If we unfold a map of the Road and Tourism Cartography Department of ACA at home or on the way, the key spot to mark is kilometre 349 of National Route number 52. It is there, 4,170 meters high, in the puna jujeña that will still climb higher towards the Andean mountains, where there is already working an oasis of architecture and modernity: the ACA Motel Paso de Jama.
In that plain that overwhelms us with its wind and extension, and which stretches towards the Chilean region of Atacama, the motel sets itself up as a technological stop of the 21st. century. Parking lot, bar, small supermarket and the service unit of YPF, a company once more associated to ACA in enterprises that continue to build up the country. The motel has twelve beds in its four rooms, each one provided with a private bathroom and heating. Besides, each room also has a TV set connected to the rest of the world.
When I leave for Chile...
The first reason that gives strategic importance to Paso de Jama is a commercial one. Ever since pre-Columbian times it was one of the crossings of the Andean mountains to the present Republic of Chile when the inhabitants of the atacama and omaguaca cultures carried out their interchanges through Jama. In present times, Jama binds the surface of our National Route number 52 and Chilean Route CH-27. It represents in this way a fundamental section of the Capricorn Hub bioceanic corridor, which links the towns on the Atlantic side with those of the Pacific. In Argentina, the province of Formosa is home to a key stretch. At the continental level, even the Brazilian production of San Pablo communicates with the Pacific through Jama.
The second reason is related to the climate: while the other important crossings towards Chile are usually vulnerable to the harshness of a combination of blizzard and snow that can bring to a halt the transportation caravans for days, Jama is safe from the feared “white wind”. As happens with common knowledge communication about, for example, the quality of a show or the virtue of a restaurant, the information about this advantage spread. A truck-driver stranded in one of the crossings to the south crossed through Jama without any problems and told this to a fellow driver. Evidently, the network expanded because today the people of Jama estimates that each month 100 trucks more than the previous month pass by... It is already common practice in the management of loading transportation to telephone in order to confirm the availability of fuel in case the truck arrives empty.
The pleasure of the trip
The International Crossing of Jama, guarded by the National Gendarmerie, is 349 kilometres from San Salvador de Jujuy. If you start your trip at the capital of the province, you can take National Route number 9, Highway Perico-Jujuy, taking by Multitrocha or otherwise, by Arroyo del Medio.
The trip to Jama offers the chance to go deep into one of the most surprising sceneries of the American continent; this is exactly why the majority of its sections were incorporated to the Heritage of Humanity that is surveyed in different aspects by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Only 30 kilometres away from San Salvador is the area of the Biosphere Reservation of Yungas, which is the home to the Provincial Park Potrero de Yala, with 4,300 hectares of fauna and flora of the eco-region of the yungas. However, if you go directly to Quebrada de Humahuaca, always upwards and until joining National Route number 52, you can visit, among others, the natural and cultural beauties of Tumbaya, Bella Vista, Chañarcito, Purmamarca and Cieneguillas. Then it is possible to go up along the fantastic Cuesta de Lipán, go through Caracolillo, Abra de Potrerillos and Ronque Angosto, and cross through one of the most incredible landscapes in the world: the Salinas Grandes.
Afterwards, you can go out by Quebrada del Mal Paso towards Susques. Anyway, Susques merits a separate mention. Here, in the last town to visit before the Town of Jama, it is possible to find a teller machine and, a few meters away, the adobe chapel of Our Lady of Belen of Susques. It is a small treasure of the art history in our country because of its architecture and its painted altarpiece, among other things. Built in the last years of the 16th. century, in the first decades of Spanish colonization, it is one of the oldest religious testimonies of Jujuy and a National Historical Monument since 1943. Susques also has ruins of native peoples, a cemetery which is as interesting as its second chapel built there and, in general, a silent and sunny peace. As a background, there are also volcanoes, fortunately extinct...
Beyond the motel
Once you have left Susques, you go through the dunes of Angosto de El Taire, lately searched for to slide by those who practise sandboard. Then, through the Salar de Olaroz and its chain known by the same name, you get to Quebrada de Archibarca with its fewer houses. And finally, behind them, you can see Jama volcano, the border with Chile and reference obelisk for the traveller...
When the trip continues to the Pacific, you will still enjoy the Laguna de Jama, inhabited by flamingos and herons. In conclusion: the problem of the ACA Motel Paso de Jama is that you feel more like staying than just passing through.