The fascinating way to stone guard is the most moving excursion that goes from Mendoza city to the border with Chile.
The trip takes the whole day and it can be done any time during the year, its access routes are in perfect conditions and invite you to discover a fantastic horizon.
During the trip we will visit Chacras de Coria, with a special microclimate, Potrerillos locality. As from here we can travel towards Vallecitos Ski Resort, habilitated from June to September and during the rest of the year it is visited for Adventure Tourism.
In Potrerillos you can also enjoy rafting, horseback riding, trekking and mountain bike. Going along the same route, we reach the great valley of Uspallata, which in prehistoric times was inhabited by Huarpe natives, here, we will find vaults made of adobe. There are also adventure tourism here.
23km away from Uspallata, we go past the historic bridge and Picheuta fort and 34 km away, we go past Tambillos Inca constructions. 167 km away from Mendoza we find Los Penitentes, this is another ski resort. It has 28 runs that present different level of difficulty and length. In total they add 25500 m of tracks and the total surface to ski is of 300 acres. The maximum of continuous descent length is 7000 m and its skiing unevenness is of 614 m. It has 8 modern elevation means for skiers and the summit's height is of 3194 m. This beautiful resort is internationally well known by the quality of its runs and a world famous group of hotels.
75 km away from Malargüe City, with its base at 2250 m above sea level, there is another famous ski resort: Las Leñas. It has 33 easy tracks, intermediate and difficult, it has a total extension of 65 km and a skiing unevenness of 1230 m. Combining different tracks you can descend non stop more than 7 km with slopes of between 12 and 50 percent.
You can ski on dry and dust snow. This resort has been the stage of ski world contests and the most important international teams have participated. There are more than 3000 beds in 4 and 5 – star hotels, first level apart hotels and dormy houses. This resort has the longest non-stop descent extension: 7050 m and it has places for sledge, pato, mechanical sledges, snowboard and snow polo practices.
The Hill has 13 elevation means that work from 9 to 5 pm, they can take 10000 passengers per hour. Besides, a new skilift has been added for this year in Venus 2 track. And the electrification of Neptuno chairlift, this gives agility the ascent in 12 minutes to have access to the highest sector in the mountain.
The snow bus service lets us reach the highest sector in the valley. There are 2 buses, one is open and the other one is carriage-like and can take between 11 and 15 people. It works from 10 to 15 hours, provided the weather is good at the top.
For the ones who choose night skiing, Las Leñas has lighted Minerva track, completing in that way, 2000 m to enjoy this sport even after sunset.
Puente del Inca (Inca Bridge)
2720 m above sea level, we can find Puente del Inca, where there are thermal waters. The mountaineers' cemetery is nearby and a bit further away, Quebrada de Horcones, where it is interesting to stop to see the splendour of the highest hill in the continent: Aconcagua, 6959 m high.
A non-tarmac way departs from the international route up to Horcones beautiful lagoon. If we carry on on the same route we reach Horcones complex, where you do frontier paperwork procedure: the border with Chile is a few km ahead. Between Las Cuevas and the international tunnel there is a route that goes up to Cristo Redentor, 3800 m above sea level.
CORDON DEL PLATA – CERRO TUPUNGATO (Del Plata Cordon – Tupungato Hill)
Between Tunuyán department and Potrerillos there is an alternative route, called Cordón del Plata circuit or Los Cerillos way, that goes through an area of farms that produce potatoes and other vegetables.
Along the trip it is possible to admire the mountain range foothills, some of which keep snow all year round. It is important to remark that this circuit is one of the access roads to Valle de Uco circuit.
In Tupungato department there are different companies that offer tourism and adventure tourism services, we can rent horses or participate in group horseback ridings.
The term Tupungato derivates from Quechua language and it refers to earth that greens. It is a continuum of Aconcagua Park and of similar environment. Two main rivers take the waters as from the volcanic mass of Tupungato Hill.: towards the North Tupungato River, and towards the South Tunuyán river, Tunas and Anchayuyo rivers also join their waters that flow from Frontal Mountain Range into Tunuyán river on its way through foothill plain.
The most ancient rocks in the region make up the crystal base. In this region there are deposits of sea origin and a group of volcanic rocks of more than 300000 million years (they belong to the Paleozoic Age. During the Superior Tertiary Period (Pliocene)) and Quaternary due to the presence of huge forces linked to the Andean rising, in some places there have been breaks or weak regions, this benefited the manifestation of volcanic events. Even though some volcanoes have been eroded and destroyed they still keep the flat cone shape. An aspect to remark is the presence of glaciers.
A complete succession of volcanic rocks are at sight in Tupungato Hill. The rocks make up a volcanic hill which is quiet eroded and overlaps an ancient plain. On its top there are craters that confirm that Tupungato Hill is an ancient volcano, which is off and emptied. It is crowned by extensive glaciers. During the Pleistocene, a glacier tongue of more than 26 km long has been formed.
CAÑÓN DEL ATUEL
From Valle Grande dam upwards, we can get into the Atuel Cañon, its is a live presence of the origins of the world. Wind and rain have eroded its cavities giving shape to the most varied natural sculptures, such as: Museo de Cera (Wax Museum), Sillón de Rivadavia (Rivadavia's Seat), El Lagarto (The Lizard), Los Viejos (The Old), Los Monstruos (The Mosnters), La Ciudad Encantada (The Enchanted City), El Mendigo (The Beggar), Los Jardines Colgantes(The Hanging Gardens) , etc, among others.
And the river, in its giddy fall, encloses a huge force to generate the energy that the country daily needs. There are two artificial lakes that contribute to remark the beauty inside the canon: Aisol and Tierras Blancas (White Lands).
In this way we find the hydroelectric complex called Los Nihuiles that, with its 3 plants, generates a force of 260000 kw/h.
SAN RAFAEL CITY
In San Rafael not only the natural beauties constitute an attraction for the visitor. The city is the crib of poets, artists, painters and musicians, they satisfy the spiritual needs of those who amuse with all the cultural expressions of a town. You can visit Bellas Artes Museum, which exhibits works by the great painters like Castagnino, Victorica, Fader, Spilinbergo, Fornes, Petorutti, and sculptures by national and provincial authors.
10 blocks away from km0, we find Hipólito Irigoyen Park, There you find the Greek Theatre, “Chacho Santa Cruz”, with a roofless stage and it takes 10000 spectators seated, there, a great number of artistic and cultural performances take place.
7 km away and on Rio Diamante Island, there is Mariano Moreno Park, offers the residents and visitors some rest, allowing them the best contact with nature. In its interior, we find a small artificial lake with Inmaculada Concepción Cave; a Zoo and a Campsite with all the services.
Opposite the ex- railway station and in honour to the first immigrants, The Immigrant Square is located, where there is the first locomotive that arrived in 1903 at the French Colony in those days.
General San Martin Square is the main one in the Department. In 1925 its present outline was applied. It has an equestrian monument to the ‘Libertador' cast in bronze and settled on a base of stones from the region.
The Municipal Palace is in Comandante Salas St. and Belgrano St. its main front was inaugurated in 1938 and it has a tower with its corresponding carillon. The modern building has been completed in successive stages.
San Rafael Arcangeles Cathedral, a modern building, was inaugurated in 1952, it is of neo romantic architecture. Located in Pellegrini and Belgrano sts., it was declared Cathedral by the San Rafael Diocese in 1961.
In this circuit we find important wineries well-known nationally and internationally, olive oil manufacture buildings, fruit drying places, which can be visited to appreciate the capacity and economic movement size in the Southern region in Mendoza.
CARACOLES DE VILLAVICENCIO O CAMINO DE LAS 365 CURVAS
It is a picturesque way, also called “la ruta de un año” (one-year-route), that covers the distance that goes from Paso Caracoles to Cruz de Paramillos (3200 m above sea level), it has always been the obligatory pass to Chile. At present it is a path of cornice, with interesting flora and fauna and a spectacular view of the Mountain Range. “Alas Delta” is a view point whose panoramic view is approximately 2100 m above sea level.
“El Balcon” (The Balcony) is another interesting natural viewpoint that is found on the way to Paramillos, on the way to Uspallata; from this natural balcony, you can contemplate the impressive 600-metre-depth cliff result of a gigantic break of Andes: Tupungato (6,800m) Mercedario (6,770m) and Aconcagua (6, 959 m).
Aconcagua, (the highest hill in America) sticking out among the heights is the place from where you visualize Villavicencio Natural Reservoir, in all its splendour. The Reservoir is located in Las Heras department and it has a total surface of almost 70,000 acres, protected by its biological diversity and its historical archaeological and cultural value.
In Quechua Aconcagua means “Guard or Stone Watchtower”.
“La Cruz de Paramillo” (Paramillo's Cross) is another place that can not be left unvisited during the trip, because of its spectacular panoramic view of all Uspallata Valley.
VINOS MENDOCINOS (Wines from Mendoza)
Mendoza is the first national wines manufacturer. These, throughout the years, has acquired international fame and renown among the most world famous wines.
Due to their high quality, vineyards from Mendoza have been prized in Burdeos (France), wine world capital, for many years.
Much of its stock is distinguished in the most renown international saloons. Among others, malbec, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, barbera d'Asti and pinot noir, among red wines and Riesling, Semillon, chinin blanc, torrontes and chardonnay among the white wines, stand out.
Tupungato la Casa Palmero:
Concisely, we can mention Orfila building, established on lands that used to belong to General San Martin, in the homonym department. Santa Ana, found in Villa Nueva. In Guaymallén Department, there is the web-known Chandon winery. In Maipu, there are various wineries like López, La Rural, with its Wine Museum; Domaine St. Diego, La Agrícola, Navarro Correas, Flichman, Trapiche, Martins. In Godoy Cruz there is Escorihuela. In Luján de Cuyo Weinert, Lagarde, Bosca and Nieto Senetiner among others. In Rivadavia there is Vignoble winery. In Tupungato, Casa Palmero.
In the south of the province, San Rafael is the main provincial manufacturer and it has a great quantity of famous wineries like, Bianchi, Goyenechea and Súter among others.
All the stock from Mendoza is of extremely high quality, guided visits are organised to go around the modern buildings, the vineyards and see how the different processes of this exquisite and traditional manufacture are performed. The visitor is also offered an exquisite tasting of its most well known products.
Perhaps, it is one of the lines that the great Mendoza boom has remarked, because of its special philosophy in the integral treatment in the wine industry, together with the out-of-the-question quality of its renown stock.