- Place or Historical Monument
In the middle of the Argentine puna and at an altitude of 3,500 metres, San Antonio de los Cobres owes its fame to the Tren a las Nubes or the Train to the Clouds, which joins Salta to lots of Andean villages. The train was recently renovated, in March 2015.
In the desert landscape of the puna, and not far from the border with Chile, the town of San Antonio de los Cobres seems to be particularly lively. San Antonio's inhabitants mostly make a living from crafts. If you want to take home a llama wool poncho or hat from your trip to Argentina, then you are in the right place.
The town's main places of interest are the Polvorilla viaduct (if you are afraid of heights then don't bother) and the little mosaic covered chapel. However to be honest the town is a bit of a tourist trap and not really very interesting. However, I loved the fact that the inhabitants were really kind.
You may hear that the destination has no interest, if not being one of the stops on the Train to the Clouds. FYI: this particular train is famous for its journey through the gorgeous landscape. Due to budget issues (it is quite expensive), I didn't make this trip. In fact I arrived in San Antonio de los Cobres totally by luck; making the stop there between San Pedro de Atacama and Cachi. The road leading from this part of Chile to Argentina is simply breathtaking.
In any event, I don't really share the general opinion about the location. Certainly, the city doesn't offer anything major as far as tourism goes, strictly speaking: the viaduct - ok; the cemetery of the mines - I suppose, and the thermal baths that have been closed for a long time... In short, it is above all the "wild west" atmosphere and the truly cool hospitality of its people that pleased me. The climate's harshness, the place's isolation and the few visitors in the evening offer the feeling of being immersed in the intimacy of these people living at the end of the world. So if you've decided to discover the regions of Salta and Jujuy during your Argentine getaway and have a little extra time, why not hop on over there! And a detail that may interest you: it's a more economical point of departure towards Tolar Grande and one of the Argentine salt flats.