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Exploring Mendoza

After arriving in Buenos Aires, Argentina and spending a week there, we made the trek west to Mendoza at the base of the Andes.  One of our main goals of traveling through South America was to improve our Spanish skills, so we rented an apartment and signed up for 4 weeks of Spanish lessons. Why did we choose Mendoza as the place to settle down for a month?  In order to get outside! 

Mendoza is known for their tree-lined streets which thrive in the arid climate due to a complex set of aqueducts that bring snow-melt to the city

Mendoza is situated on the east side of the Andes at about 1,000 meters above sea level, and it enjoys a nice dry, warm climate.  With it's proximity to the high mountains, Mendoza is filled with outdoor shops and adventure guides willing to take you on any number of outdoor activities.  We met up with a Canadian ex-pat living in Mendoza who took us to his favorite hiking spot and we put our Merrell gear to the test climbing a 3,850 m peak, which was surrounded by 5,000+ m peaks.  The goal of our dayhike, a 3,850-m summit, surrounded by 5,000-m peaks

Mendoza is also known for being the jumping-off spot for climbers wishing to conquer Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere at 6,962 meters.  Not wanting to miss out on catching a glimpse of the 'big one', we made the 2-hour drive up into the high-Andes to a great viewing spot for the mountain.  Unfortunately, the winds were pretty intense and causing clouds to form over and surround the summit, but it was impressive none-the-less

James pictured with Aconcagua hiding in the clouds in the background

The thing Mendoza is probably the most well-known for is it's Malbec wine production.  The specific climate, altitude, and soil conditions are perfect for the Malbec grape, and wineries are everywhere!  Over our month here, we toured several different wineries, some just outside of town in the Maipu district and others located about an hour's drive away in the stunningly beautiful Valle de Uco region near the town (and like-named nearby volcano dominating the horizon) of Tupungato.  We aren't wine experts, but we enjoyed tasting the different varieties while soaking in the views of the Andes.

Winery in the Valle de Uco region with 21,500-ft Tupungato volcano in the distance

 Kirsten in her Merrell Sundial dress enjoying a Mendoza Malbec

Since our month in Mendoza is almost up, we are getting ready to hit the road again.  This time we are headed north to the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on earth.  Our plan is to spend about a month making a big loop north through Argentina, cross over the Andes into Chile, experience the desert, then start heading south again along the Chilean coast down to Santiago.

 

Tags: merrell , hiking

10/27/2011
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