Going from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina it is a beautiful seven hour bus ride that you will want to enjoy during the day to view the surrounding snowy views of the Andes Mountains. Unfortunately, in the winter this path can be closed quite frequently which led Matt and I into buying our first flight while being in South America. It was $150 USD for a one hour flight and looking back on it now we completely regret just not waiting until the path opened up again a few days later since bus tickets were only $30. But, all travelers have regrets they make it is just how they get over them and move on. When we arrived into the Mendoza airport and took a taxi into the middle of the city we realized that we arrived into a very quiet place compared to Valaparaiso and Santiago. We stayed at Hostel International for an incredible $6 USD per night for a four person shared room with a private bath and it was a perfect place to crash for five nights.
Mendoza itself doesn't offer much to do in the city itself but on the outskirts of this town is where all the beauty lies. On our first full day we booked a tour with our hostel for $55 USD for a night of horseback riding for two hours during the sunset followed by an all you can eat asado with wine. We were picked up in a shuttle van and there were only 10 people total that were on this tour and we were all taken to a little ranch where the fun was about to begin. I have ridden a donkey and a horse so far on this trip and have rode a few horses in the past so they gave me a fast horse! Poor Matt has never rode a horse before so they gave him a very slow old one. The scenery around is completely flat with mountains in the background and just empty land as far the eye can see. I was able to gallop and be in the front of the pack the whole time and just enjoy a completely quiet environment besides the sound of the horses with the sunsetting in the backdrop. I felt like a little girl again riding a horse with a big smile on the entire time. After the incredible two hours we got to watch the few people that worked there prepare the big outside grill and we saw all the meat and vegetables start slow cooking. Argentina is known for having some of the best meat in the world and this asado did its justice where it was endless amount of meat. Just so you can believe me, two vegetarians were in our group and they even decided to try the meat and were embracing every bite. Mendoza is known for being a huge wine capital especially with the Malbec wine which is now my favorite (especially since I only really drank box wine before our travels). After drinking a bottle to myself and good conversations with the group for a few hours Matt and I were so happy with our choice of doing this tour and thought it was worth every penny.
The following day with a bit of a hangover we decided to head to the bus terminal to go to the famous Parque de Agua Termas Cacheuta. You just need to look for the bus company Buttini and tell them you want to head to Cacheuta and for a few dollars and an hour and a half later you are there! Buses leave all throughout the day so no need to prebook a bus in advance. To say it was an incredible experience I feel like is giving this place not enough credit. The town itself is very small with only a few cafe shops and souvenir places but the prime time is when you get to the hot springs and you see what awaits. After checking in our bags to the lockers provided so we wouldn't have to worry about getting anything stolen it was time to enjoy the many different hot springs. There were at least 10 different thermal baths that ranged in size, temperature and some were inside and some were outside. The outside ones I enjoyed more just because of the beauty of the backdrop of the hills surrounding the area. We spent three hours soaking and our only regret is not bringing any food to munch on in between baths. Please visit this incredible place if you come to a Mendoza and rank it high on your to do list.
For less than $8 roundtrip and only an hour bus ride make your way from the bus terminal in Mendoza to Potrerillos. This little town's best feature is the crystal blue lake that makes you just want to spend your day around it. We brought a lunch and stayed there for a total of six hours just walking around the lake. We found people ziplining, rock climbing and fly fishing and just relaxing by their own fires taking in the fresh air. It was such a nice day even for it being the middle of winter that we decided to take a walk down the beach.. bad call. After walking a bit down the muddy beach next thing Matt and I know we are thigh deep stuck in mud! I felt like I was in quicksand that I have seen in a lot of movies and shows growing up! The harder we tried to get out of the mud the farther we both got stuck until we pulled ourselves up with a bush and had mud in all the wrong places. Matt was pretty mad about it but I couldn't help but to laugh. The worst part was it was getting dark and cold fast and we had to wait an hour at the bus station for the hour ride back and by that time the mud just hardened completely. Luckily we were heading to the laundromat the following day anyway but I think next hike we do I am going to bring at least extra socks.
For our first taste of Argentina life, Mendoza sure did make us feel welcomed. The city itself is a bit of a bore I will say but make sure to just take as many day outings as you can and don't feel rushed during any of it. There are also many wineries to visit here as well that you can rent a bike and visit each one yourself with or without a tour guide. Enjoy every bite and drink this town has to offer and you will leave feeling way relaxed and refreshed and ready for the next adventure.
5) Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Sacred Valley
6) Machu Pichu
1) Copacabana and Isla Del Sol
2) La Paz
1) San Pedro De Atacama
4) La Serena
5) Puerto Iquazu
6) Buenos Aires