The bounty of nature around Salta is staggering. Most of the landscape is untouched, and there are plenty of gorges and canyons and volcanic peaks to negotiate. The city is a good base to go farther and explore the eerie salt plains, known as Salinas, and the multicolored mountain ranges of Humahuaca, in Jujuy province to the north. Volcan Higueras, Mendoza 453, Salta (tel. 387/431-9175; www.volcanhigueras.com.ar), and Silvia Magno, San Juan 2399 (tel. 387/434-1468; email@example.com), conduct 1-day excursions to both places. Agencia del Peregrino, Alvarado 351 (tel. 387/422-9440; www.agenciadelperegrino.com.ar), specializes in tours of the beautiful hilltop villages of Cachi and Purmamarca.
Bird-Watching -- Eco-tourism is gaining popularity in the area due to the abundance of wildlife. One- to 4-day safaris and bird-watching expeditions are organized by Clark Expediciones, Caseros 121, Salta (tel. 387/421-5390; www.clarkexpediciones.com), an excellent local outfitter. Their bird-watching trips run from half a day to 2 days, and the highlight is usually seeing the immense Andean condor soaring over the mountains.
Horseback Riding -- Finca Lesser (tel. 387/155-827-332 [cell]; www.redsalta.com/fincalesser) is a private nature reserve 15km (9 1/3 miles) from the city center. Here you can do half-day or full-day horseback riding along river valleys and lush hills. Los Amigos, Quebrado de San Lorenzo (tel. 387/492-7033), organizes horseback riding in the hills of San Lorenzo overlooking the city. Sayta (tel. 387/156-836-565 [cell]; www.sayta.com.ar) organizes 1-day excursions to a ranch 40km (25 miles) south of the city, costing $70 (£47), including lunch and transfer.
Mountain Biking -- Salta Rafting, Buenos Aires 88, Local 14 (tel. 387/401-0301; www.saltarafting.com), takes you in 4WD to a mountaintop 3,600m (9,843 ft.) high, where you start an exhilarating 45km (28-mile) descent. MTB Salta, Gral. Güemes 569 (tel. 387/422-8317; www.mtbsalta.com), also organizes mountain bike excursions as well as canoe trips on Campo Alegre dam.
Paragliding -- Amazing Mountains, Juramento 466, Salta (tel. 387/422-3179), has trips to jump off San Lorenzo hill and do kite buggying on Salinas salt plains for $33 (£22) and $86 (£58) a day, respectively.
Trekking -- Adventure Life Journeys, 1655 S. 3rd St. W., Missoula, MT 59801 (tel. 800/344-6118 or 4065/412677; www.adventure-life.com), offers some of the best-organized treks in the region, usually beginning and ending in Buenos Aires. Their popular 9-day Northwest trek through Salta, Cafayate, and Cachi runs about $1,695 (£1,149) per person, everything included. Mandes Travel Europe, Leguizamón 1308, Salta (tel. 387/422-7873; www.andesmoto.com), organizes 1-day trekking and motorbike excursions from Salta. Turismo San Lorenzo, J.C. Dávalos 960, San Lorenzo (tel. 387/492-1757; www.turismosanlorenzo.com), organizes treks through San Lorenzo, starting at $60 (£41) per day.
Watersports -- Rafting and windsurfing are popular in the Dique Cabra Corral, 70km (43 miles) south of Salta. For more information, contact Salta Rafting, Buenos Aires 88, Local 14 (tel. 387/401-0301; www.saltarafting.com), and Active Argentina, Zuviria 982, Salta (tel. 387/431-1868).
Spas & Wellness Centers -- All the better hotels have spa facilities. Touch Relax Urbano, Lerma 289, Salta (tel. 387/431-7032), and Spa Urbano, Caseros 121, Depto. 1 (tel. 387/154-537-231 [cell]), are two city clinics offering massages and skin care treatments. Masaje Terapéutico, at Dean Funes and Gral. Güemes (tel. 387/425-3775), is a small massage center that will also visit your hotel. Don Numas Spa, Pompilio Guzman 1470 (tel. 387/492-1296; www.spadonnumas.com.ar), is a small lodge in San Lorenzo with a relaxing spa that is open to day visitors.