Uquía is a small town in the Quebrada de Humahuaca located just off RN 9 between Tilcara and Humahuaca. Tour buses usually drop off tourists here for an hour or so, just enough time to let them see the handicraft market and take a few pictures of the colonial church in the main plaza.
But Uquía has so much more to offer. Behind this sleepy town lies one of the most enjoyable hiking trails amongst impressive red rock formations. If you’re travelling on your own, I highly recommend spending at least half a day exploring Uquía. It’s so worth it! For us, it unexpectedly became one of the highlights of our trip to Quebrada de Humahuaca.
- Related posts: A complete guide to Humahuaca (Northern Argentina)
Arriving to Uquia
From Humahuaca, we took the public bus “Vallisto” for 16 pesos. The journey took around 20 minutes.
(From Tilcara it takes 30min; from Purmamarca it takes 50min by bus)
We arrived to Uquía by 10:30am and decided to go straight to the trailhead of Quebrada de las Señoritas before it got too hot. The trailhead is really easy to find: follow the street to the left of the church as you enter the town and continue straight past the cemetery. When in doubt just ask the locals!
Hiking Quebrada de las Señoritas
Quebrada de las Señoritas is an easy 1.5h hike that showcases bright red formations dating back to 3 million years. The contrast of the different shades of red, light pink and orange against the turquoise blue skies is simply stunning. It reminded us a bit of Sedona in Arizona!
Towards the end of the hike, there is an impressive canyon where you can sit back and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings (side note: if you’re into flying drones, this area of the canyon has the perfect conditions to do so)
Given the fact that most tours don’t include this hike in their itinerary, there’s a high chance you will have the whole place to yourself. Oh, and did I mention it is completely free of charge?
Tip | Bring lots of water and sun protection as there are almost no shade areas on the trail.
The reward: Award-winning tamales
The hike is not strenuous by any means, but at the end of it you will feel like you deserve something (or am I the only one that feels that way after any type of hike?). By the time we got back to the town it was close to midday so we went into a small restaurant called Comedor Lidia where we had some of the best dishes during this trip. The owner and chef Lidia Tejerina has won several regional competitions for the best tamales (=traditional dish made of dried meat and dough steamed in a corn husk). Even if you’re not into tamales, you have to try these – they will make you change your mind about them. And don’t leave without trying their quinoa and cheese empanadas. Simply delicious!
Exploring the town
With hiking and lunch done, it was time to see the key landmarks of Uquía town:
Iglesia San Francisco de Paula
This is a colonial church built in the 17th century that was declared a National Historical Monument in 1941. The highlight of this church is a fascinating collection of paintings which were brought from Cusco in the colonial period. The story goes that the artist, who was an indigenous person, was asked to paint angels but he didn’t know what these look like. The priest told him that angels looked like themselves (the Spaniards), so the outcome was a series of angels that resembled Spanish soldiers with arquebuses and wings. Angels with guns? Yes, you heard right.
Uquía is famous for pottery. The design and finishing of the items are far superior than what you would find in other towns and prices are affordable too. If you have some space in your luggage, consider buying a few souvenirs from this market.
Hope you enjoyed this quick guide to Uquía! If you have any questions, please leave me a comment 🙂
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