Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Photos: Best motorcycling roads

February 21, 2013
route 52 salinas grandes argentina
Road to the salt flats — Jujuy, Argentina

In November 2011, even though I had spent a total of four hours ever on a motorcycle, Ben and I set off on an eight-day, 4000-kilometer motorcycle journey across Argentina. I came back from that trip a convert to motorcycling, promising to repeat the experience in other corners of the world. I loved the closeness to the road and the visceral thrill of leaning into every curve. What I didn't realize at the time, and what I have now come to appreciate, is that northwest Argentina was a gorgeous, incomparable and enchanting introduction to motorcycling.

We climbed through a cloud forest, drove through vineyards flanked by towering mountains, and wove our way through desert valleys and mountaintop salt flats. We've ridden a lot in California in the last several months, and only now have I realized that motorcycling doesn't have to be as captivating as I found it that first time in Argentina. Some roads continue straight for miles, others are bounded by unending trees, and many are so poorly paved that you feel like a sack of potatoes on the back of a pickup truck.

Here's a look back at the best of Argentina's motorcycling roads, from Buenos Aires to the Salinas Grandes and back. All photos by me and Ben, unless otherwise noted.

salt flats salinas grandes bike
Salinas Grandes — Jujuy, Argentina (photo by relapsed nun)
Ruta 157 — Santiago del Estero (or Tucuman), Argentina
road salt flats Purmamarca argentina
Road to the salt flats — Jujuy, Argentina (photo by dirkoneill)
tafi del valle tucuman argentina
Tafi del Valle — Tucuman, Argentina (photo by Abel Jorge)
quebrada de las conchas salta argentina road
Quebrada de Las Conchas — Salta, Argentina
curving road desert argentina
Road to the salt flats — Jujuy, Argentina
quebrada humahuaca inca trail argentina
Quebrada de Humahuaca — Jujuy, Argentina
tilcara argentina quebrada humahuaca
A sense of the scale, that's the road cutting across the bottom of the photo — Jujuy, Argentina
Pozo Hondo — Santiago del Estero, Argentina
Valles Calchaquies salta argentina
Valles Calchaquies — Salta, Argentina (photo by  jlborelli)

Of course, that's not to say that California doesn't have its fair share of amazing motorcycle roads. More on that later.

- Steph

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