Plan Your Trip

Features of the Region

The Royal Road, which extends 176 kilometers (from the town of Colonia Caroya to the interprovincial border with Santiago del Estero), covers the region of Sierras Chicas and the northern region. Its weather, like most of the province, is mild temperate. In general terms the climate is Pampean, with not very cold winters and little rainfall. Summers are humid, with hot days and cool nights; in this season thunderstorms and even hail are frequent. The average maximum is 31 °C (88 °F) and the minimum is 17 °C (62 °F), while in the winter the average temperatures range between 19 °C (66 °F) and 4 °C (39 °F). 

In the Northern Region the vegetation is represented by the impoverished Chaco Forest, mainly consisting of woody vegetation such as black and white carob; white quebracho, mistol, tintinaco, tala, brea, garabato, sombra de toro and piquillín, among others. Within the Northern Region, there are armadillos, red and gray foxes, wild cats and pumas, guanacos, and the Pampas deer. Small rodents and birds such as ducks, herons, vultures, hawks, falcons, horneros, thrushes, parrots, cardinals, partridges, owls, woodpeckers, catitas, goldfinches, reinamoras, swallows, rufous-collared sparrows, chalk-browed mockingbirds, southern lapwings, southern crested caracaras, harriers, jotes, crespines and great kiskadees, among other species. 

There are not so many fishes. In the reptile class, there are some species of snakes and serpents, vipers (yarará, rattlesnakes), lampalaguas, iguanas, lizards, and turtles. There are also varieties of amphibians: frogs, toads and ceratophys.

In the Sierras Chicas region there are species such as sauce criollo, garabato, horco quebracho, molle de beber, sombra de toro, moradillo, lagaña de perro, durazno del campo, tala, romerillo, piquillín grande, white quebracho.

The Sierras Chicas region boasts a great variety of birds: southern lapwing, small parrot, pirincho, domestic pigeon, spotted pigeon, picazuro pigeon, red-breasted thrush, white-banded mockingbird, chalk-browed mockingbird, sparrow, common cardinal, hornero, southern crested caracara, chimango, black-crowned night heron, snowy egret, white egret, black vulture, blue-tufted starthroat, glittering-bellied emerald, red-tailed comet, white-fronted woodpecker, green-barred woodpecker, campo flicker.

Useful Information:

Oficina de Turismo
Plaza Nicolás Avellaneda
Tel: (03525) 465700

Centro Turístico
Av 28 de Julio N° 380
Tel: (03525) 464620

Oficina de Turismo de Jesús María:
Calle J. Kennedy esquina Calle Córdoba
Tel: 03525 – 539014

Municipality of Villa del Totoral - Cultural Tourist Complex:
Presidente Perón corner Roberto J. Noble
Tel: 03524 - 471856

Tourist Information Office:
Deputy Juan Carlos Moyano corner Santa Fe
Tel: 03521 - 449297

From Córdoba along Ruta Nacional 9, north to Colonia Caroya and Jesús María. Then continue along (alternative) gravel roads marked with signs indicating La Huella del Camino Real or along the asphalt roads in the area that connect some places.

The transportation companies that connect the main towns along the Royal Road are the following: 

ERSA Córdoba
Phone: 0800-345-1135
Towns: Córdoba - Jesús María - Villa del Totoral - Sarmiento - Tulumba - San Francisco del Chañar

Grupo Fono Bus
Phone: 0810-888-3661
Towns: Córdoba - Colonia Caroya - Villa del Totoral - San Francisco del Chañar

YPF – Av. San Martín 3590
AXION Energy – Ruta Nacional 9, km 751
OIL – Ruta Nacional 9, km 751 (GNC)
Shell – Ruta Nacional 9 1633

YPF – Gral. Cabrera 35 (GNC)
YPF El Cruce – Cruce RN9 y Corrientes

Estación San Antonio – Ruta Nacional 9, km 773

OIL – Ruta Nacional 9, km 784
YPF – Ruta Nacional 9, km 783

YPF – Ruta Nacional 9, km 803

El Cruce Gas Station – Ruta Provincial 22 and Ruta Provincial 18

COLONIA CAROYA - Sanatorio Caroya
Address: Av. San Martín corner Humberto Venturini Norte
Hours: Open 24 hours a day
Phone: 03525 - 466208

JESÚS MARÍA - Hospital Vicente Agüero
Address: Spain 121
Hours: Open 24 hours a day
Phone: 03525 - 426703

VILLA DEL TOTORAL - Villa del Totoral Public Hospital
Address: Hipolito Yrigoyen 50
Hours: Open 24 hours a day
Phone: 03524 - 470034

VILLA TULUMBA - Villa Tulumba Municipal Hospital
Address: Monseñor Alfonso Duran s / n
Hours: Open 24 hours a day
Phone: 03521 - 496152

Fire Department: 100

Police: 101

Civil Defense 103

Poison Control: 104

Environmental Emergency: 105

Road Accidents: 107


Casa del Friuli
Class: Residential
Category: A
Address: Av. San Martín 2482
Phone: 0351 - 156609549
E-mail: inquiries @ casadelfriuli .com

Category: Uncategorized
Address: Av. San Martín 181
Phone: 03525 - 461562

Hotel Del Sol
Class: Hotel
Category: *
Address: Av. San Martín 1894
Phone: 03525 - 422825/493133

La Vendimia
Class: Hotel
Category: *
Address: Av. San Martín 12
Phone: 03525 - 425993

Los Plátanos
Class: Inn / inn
Category: **
Address: Av. San Martín 9612
Phone: 03525 - 465858

Category: Not categorized
Address: Av. San Martín 45
Phone: 03525 - 463842

Hotel Jesús María
Category: ***
Address: Almafuerte 177
Phone: 03525 – 445888
E-mail:[email protected]

Napoleón Hotel
Category: ***
Address: Ameghino 211
Phone: 03525 – 401700
E-mail: [email protected]

La Misionera
Clase: Residencial
Category: A
Address: Tucumán 658
Phone: 03525 – 443797

Los Ceibos
Category: Not categorized
Dirección: Av 20 de julio 1275
Teléfono: 03525 – 443556

El Torreon

Category: Not categorized
Address: Av. San Martín 045
Phone: 03525-463842 / 3525615040

Camping Los Nogales

Category: Not categorized
Dirección: Padre Marcelino Boixader
Teléfono: 03525 40-0207

Residencial Santa Rita

Category: Not categorized
Dirección: Gregorio Carreras 273
Teléfono: 03525-423752/ 3525483127

Nawan Resort Serrano
Class: Hotel
Category: ****
Address: Route 9 km 760
Phone: 03525 - 446700
E-mail: [email protected]

Camino Real Plaza Hotel
Clase: Hotel
Categoría: ***
Dirección: Villa Gutierrez s/n
Teléfono: 03524 – 470005
E-mail: [email protected]

De la Villa
Clase: Casas y departamentos
Dirección: Diógenes Moyano 457
Teléfono: 03524 – 470464

La Catalina Lodge
Clase: Complejo turístico especializado cinegético
Dirección: Camino a Villa Gutierrez s/n
Teléfono: 0351 – 6069560

Estancia La Loma
Clase: Hostería / posada
Categoría: ***
Dirección: Roberto J. Noble s/n
Teléfono: 0351 – 156092660
E-mail: [email protected]

La Porteñita
Clase: Hostería / posada
Categoría: *
Dirección: Camino a Santa Catalina
Teléfono: 03524 – 422906

La Posada del Totoral
Clase: Hostería / posada
Categoría: *
Dirección: Bv. Serafín y Santa Rosa
Teléfono: 03524 – 470483

Las Vertientes
Clase: Complejo turístico especializado cinegético
Dirección: Ruta 9N km 787
Teléfono: 03524 – 15416287

Los Nuevos Chañares
Clase: Hostería / posada
Categoría: *
Dirección: Camino Rural a Tulumba Km 10
Teléfono: 0351 – 155901728

Clase: Hospedaje
Dirección: 9 de julio 82
Teléfono: 03524 – 470058

San Huberto
Clase: Hostería / posada
Categoría: *
Dirección: Ruta Nacional 9 Km 787
Teléfono: 0351 – 2955500

Solar de La Villa
Clase: Hostería / posada
Categoría: *
Dirección: Santa Rosa 352
Teléfono: 03524 – 15400925 / 470102

La Casona
Class: Residential
Category: C
Address: Calle Real s / n
Phone: 03521 - 496046/0351 - 155957215

Source: Accommodations registered in the Inspection, Control and Registration Area - Tourism Investments and Services Department. Córdoba Tourism Agency (Mixed Economy Corporation)

A Traveler's Notes

Following the Royal Road, which went from the North of Córdoba to Alto Perú, means diving into history, getting to know the cultures that have come before us and understanding our origins. The old Royal Road is signposted along the 274 kilometers that run through the province of Córdoba to the border with Santiago del Estero. Each of the milestones in our history is marked along the way with cement totems, with ceramics representing the importance of each place and a cobblestone way that precedes the entrance to each spot.

From the city of Córdoba, if you take Ruta 9 Norte, you will find the intersection (54 kilometers away) that indicates the entrance to Jesús María and Colonia Caroya. When turning left, enter Colonia Caroya through Avenida San Martín (Ruta E66) and about 400 meters away you will find the entrance to the Jesuit farmhouse and the Weapons Museum. In the same place, and on the street is the Interpretation Center, where you can get information of interest, before entering and touring the Jesuit Farmhouse, a World Heritage Site.

In the different rooms of the Caroya Farmhouse, the different uses of the property are narrated. During the Jesuit period, it was used as a rural productive establishment and as a resting place for the students of Monserrat School and the University. It also served as a factory of bladed weapons, during the Independence War. And, finally, as a place of shelter and accommodation for the Friulian immigrants who came from Italy and founded Colonia Caroya. In the park that surrounds the farmhouse, there are remains of the old water mill, the irrigation ditches and the small dam.

When leaving and across the street, visitors can take the riverbank of the neighboring city, Jesús María, up to the bridge that connects with the Jesús María Farmhouse, a national Jesuit museum, declared a World Heritage Site.

In the property used by the Jesuits for wine production, the press and barrels, the old kitchen and the dining room are preserved, as well as the baths with their water channels, the mill and the small dam. Collections of religious art are exhibited in its rooms, as well as ceramics and vessels of the native peoples. Part of the Arroyo Leyes (Santa Fe province) collection of domestic and ceremonial objects belonging to the African American inhabitants is exhibited in its chapel.

At the side and outside the farmhouse, there is a bar and restaurant and a restoration house, which also has in its property what was part of the mill of the old farmhouse and part of the hydraulic system, and its ducts, built by the Jesuits.

About 3 km from the Jesuit Jesús María Farmhouse is located the Sinsacate Relay Station National Museum, the place where General San Martín received an important contribution of horses for the Army of the North. The contribution to the cause against the royalists was made by the then governor of Córdoba, José Javier Díaz, who included Córdoba into the League of Artigas and declared Independence from the Spanish crown, before the official date of July 9.

In the Museum, there are old carriages of historical interest and a map that traces the itinerary of the Royal Road from the north of Córdoba to Alto Perú. Its small chapel was the scene of a history-making event, since it was the site of the mortuary chapel of Juan Facundo Quiroga, who was assassinated along with his secretary and delegation, a few kilometers from the place, in Barranca Yaco.

Barranca Yaco is located to the North along the Old Royal Road. A dry square and a monument were erected in the place where Quiroga was attacked. The wooden crosses symbolize and pay homage to the comrades of the caudillo (9), whose body, after being mourned in the chapel of Sinsacate, arrived at the Cathedral of Córdoba, where he was posthumously honored.

A huge stone from the Andes was brought to the monument to General Quiroga some 70 years ago, when the spot was first marked.

Continuing along the Royal Road and after a few minutes of traveling along it, visitors arrive at the town of Sarmiento, where the old Los Talas relay station was located. There, General José de San Martín and Manuel Belgrano stopped to rest on their trip to Alto Perú, when they alternately commanded the Army of the North. The chief of the federal army Juan Bautista Bustos, who was the first constitutional governor of Córdoba, also rested at Los Talas relay station. In this spot, an ancient carob tree marks the dividing line between roads: on one side, the Royal Road, and on the other, the road that led to La Rioja, also known as Camino de los riojanos (Road of the people from La Rioja).


Totoral and Its Manors

Towards the North along the old Royal Road and crossing Ruta E56 —which communicates with the city of Deán Funes and continues towards Catamarca— you will find Villa del Totoral, Cavisacate for the natives or Villa General Mitre, until the 60s. Once there, you will find the Cerro de la Cruz or Cerro Totoral and the river basins that keep the remains of mortars of its first inhabitants. An ideal place for walking or trekking.

In Villa del Totoral, a circuit of large houses invites you to take a tour: La Canchona, the oldest, was part, before its division, of the Totoral farmhouse. The place preserved a building belonging to the Cabrera family, descendants of Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera, founder of Córdoba; La Loma farmhouse, which belonged to the Noble family, founder of the Clarín newspaper, built with tiles brought from Spain; the manor of Aráoz Alfaro, former Secretary General of the Communist Party of Latin America, where political and cultural figures such as Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Ernesto Sábato stayed; and where the Spanish exiles Rafael Alberti and his wife María Teresa León and the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Chilean Pablo Neruda, found refuge.

In that residence, Pablo Neruda wrote some of his memorable verses such as Oda al albañil tranquilo (Ode to the quiet bricklayer), and one of the daughters of Alberti and León was born there.

Also in the village, there is the house where the painter Octavio Pinto was born; the manor of the Roca family, where Deodoro, author of the manifesto of the University Reform, vacationed; and the house of Nadal Crespo, politician, and journalist.

The Octavio Pinto museum —another must-see— keeps letters of the former owner of the house with Ortega y Gasset and with the reformists of 1918, movement of which he was part, and a painting —triptych— acquired by Deodoro Roca. Next to the museum, the Petit bar is located, a place of memorable gatherings of locals and visitors.

If you stand at that point, along 25 de Mayo street, where the Petit bar is located, and continue north, you will reach the Macha relay station. The road has beautiful views and from the relay station, one of the highest points of the old Royal Road, you can see the valley and the Ischilín mountain ranges. A rewarding experience.

In the Las Vertientes farmhouse, there are the remains of the old Macha relay station —one of the most important, if not the most important of the 19th century— a place where the liberating armies were concentrated and where weapons and mules were gathered. There, San Martín's armies were grouped together to march towards Alto Perú.

Leaving the farmhouse, about 800 meters away, you will find the Macha country house and following the road, after passing through San Antonio and Ojo de Agua, you will reach the asphalt of Ruta 16. This is the road that leads to Deán Funes (to the left) and to the historic Villa Tulumba (to the right, at approximately 3 km).


Tulumba, Historical Heritage

The layout of Tulumba, which the King of Spain, Charles IV, approved in 1803, at the initiative of the governor-mayor of Córdoba, Marquis of Sobremonte, remains intact.

In the center of the town and where four streets meet, colloquially called the 4 corners, a small majolica alludes to the fact that Tulumba was declared Historical Heritage of the province of Córdoba. There, you can find the main square, Granadero Marques —who was a local and one of San Martín's grenadiers— and also the tala tree under which Fray Mamerto Esquiú, who laid the foundation stone of the church, rested.

The church of the town has the original altarpiece of the Society of Jesus that would later go to the Cathedral Church of Córdoba. Next to it, the ruins of the old church built by the Jesuits are located.

One of the streets of Tulumba, where the old police building of the province is located, keeps the old coat of arms of Córdoba from the end of the 19th century. On that same street is the house of José Vicente Reynafé, federal governor and caudillo of the area, to whom is attributed the mastermind of the assassination of Facundo Quiroga.

After the death of Quiroga, the Reynafé brothers were judged and shot in Buenos Aires, by order of Juan Manuel de Rosas, after a trial that found them guilty, in spite of many doubts.

In front of the Reynafé house is the former home, now a museum, of Father Benítez, confessor of María Eva Duarte de Perón and president of the Foundation, who accompanied her until her death.


A Sea of Caranday Palm Trees

Returning from Totoral, the asphalted road that leads to Deán Funes, towards the West, you arrive at Inti Huasi, which is another relay station of the Royal Road that unfortunately can only be appreciated from the road.

From Inti Huasi to the right and along the asphalt road, you will see that the vegetation changes abruptly until you suddenly find an extensive forest: a sea of caranday palm trees, the largest forest of this unique and endemic species in the province.

A few kilometers from Inti Huasi, we arrive at the Santa Cruz relay station, the most genuine one, as it still preserves the huge animal pens that were used to keep the cattle in transit to the North, while the traveler and the muleteer rested. Its structure is almost entirely original, and the natural environment has remained the same over the last centuries. This was an obligatory resting place for figures such as Belgrano, San Martín, and General Alvear.

Leaving the relay station and even when visiting it, you can see that the original trace of what used to be the Royal Road is still preserved. It is one of the few places that still keeps vestiges of that road.

Continuing north, you head towards San Pedro, with this landscape of palm trees and entering the mountainous area. Halfway along the road, between the relay station and San Pedro, you find a factory called Fibrapalma: the espadrille factory that used jute obtained from caranday palms as raw material.


The Oldest Chapel

The road leads to the San Pedro Viejo Relay Station, where the oldest chapel in Córdoba stands, declared a historical monument as it evidences the vernacular architecture of the 18th century. The chapel, built around 1760/70, belonged to the estate of Pedro Luis de Cabrera, son of Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera, who owned the land since 1602.

The chapel preserves very old images and three of them are paradigmatic: an image of the sorrowful Virgen de los Dolores; an articulated Christ, also from the 18th century, and one of the oldest images in Argentina, the image of San Pedro —named by the locals, due to its size, as San Pedrito—, which is covered with a pontifical vestment, because it seems that he is dressed as a Pope, in red color and precious stones. The chapel also has interesting carved and exquisitely crafted doorways and suspenders.

Between the building of the relay station and the church, the small dam is located, with a beautiful panoramic view.

A short walk (approximately of one kilometer) from San Pedro Norte welcomes us with its 18th and 19th century country house, one of which belonged to the Montilla Cabrera family, direct descendants of the founder of Córdoba. The town, in addition to old houses, has historic farms and a cemetery that houses some upright tombs of immigrant families.

Leaving San Pedro Norte and following the existing signs you head towards El Carrizal. This trail will take you through a mountain range area that opens up to different places of interest for the visitor: one of them is the one that leads to Cerro Colorado and the other to Chuña Huasi.

El Carrizal, marked as part of the Royal Road, is an old Italian-style farmhouse, now abandoned. Tristán Vivas built this Italian villa in the middle of a moorland in 1870.

Following the journey along the gravel road, you arrive at San Francisco Viejo. The Entre Ríos caudillo Francisco “Pancho” Ramírez was killed in its surroundings. A monument erected in the place testifies of it and pays homage to Ramírez, lieutenant of José Gervasio de Artigas, Governor of Entre Ríos.

The story tells that Ramírez —in confrontation with the army led by the Santa Fe Brigadier, Estanilao Lopez, and the Governor of Córdoba, Juan Bautista Bustos, who was the Head of the Army of the North— escaped from the troops of Bustos and Lopez and headed towards Río Seco, trying to find a way to reach his territory of Entre Ríos.

In that spot, his beloved Delfina, who was marching behind him, was overtaken by a federal party, commanded by Colonel Bedoya, on the side of the people of Córdoba, and Orrego, Commander of López's army, who took her prisoner. Ramírez, upon noticing this, turns his horse around to confront them and rescue her. It is there where he is shot dead with a pistol. This is how “Pancho” Ramírez dies, attempting to rescue his beloved Delfina.

“The supreme caudillo from Entre Ríos goes from San Francisco to Río Seco, retreating and fighting between Bedoya and Orrego. He has very few gauchos left, how far away is your small homeland! You will no longer see Entre Ríos trying to defend your beloved Delfina. They seize your dear one, they outrage her attires and a save me screams to you! It makes the caudillo return. A jaguar that awakens his fierceness. So was Pancho Ramírez in defense of his beloved lady. From the merciless enemy, he brings Delfina to safety on the back of the great brave Mr. Anacleto Medina. But cruel destiny wanted to reward his nobility, a heart bloomed by a lost bullet. Sunset in Río Seco, a bloody poncho and the dreams of a brave gaucho from Entre Ríos were extinguished. And from then on, his name Pancho Ramírez, for the glory of Entre Ríos, will remain well alive.” (Chacarera of Linares Cardozo, who relates the event.)

About 3 km from there, you find Las Piedritas Relay Station, a place that became a historical landmark because it was there that the former Viceroy Liniers was imprisoned when he was heading North to organize the May counterrevolution. He hid there, knowing that the revolutionary troops were coming to look for him and arrest him. In this place he was arrested and then executed by firing squad nearby.

Las Piedritas is an original relay station that only had its gallery restored.


Towards the Provincial Border

From this relay station, the road goes to San Francisco del Chañar, today a city, named Cachi, in Quechua, which means salty. The town was built on the lands of the old Chañar farmhouse.

At the time of the Marquis of Sobremonte, there was much debate about whether to build a relay station there or in Villa de María del Río Seco. Finally, the decision was made in favor of Chañar since, as it had been a large farmhouse, it had a church, animal pens and a supply store. The Chañar relay station is not restored, but the place preserves (next to the church and in front of the square) an old forge of carts. Its church, the highest in the province of Córdoba, is known as the Cathedral of the North.

The last relay station of the old Royal Road, before entering the territory of the province of Santiago del Estero, is located about 7 km from there, following one of the side streets to the square: it is the Pozo del Tigre Relay Station.

This relay station was the place where González Balcarce announced to the revolutionary government of May that the former Viceroy Liniers had been captured and that he would be shot, in Los Papagayos Mountain, in the border with Santa Fe. This relay station is important because it was the last one on the plains: from there it went into what is now the territory of Santiago del Estero, which led to the Ambargasta relay station, located in a very arid area, with a lot of saltpeter, where traffic was complicated.

Pozo del Tigre relay station invited travelers to have a good rest. Visitors can find rooms with furniture and objects from the period.

By Jorge Allievi