Once you’ve sucked down enough fine wine and tramped around the city, get into the Andes, Mendoza’s other claim to fame, for some of the most spectacular mountain scenery you’ll ever see. Numerous agencies organize climbing and trekking expeditions, rafting trips, mule trips and cycling trips.
Climbing & Mountaineering
Mendoza is famous for Cerro Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, but the majestic peak is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to climbing and mountaineering here. The nearby Cordón del Plata boasts several peaks topping out between 5000m and 6000m, and there are three important rock-climbing areas in the province: Los Arenales (near Tunuyán), El Salto (near Mendoza) and Chigüido (near Malargüe). Get in touch with Andes Vertical, recommended for beginning and experienced rock-climbers.
Pick up a copy of Maricio Fernandez’ full-color route guide (Spanish only), Escaladas en Mendoza, at Inka Expediciones. For up-to-date information and a list of recommended guides, contact the Asociación Argentina de Guías de Montaña. Trekking Travel Expediciones offers several multiday routes into the mountains, usually involving horseback riding.
For climbing and hiking equipment, both rental and purchase, visit Chamonix.
Skiing & Snowboarding
When there's snow, Los Penitentes has the best skiing near Mendoza, although further south, Las Leñas has arguably the best skiing in South America. For standard ski and snowboard equipment rental, try Limite Vertical or any of the shops along Av Las Heras. In high season, all offer packages with either skis, boots and poles (AR$230), or snowboards and boots (AR$280). Most rent gloves, jackets and tire chains, as well. If you’re an intermediate or advanced skier, Argentina Ski Tours can set you up with much better equipment and runs highly recommended full-service ski tours to both mountains.
The major rivers are the Mendoza and the Diamante and Atuel, near San Rafael. Most agencies offer half-day descents (from AR$420) and multiday expeditions. Transport is extra. Well-regarded Argentina Rafting operates a base in Potrerillos, and you can book trips at its Mendoza office.
Mendoza has its very own fly fishing school with an almost doctoral-like rigor. It takes five years for students to graduate as guides. Trout & Wine offers full-day guided trips, including a wonderful asado (barbecue) lunch, on several rivers in the Valle de Uco, on Río El Tigre near Uspallata and Río Mendoza in the winter.
For the casual sipper, a self-guided tour of Maipú or any of the bodega tours offered by various travel agencies around town will likely satisfy. There are also a few highly recommended companies operating out of Mendoza offering deluxe wine tours. They’re not cheap, but benefits include small group sizes, knowledgeable and entertaining English-speaking guides and access to exclusive vineyards. Most also offer tours of the Valle de Uco, a beautiful, relatively new winegrowing region 150km south of Mendoza that’s near impossible to explore by public transportation.
All of the operators can set you up customized trips, some with horseback tours of the vineyards; usually a full-day affair with gourmet lunch included (US$190).
Don't Miss: Wineries near Mendoza
Thanks to a complex and very old system of river-fed aqueducts, land that was once desert now supports 70% of the country’s wine production. Mendoza province is wine country, and many wineries near the capital offer tours and tasting. Countless tourist agencies offer day tours, hitting two or more wineries in a precisely planned day, but it’s also easy enough to visit on your own. Hiring a remise (taxi) is also feasible. Some winery tours and tastings are free, though some push hard for sales at the end, and you never taste the good stuff without paying. Malbec, of course, is the definitive Argentine wine.
With a full day it’s easy to hop on buses and hit several of the Mendoza area’s most appealing wineries in the outskirts of neighboring Maipú, only 16km away. For a look at what the cutting-edge wineries are doing, consider renting a car or going on a tour of the Valle de Uco. Another option is the area of Luján de Cuyo, 19km south of Mendoza, which also has many important wineries.
There are several ways of getting to Maipú, including public buses leaving from La Rioja, between Garibaldi and Catamarca in central Mendoza; buses to wineries in Luján de Cuyo leave from Mendoza’s bus terminal.
Mendoza’s tourist office on Garibaldi near Av San Martín provides a basic but helpful map of the area and its wineries. Also look for the useful three-map set Wine Map: Wine and Tasting Tours.