At the foot of the Andes in western Argentina, the region of Mendoza, set against the backdrop of the Andes’s highest peak, is a range of breathtaking elegance and a destination offering various attractions and adventures. The landscape of over 900 vineyards, reaching out to the far-reaching horizon, against the Cerro Aconcagua towering high above creates a stark contrast of valley and mountain in this arid, dry province.
The city of Mendoza, the region’s capital, offers a green oasis in the desert-like area, with its vast plazas, wide boulevards overshadowed by mounting sycamores, pedestrianized squares with lively cafes, forested parks, and social street fairs. The city’s outskirts, however, are its real charm. Driving west from the town, the panorama of rolling vineyards opens to a world-renowned wine country proffering daily wine tasting and tours.
Great excursions are available in this region. Day hikes to Cerro Aconcagua, the largest peak in the Americas at 6962 m. and second only to Mount Everest in the Himalayas, are famous here. You can also explore guided horseback riding, rappelling, mountain biking, canoeing, and trekking trips.
Further on, the small town of Uspallata and its valley, a lush green area created from the melting snows of the enormous mountains towering above, presents stunning viewpoints of the rainbow red, orange, purple, pink, and yellow colors of the rocky cliffs that rise from the crystal clear river waters. Here, the Mendoza River boasts the best whitewater rafting in Argentina. Studded with class III and IV rapids, it offers all necessary conditions for speeding through its waves, snaking its way across the upper valley region through Precordilla. Exceptional rafting journeys for the whole family can be had at the tamer Atuel River canyon, set at the Overo volcano’s foot, where class I and II rafting is possible.
Further on, the Puente Del Inca, a fascinating geological phenomenon and historically a religious place for the Incas, highlights a natural bridge formed from the local hot springs’ sulfuric waters, turning everything in its way yellow. Walking to Aconcagua National Park from here, you’ll arrive at astounding Lago Horcones.
In the winter, the region is a famous ski destination with world-class resorts blessing its peaks. Also, the thermal springs offer an excellent way to ease tired limbs after an adventure-packed day.
The host of sights – the creeks, rivers, stunning valleys, and mountains, the adventures possible, from laid-back walking to class IV rafting, the area’s lovely metropolis of Mendoza, second largest in Argentina – all combine to make Mendoza Province an excellent family adventure holiday spot to be included in an Argentinean holiday.
Things to do in Mendoza
- Hike up Cerro Arco: It is a comfortable half-day hike quickly done independently from Mendoza, providing breathtaking views of both the Andean foothills behind and the broad expanse of Mendoza’s fields to the front. Cerro Acro is the rising mountain to Mendoza’s northwest. It is also utilized as the base for paragliding. Take bus line 3 (114/115) after arriving at Sarmiento, just west of the Plaza Independencia to El Challao Mirador, at the edge of the line 8km to the northwest. There is a turnaround at the edge of the bus line where you get off. From here, stroll across from the white nightclub, following the wall for around 100 meters, then take an unpaved track further west until you enter a small restaurant/mountaineering clubhouse/ museum – then follow the path to the north (going through the gate). This is a favorite hike for Mendocino at the weekend, but it may be empty during the week.
- Skiing: Skiing is widespread in the winter, but the period is short. Closest are Los Puquios (beginner) and Penitientes (bigger), almost to the Chilean border. You could take the Espreso Uspallata milk runs, or by bus tickets or packages from the many companies on Las Heras Street, between Peru and Mitre streets, where there are also lots of clothes rental shops ski equipment.
- Paragliding: Paragliding can be done in Mendoza year-round. Tours include a tandem flight of about 15 minutes with an expert pilot. Costs are about USD 120. It is relatively safe with extra protection.
- Small group and private Wine Tours: The most famous high-end wine tours are Uncorking Argentina, Amphora Wine Tours, and Trout & Wine, which take groups to better wineries, include better tastings and a multi-course wine pairing lunch. Most of these tours start at around USD 200, which also includes lunch.
- Harvest Festival: Harvest Festival (Vendimia) happens every year in Match. It is unmissable, with numerous events relating to wine and concerts to enjoy.