Mendoza and The Andes

Mendoza

We decided that on the road trip we weren’t going to spend too long in cities, after all we knew we were going to be in BA for two weeks, so Mendoza was only a quick lunch stop. Again the guide books seems to have got it about right and I don’t have much to add. The weather was cold, the downtown was bustling, we hit a park and a kids book fair that was on (although of course it was closed for lunch so we had to wait for it to reopen). If this was another trip it would have been great to stay a few days or even longer.

Sibling love
Sibling love

An hour or so down the road from Mendoza we got our first site of the Snowy Andes and what a sight it was. There’s nothing like seeing the end in site after a long drive and this was definitely one worth driving for 🙂

Our first view of the high mountains, time to stop and take a photo
Our first view of the high mountains, time to stop and take a photo

Uspallata/Tunuyan

Our destination in Mendoza province was Tunuyan, a village near Uspallata half way up the mountain. We rented a cabin there and used it as a base for a week or so to explore the area, including the surrounding wine region and a ski station.

On the drive between Mendoza and here, which was a good three hour trawl, we happened on a Gaucho party. Again this was one of those moments  when you travel that are unbeatable. There were no other tourists in sight, just us and the local cowboys doing various horsemanship related stuff. We stayed for an hour or two, had some grub and wandered around.

We stumbled across a Gaucho festival
We stumbled across a Gaucho festival
That
That “fence” is to stop what exactly?

Our cabin in Tunuyan was in a lovely spot, had plenty of garden space and a BBQ like everywhere else in Argentina! Although like most of the places we stayed they really skimped on furniture, after about half-an-hour I ended up with a wicker chair print on my arse! If any Argentine cabin owners are reading this, spend some money on good sofas!

Get a bit closer to the fire Lorena
Get a bit closer to the fire Lorena

The weather turned cold at the end of the stay, which of course the boys loved as it meant snow. Luckily for most of the time there were sunny skies and although it was chilly you could wrap up and keep the cold out fine.  The photos below were taken the last day and negotiating this bit of run was a slippery affair, but once on the main road it was fine.

Lorena refused to come out of the car to get in this photo
Lorena refused to come out of the car to get in this photo
We should have got the boys wellies
We should have got the boys wellies

Here’s another photo taken a couple of days before in a spot about 20 minutes’ walk from the cabins and you can see from the blue sky and the way they are dressed how much warmer it was…

A post lunch lizard imitation
A post lunch lizard imitation

The spot in this photo is at the edge of a protected area pretty high in the mountains and an area that afforded some good walking, while we were there we saw condors, the boys had a horse ride and we hung out with another lunatic guide. Oh and we paid a quick visit to the mountain constabulary and our guide took us to a great restaurant where the owner comes out and gives you food, no menus, just what’s good, and it was really good.

El Condor Pasa and how blue is that sky
El Condor Pasa and how blue is that sky
Visiting the boys in blue (or green in their case) up a mountain
Visiting the boys in blue (or green in their case) up a mountain

I just realised how quickly I skirted over seeing Condors in the wild, this is awesome! I probably only mentioned it because I saw three lots of wild condors, in the Patagonia, in Mendoza and in Cordoba, that definitely does not happen every day

Once again it was the simple things like messing about scrambling over rocks and taking in the view that were the most gratifying. The cold weather meant that we could have a good old climb and not get too hot and the blue skies and fresh air were wonderful. We even did a night trek with our Paraguayan neighbours from the next cabin to check out the stars and they were predictably awe inspiring, shame I don’t have a camera to capture it.

Danny, wild man of Mendoza
Danny, wild man of Mendoza

We did a few trips into Uspallata, which is like a metropolis after Tunuyan and was incidentally where they filmed much of 7 Years in Tibet. The town didn’t offer a whole lot, we had a drink in a place full of movie set props (prayer wheels and the like) and there were a few spots that sold souvenirs, oh and you could get your washing done, which when there are 7 of you is no small thing.

In these photos the boys were hanging around the small river that went through the town, practising some pipes and rock collecting.

Pan Pipes sound better under an Andean sky
Pan Pipes sound better under an Andean sky
Danny got a nice rock collection going
Danny got a nice rock collection going

Of course no trip to Mendoza would be complete without a trip to a bodega. We went to two, the one featured here the Salentein winery and a smaller winery closer to home. All the bodegas are located in the Valle del Uco 

A classic Mendozan scene
A classic Mendozan scene
This bodega was in a stunning location
This bodega was in a stunning location
Someone get that bottle off her
Someone get that bottle off her

Skiing

Skiing was a first for the whole group expect me and Lorena. Mind you, when I say skiing, we weren’t actually doing any skiing, a bit of sledging, and some slipping a sliding, but not what you’d call skiing. We had rented some extra clothes and boots in Uspallata which was just as well, it was freezing, like really freezing, and windy even the hardy Brit suffered.

The cold was worth it to see this :)
The cold was worth it to see this 🙂

The boys loved sledging of course of Lastenia was really excited to see the snow. My own excitement was tempered by the fact that like anywhere else ski related in the world this was our most expensive day on the whole trip. Just about everything was a rip off, the ledges, ski clothes and the food, which we had also had to wait ages for, and was served on paper plates.

It was colder than it looks
It was colder than it looks

We managed a few hours of up and down and then called it a day and piled back into the car, only to get stuck in a massive tail back. We’re not sure what caused it, but there was a high volume of tourist traffic and trucks taking stuff between Argentina and Chile and after spending a bomb and freezing my nether regions I was not happy.

Mother-in-Law is quite possibly pissed
Mother-in-Law is quite possibly pissed

But it had to be done and the mountains were quite a sight. If we had had better weather and weren’t there in prime winter holiday season it would have been a better experience. Also I guess I’m more used to European ski stations that have better facilities to be honest.

That's as happy as Lorena looks in the cold
That’s as happy as Lorena looks in the cold
Look at how windy it was
Look at how windy it was

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