At 4,300 miles long and 120 to 430 miles wide, the Andes Mountains are huge. In fact, they are the longest continental mountain range in the world. As a mountain-lover, I wanted to see as much as possible in the short time I had in Mendoza, so I booked an Alta Montaña Day Tour with Argentina4u, and was very glad I did.
I chose this company because they are a local company that offers quality tours all over the country. Moreover, they offer bilingual guides, which can be surprisingly difficult to find when backpacking South America.
I would recommend this tour as an introduction to hiking the Andes, as it gives you a lot of information on the geography and history on the area. The tour begins with a convenient hotel pickup. You’ll also get a coffee and wifi break on the way. Once in the Andes, you’ll explore the areas highest peeks, inactive volcanoes, Inca ruins and artifacts left by Argentina’s hero, San Martin. The comfortable tour is expansive, as you go right to the Chilean border.
What I really loved about the tour was learning about the formation of the beautiful landscapes that I’m always photographing. For example, different sections of the Andes grew at different times, and the mountains continue to grow about 5 mm each year, due to tectonic plate movement. Moreover, the different colors found in the mountains can be attributed to different sediments : bright yellow peaks come from sulfur, red from iron, green from copper, white from limestone, and black from volcanic rock.
One interesting site we visited was the Picheuta Colonial Bridge. Built at the end of the XVlll century with round stone and mortar, it was used to cross Picheuta River to the ancient Inca Road, and by San Martin’s forces during battle.
My other favorite site on the journey was the natural bridge, known as the Incas Bridge. Built in per-Colombian times with natural hot springs dripping from it, it is the only natural bridge in the world of its kind. Ten thousand years ago, the spot was a glacier instead of a bridge, until sediments, hot spring water, and mud soldified over it. The Incas used to make use of it, and you can also see ruins from an old hotel, spa, and church.
Make sure to save room for food, as the tour also stops in an old ghost town for lunch. You’ll eat at a family run restaurant that serves a buffet of homemade food for 60 Argentine Pesos (about $15) per person.
Overall, it was a great day, especially since now I understand my surroundings better while I hike. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone looking to explore the Andes in a relaxing and educational way.
This post was made possible by Argentina4u