Written by SeenThat on 29 Nov, 2008
A park larger than its own townOccupying 307 hectares, and offering 17 kilometers of paths, the San Martin Park in Mendoza is larger than the adjacent downtown area and probably is the town’s main attraction. The park can be easily reached by foot from the…Read More
A park larger than its own townOccupying 307 hectares, and offering 17 kilometers of paths, the San Martin Park in Mendoza is larger than the adjacent downtown area and probably is the town’s main attraction. The park can be easily reached by foot from the downtown area; it is delimited by the avenues Emilio Civit to the north, Boulogne Sur Mer to the east and San Francisco De Asis to the south. To the west are hills on which a future expansion is planned, and beyond them the mighty Andes mountains. A view of the city is available from the top of the hill Cerro de la Gloria, within the park.The Western ParkIn 1861, an earthquake destroyed much of Mendoza; many diseases were brought by the massive destruction. One of the steps adopted to put an end to the health crisis was the forestation of the area west of downtown and the creation of new neighborhoods in this area. Until then, this was an altitude desert, as much of the Andes Mountains are. Later, in 1896, the forest was transformed into the "Parque del Oeste," the Western Park. The French architect Carlos Thays was hired to design the new park; he had designed several other parks in Argentina before that. The result was a huge park with a distinctive European touch which is several sizes bigger on its hosting town. In the best South American fashion, its name was later changed to the one of a general.The park has thirty-four sculptures; among them are the impressive "La Fontaine de L'Observatoire" located in front of the rose garden and the monument to the Andean Army. Among them are a science park belonging to a local university, a soccer stadium in which games of the World Cup 1978 took place, a botanic garden, a Greek amphitheater, a zoo, the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, a tennis, horse races, fencing, golf and other clubs. Ending the list is an artificial lake where water sports are played and the Regatas Club is placed. The main entrance gates were placed in 1909 and feature an impressive condor, a theme that appears in other sculptures within the park. Within the park are more than 300 species of trees brought from all around the world.ActivitiesThe park offers special activities during the weekends; these begin at the roundabout next to the Rosedal (the "Roses Walk"). On Saturdays those include walks (10 AM), Aerobics (4 PM), Salsa (5:30 PM) and others. On Sundays the menu includes yoga (9 AM), Aerobics (11:30 AM), walks (10 and 11:30 AM) and others. The MuseumAt the southern tip of the lake is the Natural Sciences and Anthropology Museum. This is one of the oldest museums in Argentina and displays more than forty thousand items related to the country, including rocks, fossils, animal species as well as collections related to the Inca and Huarpe cultures.The VisitThe park is huge; hoping to see its attractions in a single visit is hopeless. Probably the best way to enjoy just a visit, is beginning with a walk from downtown Mendoza to the main entrance, passing through the elegant condor sitting upon the gate and then wandering around. The lake, the main fountain, the many trees surrounding the paths, the gardens and the other visitors assure a pleasant visit even if not all the clubs and museums and whatever would be seen. At first sight the park seemed idyllic, being so oversized in comparison to its city meant it looked empty. I visited it during the afternoon and as in the town, the police presence was massive and on the verge of scary.The lowest point in the park was the artificial lake. It looked… well, artificial. Out of place in a high desert, its perfectly defined shores created a strident touch in the otherwise enjoyable park.Beyond the lake, the place seemed to have been designed for lovers. Soft pastel colors, too many flowers and endless secret spots created a paradise for first kisses. Accordingly, most visitors at the time of my visit were couples; joggers diversified the human presence.One of the most impressive points – especially since it seemed unplanned – was the main avenue splitting the park in two. Completely straight, it run westwards and was flanked by tall trees. As expected, the road and two lines of trees met at the horizon, but there, instead of seeing the blue sky, was an impressively tall, brown wall belonging to the lower parts of the Andes.Close
Zoning TimeI had left Buenos Aires in the afternoon. Next morning just before 8 AM, we entered the Terminal del Sol, Mendoza’s bus terminal. I picked up my luggage and entered the building, which looked too empty for being in a main city. Dismissing such…Read More
Zoning TimeI had left Buenos Aires in the afternoon. Next morning just before 8 AM, we entered the Terminal del Sol, Mendoza’s bus terminal. I picked up my luggage and entered the building, which looked too empty for being in a main city. Dismissing such an early morning thought, I entered La Posta, the first coffee shop I saw in the building. Coffee was my main priority. On the wall was a clock showing that it was before 7 AM.In such a way, I found that Argentina had exempted thirteen provinces of following the daylight saving time for the summer of 2008-9. Thus the country was for the first time divided in two time zones. The western and southern provinces kept a different time than the central and eastern ones.Linking CulturesHaving arrived from Buenos Aires, the sound of the local dialect was clearly distinctive. At first the difference was difficult to pinpoint, but soon it became evident the local Spanish was closer to the one spoken in Bolivia.I saw graffiti using the exclamation "ya!" which is never used in Buenos Aires in such a way but is very common on the Bolivian highlands. A restaurant was named "Yapa," which is the Aymara and Quechua verb "to add;" usually it is used in the food industry to imply a smaller second serving, especially in the form of the diminutive "yapita." The Argentinean "y" (in the beginning or end of a word) and "ll" are very different from the ones used in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries; it sounds like an English "sh." However, in Mendoza I heard the word "ayer" (yesterday) pronounced as "ay-ehr," again as in Bolivia.Finally, I saw the wiphala flag (the colorful Bolivian Indigenous people flag) hanging from a balcony and the name Aymara being used by several establishments and I began suspecting that many of the locals migrated from the northern neighbor. Moreover, a very popular soft drink in Bolivia is called "Mendocina" (meaning "from Mendoza").Deep InsightsAt first sight, the views were pleasant. Wide sidewalks flanked wider avenues; green trees separated between them. People sat drinking lazy coffees at sidewalk cafes. Attempting to take a few pictures (after all this is an IgoUgo hot destination) I almost fell into a deep ditch and got in such a way another deep insight into the town. Most of the sidewalks featured open, deep and unmarked ditches. Nobody could explain why they were not covered or at least marked. Beggars slept next to them, again with nobody noticing them.InternetThe several internet cafes I met in downtown were part of a local chain, an intriguing sign tempted me inside one of them."How much costs the hour?""Right now, it is 4 ARP per fifty minutes."The phrasing of the answer was as strange as the sign I had seen. After a few questions, I found they have a differential pricing scheme in which the more customers in the shop, the higher the connection price. Later I checked the price again and it was 2 ARP per thirty-two minutes. I never understood how they compute a long stay in which the number of customers in the shop changes.Graffiti and PolicemenOther very obvious characteristics were the almost ubiquitous graffiti and policemen. The first were almost expected and standard, as if they have been copied from other Argentinean cities, or (who knows?) painted by members of the same unknown, undercover organizations. The last came in an awesome variety: walking, bicycle riding, motorized vehicle riding, and dog-walking policemen. I have not seen any other city – at least cities not in an openly declared state of emergency – with the exception of La Paz in Bolivia feature such a large number of police troops. Yet, all over the city were signs reading "+ control" that attempted to promote the enlargement of the police activities. "I am safe here," I thought before seriously exploring the town.Later, in the late afternoon of my first day in town, I already knew I’ll be writing about the police presence in downtown. I needed pictures.Nonchalantly, I took out my smallest camera – I wanted to get a natural looking picture – and aimed it in a random direction of the Sarmiento walking street and waited for a policeman to appear. I assumed it wouldn’t take long.Seconds later, a police on bicycle appeared in my findview. I let her get closer and then pressed a button in my camera. She passed next to me – trying hard to disguise she was looking at me - and then I took another picture from the back, since her vest was marked "Policia." Two clear pictures.I was returning the camera to its place, when she stopped and left the bicycle under the nearest tree.Seconds later, standing next to me, she asked:"Are you a tourist?""Si," I said in my best Spanish."Where are you from?"I answered, giving her my best smile."Do you want me to send you a copy of the picture?" I thought asking her. Instead, I kept smiling; she couldn’t use her weapons on me and ten seconds later she left without adding a word.On Coins and CigarettesOn my first night in town I crossed the central plaza three times; two in the evening, in my way to and from dinner, and one in the early morning when I was leaving for the Aconcagua Mountain.The scenes I found in the area, including the nearby blocks were quite frightening. All of the sudden, there was no police patrolling and small groups of men and women occupied strategic positions at the street corners. "Una monedita y un cigarillo, señor," a young man shouted after me. "A small coin and a cigarette please," he had said while I began walking faster.By the next group a young woman said to me:"Quince pesos, señor," fifteen pesos she had told without specifying what she was offering for that.After that I made a point of avoiding the groups, but even that didn’t help."Una monedita y un cigarillo, señor," a shirtless young man shouted while walking after me. I began walking really fast now."No tenga miedo, solo una monedita," he added. "Don’t be afraid, just a small coin;" the fact that five or six of his fans were behind him didn’t make his statement very credible. I took one turn to the right, the next to the left and they were gone. The bus terminal with the bus to the Aconcagua was now in clear sight.Could it been that the police didn’t know about these activities at the very center of the town? Could a complete stranger have witnessed what they haven’t seen? I doubted that. More control they wanted, thus a certain level of insecurity was to be displayed. Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 24 Aug, 2007
In 1967 I arrived at Mendoza city selling books and decided that it was the city where I wanted to live, after having traveled town by town over fourteen different Provinces of Argentina. Even today, it would be my first choice, if it were not…Read More
In 1967 I arrived at Mendoza city selling books and decided that it was the city where I wanted to live, after having traveled town by town over fourteen different Provinces of Argentina. Even today, it would be my first choice, if it were not because the cost of living is somewhat higher than in the province of Córdoba, where I live. Unfortunately, the oil company where I worked decided to replace me by another employee that was earning half my salary…or I would still be living in that charming city.Mendoza is a beautiful city, with all the advantages of large cities, and none of its problems. Being so near Chile, it is literally invaded by Chilean tourists due to the favorable exchange rate, not only for touring but also for shopping. Although Mendoza's prices are not as good as those you will find in Córdoba (Ituzaingó street) or in Buenos Aires, it still offers good options for buying. If you want fashion, you will go to the Palmares Shopping Center in Chacras de Coria or to the Mendoza Plaza Shopping in Guaymallen. As I said above, I lived three and a half years in Mendoza and never would have left, but I lost my job and had to relocate in Buenos Aires. Climate is wonderful, if you want to see Cinerama or go to a symphonic concert, you have those options. Surprisingly, it is one of the provinces with a high theft rate, so common sense is indispensable. Avoid late hours on the street in solitary areas, and avoid also crowded areas...HOTELS. A one star hotel will charge you anything between 20 and 25 dollars per night. Mendoza has only one five star hotel, a Park Hyatt. The Aconcagua hotel (4 stars) would be my choice IF you can afford it. www.hotelaconcagua.com. I stayed at a good 2-star hotel (Castelar, Gutierrez 598, Phone (54-261) 423-4245) and paid 20 dollars per night. But that was two years ago, and now it could be costing some 25 dollars for a single room. I would NOT stay at the hotel Mallorca (1 star), I stayed once there, it was an old room at the end of an open gallery, and it was not up to one-star hotel standards (even in Argentina). Food is not expensive in Mendoza, a meal can cost anything between 5 and 10 dollars. A full-day tour to the Andes can cost some 25 dollars per person, and if you bargain it with the travel agency, they may include the meal: otherwise you will spend some 8 to 10 dollars more. Recommended tours: Mendoza Alta Montaña (full day, up to Las Cuevas and Aconcagua Park); Cañón del Atuel (beautiful, but it lasts some 14 hours) cost some 15 dollars; city tour, some 10 dollars. "Ruta del Vino" (wineries and vineyards). There is a very nice mountain hotel in Uspallata, some 60 miles away from Mendoza towards the Aconcagua. Uspallata is a very nice quiet village with some 3,000 inhabitants, with a pastoral scene and buses about every couple of hours to Mendoza. The Gran Hotel Uspallata is a good option if you want to relax. It has a large park and view towards the mountains. It is a 3-star hotel and has affordable rates. This is their website: www.atahoteleria.com.ar/uspallata. You will have to ask rates using their query form, but I remember that they were not outrageous, but quite cheaper than in Mendoza city. If you want to go to Las Leñas, I suggest you go on a tour and come back the same day. Hotels in Las Leñas are very expensive (as much as 280 dollars for a double room in July). But Las Leñas is fascinating. See my separate report on this ski paradise.You can go walking to the General San Martín Park; it is beautiful, has a beautiful lake, a rowing club and a nice rose park. There are also traffic vans that tour you through the park at an affordable price. If you are more than two, you might want to hire a taxi up to the Vallecitos ski center. It is an enjoyable trip and will cost you some 30 to 35 dollars (for the trip, not per person). The most important ski center in central Mendoza is Penitentes. You will see it on the high mountain tour. Regular bus services can take you there. Buses to Mendoza: From Buenos Aires: Andesmar (first class service); Autotransportes San Juan, San Juan-Mar del Plata and others. Avoid TAC. Not all their buses are bad, but... From Córdoba: Andesmar and Mercobus. From Tucumán, Catamarca, La Rioja and San Juan: Andesmar From Bariloche: Andesmar. Expreso Uspallata (www.eusa.com.ar, website in construction) has very comfortable buses and also runs to Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Las Leñas and other destinations. Taxis are not expensive. Andesmar seems to be running no longer from San Rafael city to Mendoza, but other companies cover this route about every two hours.Wherever you go, don’t miss a visit to Mendoza city It is a charming city. To see my photos of Mendoza city, please click here: http://groups.msn.com/ARGENTINAPAISMARAVILLOSO/fotosderobertoingledew2arg.msnw?Page=11Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 23 Apr, 2007
THE ROAD TO THE ACONCAGUA (PUENTE DEL INCA, POLVAREDAS, PENITENTES, AND LAS CUEVAS)
The second last time I took this tour (in September, three years ago), I was fortunate. As the road to the Cristo Redentor was blocked by the snow, they took us to…Read More
THE ROAD TO THE ACONCAGUA (PUENTE DEL INCA, POLVAREDAS, PENITENTES, AND LAS CUEVAS)
The second last time I took this tour (in September, three years ago), I was fortunate. As the road to the Cristo Redentor was blocked by the snow, they took us to the Aconcagua Provincial Park. The stop there was for nearly two hours, and there was enough time to walk to the Horcones lagoon. However, walking at an altitude of 12,000 feet is not that simple. I walked about half the way and as soon as I reached a place where I had beautiful views of the Aconcagua and Tolosa mounts I just stopped there, took beautiful photos, and returned to the bus.
The last time I went the road was open all the way to the Cristo Redentor (16,000 feet), the international border with Chile. There is a conmemorative plaque that says: "Let these mountains fall before the peace between Argentina and Chile is broken."
Most traffic does not go through here now, since there is a tunnel at an altitude of 12,000 feet (Los Libertadores) which last month (still in summer) was blocked by a snowfall for a couple of days. This happens three or four times every year, so if you are traveling by land from Chile to Argentina or vice versa, always check the weather forecast, just in case. It is not very nice to be trapped by the snow for one or two days. Normally, bus companies are aware of this, but keep it in mind. You could be stranded with low temperatures, and no food until the road is opened up by the Highways Department. This last trip was in December, and there had been a recent snowfall in the upper part of the Andes. This time, the Aconcagua was covered by clouds.
So we continued the way from at Puente del Inca and made a stop at Polvaredas where we visited a mini-museum directed by a hippie or hermit, I am not sure what he was, maybe a disciple of Silo. In any case, he seemed quite informed. He had set up a small museum with three rooms; one dedicated to the history of San Marin’s army, another one dedicated to the tectonic origin of the American Continent, the third one dedicated to the history of the Huarpes Indians, and finally gave us a short talk about how energy is generated. Not all the tours stop at this museum. The time they did, I traveled on a traffic van of Huentata tourism. Admission fee was very low, less than $2 per person, and I found it very interesting.
The next stop is at the Penitentes ski center for the chairlift. This is a modern ski center that I would rate as a three or four star timeshare and hotel complex. This time, the chairlift was not operating due to strong wind, so we continued towards Las Cuevas, an abandoned town where once Customs and Immigration functioned, not many years ago. Due to the altitude, both were moved to a lower site, Punta de Vacas, our third chance of eating something or having a cup of coffee. The tour will stop on the way back at Penitentes for lunch, but that will be after 2pm.
The road from Las Cuevas to the Cristo Redentor—the Christ the Redeemer statue, constructed as a testimony to the friendship between Argentina and Chile many years ago—is a winding, narrow, gravel road. The view from the top is just fantastic, but do not try to walk too fast, because you are at an altitude of 16,000 feet. I went there in December, but the weather was really freezing, maybe 5º-10ºF. The view is really fantastic, especially after a snowfall.
On the way back, the tour stops at Penitentes for lunch. Food is not cheap here, it is an international ski center, but if you take their lunch special, you can probably have lunch for $7-$9. If you are lucky when you buy the tour, you can probably get the meal included in the cost of the tour ($25-$30), but you have to bargain this when you buy the ticket.
We will come back along the same road, but the scenery will be different since we will be looking in the opposite direction. The tour will stop at Uspallata for a cup of tea, or at the rafting area between Uspallata and Potrerillos, with time for rafting or for having tea, where there is a very nice complex. Each tour has different stops for tea. Most of them stop for breakfast at Uspallata, about half-way between Mendoza and our final destination.
If you have not done the Alta Montaña tour (Aconcagua, Las Cuevas, Cristo Redentor) you have missed one of the most beautiful spots in Argentina. Keep this in mind.
The buses that go to Chile pass through all these places, except the Cristo Redentor, that is not on the international road. There are local buses to both Uspallata and Las Cuevas (Expreso Uspallata), but you would not know where to get off or what to see. Their buses are comfortable.
However, the tour is definitely the best option. It cost $22 at that time, so I imagine that now it should cost $25-$30 per person. The tour to the Atuel Canyon in the south is rather more expensive because it travels over 300 miles and includes lunch at the Valle Grande Hotel and Resort in the tour price.
Enjoy your stay in Mendoza.Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 22 Apr, 2007
San Rafael is a medium-sized city (some 50,000 inhabitants), is an important vineyard and winery area, but also has beautiful places that, in some cases, can be visited by bus. Valle Grande,the lower part of the Atuel Canyon, is only 20 miles away and…Read More
San Rafael is a medium-sized city (some 50,000 inhabitants), is an important vineyard and winery area, but also has beautiful places that, in some cases, can be visited by bus. Valle Grande,the lower part of the Atuel Canyon, is only 20 miles away and can be reached in the local bus services, Empresa Buitroni. If not, a taxi there will cost you $20-$25, or you can take a local tour, that will require 8 hours less than if you take a tour from Mendoza city. Valle Grande is a relatively easy rafting area and, downstream from the dam, there is class II rafting with some rapids, but only problematic for kayaks; I saw one upside down. It is near to the upper Atuel Canyon, but if you are not fond of exhausting trekking, you might as well go on an organized tour. Of course, you can stay at the three-star Valle Grande Hotel and Resort and leave early in the morning.
It is said to be a rainbow trout fishing area; that is probable, although the only time I tried to fish in the canyon I had no luck. Upstream from the Nihuil Lake, on the bridge of Highway 40 at El Sosneado, I have fished many five-pound trout, but as there is no dam upstream on the river, water generally is not clear, and you need clear water and no wind to have a good chance. That happens usually at the beginning of the fishing season, in October, before snow starts to melt rapidly. If you go to El Sosneado, you will see the snow-covered Andes at a distance. Of course there is nowhere to stay at El Sosneado, so you would need to go to the nearest town, Malargue, that is some 30 miles south of El Sosneado, and at a slightly larger distance from Las Leñas, the most important ski centre in Mendoza, or take the bus from San Rafael to El Sosneado; it only takes 2 hours and 10 minutes, and leaves at 9am.
Valle Grande seems like the Far West scenes we are accustomed to in cowboy movies. It does not have any vegetation, except by the riverside. The Valle Grande Dam is 150 feet high, and if you walk up to the top of the dam you will see the Submarine, a natural formation that disappears under the water when the dam is full. About three to five miles up the road, you will already be in the canyon. There are four power plants in the canyon, where the water of the river disappears to return further downstream. The water is crystal-clear, is always running, and there are beautiful pools in the river where you should be able to fish beautiful trout. I did not succeed in the attempt.
Upstream from the canyon is the Nihuil dam and lake, probably the most important hydroelectric project in Mendoza. The lake is large, and trolling is said to give very nice results, with trout weighing up to eight pounds. You might want to give it a try.
El Nihuil has a small tourist village with some infrastructure, located 40 miles to the southwest of San Rafael. There are local buses to El Nihuil, and you can also walk from there down the river to admire the canyon. That is what I did in 1970, when I walked maybe ten miles down the canyon. The view is very attractive.
Of course, the Nihuil Canyon is a fraction of the Grand Canyon in the USA and even a smaller fraction of Copper Canyon in Mexico. It is probably a thousand feet deep, at the very most, but it is still an enjoyable scene, that runs along a geological fault.
Nearer to San Rafael there are a number of dams, of which I remember the Galileo Vitale dam, near the city, where you can probably fish nice rainbow trout in the lake, or downstream from the dam, and San Rafael is only three hours by bus away from Las Leñas.
To the north of San Rafael, about half way between San Rafael and Mendoza, you can visit El Manzano Histórico, where you can fish two-pound rainbow trout in the Arroyo Grande. Fish near the campground, because if you go too far upstream you will fish many trout, but very few will weigh more than half a pound.
In the area of El Manzano Histórico you have the relatively nearby cities or villages of Tunuyan, Tupungato, and Campo los Andes, that have regular bus services to Mendoza, that run about every hour. I would definitely visit the area south of San Rafael, especially the Atuel Canyon, the rafting area on the Atuel River, El Sosneado for trout fishing, or trolling in the Nihuil lake, and Las Leñas.
Rafting is not expensive at Valle Grande, it should be costing around $5-$6 per hour.
South of Malargue you have another good fishing area, Bardas Blancas on the Río Grande, where many years ago they fished an 18-pound rainbow trout. But the place became famous and was over-fished. I always got better results fishing in the Atuel River at El Sosneado. If you go to Las Leñas, you can try fishing in the Valle Hermoso area, also on the Grande river, since it is less visited by fishermen.
The bus companies that cover this area are TAC though it's not my choice, and Andesmar (www.andesmar.com.ar). Andesmar buses from Mendoza to San Rafael run six times in the day. There you will have to connect to local bus services, probably TAC. There is one bus in the day of Andesmar from San Rafael to El Sosneado that leaves at 9am.
This tour covers a total distance of 606 kilometers (370 miles) and is rather tiring, so sleep well the previous night, or travel to San Rafael, stay overnight, and take a local tour from there. You will travel some 80 miles instead of 370.
Enjoy your stay in Mendoza. I am sure you will.Close
Knowing that Las Leñas is very expensive, I had never visited this prime ski resort, until I found out that I could visit it on a tour from Mendoza for less than thirty dollars… This is a place where you will find many American and…Read More
Knowing that Las Leñas is very expensive, I had never visited this prime ski resort, until I found out that I could visit it on a tour from Mendoza for less than thirty dollars… This is a place where you will find many American and European tourists during the high season, since they can afford to pay what Argentinians cannot…Las Leñas is undoubtedly the largest ski complex in Mendoza, very probably in Argentina, and quite likely in all South America. It has over twenty tracks for skiing and snowboard, a number of ski lefts (even rope lift for snowboard, where it is interesting to see the youngsters hanging on to the rope while they go up the mountainside on their snowboards), and a unique combination of three ski tracks allows the skiers to come down 12 kilometers (seven miles and a half) at a time.To have a look at the ski tracks click on this link. If you see a small map, click on it to enlarge it. If you see it larger than the screen of your computer, move up and down and from side to side to have the complete picture: http://www.liveargentina.com/Argentina/Tematicos/Esqui/MendozaSKImapa.htm Although it is very expensive (hotel rooms cost over 270 dollars for a single room in July), before and after the prime ski season it has very interesting low season packages for a week, including the chairlift that here is very expensive. Check this page for more information: www.laslenas.com. Here is a list of seven different hotels, although all belong to the same complex: www.laslenas.com/Default.aspx?template=category_doble&Id=80 . The place has an impressive beauty, but you are not allowed on the chairlift unless if you go up with skis. Seniors (over 65 years of age in Argentina) can request a free pass at the Public Relations office; otherwise they will have to pay like any other human being. Las Leñas, although small is very complete. It has a small shopping center, where you can buy crackers and other articles at affordable prices. There are cafeterias facing the snow. There are also ski schools for small children, teenagers, and adults. Everything is expensive here. A bottle of wine at the restaurant La Cima costs anything between twenty and far more than one hundred dollars. However, you can look for specials. When I was there a year ago I paid twenty pesos (7 dollars) for a plate of chicken and french fries and a Coca Cola. The price did not include any dessert, but there was nothing cheaper than that. Breakfast (of course, in front of the ski tracks) cost nearly six dollars for a cup of coffee with toast, preserves, and a glass of orange juice. There is a regular bus service from Mendoza to Las Leñas (I understood there were none, but check this page where Expreso Uspallata says that they have a service that runs on Friday night from Mendoza to Las Leñas, www.eusa.com.ar. I may add that Expreso Uspallata is a company with very nice comfortable buses, as far as I know they only feature semi-bed and bed services, but not the Suite Class (or premium bed service). I traveled on an organized tour of Andesmar (a comfortable semi-bed service, but with no meals on board, only self-service coffee) that leaves from the offices of Andesmar Turismo on Espejo street (NOT from the bus station) Friday nights at 11pm, arrives at Las Leñas at 6am, when it is still dark and you can see the lights of the village and their reflection on the snow); cafeterias open about 7am. The climate here is not as freezing cold as at Penitentes or Las Cuevas, and during the afternoon you can see people drinking coffee in the open air in front of the ski tracks. The tour departs from Las Leñas at 5pm and arrives back at Mendoza city slightly after midnight. On the way back they stop at a cafeteria for a snack, not included in the price of the tour. While the bus is at Las Leñas it remains open all day round to that you may go back for a rest at any time. Last year this tour was costing some 27 dollars, and it could be costing some 35 to 40 dollars now. There is also a regular bus service from the nearby city of Malargue (one hour and a half away) that runs twice in the day. Of course, there are also other tours that come from Mendoza city, but that leave about 3am in the morning, and stay less time at Las Leñas. I prefer to leave before midnight, since Mendoza is not a completely safe city, and also because leaving earlier I have more time for walking around. To stay at a hotel in Las Leñas is out of the question for me, but the prices may be OK for you. As I already said, you cannot go onto the chairlift if you do not go up with skis, but do not worry. There are a few scenic roads from where you can take unforgettable photos. I went walking up to the La Cima restaurant, about half a mile away, and took photos from under the chairlift, and photos of people skiing in the mountain. So the eight hours the tour stops there are more than enough to walk around and enjoy the scenery. Last year the snow accumulation had been so important that they extended the ski season during the summer months. And this year it is snowing as never in Argentina. Where I live in Córdoba it snows at the most once in the year. Winter has not started yet, and we have had already three snowfalls. International ski competitions take place at Las Leñas. I have seen people from all over the world over there, and that is probably why it is so expensive, and also the reason why prices drop to about half in August, and even further from September onwards. The one-week packages that are being offered just now are really very attractive, and include the ski-lift that is expensive. If you go in the summer, you have the additional attraction of large rainbow trout fishing at Valle Hermoso, only 15 miles away, and at low season rates. I have not checked the price of the local tours from Las Leñas (there are some), but assume that they will be more expensive than the tours that depart from Mendoza city or from San Rafael. I may add that the local bus service inside Las Leñas is completely free and you can use it to get around. However, distances are short, and you will enjoy far more taking photos if you walk around and select the nicest angles. You will see skiers passing just in front of you. I forgot to tell you that you can rent skis snowboards (prices are rather high, however so if you take your own skis, far better) and that you can also go up the mountain on a snow cat. Enjoy your stay at the most important ski center in Argentina.I have been unable to post my own photos here (there may be some technical problem just now), so I am adding links so that you may see how beautiful this ski center is. In the first link you will find 77 of my own photos of Valle Grande, the Atuel Canyon and Las Leñas, all in southern Mendoza.http://groups.msn.com/ElGustodeViajar/surdemendoza.msnw?Page=1 Here are some more photos of this beautiful area: www.argentinaturistica.com/informa/lenifotos.htmEnjoy your stay in southern Mendoza.Close
Las Leñas is beautiful and expensive. International skiers come to train here, because a combination of three tracks allows them to ski some seven miles at a time.
During the high season, July, a single room in a hotel like Skorpio costs $270 per night.…Read More
Las Leñas is beautiful and expensive. International skiers come to train here, because a combination of three tracks allows them to ski some seven miles at a time.
During the high season, July, a single room in a hotel like Skorpio costs $270 per night. In August, that rate drops by 40%, and in September it drops to about a third of the original price. The ski lift pass is also expensive, and you are not allowed to go up without skis. I was given a free pass as a Senior citizen—you have to request it at Public Relations—and then was not allowed to board the chairlift. In any case, the whole scenery is beautiful, and if you walk along some of the few roads towards the mountain (I went towards the La Cima restaurant) you have a fantastic view: you see all the valley and are just under the chair lift.
Since I knew that Las Leñas is expensive, although I did not imagine it costed so much, I took a local tour from the city of Mendoza. Andesmar turismo sells this tour at their offices in Espejo street, but you can also buy it at a travel agency in the Mendoza bus station. The tour leaves on Saturday night at 11pm, arrives at Las Leñas before dawn at about 6am, the bus remains open all day so that you can come and rest if and when you wish, and returns towards Mendoza at 5pm. The tour cost me $25, a price that is not expensive at all considering the distance involved (280 miles each way, or 7 hours travel in each direction). There are travel agencies that offer the same tour leaving at 4AM, but there is no point in paying a hotel room for resting only a few hours. Keep in mind that although Andesmar normally serves hot meals on all their bus services, this is a budget tour, and no meals are served on board, only self-serve coffee. So, you will have to pay nearly $5 for a continental breakfast, at an Alpine-style tearoom, with a fantastic view towards the ski trails.
There are 29 ski and snowboard trails in this modern ski center. I enjoyed seeing teenagers, and even children, taking ski lessons, and going up the mountain not on the traditional ski lift, but clinging to a rope that took them up the mountain on their skis. Here is a map of the ski trails:
Following the links on the left-hand side of the page, you have a description of all ski centers in Argentina.
Walking around the Las Leñas complex is really enjoyable. Everything is expensive. A continental breakfast—coffee, 2 croissants, and orange juice—costs nearly $5, and some bottles of wine at the restaurant cost over $40. I found a special, chicken with french fries and a coke for $7 at La Cima restaurant and went for the deal. Check prices carefuly before you place your order.
To the best of my knowledge, the only bus service that arrives at Las Leñas comes from Malargue, to where you can go on an Andesmar bus from Mendoza, but it is far better and far more practical to take the tour from Mendoza city. You avoid paying hotel on Saturday night and that nearly covers the cost of the tour.
There are very few alternatives at Las Leñas. There is no village. Only the timeshare and hotel complex. To give you an idea of the options you have, check this page that refers to summer activities, when prices must be far lower:
I am sure you will enjoy visiting this international-class ski center.
Welcome to MendozaClose
The tour to Las Cuevas/Aconcagua Provincial Park is the milestone of any tour to Mendoza. The Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the American Continent, over 23,000 feet high. It is on the international road to Chile, so when you travel from…Read More
The tour to Las Cuevas/Aconcagua Provincial Park is the milestone of any tour to Mendoza. The Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the American Continent, over 23,000 feet high. It is on the international road to Chile, so when you travel from Santiago to Mendoza, Córdoba, or Buenos Aires you will see it from the bus, although flying over the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza is a fascinating experience.
The tour starts off early in the morning (about 7am) and goes through the residential district of Chacras de Coria, then crosses the Mendoza river, that now has crystal-clear water since the construction of the Potrerillos dam, and passes in front of the Lujan de Cuyo oil refinery. I should say here that Mendoza is one of the main petroleum producing provinces in Argentina.
The tour continues up to Potrerillos, where it makes a stop to have a look at the beautiful lake in the mountainside, and if we turn in another direction, we will see agriculture terraces in the mountain, constructed either by the Incas or the Huarpes Indians. The first irrigation channel was constructed by them over five centuries ago, practically at the same time as the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Beyond the agriculture terraces, we have a beautiful view of the peaks covered with snow of the Andes (Cordón del Plata). If instead of going on towards Chile we make a left turn on an earth road at Potrerillos, we will be taking the road that goes through Valle del Sol (Sun Valley) that arrives finally at the Vallecito ski center, one of the smallest ski centers in Argentina, but really enjoyable. The last time I visited Mendoza, the road was blocked by the snow, so I was only able to make it some 3 miles beyond Valle del Sol, but enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course, this alternative (Valle del Sol and Vallecito) is not included in the tour to Las Cuevas, so you will want to do it another day.
We have already started bordering the Mendoza river at Cacheuta, have passed Potrerillos, and our next stop is Uspallata, a beautiful valley and village with some 3,000 inhabitants. Upstream of the Potrerillos Dam, the river is dark, and fishing possibilities are minimal. Inside the lake and downstream from the Potrerillos dam, fishing is good. Some 15 miles beyond Uspallata we will find the historical bridge of Picheuta, constructed by the army of San Martin while crossing to Chile. It is not the original bridge, that was wiped away by a flood of the Picheuta river, but a replica of the original one. The Picheuta river in my opinion is too small for trout fishing, but you might want to give it a try, since it carries clear waters.
We start noticing a wide variety of colors in the mountainside, and this reflects the variety of mineral contents in the mountain: copper, iron, limestone.
Puente del Inca (Inca's bridge) a natural bridge over the river, will be our next stop. There are thermal baths here, and originally there was a hotel constructed a century ago by the British Railways. Today, only the ruins remain, but the place remains open to the public. There is an enormous variety of colors formed by the trickles of different mineral waters. Have a look at the photo. At Puente del Inca, there is also an artisan craft fair.
We still have to visit Polvaredas with its sort of Hippie Mini Museum, the Penitents ski center, Las Cuevas, and the Aconcagua National Park. Stay tuned. The whole trip is about 130 miles each way. Will continue in the next experience.Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 21 Apr, 2007
Mendoza is a miracle of human effort. It is in the midst of the desert and the effort of man, starting with the Incas and Huarpes Indians who constructed the main irrigation channel (Cacique Guaymallen), converted this desert into a huge oasis. This…Read More
Mendoza is a miracle of human effort. It is in the midst of the desert and the effort of man, starting with the Incas and Huarpes Indians who constructed the main irrigation channel (Cacique Guaymallen), converted this desert into a huge oasis. This channel existed in 1563, and probably even before that. The Incas, who had already arrived here, taught the Huarpes Indians their agricultural secrets, and this is why, from Lake Potrerillos, I was able to see cultivation terraces in the mountain. Maybe they were not many, but there they were.
Mendoza has one of the lowest rainfalls in all of Argentina, but irrigation has converted this land into a paradise. Practically all streets have their irrigation ditches and the trees are very tall, mostly eucalyptus.
The population of Metropolitan Mendoza—Mendoza city, Godoy Cruz, Guaymallen and Las Heras—is nearly one million inhabitants, and at least one third of the population is of Chilean extraction, but the downtown is near the beautiful park General San Martin, at a walking distance, maybe about one mile away.
The park is beautiful. It has its artificial lake with a rowing club and a floating cafeteria, a rose garden, the Amphitheater where the Annual Vintage Festival is held (Fiesta de la Vendimia) that is probably the most attractive celebration in all Argentina. Up on the hill, there is a monument to the Army of the Andes, that contributed to the liberation of Chile. Chileans will say they did it themselves with O-Higgins, and Argentinians will say that Argentina liberated Chile and Peru, but I believe it was a joint effort, although I am no historian. Inside the park, you will also see a beautiful zoological garden. I was living in Mendoza at that time, but had not gone yet, and had a good laugh when we visited it with my elder brother. His four-year-old boy pointed all enthused at a chimpanzee, and started yelling "Daddy, Daddy!" I said, "It seems as if he has recognized you."
The lake faces the Rowing Club and the other side the rose garden. You can see the foothills from the park, and the whole area is really beautiful.
A walk along the pedestrian street is enjoyable. There are not as many shops as you would expect to see in the downtown, because there are also shopping centers. The Palmares shopping center in Chacras de Coria, a high-class residential area, really deserves a visit. You can go in a taxi or on the local bus service. Since I was short of time when I went to Mendoza last year, I hired a taxi and, paying $15 to $18, visited the San Martin park all around, the Chacras de Coria residential area, and a vineyard at La Carrodilla, where there is also an historical church. I did the whole trip in about three hours. There are also local bus services inside the park, although their rate is higher than the public transportation system, but the ticket is valid for getting off the bus and on again as many times as you wish. They run about every half hour.
You can take the local buses up to the Potrerillos Dam and lake (25 miles away, where you can fish rainbow trout). I imagine that the best spot must be where the Mendoza river runs into the lake. This point is changing constantly, because the lake has not yet reached its maximum elevation. It will take another ten years until it is completely full. The project for the construction of this dam, for flood control, regulating the volume of the river, irrigation, and recreational activities, had existed for a long time. The last government made a survey, and found out that if they constructed the dam they would win the elections, and there it is, a beautiful lake for all to enjoy with the added value of probably more power generation.
The local buses to Uspallata, 65 miles away, offer you the possibility of visiting this charming village at an altitude of 7,000 feet in another green irrigated valley with views towards the mountainside. The buses go all the way to Chile, passing in front of the Aconcagua, but also give you the opportunity of visiting the Penitentes ski center and chairlift.
If you go in the winter and can afford the expense, for $30 to $35 you can take a taxi to the Vallecitos ski center. As far as I know, there is no local bus service there—the earth road starts at Potrerillos towards the left—but it could be that, during the ski season, there could be a local bus line. If not, a taxi would be the only option. I visited both Potrerillos and Vallecito on a taxi for $30. Well, we were unable to go all the way because the road was blocked by the snow, but I really enjoyed that outing.
Local buses take you to Tunuyan and Tupungato, two other beautiful valleys where you will see vineyards, and apple and peach plantations, with the Andes in the background. Tunuyan is holding anually a folklore festival called Festival de la Tonada, that is gathering multitudes of people.
These are some of the things you can do in Mendoza without buying a tour. There must be many more, but these will give you at least an idea.
Welcome to Mendoza, the home of the Vintage Festival.Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 01 Nov, 2006
Apart from the city tour and the High Mountain tour (Aconcagua and/or Cristo Redentor), the Atuel Canyon is another very nice tour, although it takes 12 to 14 hours (depending on the driver) and means travelling some 300 miles, or more. It visits the Nihuil…Read More
Apart from the city tour and the High Mountain tour (Aconcagua and/or Cristo Redentor), the Atuel Canyon is another very nice tour, although it takes 12 to 14 hours (depending on the driver) and means travelling some 300 miles, or more. It visits the Nihuil Dam, and from there comes downstream along a beautiful canyon, that is some 1,000 feet deep (this is not Colca, Copper Canyon nor the Great Canyon, but it is still very nice).
The Atuel river has crystal clear waters there, because they have settled down at the El Nihuil Lake. Then you visit the very nice Valle Grande Rafting area, where you can go down the river for 45 minutes at a cost of some 6 to 8 dollars, it is really enjoyable and it is Class II rafting that is no dangerous. After that you will visit a vineyard and winery, and then return to the city of Mendoza. It would rate it as a highly recommended tour. There are no organized tours to the Vallecitos Ski center as far as a know, but it is a beautiful place to visit. A trip on a taxi will cost you some 30 to 35 dollars, including a one-hour stay over there and the trip back. Another very nice tour is the half day tour to Villavicencio, where you will climb the mountain along a winding road (Caracoles de Villavicencio). That would be my fourth priority) The Ruta del Vino tour goes to different wineries where you can taste the wines they produce. Walk along the San Martín park, you will really enjoy it. Do not go during the night, because it could be unsafe.
If you want to visit shopping centers, go to Palmares in Chacras de Coria. It is very nice. And, of course, you should not miss a visit to Las Leñas. Andesmar Turismo has a tour that leaves Mendoza on Friday night about 11pm, arrives at 7 in the morning, comes back at 5pm and arrives at midnight on Saturday. This tour costs some 27 dollars. Last year the ski season in Las Leñas continued well into the summer, because there was a lot of snow. It is likely that this year the ski season will also continue, but check that out with your travel agency. From San Rafael you have local tours to Las Leñas, to the Atuel Canyon, to the Manzano Histórico (Tunuyán, another very nice area). The Galileo Vitale dam is nearby, and as a matter of fact there are a number of dams in this area (including Los Reyunos), where there are good fishing possibilities. You can also go by bus from Mendoza to Uspallata and to Tunuyán or Tupungato, three very nice areas, walk along the villages, and in the case of Tunuyan, even take a taxi to the Manzano Histórico (the historical apple tree) where it is said that General San Martin rested on his way over to Chile, and where there is good trout fishing. I should add that there is a bus service from Uspallata to Barreal (San Juan), near where there are two modern astronomic observatories. But you need to check out visiting timetables at the Barreal tourist board offices. That is also the area where Marlboro runs its wind-driven vehicle races. There is a natural clay racing track about 30 miles long, that seems to be in better shape than many paved highways.