Argentina Rainbow Mountain

A Guide To Argentina’s Rainbow Mountains: Which Is Better?

Everything you need to know to visit Argentina's Rainbow Mountains: El Hornocal in Humahuaca and Cerro de los Siete Colores in Purmamarca.

Contents

Which Is The Best Rainbow Mountain In Argentina?

Argentina has two ‘Rainbow Mountains’ in the north west of the country. 

 

One in the town of Purmamarca and the other in the town of Humahuaca – both on Route 9. 

 

The one in Purmamarca is called ‘The Hill of 7 Colours’ or ‘Cerro de los Siete Colores, whereas the one in Humahuaca is known as ‘Serranias Del Hornocal’.

 

Which one is better?

 

The one in Humahuaca is better in my opinion. It’s much bigger and more colourful.

 

However, the one in Purmamarca is still cool and I always recommend visiting both as they are in the same region. 

 

Keep reading for a detailed breakdown of both.

Map showing Argentina's Rainbow Mountains in Purmamarca and Humahuaca

Humahuaca's Rainbow Mountain - El Hornocal

Known to locals as Serranias del Hornocal or Cerro de Los Catorce Colores. And to us foreigners it’s the ‘Hill of 14 Colours’.

 

Why 14 instead of 7? Well, they wanted to try and outdo the rival rainbow mountain in Purmamarca, and draw more tourism to the town.

Where is El Hornocal?

North Argentina, Jujuy Province, the closest town being Humahuaca. It’s a 30 minute drive from the town.

How To Get To El Hornocal?

It depends where you’re coming from but here are three recommendations:

 

 

  • From Humahuaca – book an overnight stay here as it’s the closest town, it is only a 30-minute drive to the top – including stops for pictures the tour will take 2-3 hours – we recommend 3 hours, so you have time to enjoy the view. You can book tours in town through your accommodation.

 

  • Rent a car – the best place to rent a car is in Jujuy or Salta. If you are visiting from Salta, it is a 3-4-hour drive, and you can drive to the viewpoint yourself. 

 

  • Tour – you can book tours from Jujuy or Salta. They usually take you to several other stops along the way including Purmamarca. 

For more information on Humahuaca and how to visit El Hornocal, check out the post below:

 

 

Joe and a friend from 'Shall We Go Home Travel' at El Hornocal in Humahuaca (Argentina)

How Much Does It Cost To Visit El Hornocal?

Here’s how much it should cost for the three options:

 

 

  • From Humahuaca – $5-10 for a tour which just includes a driver that takes you to the viewpoint and back.

 

  • Car rental – start at around $50 per day. However, you may want to upgrade to a 4×4 which will cost more. It’s not necessary but it does give you peace of min when driving on some of the roads. If renting with 3 or 4 people, this is perfectly reasonable, especially if it’s only for a few days.

 

  • Tours – tours from Salta or Jujuy start at around $45 but cost varies depending on the time of year
The path to El Hornocal, Humahuaca (Argentina)

How High Is El Hornocal?

The viewpoint is at 4,300m (14,108 ft). 

 

Take it slowly once you arrive, especially if you are feeling the effects of altitude sickness.

 

You’ll only be walking for around 5-10 minutes down the path, so you won’t be exerting yourself too much, and before you know it you will be back down in town at a much lower altitude.

Is El Hornocal Difficult To Climb?

There’s no trekking involved so visiting El Hornocal is super easy on the legs and lungs.

 

You drive all the way to the viewpoint, and there is one short path to a clearing for photos. The walk back is more demanding, up a small hill, but it’s not too long or difficult.

Alpaca in the north west countryside of Argentina

Purmamarca's Rainbow Mountain - The Hill Of 7 Colours

Known as Cerro de los Siete Colores which means the Hill of 7 Colours. The second Rainbow Mountain in the region is just as colourful and just as easy to visit.

Where Is The Hill Of 7 Colours?

North Argentina, Jujuy Province, in the town of Purmamarca.

How To Get To The Hill Of 7 Colours?

The Hill of 7 Colours surrounded the town or Purmamarca, so all you need to do is get here.

 

Similarly to El Hornocal, it’s possible to visit from several towns and cities in the region.

 

Here are my three recommendations below:

 

  • From Purmamarca – from the main town, it’s only a 10-minute walk! You can see the mountain from everywhere in town, so just head towards it to find the paths. Book an overnight stay for the best experience. 
  • Rent a car – You can rent cars in Salta or Jujuy. I always use Discover Cars to find the cheapest prices. Purmamarca is a 2-3-hour drive from Salta. You can park up in town and then walk up to any of the viewpoints from town.
  • Tour –  You can also book a tour from Salta if you wish. Most tours will stop at Pumamarca and then carry on to Salinas Grandes (the salt flats). This is a great tour from Salta if you don’t want to rent a car

If you are staying in Salta you can take a day tour to see both mountains. Check out our guide for all the information you need:

 

 

shop front in argentina - the rainbow mountains

How High Is Cerro De Los Siete Colores?

Purmamarca is 2,324 m (7,625 ft) above sea level, and it’s possible to see the mountains at this altitude.

Is Cerro De Los Siete Colores Difficult To Climb?

Nope it’s an easy walk.

 

Hiking the trails will lead you to climb between 20m to 1,000m (66 ft to 3,300 ft) which at this altitude should be manageable. 

 

From town it’s possible to hike up the mountains as well as to viewpoints.

 

These treks range from 10 minutes to an hour depending on which you take. It’s also possible to hike up the mountain itself which takes an hour or so.

 

The Paseo de los Colorados is a popular 3km loop that takes you around the mountain. It takes an hour and is considered an easy route.

Rainbow Mountain, Purmamarca (Argentina)

Renting A Car In Salta

There’s no reason you can’t drive to both of these towns yourself.

 

Car rental is popular in the north of Argentina,  as it’s set up perfectly for road trips. So this is a great option to do things on your own terms.

 

The biggest hub for renting a car is from Salta, but you will also be able to find companies in Jujuy.

 

Renting a car is also a great way to explore the entire north-west region of Argentina and visit the other unique towns along Route 9 such as Tilcara and Cafayate.

I always use Discover Cars to find the best rental prices when travelling Argentina:

Renting a Car In Salta (Comparison using Discover Cars)

When Is The Best Time To Visit North West Argentina?

The best time to visit north west Argentina is in dry season – April to October.

 

Northern Argentina has a subtropical climate, so it remains warm all year round.

 

However, in the dry season, temperatures will be cooler as it’s technically winter in Argentina, and you won’t have to worry about rain affecting your day trips to the mountains.

 

The rainy season is December to March, but this is also summer, meaning it can be super hot and humid.

 

To be honest, you can visit all year round. I went in February and the weather was terrific.

 

You might just have to be lucky or patient with the weather and visit when it isn’t rainy.

To see how Humahuaca and El Hornocal fit into a wider north Argentina itinerary, check out our post below:

 

 

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