Looking for an epic road trip outside of North America? Maybe you should try the Argentina Ruta 40 road trip; one of the most epic road adventures every serious traveler should have at least once in their lifetime.
La Cuarenta (the 40) stretches 3246 miles all across Argentina, from the southern oceanfront of Cabo Virgenes to the Northernmost mountains of Cienaga.
The Ruta 40 goes through 11 provinces, 50+ national parks, natural reserves, and the scenic landscapes of Argentina’s Patagonia.
Like the American Route 66 or the Aussie Stuart Highway, this route is the stuff of legends and one of these world roads that every roadtripper dreams to discover.
Here we highlight just 10 things everyone should add to their own Argentina Ruta 40 itinerary.
1. CABO VÍRGENES
Visiting Cabo Virgenes is the number one thing to do when visiting the Rio Gallegos and the southeastern point of Argentina.
The beginning of La Cuarenta is perfectly marked by a lighthouse in the Straits of Magellan. Before you take on the zigzagging route through the windswept Patagonian steppe, make sure to take in the breathtaking views and to mingle with the colonies of penguins that call this place home.
2. ESTANCIA LAGOS DEL FURIOSO
Untouched and absolutely breathtaking, this is the heart of Patagonia, one of the cleanest environment on the planet. There are plenty of glacier lakes as well as some of the tallest peaks of the Patagonian Andes such as Mount San Lorenzo.
Take some time to appreciate the absolute beauty of these lands. If you have time, consider renting a cabin to enjoy this Santa Cruz estancia, where you’ll find glorious views, excellent fishing and every creature comfort.
Along your Argentina Ruta 40 road trip, you will get used to crossing national parks of great beauty. It starts with Bariloche; a gateway to the Nahuel Huapi Park and Argentina’s Lake District which has pristine alpine-like scenery, dramatic mountain lakes and very ancient trees.
Besides the natural wonders – and there is many – be sure to make a couple of stops throughout the Argentina Ruta 40 to buy handcraft ponchos and discover the rich and long traditions of the area.
4. LA PAYUNIA
La Payunia is a volcanic National Park that offers out-of-this-world vistas and very unique features. You should consider at least half a day to take in the awe-inspiring ebony gorges, remote lava lands, deep caves and the flamingo-flecked lagoons. La Payunia is one of the main attractions in the Mendoza Province.
5. LAGUNA DEL DIAMANTE
The Diamond Laguna rewards the adventurous with spectacular views of the snow-capped peaks of the Argentinian Andes. Enjoy a break on the banks of a crystalline brook as you admire the silhouette of Volcán Maipo.
The area is only accessible during a short time through the year – mostly summer – so you will need to plan your trip as to not miss this other natural marvel of the Mendoza Province.
6. CUESTA DE MIRANDA
Although there are many things to see and do in the Rioja Province, la Cuesta de Miranda stands out as the must-visit stop during a road trip along the Argentina Ruta 40.
The scenery is amazing, and the varied terrain is a gold mine for adventurous but skilled trekkers and hikers. Walk along verdant vegetations and pristine rivers in the middle of jaw-dropping valleys and mountains.
Make la Rioja your base camp. The city is rich of colonial architecture and historic landmarks that are as beautiful as they are significant for anyone interested in the local culture and history.
Belen is often mentioned as the one stop along a Argentina Ruta 40 road trip that no one should ever miss. In fact, this town/village is in the middle of nowhere, untouched, and undisturbed.
Those who venture here, at this Catamarca highland village, will have a chance to grab top-notch ponchos and other authentic hand-woven goods at cheap prices. But above the cost, the real value of the items found here are cultural and historical – made with methods of weaving that date back to pre-Hispanic times.
8. SALINAS GRANDES
When you arrive in the Jujuy Province, you cannot pass up on the Salinas Grandes. Sure. Latin America – and especially Bolivia – have the world-famous Salar de Uyuni but the Salinas Grandes also have their appeals.
The area is ringed with mountains, home to a rich and unique wildlife. It is a good place to spot vicunas and llamas. And the nearby towns have interesting pre-colonial remains you definitely would want to discover.
9. LA POLVORILLA VIADUCT
Along your Argentina Ruta 40 road trip, once in the north, you will come across the mighty La Polvorilla Viaduct, an engineering marvel that might remind you of the Eiffel Tower.
Many will argue that there isn’t much to see but they would be wrong. You really should take the time to contemplate this long and magnificent structure and reflect on the courage it took to build it. It is definitely a humbling sight to visit.
10. ABRA DEL ACAY
Once you reach the Abra del Acay, you will know that you have arrived at the highest point on the Argentina Ruta 40. At 16,600 feet, it is the highest point on a national road anywhere in the world.
Only take on this portion of the road if you have an all-terrain vehicle and if you can resist extreme conditions. In fact, the road inclination as well as the oxygen deprivation make it so that very few people dare to take on the challenge of crossing this portion of the RN40.
The Argentina Ruta 40 is the road of legend every serious roadtripper wants to travel at least once in their lives. Along the Wine Road, it is one of the greatest route to follow in Argentina. What do you think of this road trip itinerary?