After a first foretaste of the Andes in Potrerillos, let’s go to the Aconcagua, the highest summit in South America and the highest mountain outside Asia. A spectacular, magic and unforgettable place!
Early morning bus
Tuesday 19th December 2017
Awaken at 5 a.m. after a short night I left with Federico to take the bus at 6 a.m., leaving to Aconcagua. Mendoza is at the doors of the Andes but it still needs about four hours to get there! The first part of the trip had nothing particular but once Potrerillos’ lake reached, the landscapes were splendid and the morning light made the mountains sublime. A seat was free at the front of the bus so I didn’t hesitate long before moving there to fully enjoy the scenery. Once again, it’s exactly the pictures I had in mind about the Argentinian roads, but it’s still something else when you see them for real…
I got to know Michaela during the trip, a German girl who was also going to Aconcagua. We finally spent the day with her and I can’t describe the mix of languages in my head between German, English and Spanish! I could still understand well the German spoken between Michaela and Federico but my brain would not reply in this language, it was only English or Spanish!
The waouh effect of the l’Aconcagua
Once at the entrance of the park, we walked up to the first basecamp, Confluencia, at about 3h walking distance and 3 400 m high.
From the beginning, the landscapes were breathtaking, All around us, each mountain had different colours, from green, orange, yellow, red, brown… with a perfect blue-sky and the snowy summit of Aconcagua in front of us. I had never seen such spectacular landscapes and felt absolutely amazed. I don’t have enough words to describe it!
We had our lunch once Confluencia reached and then went back down to the park entrance. Michaela had to hurry up as her bus was at 4.30 p.m. but we had more time with Federico so we stayed for a while admiring these landscapes that we could no get tired of.
We then walked to Punte del Inca, a village located 3 km away from the park, where our bus would leave. We had a highly appreciated beer there and went to see the Incas bridge (hence the name of the village), a natural arch that forms a surprisingly colourful bridge over the Vacas River. It was then time to drive back to Mendoza, and once again we had the chance to seat at the front of the bus to admire this wonderful road. The sunset was going down over the mountains and I felt really touched by this scenery. I’m leaving a dream every single day of this trip but more than ever in such places!
We actually wanted to stay for two days there but the prices and some difficulties regarding the organization made us change our plans. I have no regrets but I hope I will have occasions to go trekking in such places in the future, even if they are difficult.
We arrived at 23.30 in Mendoza and shared a last drink (infusion for me, I had enough wine the day before!) with Alice and Bruno, who were unfortunately leaving on the following morning. We then had no troubles to sleep after such a day!
A day off
Wednesday 20th December 2017
The last three days in Mendoza being quite busy, it was time to relax for a bit! I had a quantity of pictures to sort out and posts to write for the blog that would keep me busy for a few hours. We just went for some shopping in Mendoza with Federico (how lucky I am not to have to worry about the Christmas presents this year! ;)).
We shared a last dinner (as Federico was leaving on the following day) that was nice but the atmosphere was not the same anymore with Alice and Bruno, and it was a struggle to keep on speaking Spanish as there were only English, Australians or Americans at the hostel!
Cerro del Arco
Thursday 21st December 2017
A small storm brought some fresh air during the night, which was ideal to go hiking. I went early in the morning to El Challao, in the northwest of the city, to go up Cerro del Arco. This small summit can be climbed in about 1h30. It was not exactly a hiking trail but more a dirt and stone road leading to the top, on which stands a lot of antennas.
The walk had nothing exceptional but the view on Mendoza on one side and on the mountains on the other side was the reward. Not enough to stay long though, so I quickly went back down. I then had a quiet afternoon and treated myself with a nice ice cream. I was almost missing it since Córdoba!
Parque General San Martin
Friday 22nd December 2017
For my last day in Mendoza, I walked in the direction of the main park of the city, to Cerro de la Gloria, a hill that overlooks on the park. The walk was not very interesting as the park is crossed by huge and noisy avenues (same problem than in Buenos Aires) and the final slope to the summit is on a road with no shade (fortunately I managed to find a shortcut in the forest, which was steeper but more direct).
I didn’t take a lot of pictures of Mendoza in the end, but this city is not extremely aesthetic. It has some nice squares and huge trees along all the streets (which are necessary given the strong heat) but it has no special monument. However, it is a city in which I felt good straight after my arrival and which has a fantastic environment, between the vineyards and the mountains.
A last afternoon spent editing the pictures and let’s go for another 24-hours bus trip, heading to San Martin de los Andes, to spend Christmas In good company!
To be continued…
TIPS & PRACTICAL INFOS
Bus Mendoza – Aconcagua : $275 – 13€ with A. Buttini. A 3h30/4h trip which deserves to be done just for the scenery!
Bus Mendoza – El Challao : included in the “Red Bus” card of the city buses, about 30/45 min. Line 3 – 114-115, go down at the terminus El Challao
Hostel Lao : From $150 to $200 – de 7 à 9,40€ per night in a 4-bed dorm (price depending on the dorm as one doesn’t have lockers), breakfast included. Some double rooms also on offer. A convivial and friendly hostel, with a nice garden. Ideal for sharing with the other backpackers!
VISITS ET ACTIVITIES
Parque Provincial Aconcagua : $500 – 24€ to go up to the first campsite “Aconcagua”. After this point the price is higher.