Mendoza, Argentina is known for its wines, particularly Malbec. But the same terrain that produces these grapes also provides for some seriously tasty outdoor adventures.
Mendoza, Argentina is a must-visit destination for many travelers in South America. This area, located on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains, is known for its gastronomical pleasures: succulent steak and wonderful wines. But those who don’t mind getting off the wine trail will find there’s even more to explore in this beautiful region, and there are countless tour operators based right in Mendoza’s main plaza that offer ways to do so. Heading to Argentina on your next trip? Make sure to pack your hiking boots and sense of adventure—Mendoza is waiting.
Hiking and Trekking
Seeing the Andes stretch into the sky from Mendoza is awe-inspiring, but seeing them up close is even better. There are many different hiking and trekking tours that originate in Mendoza. Some are only a few hours, but others can take you to the highest peak in South America: Aconcagua. Conquering Aconcagua requires training, great physical fitness, and (ideally) climbing experience—so if you want to bag that one, do your research and plan accordingly.
Fancy a turn as a real gaucho? There are plenty of tours that can make it happen (for a half or full day, at least), allowing you to travel outside the city into the mountains and enjoy panoramic views on horseback. Each tour offers something a little different, including ones that take you across the Andes and excursions that include an Argentinian asado (a traditional grilled meat dish) for lunch.
One of the best ways to see Argentina is from the air. Tandem paragliding is a popular adventure in Mendoza, and there are several tour operators that run trips. You’ll leave the city and travel to Cerro Arco, which is where your flight will take place. An instructor will show you how the parachute works and give you instructions on how to take off and land. But don’t worry—you won’t be flying alone! You’ll be attached to your instructor and enjoy about 20 minutes in the air, seated in the harness—a pleasant ride with spectacular views.
Experience a whole different set of stunning views on a thrilling zip line adventure. Head about an hour outside of Mendoza to Potrerillos Valley, where there is a series of zip line cables hanging 130 feet (40 meters) above the Valley floor—including the longest one, which stretches 1,500 feet (457 meters) across the Mendoza River. Safely harnessed in, you can enjoy the panoramic views of Valley and the Cordon del Plata mountain range. Feeling frisky? Flip upside down and get a whole different perspective.
Rafting is one of the most popular outdoor adventures in Argentina. Operators offer half-day and full-day trips from Mendoza, most of which travel down the Mendoza River. You can choose the intensity of rapids you’ll face; and if you’re not sure, you can talk to someone with the tour company who will be knowledgeable about the levels of the river and can help you select the right option. After being outfitted in a wetsuit and helmet (even in the summer, the river is fed with snowmelt and can get cold!), you’ll receive safety instructions and tips on how to paddle. Then you’ll get moving, racing through the rapids and chilling through the flats. It’s a thrilling ride with yet another unique view of the area.
These are my favorite adventures to enjoy in Mendoza, but there are more options, too. You can join bike tours that take you up the mountains or through the wine country. Into rock climbing? There are plenty of cliffs to explore. But the best part of all of these adventures is the recovery: Soothe those sore muscles with a visit to the naturally occurring thermal pools at Cacheuta Hot Springs.
Have you visited Mendoza? What was your favorite outdoor adventure? Let me know in the comments!
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