Published on June 17th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
3 Must-Do Activities in Mendoza, Argentina
|Time for a toast: The Vendimia Festival in Mendoza is a great time to sample wine.|
BY SEBASTIAN CHIRINO
Known as the land of sun and good wine, the city of Mendoza, Argentina, is situated on the eastern side of the Andes. Mendoza is renowned for being clean and unpolluted. The city enjoys a mild climate, with very little rainfall throughout the year, making the city not only a pleasant area to live in but also a great place to spend your holiday.
First-class restaurants, theaters, casinos, museums, wine bars, nightclubs, and intense cultural and artistic activity make Mendoza an interesting destination, and a welcome side trip from the huge metropolis of Buenos Aires.
Since the city is set by the magnificent Andes Mountains, it is a great destination for practicing mountain biking, trekking and rafting and a wide range of extreme sports. During the winter season, ski lovers can find their way to nearby ski resorts like Los Peninetes, which is about 15 miles/25 km off Paso de Libertadores, the border between Chile and Argentina.
If you’re planning a visit to Mendoza, here are some travel tips — and three “must-do” activities to make the most of it.
1. Winery Visits
Mendoza is the leading producer of Malbec, which has helped the region become renowned worldwide for this wine varietal, hence it is worth visiting a local winery. The city boasts lots of prestigious wineries, most of which welcome tourists for guided visits.
You don’t have to be a wine expert; you will learn the basics of wine tasting, and you will probably join in discussions about the art of matching food with wine, among other inspiring topics. You’ll be delighted as you learn about the entire wine-making process, from the grape picking to bottling the finished products. This can be an interesting opportunity to learn more about the history of wine in a traditional winery, as well as its process and production — and, of course, you can treat yourself to a well-deserved glass. It’s also a great chance to treat yourself to some souvenirs, as you’ll be sure to find very good bargains for great quality wine.
2. Vendimia Harvest Festival
As a worldwide wine producer, Mendoza is also internationally renowned for its Vendimia Harvest Festival. This celebration usually takes place the first week of March, and it is Argentina’s premier wine-tasting event. The Vendimia festival celebrates the harvest of Mendoza’s unique grape used to make its savory wine varietal Malbec. The celebration features typical folkloric dances and yes, you’ll find plenty of wine and parties all over Mendoza.
Thousands of visitors flock here to see the parades and attend the street fairs, where the wine is the main attraction and all the local mendocinos celebrate with joy and pride. The different regions in Mendoza are represented in this big celebration with local princesses competing for the title of Harvest Queen, which will allow her to represent Mendoza in the world.
|The dramatic landscape of Puente del Inca, near Mendoza, Argentina.|
3. Puente del Inca
Another must see in Mendoza is the stunning Puente del Inca, translated as the “Bridge of the Inca,” a natural bridge over the Vacas River, a tributary of the Mendoza River that is also home to natural hot springs. This great tourist spot is about 112 miles/180 km from Mendoza city, near the pass to Chile and the main entrance of the Aconcagua Provincial Park.
Apparently, this natural construction — which has a peculiar coloring with shades of yellow, orange and ochre — was used by the Incan people for the healing properties of its hot spring waters. Its average water temperature is around 93 to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit/34 to 38 degrees Celsius. The bridge is close to the amazing Andes Mountains and Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere, which soars 22,841 feet/6,962 meters.
Mendoza is proud of its wine history, and you’ll see this reflected on every corner of the city. Last but not least, Mendoza is blessed by its proximity to the Andes, and a striking landscape you’ll experience as soon as you reach the city. Just sublime.
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Mendoza is easily accessible by road and airport. Travelers from Europe can find flights to Mendoza via Buenos Aires with British Airways and Iberia. From North America, carriers including Aeromexico, American Airlines, Continental, Delta and LAN fly nonstop to Buenos Aires for connections to Mendoza.
Born in Cordoba, Argentina, Sebastian Chirino is a travel blogger at CheapFlights, based in the United Kingdom.