The Seven Colored Hills of Pumamarca


  • Seven colored hills pose as a backdrop to the quaint and quiet town of Purmamarca.  It is so authentically rural here that the streets are not even paved.
  • Maimara is another small town less than 30 minutes from Purmamarca.  Maimara has the painter’s palette of four colored hills.  
  • Tilcara is another small town well worth the visit.  It has a lively market selling anywhere from fresh produce to knock off wardrobe at unbelievable cheap prices.

Time of Visit:  January 2024

Duration of Visit:  Three nights


Early morning along the Paseo de los Colorados trail
Open air souvenir market at the plaza

Seven Colored Hills and Paseo de los Colorados

People flock to Purmamarca primarily to see the seven colored hills.  The town is basically built at the base of the hills.  

Behind the town is the Paseo de los Colorados which is a short circular hike that takes hikers to the back side of the seven colored hills.  The hike starts right in town.  It is less than two miles with some elevation gain and takes hikers about an hour to complete.  The path of Paseo de los Colorados is a dirt road designated as pedestrian only. 

Open Air Souvenir Market

There is no shortage of local vendors selling souvenirs to visitors.  They are mainly located by the town’s plaza at the east side of town.  Santa Rosa de Lima Church faces the plaza.  There are also several brick and mortar stores in town that sell souvenirs.


You have to pay to park on the streets of Purmamarca.  Parking was fairly cheap at 200 ARS an hour.  There are no parking meters.  You have to pay a person wearing a green or orange vest which in turn would issue you the parking ticket.  Just tell the person how long you intend to park.

A motorist paying the parking meter on two legs


Purmamarca sits at about 2,324 meters (7,600 feet) above sea level.  If you are from the lowlands, best to take your time to acclimate before doing anything strenuous.


Painter’s Palette or four colored hills behind Maimara
Eroded sandstone off Ruta 9 in Maimara

Maimara is a small town less than 30 minutes north of Pumamarca right off Ruta 9.  Its four colored hills are just mesmerizing to watch.

There is a terrific viewpoint right off the east side of Ruta 9 called Mirador del Manolito Maimara (it is shown on Google Maps).  The viewpoint overlooks the town and the four colored hills behind it.  Not to be outdone, but the eroded sandstone on the west side of Ruta 9 also provides a nice photo opportunity.


Fresh produce at the municipal market
You can score all kinds of cheap knockoffs at the Municipal Market

We enjoyed Tilcara a lot even though we only spent half a day there.  We particularly liked the municipal market where fresh produce can be bought as well as cheap knockoffs of Columbia and Underarmour brands of clothes.  I scored a wide brimmed hat with a back of the neck cover for about $4 USD.  The place is particularly lively in the morning.

Tilcara has a tourist office where visitors can inquire about things to do around town.  Just be ready with your Spanish as the tourist office staff did not speak English.  There are archeological ruins not far from town as well as a waterfall called Garganta del Diablo.


We visited this part of Jujuy Province in January 2024 which was summer.  The days were warm and the nights were comfortable without the wind.  Our accommodation did not have air conditioning but provided a fan which was sufficient to keep us comfortable.  Our accommodation has a wood burning stove presumably for heating in the winter.

It was particularly enjoyable to walk around town after 6 PM.  By then, the entire town is shaded by the mountain.  The plaza came to life as people were out and about.

How to Reach Purmamarca

The nearest airport is Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport (SLA) in Salta, about three hours away.  

There are two ways to reach Purmamarca if you rent a car.  The longer but less nerve racking route is to head East on Ruta 9 for about 20 kilometers before turning left on Ruta 34.  Go another 20 kilometers north on Ruta 34 before making another left to get on Ruta 66.  Follow Ruta 66 to the town of San Salvador de Jujuy (the last large town to do your grocery shopping) where the highway’s name changes to Ruta 9.  Continue on Ruta 9 for about an hour and half before turning left (West) on Ruta 52.  Purmamarca is about 10 minutes away from the junction of Ruta 9 and Ruta 52.

The other way is to head north from Salta on Ruta 9 that goes to San Salvador de Jujuy.  On Google Maps this looks shorter and more desirable.  

We would caution you to not even consider the shorter route, especially if there was a strong rain even.  First, the road is very narrow and has lots of twists and turns.  We had to hug the edge of the road to avoid hitting oncoming traffic.  Second, the majority of the road goes through the forest so there could be broken branches and/or mud deposits after a strong rain event. Third, it is not a scenic road.  Last, you cannot drive fast on this road so the travel time is about even compared to the longer route.

Ruta 9 between Salta and San Salvador de Jujuy. The narrow road is shown by the oncoming car’s wheels being on the white lines.


The towns of Purmamarca, Maimara and Tilcara are wonderful destinations in the Jujuy Province of Northern Argentina.  Purmamarca is famous for the seven colored hills.  The Paseo de los Colorados is a nice short walk that takes visitors along the red rock sandstones behind town.  Its plaza is the hub for open air souvenir market and becomes alive with people late in the afternoon.  Purmamarca also serves as a nice place to explore Salinas Grandes about an hour drive away.

Maimara is another small town not far from Purmamarca.  Maimara has the painter’s palette or four colored hills as well as nicely eroded sandstone formations.

Just north of Maimara is Tilcara which is another fun town to explore.  Its municipal market is the hub of activities where visitors can enjoy cheap shopping.  Beyond Tilcara are archeological ruins and the Garganta del Diablo which is a waterfall in the middle of the high desert.

Between scenery and shopping, Purmamarca, Maimara and Tilcara will surely provide a host of activities and a memorable experience.