Salinas Grandes or the Argentinian salt flats as they are more commonly know as are somewhat forgotten about, unknown to most travellers. Most likely to do with the fact they are located so close to their big brother in Bolivia.
Located only a few hours south of the Argentinian and Bolivian border. Salinas Grandes are often overlooked because ‘why would you go there if you have just come from Bolivia or are heading that way?’ Good question.
We were travelling north from Argentina into Bolivia so we were yet to do the infamous Uyuni salt flats and just thought why not? Good enough excuse right.
It turned out to be one of the funniest days of our time spent in Argentina.
We based ourselves in the epic little town of Tilcara for a few days, one of which we would spend going to Salinas Grandes.
There are a couple of options to get to Salinas Grandes. First, there is the option to catch multiple buses and shuttles, which is ALOT of unnecessary admin or to simply hire a car. We choose the latter, it wasn’t that much more expensive, especially divided between a couple of people and gave us complete freedom for the day.
The drive takes a couple of hours from Tilcara, but it will be one of the most memorable drives of your life. Leaving early in the morning is key to maximizing the day, beating the crowds and making the most of the 24hours we had with our car.
Leaving Tilcara you will pass through a couple of little towns, which I would recommend to first drive-through and stop on your way back so you can beat the crowds explore with a more relaxed vibe.
The drive to Salinas Grandes will take you up and over a huge mountain range where you will be reaching altitudes of 4000m plus. The roads are windy and steep, so be careful! Take your time and take in the epic scenes.
Once you have reached the peak, you will work your way down the other side where you will be able to see the vast Salinas Grandes in the distance which will continue to blow your mind the closer you get.
Salinas Grandes is still an active slat mine operation so you get the best of both worlds. You can see the entire operation of extracting salt right before you and go out and explore it yourself.
You will arrive at an entrance where you will see a bunch of little buildings and structures made out of slat. Park here, jump out, go for a look around the views will blow your mind.
If you are lucky enough there will be local guides there who will jump in. your car with you and guide you out into the Salinas Grandes for a small price. DO NOT drive out yourself, you will almost most definitely get stuck and severely damage the car.
If they are not there, which they were not for us at the time (public holiday) just get out, walk around, take some classic photos and enjoy it!
We ended up spending a couple of hours here taking photos, looking at the salt pools and just taking in all the vibes Salinas Grandes had to offer. It’s all you need.
The drive back is just as impressive as the drive there, keep an eye out for wild llama. We saw a few groups crossing the road here and there.
As mentioned early in the post, make sure you stop and check out the towns you passed through on the way. Some of the mountains have amazing rainbow-like colours likened to that of Rainbow Mountain in Peru.
At the time of writing this I had also done the Uyuni salt flats of Bolivia, so would I still recommend Salinas Grandes? Hell yeah, although the salt flats themselves are very similar. The scenery in which Salinas Grandes is set in is unlike anywhere I been!
So if you find yourself in Tilcara with a spare day up. your sleeve, do yourself a favour, rent a car and go see Salinas Grandes.