Salinas Grandes: A Photographer’s Dream

The Salinas Grandes are the spectacular Argentina Salt Flats. They may be overshadowed by Bolivia’s Salt Flats, but the Salinas Grandes are not to be missed. The Salt Flats are vast and surrounded by gorgeous mountains. Make sure to also visit Purmamarca, if you aren’t already planning to do so!

While taking photos for social media and sacrificing the enjoyment of an activity is a plague, this is the place to go nuts. This is one of those attractions you go to take fun pictures. Obviously you’ll enjoy the panoramic views. But don’t forget the pictures!

The Salinas Grandes are the only place we’ve been where the “guides” don’t tell you anything about the place. I’m not complaining, they are phenomenal photographers!

So whether you’re stubborn and refuse to take tons of photos, or plan on going just for the photos, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get into the complete travel guide for the Salinas Grandes, Argentina’s Salt Flats!

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Your Ultimate Guide for Visiting Salinas Grandes in Argentina

Where are the Salinas Grandes?

The Salinas Grandes are in the Jujuy province in Argentina. The closest major town is Purmamarca, at around an hour drive away. The Jujuy province is in northwest Argentina, just below Bolivia. If you don’t make it to Bolivia, Argentina’s Salt Flats are an AMAZING alternative! There is heavy indigenous influence in Jujuy and Salta, which provides some great cultural and food experiences.

Fun Pictures at Salinas Grandes in Argentina

Salinas Grandes Cost

The entrance to the Salinas Grandes Costs around $2 USD. There are also local guides, who are exclusively photographers that you can hire for a few quick photos. The payment is voluntary, but we tipped around $1 for 5 minutes of work and $2 for 5 minutes of work to a guide who had props.

The majority of the cost of visiting Salinas Grandes depends on your transportation method. From Purmamarca, the cost is around $13 for transportation there and back. From Tilcara, it is closer to $20.

This tour, which leaves from Salta and includes a trip to the Purmamarca town, costs just $43. Here are a few multi-day tours which include other attractions in the Salta / Jujuy provinces:

How much does it cost to visit Salinas Grandes?

How to Get to the Salinas Grandes / Salt Flats

How to Get to the Salinas Grandes from Purmamarca

Head over to this intersection. People will be shouting out “Salinas” or talking to other tourists. This is who you want to approach to inquire about transportation to the Salinas Grandes!

How to Get to the Salinas Grandes from Tilcara

You can take the bus from Tilcara to Purmamarca for around $1 which takes 30 minutes. From the bus station, follow the instructions above!

If you wish to go as part of a tour, you can go with ADN Travel in Tilcara. They have an office in Tilcara, but their van also passes through the Tilcara bus station around 10. They’ll be yelling out “Salinas” and will stop if you wave them down. Make sure to confirm the price and whether or not a stop in Purmamarca town is included in this tour!

How to Get to the Salinas Grandes from Salta

We recommend going as part of this tour, as it barely costs more than taking the bus. However, if you want more flexibility or are staying in one of the nearby towns, taking a bus is a good option. From Salta, you can take the 4:10 am bus heading to Tilcara and get off in Purmamarca. This will cost just under $13. There may be other bus companies heading to Purmamarca at more reasonable times. The other option is to take a bus to San Salvador de Jujuy and from there, take a bus to Purmamarca. Most buses heading north will stop in Purmamarca!

How to Get to the Salinas Grandes from San Salvador de Jujuy

If you’re traveling to Salinas Grandes from Jujuy, we recommend going as part of this tour. If you decide to go by bus, there are a number of buses per day that head to Purmamarca. Just go to the bus station in Jujuy and ask around for the schedules!

Buenos Aires to Salinas Grandes

The easiest way to get from Buenos Aires to the Salinas Grandes is by flying to Salta (SLA) or Jujuy (JUJ). From those locations, follow the appropriate instructions above!

If you want to get from Buenos Aires to Salinas Grandes by bus, you can take the 18 hour bus to Salta. The sleeper buses can be booked on Bookaway! This costs around $80. Follow the above instructions for how to get from Salta to the Salinas Grandes!

How to Get to the Salinas Grandes by Car

To get to the Salinas Grandes by car, put the main location into Google Maps. Those driving may be tempted to stop at the first little community, but the Salt Flats are more brown over here. There’s a good chance you lose service on the drive so make sure to download the map before leaving!

The best way to road trip the Jujuy province is by renting a car in Salta. We recommend renting a 4×4 so you can explore the more rugged terrain without relying on a tour. The most common way to road trip Jujuy is renting a car in Salta, and driving north!

Where to Stay Near the Salinas Grandes

Did you know you can actually stay ON the Salt Flats? While it’s not cheap, Pristine Luxury Camps is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Complete with glamping domes and delicious food, this a bucket list item waiting to be crossed off.

Stay at Salinas Grandes Argentina

Purmamarca is the closest “bigger” town to the Salinas Grandes. There are some really cool desert-style hotels here and it’s located an hour drive from the Salt Flats.

Tilcara is an amazing place to base yourself out of while you explore Jujuy. It’s the largest of the beautiful towns north of San Salvador de Jujuy and has tons of accommodation options that will fit any budget. Tilcara is a 30 minute drive from Purmamarca and an hour and 15 minute drive from the Salinas Grandes.

Humahuaca is a great small town that is close to Argentina’s rainbow mountain. Humahuaca is just over a 2-hour drive from the Salt Flats, and an hour drive away from Purmamarca. 

Best Time to Visit the Salinas Grandes

Wet season in the Jujuy province is December to March, when the settled rain sits on the Salt Flats. This makes for AMAZING photo opportunities. However, it makes visiting the rest of Jujuy and Salta a bit harder. When it’s not rainy season, the salt flats are still beautiful! They’ll just be more of the crystallized white patterns you see in our pictures.

How to Visit Argentina Salt Flats

Packing List for Argentina’s Salt Flats

  • Wind breaker / heavy jacket (it can get extremely windy here!)
  • Long pants
  • Props for photos (wine bottle, llama/dinosaur toys etc)
  • Argentine Pesos for entry fee, tip, and transportation
  • Winter hat
  • Snacks and Water
  • Coca leaves, coca caramels, or altitude sickness pills
  • Water!

What is the Altitude of the Salinas Grandes?

The Salinas Grandes are 11,319 feet (3450 meters) above sea level, which is definitely enough to tire you out. However, on the drive over, you’ll go up to 13,691 feet (4,170 meters) above sea level on the drive. Purmamarca is 7,677 feet (2,340 meters) above sea level, so if you’re staying here, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to the altitude. Chewing coca leaves, coca caramels, or taking altitude sickness pills are great ways to combat and prevent symptoms of altitude sickness.

How to get to Argentina's Salt Flats

How Much Time to Spend at the Salinas Grandes

The Salinas Grandes are great because you can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to 2+ hours enjoying the views. There are a few souvenir shops and food stalls serving basic foods like tortilla rellenos, but you probably won’t spend too much time here. The majority of your time will be taking fun pictures and simply marveling at the views! If you take a tour from Purmamarca, they give you an hour to hang out at the Salinas Grandes before taking you back.

Salinas Grandes: Experience Argentina's Salt Flats

Why are the Salinas Grandes Important?

The Salinas Grandes are important for a few reasons. First, being a popular tourist attraction provides great economic opportunities for locals and Argentina as a whole. The Salt Flats attracts visitors, and then they realize there is so many other amazing things to do in the Jujuy province.

The other reason the Salinas Grandes are important are the mines. Salt is mined here, and our driver said there is no problem with this. However, big corporations also want to mine lithium here, which is controversial. This is bad for the immediate and overall environment. Indigenous locals live off the lands nearby, and pollution to their livestock, water, and crops would slowly kill them. You’ll notice the anti-mine signs when you visit the Salt Flats.

Why a Visit to Purmamarca is a MUST

Purmamarca is a cute town with loads of great cafes and restaurants, and it’s own rainbow mountain! Although, unlike Argentina’s main rainbow mountain, this one only has 7 colors. There is a lookout called “Mirador del Cerro El Porito,” which has a decent view of the Mountain of 7 Colors as well as the town of Purmamarca. We say the best thing to do in Purmamarca is to do the 30-60 minute Los Colorados hike (more of a walk) to see more of the mountain range and all of its colors.

Visiting Purmamarca in Argentina

Purmamarca also has the biggest artisanal market we’ve seen anywhere in Jujuy. There are tons of clothes made from alpaca and llama fur, shoes, souvenirs, and more!

What to do in Purmamarca Argentina

Keep Exploring Jujuy…

Our Favorite Travel Resources

Accommodations: We use for hotels and HostelWorld for hostels. We also use VRBO or TrustedHousesitters for longer stays.

Flights: We recommend using Skyscanner to find the cheapest and best flights.

Ground Transport: We use 12Go and Omio for buses and private transfers, and and Discover Cars for rental cars.

Activities: GetYourGuide and Viator are the best websites for booking organized tours.

International Medical Insurance: We highly recommend SafetyWing for Digital Nomads and HeyMondo for those not traveling full-time, or who frequently engage in higher-risk adventure activities.

eSIM: We recommend Airalo or Holafly for getting data internationally.

Check out our Travel Resources Page for more of our favorite travel-related products and services!

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