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Up To Paso San Francisco

Paso de San Francisco is part of a Corredor Bioceánico uniting Mercosur country ports from coast to coast. It is also the route of the Dakar international road rally. The paved highway cuts across barren puna edged by sky-scraping volcanoes. It’s not a totally lonely 514 kilometers (319 mi) up Ruta Nacional 60, though. Along the way are villages with colonial churches, hot springs, dunes to sand board, puna to trek and mountains to climb.

The first town of note is Tinogasta (Alt: 1250 m / ft, Pop: 22,610, Phone Code: 03837; URL:; 287 km / mi from Catamarca). Tinogasta has hotels, restaurants and other services. It is home to Museo Robaudi, Termas de la Aguadita hot springs and an ancient stone road at Higuerita. The 50-kilometers (31-mi) Ruta de Adobe north to Fiambalá has colonial churches at El Puesto and Anillaco. La Falda has archaeological ruins.

The next large town is San Franciso is Fiambalá (Alt: 1,550 m / 5,085ft, Pop: 5,000, Phone code: 03837; URL:; 330 km / 205 mi from Catamarca). The major attraction is Termas de Fiambalá with 14 natural-stone pools filled with curative waters (28-51ºC / 82-124ºF), located 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) east. The region produces high-altitude wines, and fine ponchos of vicuña and llama wool. The village is the gateway to high-octane sports, like sandboarding the white-sand Dunas de Tatón. The indigenous called Fiambalá Pianwallá, which means “Penetrating the High Mountain." The town is the base camp for trekking into the Ramsar site Seismiles and scaling the world’s highest volcanoes. Most guides for these excursions are in Catamarca city.

Paso de San Francisco (Alt: 4726 m / 15,505 ft) is 198 kilometers (123 mi) northwest of Fiambalá. The entire route is paved to the border. On the Chilean side, it is unpaved as far as Copiopó. The first settlement on the other side is Maricunga, 305 kilometers (190 mi) from the frontier. The crossing has complete border formalities. It is open all year, but may close in winter due to snows. Motorists heading into this area should have a spare tire, antifreeze and other emergency supplies, and keep fueled up (gas mileage is less at high altitude). Fiambalá has complete services, and is the last place for fuel. Public transportation only goes as far as Fiambalá (San Juan—3 daily, 5.5 hr, $16).

Neighborhoods in Up To Paso San Francisco: Paso San Francisco,

Other places nearby Up To Paso San Francisco: Tilcara, Andalgalá, Salta, Belén, Yavi, La Quiaca , Jujuy, Antofagasta De La Sierra , Santiago Del Estero and San Antonio de los Cobres.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

13 Oct 2010

Top Places in Up To Paso San Francisco

Paso San Francisco

133985The Paso San Francisco traverses the Andes between Argentina and Chile, passing en route the remote villages of El Puesto and Anillaco, with their simple farmhouses. Nearby are the Termas de ...
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Paso San Francisco, Up To Paso San Francisco, Argentina
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