Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The multicoloured hills of Humahuaca

Humahuaca Independence Monument


Humahuaca a small town around an hour further North of Tilcara. The town is dominated by the giant "Independence Monument" that towers above the little town square.

Looking down from the monument


The town square 

From the monument there are sweeping views of the town and the coloured mountains behind the town.

Humahuaca from the top of the monument


Also within the town is a 16th Century church (one if the oldest in Argentina) and the newer town hall which boasts an animatronic Saint who comes out the bless onlookers at midday ( yeah, it's a bit weird).

Humahuaca Church


The saint blessing the crowd from the town hall clocktower


The town itself is quite small and dusty as most of the roads are unpaved - when the wind blows, dust storms can be quite bad.

Dust storm in Humahuaca


However, outside the town are many beautiful treks into the multicoloured mountains that Humahuaca is famous for.

Just over the river is the short trail to the Virgin Medalla Milagrosa shrine.

The shrine

From the top of the shrine you can see views across the town and views back to the coloured mountains.

Humahuaca from the top of the shrine


Some of the coloured mountains

Just outside of town is the formation that the area is really famous for - The painter's pallette, also known as the Hornocal.

The Hornocal is around 23km from Humahuaca and is easily reachable by hiring a taxi from the bus station at a cost of around $ARS150 per person ($AUD15). The road winds high (4300m) into the mountains - so expect to feel the effects of altitude.

Looking back towards Humahuaca

From the top of the road you are able to see the beauty of the Hornocal.

The Painter's Pallette

Which is really quite spectacular.

The Hornocal from the lookout

For intrepid hikers there is a 5 day trail through the Hornocal but unfortunately, as it was getting towards winter, it wasn't recommend to do the trail due to cold weather conditions.

So, instead I opted to take a bus to the tiny village of Uquía to hike up into the "Las Senoritas" formation.

The trail leads from beside the Uquía church following the road from the town.

Uquía church

The road from the town

The trail then follows dry riverbeds into the formation.

The riverbed


Getting closer to the formations

Up close to the formations you can see the strange patterns left from the erosion.

erosion patterns


Looking up a dry gully

And the myriad of colours.

Multicoloured hills

A red creek bed

Orange and grey creek

Red and grey hills 

The colours of the mountains 

And the incredible views back down the valley through the many coloured mountains of Humahuaca.

Looking back down the gully