Background on Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the most beautiful places in Argentina and all of South America. These mountains rival the rainbow mountains in Peru and stand at 4,761 meters or 15,620 feet above sea level, although the lookout is at a lower altitude. 

The Mountain of 14 Colors is known by a number of names: Serranías de Hornocal, Cerro Hornocal, Cerro de Los 14 Colores, Quebrada de Humahuaca, and Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain. I’m going to refer to it as Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain or the Mountain of 14 Colors for simplicity purposes!

Each different color is a different mineral composition of a limestone called Yacoraite. These colors have been exposed by erosion over the past 600 million years making this vibrant natural phenomenon. When driving through Salta and Jujuy, you’re likely to see various rock formations that follow this pattern, although none of them are as impressive as the mountain of 14 colors.

Argentina’s Mountain of 14 Colors is an absolute must-do when visiting Northern Argentina, and it’s fairly easy to do so. Let’s get into how to visit Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain!

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Rainbow Mountain Argentina

Visiting Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain Lookout

The lookout to the Mountain of 14 Colors is already stunning, but the best views are from the short hike that starts directly in front of the parking lot. It takes around 15 minutes to walk down and 20-25 minutes to walk up. Don’t rush this! Your body won’t be used to the altitude so it will be much harder than a regular hike! There are definitely a lot of older people who sit this one out.

Right next to the parking lot, there are a few little shops surrounding the big dome. You can buy all sorts of local goods, these savory grilled stuffed pastries, snacks, water and more! I indulged in some delicious llama jerky!

How Much Does a Visit to Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain Cost?

From Humahuaca, it costs $8 for the ride and 50 cents for entry per person.

From Salta, tours will cost anywhere from $40 to $140 USD depending on comfort levels and extra stops. Doing this self-guided with buses from Salta would cost around $40 USD.

From Tilcara, the tours are around $20. If you choose to get yourself from Tilcara to Humahuaca, the bus from Tilcara to Humahuaca costs $2-3, and you’ll pay the $8.50 for the tour from Humahuaca.

If you’re driving, it only costs 50 cents for the entry fee.

Mountain of 14 Colors Humahuaca

How to Get to The Mountain of 14 Colors

Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain is located about a 30 minute drive outside of Humahuaca in Jujuy, Argentina. An important note: if you take nothing else away from this travel guide, make sure that you visit Argentina’s rainbow mountain in the afternoon! The sun shines perfectly and exposes the various colors between 3-6 pm.

How to Get to the Mountain of 14 Colors by Car

Renting a car with 4 wheel drive and driving to the Mountain of 14 Colors is the easiest and most comfortable way to access the Mountain of 14 colors. A 4×4 is recommended but a regular car will do fine. It’s a gravel road so you’ll have to go slower in a non 4×4 car. Renting a car means spending as much time as you want up there! Put this location into Google Maps to get there!

How to Get to the Mountain of 14 Colors From Salta

From Salta, you can either go as part of a tour (like this one), or take the bus to Humahuaca, and follow the instructions on how to get to the Mountain of 14 Colors from Humahuaca.

How to Get to the Mountain of 14 Colors From Tilcara

From Tilcara, you can go as part of a tour that takes you directly to the Mountain of 14 Colors. The tourist information office in Tilcara is a great place to find contact numbers for tour operators. The other, cheaper option is to take the bus to Humahuaca, and then follow the below instructions.

How to Get to the Mountain of 14 Colors From Humahuaca

4x4s run at 10 am, 12:30 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm. If those times don’t work for you, we recommend going to the bus station and looking for a 4×4 and waiting until you have 4 people to fill it. People will be shouting out “Hornocal” at the bus station and will approach you as soon as you arrive! You can book through +54-388-513-3840, or just show up to the Plaza 25 de Mayo, there will be people there arranging tours.

A Note on Altitude Sickness in Humahuaca and the Rainbow Mountain

The lookout for the Hornocal Mountains is located 4350 meters or 14,271 feet above sea level, so there’s a very good chance you’ll feel the altitude. Feeling the altitude is normal, but if you start feeling extreme fatigue, nausea, fast heart rate, don’t go any higher. There’s an ambulance that can administer you oxygen and take you to the hospital if you do get altitude sickness.

Humahuaca sits at 3,012 meters or 9,882 feet above sea level, so you’ll already be fairly high up. That being said, you still feel the altitude change! Salta sits at 1,187 meters or 3984 feet above sea level, so there’s a much more drastic change in altitude. To proactively fight altitude sickness, drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, take altitude sickness pills or chew coca leaves. You can buy coca leaves/candies at a few places in Salta, everywhere in Humahuaca, and at the lookout for the rainbow mountains.

Visiting the Rainbow Mountain Argentina

Weather in the Mountain of 14 Colors

The weather is much colder at the Rainbow Mountains, so prepare accordingly! Compared to Humahuaca, it’s about 15 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) colder at the Hornocal mountains. It is also much windier, so a jacket and a windbreaker would be ideal to bring!

What to Bring to Argentina’s Rainbow Mountain

  • Warm Jacket
  • Coca Leaves, Coca Candies, or Altitude Sickness Pills
  • 1 or more liters of water per person
  • Pesos
  • Sneakers or Hiking Shoes
  • Snacks if you want them!

Things to do in Humahuaca

Humahuaca is absolutely worth visiting, especially if you’re already planning on going to the Mountain of 14 Colors. There are two lookouts over the city in opposite directions. The are both worth visiting. One of them is the Monument a Los Heróes de La independencia, which is a cool monument overlooking Humahuaca. The other is Peñas Blancas, or “White Rocks”, which are these limestone rocks surrounded by other beautiful desert rocks.

Peñas Blancas in Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

Shopping is another great thing to do in Humahuaca. There’s a bunch of artisanal goods for SUPER cheap in the Plaza 25 de Mayo and surrounding pedestrian streets. The Mercado Municipal is a great place to get fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat and the San Martin street is a good place to get anything you need from toilet paper to clothing.

The food in Humahuaca is also delicious and is heavy on llama meat. Some of our favorite restaurants were La Casona, Pizzería El Hornito del Gato, and Pachamanka. Las Glorias has great humitas, which are similar to tamales.

Video Juegos is a nice arcade to go to if you’re traveling with kids or an immature boyfriend!

What to do in Humahuaca Argentina

Where to Stay in Humahuaca 

We definitely recommend spending a couple of nights in Humahuaca if you have the time – the town is beautiful and has a great vibe to it. When we stayed in Humahuaca we stayed at Humahuacasa and absolutely loved it!

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Keep Exploring Jujuy…

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