The Mendoza province is most commonly known as the wine country of Argentina, but it offers much more than just good vino, it is also an all-season outdoor mecca that is full of sight-seeing opportunities and adventures.
Most trekkers take off from the hub of Mendoza, toward the Uspallata Valley with aspirations of completing their ultimate trekking adventures. Mountains surround this area in all directions and provide a completely different type of scenery than is seen in other parts of the country. The mountains are huge and rocky, the land is dry, and the population is sparse. As you continue along this one lane highway toward the Chilean border you will begin to zero in on the highest peak and biggest challenge of them all Cerro Aconcagua.
The overly ambitious trekking extremists out there will be happy to hear that Cerro Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the western hemisphere sits within the Argentina boundaries and will definitely give any outdoorsman a run for their money. Those with goals of ascending to the very top of the mountain must give themselves a good week as the hike is broken down into stages to allow the body and lungs to adjust to the 6,962 meters above sea level. The climb is not technically difficult but it is very demanding in terms of strength and endurance. There are various routes that can be taken with the south face being the most difficult, and the normal route stretching up along the west side of the mountain.
Parque Provincial Aconcagua
If you are hoping to experience Aconcagua but to a less extreme degree, there are plenty of other options and smaller treks. At the base of the mountain sits the Parque Provincial Aconcagua which is the starting point for many of the smaller hikes in the area. There are numerous trail heads that weave through the lagoons and alongside Rio Mendoza which any and every person can choose to follow at their desired pace. The degree of difficulty will vary from person to person depending on how their legs and lungs allow them to move.
Puente del Inca
Right up the street from Parque Provincial Aconcagua sits Puente del Inca – an incredible bridge that was developed over a natural hot springs in the past lives of the Incan people. Trekking may not be the appropriate word for the activity that you can do there because there is hardly any uphill involved, but walking around this magnificent area and observing the geological wonder is highly recommended. And what better way to rest those sore trekking muscles than by soaking them in the natural hot springs that is still open to people to sit in.
Cristo el Redentor
Another trekking destination is Cristo el Redentor – a statue that was raised to the high peaks of the Andes Mountains in 1904 as a symbol of peace between Argentina and Chile. Many people choose to take the single lane dirt road that, when open, will lead you to the top of the 12,572 above sea level where you can look face to face with Christ the Redeemer.
But if you are looking for a great trekking opportunity you can definitely get the sights and the exercise in one trip. There is a dirt road that winds around the mountain and eventually leads to the peak if you show up in the summer. But even if you arrive in the off season, there is always an option of hiking up the ridge of the mountain. This trek is of greater difficultly, there is no real trail, and although it is a short 2 hours, it is also a steep and tiring 2 hours. The views are to die for and the reward is when you finally get to share the views with 20 foot man that waits up top.
Cerro Penitentes lies within the beautiful landscapes of the Mendoza province as well and is another popular area for avid trekkers. These rocky figures stretch up to 4,350 meters in the beautiful Andes Mountain Range, which means that an ascent to the top is somewhat more demanding. Generally this hike takes about 2/3 days and involves camping out at Quebrada de Vargas after the first day of trekking.
From this site, day two usually consists of an additional five hours to reach the peak before returning to base camp, and the follow day is the return to the town of Penitentes where the adventure both begins and ends. It may be a long journey, but the solitude and peace that is witnessed from the top of the mountain makes it worth every minute of the trip. This trek is best scheduled from November to April in Argentina’s summer months.
There are plenty of trekking options and guided tours in the area that offer anywhere from full day to 7 day excursions. Your first stop should be the city of Mendoza where you will find a plethora of information.
If you are hoping to summit Aconcagua check out www.aconcagua.com for more information. And to look into some of the other trekking opportunities in the Mendoza province contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like more information and pictures on this trek to Cristo el Redentor specifically, check out our very own ATG article by clicking here
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