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1,620km (1,004 miles) NW of Buenos Aires; 90km (56 miles) N of Salta

Quechuan women wearing colorful ponchos walk with babies strapped to their backs, while horses, cows, and goats graze on the surrounding vegetation. Look closely and you might spot a gaucho charging after his herd. Lush fields become increasingly dry and give way to striking rock formations and rainbow-colored mountain ranges so unusual they have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quebrada de Humahuaca is a 150km (93-mile) strip of land that brings you dangerously close to Bolivia, both in body and spirit. The fiery red ridges and copper-green plateaus hide timeless villages with genuine indigenous charm and picturesque architecture. The area is a must-see, with 1-day excursions possible from Salta or the provincial capital San Salvador de Jujuy. Better still, stay in one of the many charming boutique lodges that are popping up in the area, particularly in Tilcara.

Tilcara -- Its narrow cobbled streets and low colonial buildings have a dusty yellow hue. If you're lucky enough to find yourself alone, you may feel like you're on the set of an eerie spaghetti western just before the shootout. But chances are you will not be alone. Tilcara is gaining a reputation, becoming a thriving tourist town and the center of operations for those who want to explore the area further. Visitors include artists inspired by the landscape and Carnaval lovers who enjoy a good party.