Remember Helms Klamm from Lord of the Rings? Argentina has a small city in the Andes which is nearly as scenery and would have made a good castle as well. I´m talking about Iruya. Located in the state of Salta, very close to the border with Bolivia its probably the most beautiful located town in the mountains of Argentina. Now that the tourism is getting more and more to this area it starts to develop a little, but the main income of the locals here is still herding their sheep, goats or donkeys, crafting artisans or farming what little grows up here. Obviously, it wouldn´t be that unspoiled if it would be easy to access. As mentioned its located in the state of Salta but is only accessible from the neighboring state Jujuy. You can take a bus in the City of Humahuaca for 95 Pesos (roughly 5 dollars) which will bring you in 3 hours to your destination. But, it´s not always as simple as just buying a ticket.
If it rained too much in the last days the buses will simply not go. They have to cross several rivers, go up to over 4000 meters above sea level and back down trough steep canyons. While the ride you will understand why its only possible in good conditions. Yeah even when you buy your ticket they hand you an extra paper which mentions that you might get stuck there or will have to walk a part of the road when the bus can´t continue. This is exactly what happened to me on my ride. The bus stopped roughly 2 km before town because one of the river crossings was not passable yet. But if you make it there, you´ll get cheap hostels, even cheaper camping and incredible views where ever you go or look.
Tons of hiking possibilities, bird watching (we saw 2 condors just while having a beer on our little hostel terrace) and a lovely town with even more lovely people. If you prefer it even more isolated, you can hike from here to the town of San Isidro. This little town is only accessible by hiking and this only while perfect conditions and obviously it’s also recommended to take a guide. All in all definitely one of the coolest located places I experienced while traveling and highly recommended not only for nature lovers.