Trekking from Uco Valley
Lesser known than some of the more established treks around Mendoza, this trip offers some of the most beautiful scenery of any of our tours and hikes, as well as a glimpse into the history of Argentina. We first drive to the cultivated Uco Valley, known for its vineyards and some of the best wine in the whole of Argentina, and then head up into the wild and rocky mountains beyond and the stunning granite walls of Cajon de Los Arenales. Nature is in abundance and round us, in one of the most fertile areas of the Mendoza region, with the stunning view of the Cordon del Plata, among other mountains.
From the valley floor, we will take private 4×4 transport for around 20km up into the hills, to the Chilean border, passing via the Gendarmería (Border Patrol) station. This is the trailhead of old muleteers way across the Andes, and the isolation of the setting, away from the bustle of the normal world allows you to imagine how it may have felt to cross the Andes in the olden days before modern faster connections were built. Portezuelo de los Piuquenes was one of the main roads between Argentina and Chile until the 19th century and we will follow along with this historical trail for several kilometers. Following the path of San Martin, we will hike through the Arenales Valley where, in January 1817, the “Ejército de Los Andes” (the Army of the Andes) undertook the most audacious military campaign in the history of Argentina. (For those interested in history you can read more about it here).
This area is where we find the beautiful granite walls of “Cajón de Los Arenales, justifiable popular with rock climbers, with its pink spires and walls creating an impressive and imposing landscape. This is where we begin the energetic but hugely rewarding uphill trek, which will take two or three hours. Following glacial moraine, we reach a small glacial lake, where we will have lunch in a beautiful yet secluded setting among the rock formations. There we can rest for a while, or search for traces of the guanaco (a local relative of the lama), before heading back to the trailhead, and to Mendoza – or to Uco Valley if you’ve decided you’d rather stay there after the trip and enjoy the wine and perhaps visit a bodega or two.
This trip really does back an incredible amount of beauty into one day – if you’re looking for something special, off the beaten trekking trails, then this may be the trip for you. Get there now before the rest of the tourists discover it!