Inca Trails Cattle Drive

Salta Argentina: (IT-CHCD02)

Salta Argentina
For centuries, the beginning of Fall, marks the time when gauchos round up cattle grazing the open range. It is time to get ready for Winter.

After driving cattle to the ancient corrals, the task is sorting, branding, doctoring. A lot of work and adrenaline, joy and excitement as the time has come to sell some and cash in a year of hard work. 

This is the perfect program to enjoy horses to its maximum, fully blending with the rider. It is for a small group of experienced riders, willing to experience the authentic, essential and unspoiled life of the gaucho and cattle drives in the Andes. You will be required to ride your horse off track in steep mountain terrain. I hope you can join us in this unique adventure that runs just once a year.

We go up to 3000 m (9000 ft) where the forest changes to high altitude grassland. This is the homeland of the Andean condor. As the sun sets, the spectacular stars of the southern hemisphere will cover the sky. Relax at the camp with its peaceful atmosphere. The campfire lightens up the darkness of the night as you share a cup of coffee, tea or mate. All this creates the ideal ambiance to feel the timeless spirit of nature and make new friends.


This is a progressive ride, so nights will be spent in different locations.

The first and last nights are spent in a boutique hotel in Salta, 4 nights in a cabin in Peñas Blancas, and 2 nights in cabin in Amblayo.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1: Hotel in Salta (Hotel del Virrey or similar)
Night 2, 3, 4, & 5: Peñas Blancas
Night 6 & 7: Amblayo
Night 8: Hotel in Salta (Hotel del Virrey or similar)

Hotel del Virrey in Salta
Well located in the center of Salta and very close to the main street of bars and Penas (traditional venue featuring folkloric dancing), this is a small, simple but comfortable hotel decorated in a traditional colonial style. Its friendly staff and intimate atmosphere with only 8 rooms make for a pleasant stay in one of Argentina's most attractive cities.

Peñas Blancas
Here is the 3000 hectares ranch where we breed cattle. The accommodations are basic cabins. By no means can be considered a lodge, hotel or any of the sort- but authentic and better than tenting. We sleep in beds but there is no bathroom or showers.
Amblayo is a small town with 150 inhabitants. We stay at the house of one of the local families. Also a simple, basic but very authentic home of a local family. Bathroom with hot shower available.

Room Occupancy

Single rooms are only available at the boutique hotels on the first and last night of the trip.

All meals are included during this trip.

Meals on the trail are made the old fashioned way on the campfire: simple, home made and abundant. In the exact manner that life is in those far away places. It is this which makes them unforgettable.
At lunch we stop for a picnic.

Wine is included at dinner.

Dietary Restrictions
We are able to cater to vegetarians and celiacs if notified ahead of time. We cannot cater to vegans.

This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.


We will be riding at high altitude, often above 6000-9000 feet.
The pace is slow with a few trots and canters during most of the trail due to the terrain. This allows to enjoy the scenery, the conversation, take pictures, etc.
The average riding day includes 3 hours on horseback in the morning and 3 to 4 hours in the saddle during the afternoon with plenty of intermediate stops to take pictures, spend some time at specific points of interest, etc.
6 riding days (1 day round-up, 3 days cattle drive, 2 days trail riding), 6-9 hrs /day.

We assign horses according to each rider's preference. We have plenty of horses, some are more challenging while others are very easy to handle. They are sure-footed as they were all born and raised in the mountains.

Safety measures
The trails are well known by our guides. In those places we believe risky, we step down the horse and walk. In case of emergency, our guides are trained and know what to do. We carry radio equipment in case of emergency. We consider a must that all our guests follow our guide's instructions.


Sample itinerary - subject to changes

Day 1 (Saturday): Arrival
Plan to arrive at Salta airport any time before 4 PM. Pick up at local airport. We will visit the MAAM (Museum of High Altitude Archaeology). Recently opened to show the items found at an Inca human sacrifice site on top of the Llullaillaco volcano (6730 mts - 18000 ft. high). It holds the best preserved mummies worldwide. Check in at boutique hotel. Enjoy a welcome dinner with your guide.
Meals included: Dinner
Overnight at Hotel in Salta

Day 2 (Sunday): Cattle round up and horseback ride
After breakfast, we will drive to meet our horses. The drive takes us along the Cuesta del Obispo and its breathtaking views and the Cardones National Park where you can usually spot guanacos (Andean camelidae). This is a program on its own. We reach Peñas Blancas (2750 meters high) where we meet the horses and gauchos. Lunch. In the afternoon we ride the lifeline this valley has had for centuries while we start looking for the cattle spread all over. On our way we can see, here and there, the small houses made with mud and archeological remains of ancient settlements. We stop to see the ancient pictographs painted by local Indians centuries ago. We will visit Isonza which is a working ranch with its ancient way of life still intact and Leuca Burgos who makes goat cheese. The way they milk the goats, make cheese, grow their crops is centuries old and inherited from Inca times. On the way there are herds of wild donkeys set free by the Spanish Conquistadors. 
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Peñas Blancas (rooms with beds, no bathroom)

Day 3 (Monday): Cattle round up
After breakfast we get ready to ride. The whole day will be dedicated to screen the area and round up cattle. The ride takes us West at the beginning until we reach the very steep Chilo slopes which divide two valleys. The view is magnificent and makes us feel the power of nature. Lunch on the way. By sunset we should be able to arrive to the corrals with not one cow left behind.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Peñas Blancas (rooms with beds, no bathroom)

Day 4 (Tuesday): Cattle work
The corrals we will be working in were built in mud over 200 years ago and ever since used. Get ready to start sort, brand, doctor, etc. each of the cows and calfs. A lot of work and adrenaline while the local Food and Drug Administration officers check the health of the heard. It is now when gaucho and horse blend together in a reining exhibition that made them world famous. You can just decide to relax and watch or get into the corral and join the gauchos!
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Peñas Blancas (rooms with beds, no bathroom)

Day 5 (Wednesday): Cattle delivery
After breakfast we will finish whatever work is left from the day before. After that, we will drive the cattle that will be delivered to the market. It is a drive to Ovejería where the cattle truck will arrive to load the cattle. Horseback ride back to Peñas Blancas to spend the night.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Peñas Blancas (rooms with beds, no bathroom)

Day 6 (Thursday): Ride to Amblayo 
The riding today is mainly South. We will go past Yaslaguala. The giant cactii are all over and set the stage. After lunch, we ride to Amblayo town (2400 meters high) where we will spend the night. It has only 150 dwellers and its main means of transportation is on horseback. It is renowned for its goat cheese. Sense the feeling of arriving on horseback to this tiny town with almost no cars! An unforgettable experience. To get there we will ride first through archaeological areas where you can see pieces of painted pottery scattered around. We have a look with agreement not to remove any of the findings.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in Amblayo (rooms with beds, bathroom with hot water)

Day 7 (Friday): Ride through Sierra Pelada
After breakfast enjoy this picturesque town. Visit its ancient chapel and its 17th century paintings brought from Peru, have a chat with its neighbors. After lunch we ride to the foothills of the Sierra Pelada. These multicoloured hills are unique. We will also ride the Río Salado which is a great place for cantering! Traditional goat barbecue at dinner.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in Amblayo (rooms with beds, bathroom with hot water)

Day 8 (Saturday): High Altitude Wineries
After breakfast, drive to Cachi. This area is known for high altitude vineyards (most 2000 to 2500 meters high). It has just 1% of all vineyards in Argentina but gets 10% of total investments. This means just one thing: high quality. Some of Argentinas best wines are made here. So your Argentinean experience would not be complete without a private visit to a local winery and taste some of their best wines. Lunch and 3 hours transfer to Salta city. Check in at boutique hotel. Dinner not included.
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
Overnight at Hotel in Salta

Day 9 (Sunday): Departure
Breakfast. Transfer to airport. End of program.
Meals included: Breakfast



Salta city tour:
We walk and drive the city with a guide. Its colony time buildings bring to life the way the city was at the time of the Spanish Conquistadors.

Quebrada de Humahuaca:
Trip to Humahuaca Creek. Walk the ancient indian fortress in Tilcara. We reach Purmamarca and the 7 Colors Hill. Lunch. See a few of the small and picturesque towns along the creek.

Cafayate and its wineries:
The road to Cafayate shows us very curious rock shapes (the amphitheater, the toad, the Titanic, etc.). In Cafayate we will visit the world renowned vineyards and wineries for wine tasting. The Torrontés variety is regarded as best in class and exported all over.

Rates and Dates for Inca Trails Cattle Drive

Rates include:

Accommodations, All meals including wine with dinner, 6 riding days & Salta city airport transfers.
Saddlebags are provided

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    20209 day trip, AP$1790
    • Small group supplement, dbl, pp (4-5 pax only)$180
      Small group supplement, dbl, pp (2-3 pax only)$390

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:

2020 Transfers from Salta Airport included at set times $0
2020 Single supplement for hotels (during ride- shared rooms) $100
2020 Extra days/nights or extra activities -- please inquire $0

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 10/03 - 10/11 9d / 8n 9 day trip, AP 6 /10 Reserve
A 2020 10/10 - 10/18 9d / 8n 9 day trip, AP 6 /10 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Travel and medical insurance (mandatory) & Gratuities
Bring your own sleeping bag


Due to COVID-19 Corona virus pandemic and certain travel restrictions we are applying some temporary policy changes to some of our tours.

For Inca Trails Cattle Drive (IT-CHCD02):

We will apply the highest possible flexibility to reschedule your booking. In some cases, this will mean individually booking a later departure and in some other, setting a new date for a departure that will not be able to run. We will work on a case by case scenario.

We are ready to run but waiting for Government authorizations. For example, flights into Argentina are still not allowed. It is scheduled for September 1st.
There are departures with bookings confirmed starting October.

For more information please visit our COVID-19 Updates page at

Other Info
Meeting: Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport
Airport: Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport
Transfer: Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport

                                                        Salta area














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Source: NOAA

This ride can take place all year round as the weather always stays mild. It is usually sunny and nice in the day but the temperature drops at night to zero or even less as it is a dessert. The program is subject to the natural weather contingencies involved in an environment like this. There is a rainy season that stretches from December to March!

Summer is usually mild, not very warm even though we are far north in Argentina. This is because the Calchaquí Valleys are dry and we stay on average over 6000 feet. At noon the temperature reaches 29ºC (84F) but at night and during the morning it goes down to 10ºC (50F).
It might rain someday but these are short. Nevertheless, do not despair! The experience of riding under the rain is very special and provides close contact with nature, something we are looking for. This is why we ask everyone to bring a cloak. We can dry all that gets wet where we spend the night.

During Winter, the temperature reaches 20-25ºC (68-77F) during the day, but at night and during the morning it goes down to 5ºC (41F). This is the dry season so rains are unlikely.

What To Bring:
In case you do not have some of the items, we will be happy to help you get them.
During the ride it is much better to keep your personal clothing and items light! Normally, you only use half of what you take along. As these are pack trips we provide saddlebags to place your personal items. You can leave everything you will not need at the starting point and pick it back upon return (except Crossing of the Andes).

Clothing and Luggage
  • Two changes of clothes: loose pants, long sleeve shirts which protect better from the sun than t-shirts. For the cold weather it is better to carry along a few thin warm clothes (t-shirts, undershirts, etc) than only one thick garment. Polar sweaters do well both in summer and winter
  • Warm undershirt and underpants
  • Waterproof jacket and/or poncho
  • Hat (not a cap) and riding helmet
  • Neckerchief
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Swimsuit
  • Trekking shoes or riding boots
  • Half chaps
  • Sneakers (the ones that can get wet)
  • Rain cape.
  • Personal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrush, tooth paste, etc, in small packaging
  • Small towel
  • Larger towel to leave at the base camp
  • Wet tissues (optional)
  • No specific vaccine is mandatory in this region but as for any outdoors activity we recommend tetanus vaccine
  • Personal medicine
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent (optional)
  • Sunglasses
  • Prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Water bottle
  • Small flashlight and batteries
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Camera and/or filming machine, batteries and film. There is no chance to recharge batteries during ride
  • Medical and accident insurance details
  • Photocopy of documents. For the Crossing of the Andes: original IDs or passport with corresponding visas.
The luggage weigh limit per person is 10 kilos. Before we start the ride, we will give you saddlebags where you can pack all the clothing you will carry for the ride. In this ride, we start the trip on one location and end it on another in another country. Therefore, as the rest of your luggage has to be carried on mules, please use a flexible bag and not hard cases.