the hidden geologist in anyone. There are several small villages spread along the Quebrada, each with its own flavor, each with a particular attraction.

As you follow route 9 from San Salvador to La Quiaca, make sure you keep in mind that the altitude increases as you go along. Take it easy while you’re visiting, and go progressively if you can to let your body adapt to the altitude and lack of oxygen – a direct trip from sea level in Buenos Aires to La Quiaca, at close to 3,500 meters, may leave your head woozy and your stomach upset from soroche, or altitude sickness. So just remember to rest as much as you need to; just listen to your body, and you should be fine.
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The Humahuaqueños say that the Quebrada de Humahuaca exerts a certain power over its visitors – many travelers who come through end up returning, once, several times, some even settle there. Visiting this region almost requires that you listen to the song “El Humahuaqueño” performed among others by the famous northern band Los Nocheros. Recounting the Humahuaca carnival, the song is a great example of the musical folklore of northwestern Argentina, definitely a far cry from the milonga. Many musicians from all over the country, and abroad, live in the Quebrada, and you can count on hearing live music whatever the time of day or time of year.

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