Vino tinto o blanco?
For all the varieties of wine that are grown and produced in Mendoza, one stands head and shoulders above the others as THE wine of the region - Malbec - first introduced from France in the 1860s. A deep black grape, Malbec hasn't been grown much anywhere but Argentina for the last 50 years. It's a difficult grape that in many places is highly susceptible to mildew, frost and rot. In Mendoza however, with its low humidity, flood irrigation methods and 300 days of sunshine a year, it has found an ideal home. Argentianian Malbec drinks young and ages well - you'l find lots of great opportunity to decide which one is your favourite during your stay in Mendoza.
Another one to try is Torrontes, a fruity, flowery white that you won't find easily elsewhere. The grape came originally from north-east Spain, but like Malbec, it isn't grown much outside Argentina these days. Perhaps more of a challenge than Malbec- this is a wine you'll probably either love or hate - but served well chilled as a pre-dinner drink with some spicy sausage, it's a good drop. It also goes well with a curry - though that will be hard to find in Mendoza!
You want to climb high mountains ?
Mendoza's surrounding is full of high peak mountains - remember, Aconcagua is close with nearly 7000 m.
So it would be logical that once you are in Mendoza, that you want to climb or hike on one of the mountains which are higher than 4000 m or even 5000 m.
Although I did not do these hikes or climbs (as my actual fitness did not allow it :-), I have seen the happy faces of the people coming back from trips with Juan Pablo Vilche and his team.
In this case, it was hiking on Cerro Lomas Blancas in Vallecitos, a peak of 3900 m.
But Huella de los Andes (traces / footprints of the Andes) offer much more.
I can highly recommend them for any kind of serious and reliable high mountain activities.
One serious remark for those of you who believe it is easy to do these hikes on your own (without a tour operator):
remember, the Cordillera is not the Alpes or US mountains. Apart from Aconcagua, the Cordillera around Mendoza is quite virgin. Thus, there are no well-trotten paths up to the peaks.
Reliable mountaineering guides do have high and long-year experience with these mountains and it is well worth to do the hikes or climbs with them.
Your life should be worth it.
(and no, I am not getting payed for writing this - I just have heared of too many serious accidents of people who believed this is a walkaway and did it on their own).
Depends of what you will book. For the higher mountains, they offer equipment, which tourists usually don't bring (such as ice axis and crampons).
You should have your own clothing, however (but if you plan this kind of activities, you will have it with you anyhow): warm fleece (layer principle), ankle protecting hiking boots, hiking poles, etc.
Please check their website, they mention all equipment, depending on the tour.
It is in spanish at the moment, but will be available in english soon - please email me if you need translation.
Experimenting at Lunch
The next morning was our first real chance to just wander around Mendoza on our own (we had the Winery & City guided tour the first day and the Andes Mountains drive on the second day). We started out around 9 AM and it was already 24 C, rising to 34 C (93 F) at noon by the time we had taken in the many sights at the various Plazas in Mendoza. We decided to have another sidewalk meal, under the table umbrellas at Giovanni's. With the heat, we only wanted a light snack to go with some cold drinks, so we tried our best to decipher the items on the Spanish-only menu! The first order of business was some cold drinks. I ordered the first of my two local beers while Sue decided on Chablis, which only came by the half-bottle. An interesting thing was that they did not bother to chill the white wine, instead simply supplying a steel ice-bucket with large ice cubes to be used in the wine-glass - it actually worked quite well. While we were deciphering the menu, we ordered some 'picante' empanada snacks to tide us over (see Local Tips). We had a bit of trouble with the menu, with Sue ordering what she thought was a tomatoe, lettuce and cucumber salad. It turned out to be shredded carrots instead of cukes, but it was still delicious. I tried a Spanish Omelette which turned out to have potatoes (surpise) in it, along with onions and slices of salami. In the end it was an interesting experience, at a total cost of A36 (US$13)! Afterward we headed back to our room for a little siesta - maybe the locals are onto something here in the afternoon heat!
Spain Square (thank's trekki for the pics!!)
It's a beautiful tiled square with Spaniard motifs and a nice fountain. Down the monument you'll see the representation of 3 important aspects of Ibero-American, Argentine and Mendocinean culture: Don Quijote, the Foundation of Mendoza and Martin Fierro (a book that tells about the gaucho and his hard life)
It's a beautiful place to visit, not far away from Independence square.
On the way to Chile
From Mendoza you can easily cross into Chile and onwards to Santiago unless the border is closes due to snow precipitations in the Andes. On the way, you will cross several beautiful places such as the Valle Uspallata, Penitentes, Las Cuevas, el Puente del Inca and the Cristo Redentor.
In the picture you can see a bridge built by General San Martin's resurgent army in the fight for Argentina's independence from Spain. Mendoza's Cuyo region was pivotal in Argentinas independence war and retains a highly individual character in its culture and customs.