My dear Lola,
Only 160 kilometres separate Humahuaca from its neighbouring country, Bolivia. Humahuaca is Quebrada de Humahuaca’s biggest village and the one that names it, and it has no more than one attraction; its gorge (“quebrada” in Spanish, obviously)… leaving aside, of course, all souvenirs-gifts that have been repeatedly sold around every single Northern Argentina village, and which start to adopt more Bolivians prices than Argentineans ones…
Leaving aside the importance of this small tourist town famous for its picturesque and traditional carnival where there’s no lack of food, drink, dance and tributes to the Pachamama (earth goddess) as well as its strategic location in terms of good’s export to Bolivia and Peru; its popularity arises from its greatest and unique tourist attractive (and it is no less important); “The 14 colours hill”, also called “El Hornocal”, declared in 2003, along with the whole gorge, as a World Heritage Site.
A mountain that seems to be cut and painted meticulously and symmetrically with a big variety of colors in order to be photographed by the hundreds of tourists who visit the site daily.
Although it seems an artist creation, all that mix of colours is only nature’s results (or Pachamama’s) and a materials’ combination such as copper oxide, which causes the green colour; white from the limestone; purple from lead and calcium carbonate; and pink from clay and sand. All of them deposited millions of years ago as sediments during the different geological stages.
Without doubt, the more-than-an-hour drive on the winding-gravel road under northern Argentina scorching sun has its reward after reaching the majestic “14 colours hill”.
Tip: When deciding to visit “El Hornocal” on your own, you must know that there are more than 23km from the town of Humahuaca, and the gravel road is pretty steep, winding and without any shadow where to stop during the ascension to take a rest.
Because of all this, it is not recommended to do it by walking. The “remises” (Argentinian shared taxis) offer 4 people back and forth trips for 400 pesos on their little trucks, so it turns very convenient to split the price between all passengers.
Another way is by renting a car and driving it on your own, with entrance’s only fee to add (30 pesos per car) since the area belongs to an indigenous community.