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Hike around Cerro de los Siete Colores

Purmamarca, Argentina



1.9 miles

Route Type



Added by Andreas Brokalakis

Explore an area with a amazing colorful rock formations

The small town of Purmamarca is located in northwest Argentina (Jujuy county). It is mostly inhabited by indigenous people and in their language Purmamarca originates from the words purma, meaning desert and marca, meaning town. Though it should be noted that purma can also be used to denote the virgin land that has not been touched by humans and therefore Purmamarca can also be translated as the town of virgin land.

The town is at a rather high altitude (2300m) and the landscape is mostly desert. It is impressive though to be at this town and see around you high mountains and hills arising. What is even more impressive, is that those mountains and hills are colorful!

The scientific explanation of the phenomenon is attributed to the geology of the area, where at the passage of time different kinds of rocks have been accumulated one on top of the other. There is a legend though among the local people that offers a more delightful explanation.

According to this legend, the seven different colors that may be seen on the hills around the town were actually painted by the local children in the course of seven nights. When the first settlers in the area founded the town, the surrounding hills were just plain hills, nothing special. For the children this was impossible to accept and unable to persuade the grown-ups to do something about it, they decided to take action and paint the hills. As such, each night when everyone was asleep, they snicked out of their houses and painted the rocks. The seventh night, the grown-ups realized that the children were missing and started a search, only to see them after a while coming back happily having complete the seventh color in the hills. To this day, the indigenous people celebrate the painting of the hills on that specific date!

Although, there is a specific location in the town where you may see the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of the Seven Colors), which has a ticket too, there is a circular hiking trail that goes around the hill from the center of the town to the back of the hill and then back to the town. The trail is easy and is no more than 3km long. However it is highly rewarding and provides amazing views to a landscape that is not easy to meet anywhere else. Although the town can be touristic (depending on the season), typically the trail is not crowded and therefore it is a pleasure to hike.

The best time to be on the trail is at sunrise or even better at sunset.

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