'Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta'

What makes this trip special?

City and wine

City and wine


Mendoza city is the base to explore Argentina's main wine producing regions. You may wish to visit the wineries as day trips based out of the centre of town, or alternatively chose to stay in the nearby Maipú or Luján de Cuyo valleys in the heart of the vineyards.

Bodegas of Mendoza

Bodegas of Mendoza

Wineries of Luján de Cuyo, Maipú and Uco Valley

A combination of the altitude, sunny climate and fertile soils make the areas to the south and west of Mendoza some of the largest producers of wine in the continent. A typical visit to one of the wine valleys will involve looking round two or three bodegas with an extensive tasting session in each. For those looking to fully commit to the wine route, affluent city suburbs such as Lares de Chacra or Maipú now offer some excellent accommodation options close to the vineyards.

Altiplanic Lagoons

Altiplanic Lagoons

Laguna Brava

Laguna Brava is a 10 mile long, sharp blue lake surrounded by volcanoes, and a protected area teaming with Andean wildlife. Situated within the 'Reserva Provincial la Vicuñas', aside from the flocks of smaller relations to the llamas, one of the other main attractions are the pink flamingoes found on the glassy waters.

Sandstone cliffs, Petroglyphs and rare fauna

Sandstone cliffs, Petroglyphs and rare fauna

Talampaya National Park

The main feature within the UNESCO world heritage National Park is the impressive Talampaya canyon. Colourful 180m high and naturally eroded sandstone walls provide a stunning backdrop for condors and eagles overhead, whilst original petroglyphs line the gorge for a glimpse into the lives of the original inhabitants of the region.

Red rocks and white wines

Red rocks and white wines


Cafayate is a small town in the Valles Calchaquíes and is Argentina's second most well known area for producing wine. Predominantly a white wine producing area, the torrontés grape remains its best known variety and there are a selection of vineyards in and around the town. The journey from Salta is worth the visit alone, as you pass the impressive red rock formations along the ruta 68.

Andean Village

Andean Village


Set between the Cachi and Calchaqui rivers this is a village of cobbled streets, mud brick houses and an ancient church. In this corner of Northwest Argentina, the Puna highland desert meets fertile valleys, and is a great base to explore the more off the beaten track parts of the region.

Colonial Salta

Colonial Salta


Salta is an attractive colonial city that is the main transport hub for exploring the north west region. A cable car runs to the top of the San Bernado hill overlooking the town, offering excellent views over the surrounding countryside.

Itinerary map for Argentina 'Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Mendoza
  • 2 Mendoza
  • 3 Barreal
  • 4 Villa Union
  • 5 Villa Union
  • 6 Belen
  • 7 Cafayate
  • 8 Cafayate
  • 9 Molinos
  • 10 Salta
  • 11 Salta
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta'


Arrive into Mendoza

The city of Mendoza is the capital city of the province by the same name, and this fertile section of Andean foothills is best known for its wine production. On arrival you are picked up at the airport by a local guide and taken to the car rental office to pick up your hire vehicle. It's a short drive to the outskirts of the city, close to the vineyards and bodegas where you stay for the next two nights.


Winery visits

Today you are escorted around wineries in the Luján de Cuyo or Maipu regions. You come into contact with the legacy of hard-working European immigrants who used the irrigation techniques of canals and ditches inherited from the area’s indigenous inhabitants, the Huarpes, to transform a vast desert into a productive oasis. This sets the scene for the prestigious wineries of today that have become world-wide renowned for the quality of their wines. You learn about traditional wine production methods as well as the latest technologies with an extensive tasting session of the region’s excellent wines. Lunch with wine at one of the bodegas is also included. Amongst the wineries usually visited are the Vistandes, López, Viniterra, Cavas Don Arturo, Carmine Granata and Cavas de Weinert. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon.


From Mendoza to Barreal (250 km/4 hours drive)

Today you have a spectacular drive from Mendoza to Barreal, west of the city of San Juan. You first head up out of the city towards Uspallata, beautifully set in a valley on the way to the Aconcagua National Park. Then continue on a dirt road with the Mercedario Massif on your left hand side to the small summer village of Barreal. This town is chosen by many local people for their summer holidays. Overnight in Barreal for one night.


Barreal to Villa Union (388 km/7 hours drive)

Today is a pleasant drive north again to Villa Union in the La Rioja province. Most of the road is paved and there is just 120km of dirt roads. You stay in the town of Villa Union for two nights.


Laguna Brava

Today you have a day off from driving, leaving your car at your hotel to navigate this section of the Altiplano as a day trip from Villa Union. This tour is to a lesser visited part of the high Andes, and is one of the big highlights of this road trip through the Reserva Provincial las Vicunas on to the stunning Laguna Brava.


Villa Union to Belen (340 km/6 hours drive)

Early this morning you can drive yourself to the Talampaya National Park. You get to see the amazing red rock walls, and finish the visit by midday to continue your way through Cuesta de Miranda to Chilecito. The winding climb through the Cuesta de Miranda is perhaps the most visually arresting in Argentina. From here continue from Chilecito to Belen. This is a long straight road with very few turns for approximately 200km, the road is in very good condition and has little traffic so it is an easy drive. Arrive in Belen and stay for one night.


Belen to Cafayate (270 km/4 hours drive)

Today you should continue on the Ruta 40 to Cafayate. The road is in a good condition once again, with only about 30km of dirt road remaining on the route. You may like to stop at the Quilmes ruins or if you arrive in Cafayate in the early afternoon then the town has a collection of excellent wineries to look around.



After a morning in Cafayate drive yourself through the Valley of the Shells, (the best time to explore the Valley of the Shells is in the afternoon as the light is better). Drive 46 kilometres up the Route 68 towards Salta to the Garganta del Diablo. This is the start of the Valley of the Shells, so turn the car around and head back towards Cafayate, stopping at the major sites (the Amphitheatre, the Obelisk etc) along the valley. The valley is strewn with vast, bright red rock formations and there are many photo stops to admire the detail and texture of the vista from viewpoints.


Cafayate to Molinos (112km/3 1/2 hours driving)

After breakfast, drive the Ruta 40 up the Calchaquies Valley. Today’s drive is relatively short in distance, but it is largely on dirt roads with lots of photo stops, and so it takes about 4 hours. First you reach the Valley of the Arrows – where the horizontal rock strata have eroded to look like arrow heads. Arrive in the hamlet of Molinos, where there is an exceptionally beautiful old church and an excellent little museum.

DAY 10

Molinos to Salta via Cachi (200km/6 hours driving)

This morning head out from Molinos south on the Route 40 to Cachi. The local people in this area make their living from agriculture, and in season you may pass enormous stretches of red peppers drying in the sun. There is also an artisan route through Seclantás. After a short stop in Cachi, you continue through Los Cardones National Park, famous for its giant cacti (cardones) which dot the hillside, ranging in colour from dark green to deep red. Then you take the Cuesta del Obispo – a winding feat of road engineering – down to Salta where you leave your car.

DAY 11

Full day in Salta

Today you are taken on a half day sightseeing tour of Salta, a city that was founded by the Spanish in 1582 and that displays this heritage in its well preserved colonial architecture making it quite distinct from other large cities in Argentina. The tour gives you an overview of the main sites such as the historic centre, the Plaza 9 de Julio with its monument to the 19th century hero General Arenales, the Cathedral, the San Francisco Church, the San Bernardo convent, and the San Bernardo Hill for a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Continue to San Lorenzo, a pleasant town whose tree lined streets of large houses and lush gardens are surrounded by a verdant nature reserve making it a peaceful residence of choice, just 10 km from the city centre.

DAY 12

Depart Salta

You are at leisure until at the agreed time you return your hire car and head to the airport for your onward flight.

Guide prices for 'Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
mid-range hotels 2 people sharing £3,150
upper range hotels 2 people sharing £3,395
Prices are per person and include:
  • hire car for one named driver with unlimited mileage
  • all accommodation
  • all meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = dinner)
  • all excursions as described
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • domestic flights
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • car-hire: petrol
  • car-hire: refundable deposit

Customer reviews for 'Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.


Seasonal information for 'Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Mendoza 31°C rainfall 35mm
2 Mendoza 31°C rainfall 35mm
3 Barreal 26°C rainfall 14mm
4 Villa Union 32°C rainfall 35mm
5 Villa Union 32°C rainfall 35mm
6 Belen 31°C rainfall 42mm
7 Cafayate 27°C rainfall 48mm
8 Cafayate 27°C rainfall 48mm
9 Molinos 25°C rainfall 43mm
10 Salta 28°C rainfall 173mm
11 Salta 28°C rainfall 173mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Ruta 40 from Mendoza to Salta'

Days 1 - 2

Salentein Posada

Uco Valley

This small and exclusive ranch is surrounded by Bodegas Salentein’s vineyards and located at the Andes’ foothill. It has 16 comfortable rooms, divided in three houses, among gardens, vineyards, fruit plantations, and an organic garden. The rooms are spacious and all fitted with a TV and wifi. Activities include: bike rides in the plantations, horse riding (for all levels) in San Pablo Ranch, bodega visits and wine tasting.

There is also a swimming pool and art gallery for guests to enjoy.

Salentein Posada
Exterior of Casa los Sarmientos
Day 3

Posada de Los Patos


This small Posada loacted out of town has just ten rooms, and each has heating and air conditioning as well as views across the Andes. There is Wi-Fi in the comunal areas whilst in the summer the outdoor pool is open and a nice place to relax.  

Posada de Los Patos
Lounge area
Day 5

Canyon de la Talampaya

Villa Union

Hotel Canyon de la Talampaya has 28 rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, cable televsions, air conditioning and central heating. There is an outdoor swimming pool as well as a restaurant on site.

Canyon de la Talampaya
Double room
Day 6

Hosteria Belen (Belen)


Centrally located in its namesake small town, this hotel features an indigenous art motif throughout and has 25 rooms (16 standard, 8 superior and 1 suite). All rooms have en-suite bathroom, cable television and free wifi. Each room includes access to the mini-gym and has its own parking space. The suite meanwhile includes a minibar and a higher quality of décor, whilst The hotel has its own restaurant.

Hosteria Belen (Belen)
Twin room
Days 7 - 8

Vinas de Cafayate Wine Resort


Average rating 5.0 (1 ratings)

This wine resort is located around 2km from the centre of Cafayate, within a vineyard and at the foot of the San Isidro hill. There are 22 rooms and all have a private bathroom with tub, heating and air conditioning as well as a mini bar and TV. There is a wine cellar on site that hosts tastings, and a swimming pool with lovely views over the vineyards and towards Cafayate.

Vinas de Cafayate Wine Resort
Standard room
Day 9

Hacienda de Molinos

near Cachi - Calchaqui Valley

Average rating 5.0 (1 ratings)

Molinos is a delightful and traditional hacienda dating back to the 18th century when it was home to the last governor of Salta. It has 18 spacious guest rooms, all with private bathrooms (bath tub and shower) and hairdryer set around interior patio courtyards. There is a restaurant, swimming pool, games room and parking for those with a car. It is situated opposite the church in Molinos, and within walking distance of the centre of the village.

Hacienda de Molinos
Double room
Days 10 - 11

Finca Valentina

outside Salta

20-minutes drive out from the city of Salta this is a most attractive, up-market guest house with stylish public areas and high quality furnishings. Bedrooms have attractively rustic décor and private bathrooms. There is a swimming pool and BBQ area, whilst lunch and dinner can be provided. There are optional activities offered locally at extra cost such as horse riding, walks, cooking classes or massages.

Finca Valentina
Lodge exterior