Although it is mainly known for being the cradle of Malbec grape, the most iconic wine of Argentina, the western province of Mendoza can also be “tasted” through its mountains and rivers. Forget about buildings, concrete paths, chaos and noise and get lost in the breathtaking landscapes of the Andes. Just remember to study the routes you want to take well, ask locals about any doubts or even hire a guide: the unspoiled sceneries of the province stay that way thanks to the absence of marks and signs.
No matter if you feel like reaching Aconcagua, the highest peak of the continent, or you just want to take a half-day walk, here are some top spots you can’t miss if you want to really enjoy hiking in Mendoza. But remember: the possibilities are infinite.
Valle de Uco
Ninety kilometers south from the capital stands a valley that has become one of the most remarkable wine regions of Mendoza. Apart from visiting a several bodegas (out of 100) and tasting great food and the finest wines, if you have the chance to stay at least for a day in this part of the province, you will feel the need to put on your mountain boots and take a walk around its natural beauties. One of the best is Laguna del Diamante, a beautiful lake that not only situated next to a volcano but also ON the former crater of an extinct one.
El Challao: Cerro Arco
The town of El Challao is one of the most popular places for hiking in Mendoza. Located just 12 kilometers away from the city, it offers you a wide range of options, depending on your preparation and physical condition. Upon them Cerro Arco stands out for its attraction to beginners or families (it takes 3 hours to get to and from its summit) or romantics who want to stay there during a full moon weekend, when they can enjoy a guided night hike through the mountains.
Santo Tomás, El Gateado or Cerro Aspero are also easy paths for hiking in Mendoza but require a better state of health, as the excursion can take between 6 and 8 hours.
This small and charming town is the perfect place to relax and have a classic “asado” next to the lake. The ideal plan is to choose one of the many trails that start at the waterfront of Potrerillos, get lost in the mountains and end the day with your deserved picnic. That way you’d definitely work for it!
Another option if you’re staying in the town is to approach the ski center of Vallecitos, home to beautiful alpine meadows and tough paths that are frequently visited by those who are training to climb Aconcagua. The hike to La Cadenita starts at the same ski center and the best choice is to climb beside the stream until you get to Lomas Blancas, its peak, which has a spectacular view.
Reserva Divisadero Largo
Only 8 kilometers away from the capital, this unique natural reserve of 492 hectares was declared a protected area in 1983 as its great diversity of fauna and flora is threatened to disappear due to the unstoppable growth of the city. Hiking in Mendoza can become an authentic trip to the past if you visit Divisadero Largo, full of fossils that narrate the last 200 million years of history of the earth and a geological richness “in transition” result of the region being in the limit of two ecosystems: mountain and grassland. Bitten by the bug?
Written by Irene Valiente