Iruya - Best of North Argentina?

Iruya is a traditional village set in a stunning valley in North Argentina. There’s a few buses every day to and from Humahuaca - travel time is a little over three hours. Of all the villages I visited in this part of Argentina, Iruya has the most spectacular setting. It’s a great place to spend a bit of time hiking in the surrounding countryside.

The mountains around Iruya are huge, as are the cliffs and gorges. There’s various stunning day treks that can be undertaken individually - we took the two and a half hours relatively flat hike to San Isidro, which was a spectacular walk. There’s about 10 cheap, basic hospedajes in San Isidro, though when we visited we hardly saw any other tourists, nor were any restaurants open.

Longer treks can also be arranged locally in Iruya. Our Hospedaje owner told us of an amazing sounding 5 day hike to Nazareno, from where you can pick up a bus to La Quiaca on the Bolivian border. There’s even longer treks that can be arranged - you’ll need a tent, and would eat food in the homes of local families. As it can get so cold at night, you’ll need to come prepared with plenty of warm clothing. Our hospedaje owner said guides cost about ARG $60 (US $20) a day for such long trekking tours.

Iruya - Argentina
Iruya is my pick of all travel destinations in North Argentina. The setting of the village, and the surrounding countryside, really is stunning. Allow two nights at least.

There’s at least a dozen hotels / hospedajes in Iruya. Many are pretty basic and only cost ARG $10 per person in a shared room. Without doubt, the best budget option is Hospedaje Asunta (tel 0387 154045113), where we stayed in a double room for ARG $25 a night - stunning views from the patio, large clean rooms and big, clean shared bathrooms plus friendly, helpful owners. It’s a total bargain - from where buses drop you off in Iruya, walk straight uphill 100 metres to find it.

Many Argentina travel guides lend hearsay to Hostal Federico 3 - the place is totally overpriced at a whopping ARG $180 a night - avoid it. If you’re not travelling on a budget, you’re better of selecting Hosteria de Iruya (ARG $250 for a double with view), which is a lovely hotel with great views at the very top of the town. Hosteria de Iruya also has the only decent restaurant we found - and prices are only 20% more than the rubbish alternatives in the centre of the village.

Hosteria de Iruya is a little overpriced though - I got the same view for a tenth the price at Hospedaje Asunta. These are the two hotels I’d recommend in Iruya - select one according to your budget.

Leaving Iruya, most people travel North straight to Bolivia - there’s a 6 am bus departing Iruya daily (except Sundays) to Humahuaca (3 and a bit hours), from where there’s regular buses to La Quiaca on the border (2 and a bit hours) - so you’ll be in Bolivia by lunch time, and can easily pick up another bus onwards to Tupiza for example. If travelling from Bolivia, getting to Salta the same day is equally easy.

For more travel advice, there’s plenty more on this blog, alternatively see our Argentina travel guide or the subsection on Salta.

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