Mendoza Province is a prime outdoor recreation area, offering climbing and hiking, cycling and mountain biking, skiing, and white-water rafting and kayaking. It’s possible to organize many (though not all) activities through city agencies listed below, but other providers have on-site services in the Andes along RN 7 (the main route to Chile) and the Río Mendoza. Most operators handle more than one activity.
For specific information on climbing Cerro Aconcagua and support services, see the Parque Provincial Aconcagua section.Destination:Activities:
Seven kilometers west of Penitentes, Puente del Inka takes its name from the natural bridge over the Río Mendoza that once held a rustic hot springs. Since detection of a fissure in the bridge, though, it’s closed to the public except for photographs—from a distance, for safety reasons.Destination:Activities:
Approaching the Chilean border, Parque Provincial Aconcagua is the site of the province’s most prominent attraction—literally so, as the bulky 6,962-meter Cerro Aconcagua is the “The Roof of the Americas,” the highest peak on two continents.
Parque Provincial Aconcagua, encompassing 71,000 hectares, lies entirely north of RN 7. The main entry point is Laguna Horcones, four kilometers northwest of Puente del Inka, but there’s also access via Punta de Vacas, 20 kilometers east.Destination:Activities:
An irresistible magnet for climbers (and aspiring climbers) from around the world, Aconcagua also draws casual visitors in private motor vehicles and tour buses, as well as day-hikers and long-distance trekkers, to enjoy the big-sky views of the Andean high country.
Of the world’s highest summits, Aconcagua probably draws the most climbers because the main route requires no technical expertise—simply good conditioning (and willingness to acknowledge physical limitations), suitable equipment, and the readiness to recognize when conditions become dangerous. The extreme and changeable weather, in particular, has claimed the lives of even experienced mountaineers: over 100 have died on the mountain, and there are fatalities almost every year, including five in the 2008–2009 season.Destination:Activities:
The main sight is Aconcagua itself, which is visible from RN 7, but there are better views from Laguna Horcones, about two kilometers north of the highway and about 20 minutes from the ranger station (though probably a bit farther than the 400 meters the trail sign suggests).
For day-hikers, the best outing is Confluencia, about eight kilometers from the ranger station, at an elevation of 3,368 meters. For a three-day camping trip, the best option is to Plaza Francia, another 13 kilometers to the north, at an elevation of 4,500 meters. This is the base camp for the highly difficult and technical Pared Sur (South Face), first ascended by a French group in 1954.Destination:Activities:
Its inner fire died long ago, but the ice-clad volcanic summit of Tronador still merits its name (the “Thunderer”) when frozen blocks plunge off its face into the valley below. The peak that surveyor Bailey Willis called “majestic in savage ruggedness” has impressed everyone from Jesuit explorer Miguel de Olivares to Perito Moreno, Theodore Roosevelt, and the hordes that view it every summer. Its ascent, though, is for skilled snow-and-ice climbers only.Destination:Activities:
In the park’s most northerly sector, the Fitz Roy Range has sheer spires to match Torres del Paine, but even if you’re not a top technical climber, trails from the village of El Chaltén to the base of summits such as Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre make for exhilarating hikes.
It’s even possible to traverse the southern Patagonian ice fields, but visitors seeking a sedate outdoor experience will find a handful of former sheep estancias, onetime Patagonian wool producers that have reinvented themselves as tourist accommodations.Destination:Activities:
There are extensive hiking and climbing opportunities in nearby Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.
From here, it’s possible to arrange a one-day trek and ice climb on Glaciar Torre (US$85 pp) with Fitz Roy Expediciones (Avenida San Martín 56, tel. 02962/49-3017, www.fitzroyexpediciones.com.ar), which also offers lengthier guided hikes—nine-day expeditions, really—on the Campo de Hielo Sur, the Southern Continental Ice Field.Destination:Activities:
At the western approach to the main road up the north side of the Cajón del Maipo, just beyond the Carabineros police post at Las Vizcachas, note the informal shrine for the folk saint Difunta Correa, strongly identified with Argentina’s San Juan province but with a distinctly binational twist here. According to legend, the young mother Deolinda Correa died of thirst in the desert in the 19th century, but her baby survived at her breast; her need for water explains the bottles left by her devotees.Destination:Activities:
From Sector Los Paraguas, on Parque Nacional Conguillío’s west side, well-equipped climbers can scale Volcán Llaima; camping is possible in summer, and there is also a refugio. There is an alternative route from Captrén, which has better public transport, on the north side. Before climbing, ask Conaf permission in Temuco.Destination:Activities:
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