Humahuaca On a Budget
SightsThe small square of Humahuaca is constantly animated and filled with small stalls held by locals selling sweaters and hats made out of llama wool, jewelry, mate cups You will also find the Iglesia de la Candelaria, a modest and simple church built in 1642 for the village and which has been transformed during the years. Notice its door in cactus wood veneer and the paintings on the walls from Marco Sapaca, an artist from the school of Cuzco, of the XVIII century. The Cabildo is another interesting monument you will see on the Plaza Central of Humahuaca. Its bell rings everyday at midday to bless the town. Next to the Plaza Central is also the Monumento a la Independencia. Whether you like the architecture of this massive monument built in 1950 by Ernesto Soto Avendaño, the spectacular panorama on the surrounding mountains, especially at sunset, is worth climbing up the stairs.
ActivitiesThe Museo Folclorico Regional (USD$2, opened every day except on Sunday between 10h and 17h) is a small museum in which writer and ethnologist, Sixto Vazquez Zuleta has reunited all the traditional Indian objects he has been collecting throughout his life. From geology to traditions, costumes, medicine, music instruments, celebrations, sorcery and many more aspects of their lives are exposed in this museum.
About 40 minutes away from Humahuaca is the Hornocal, also called cerro de los 14 colores (the hill of 14 colors). A taxi for 2 to 4 people will be about USD$27 and a taxi for 8 people will charge you about USD$43. The entry fee is USD$2 and parking is free. Make sure you go there with sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, a windbreaker and healthy lungs! Although you only have a 10 minute walk from the parking to get down to the panoramic view on the beautiful colored mountains that witness of the geological past of this south-Andean part rich in copper, iron, and sulfur, you will be at an altitude of 4 350m. Count 20 minutes to climb back up to the parking and if the high altitude is difficult for you, buy some coca leaves to chew on the market of the main square or at a pharmacy.
If you are ready for more adventure, you can leave for a day to Iruya, a small village of 4 600 inhabitants built in 1752 on a hill 2780m high in altitude. You can reach Iruya by car - 70 km northeast of Humahuaca, including 20 km on ruta 9 and 50 km on a dirt track that goes up and down and will leave you completely dazzled by the view. A bus company named Transporte Iruya also leaves three times every morning and waits 3 hours in Iruya before bringing you back to Humahuaca in the afternoon (the bus does not leave if it rains).