One of the most fantastic trips in the province of Salta is the one to San Antonio de los Cobres at 3,772 m over the sea level. One of the problems at high altitudes, where the atmospheric pressure is lower, is altitude sickness, but if you drink “coca tea” or “mate de coca” several times during the trip and you walk slowly, it is not a problem. The “mate de coca” is an infusion made of coca leaves and hot water. It is also sold in tea bags. Although this plant is used to make cocaine, the tea itself is legal in Argentina and Bolivia. However, note that drinking tea can leave traces of it in the blood for two days and the appearance you would have taken cocaine. (So, heading to Southeast Asia directly, is probably not a good idea.)
There are two kinds of public transport available to get there: the Train to the Clouds (Tren a las Nubes) (see below) and small buses. The buses depart early in the morning from Salta and stop several times so that tourists can see archaeological remains.
- 1 Tren a las nubes (Leaves from the city of Salta arrives at La Polvorilla Viaduct). Scenic train on all-day round-trip route reaching altitude of 4,200 meters making it the third highest railway in the world. The train departs from Salta very early in the morning. It arrives in San Antonio de los Cobres and continues to Viaducto La Polvorilla. From there, the train returns to Salta, where it arrives 16 hours later. The train has a restaurant, medical attention and guides in several languages. The train is a little overpriced but it crosses one of the highest bridges in the world. AR$2,570 (bus & train combination), AR$1,590 (just train).
- 1 Quinoa Real, Belgrano, ☏ . Highly recommended restaurant to enjoy the flavor of Quinoa. Many people just come to San Antonio for this.
- Salinas Grandes – A fantastic place where there is a restaurant made of blocks of salt. The landscape is fantastic but the best is yet to come: the Cuesta de Lipán. It is on the way to Purmamarca. There are incredibly sharp bends on the way, in the middle of colourful mountains.