Worth a Trip: Cristo Redentor

Pounded by chilly but exhilarating winds, the rugged high Andes make a fitting backdrop for 3832m Cristo Redentor, the famous monument erected at El Cumbre pass after a territorial dispute between Argentina and Chile was settled in 1902. The view, a must-see, either with a tour or by private car, is reached via a narrow dirt and gravel road with no guardrails, steep drop-offs and hairpin turns. (Confident drivers only.) If you have even a hint of vertigo, you'll be miserable. The first autumn snowfall closes the route. You can hike the very steep 8km up to El Cristo via trails from the roadside if you don’t have a car – only possible from December to February; otherwise, ice renders it too dangerous.

It's also possible to bypass the main Paso Internacional Los Libertadores border crossing into Chile by driving over the pass, down an equally intimidating road, before meeting the highway (Rte 60) 6km before the immigration and customs post. This is a potentially dangerous drive, never to be attempted in rainy or inclement weather.

Worth a Trip: Puente del Inca

One of Argentina’s most striking natural wonders, this stone bridge over the Río de las Cuevas was used by Inca traveling in the area. It glows a dazzling orange from the sediment deposited by the warm sulfuric waters. The brick ruins of an old spa, built as part of a resort and later destroyed by flood, sit beneath the bridge, slowly yielding their form to the sulfuric buildup from the thermal water that trickles over, around and through it. Due to the unstable nature of the structure, the area has been closed off and you can’t cross the bridge or enter the hot baths, but you can still get some fairly wild photos.

Puente del Inca enjoys a spectacular setting, and whether or not you climb (those tackling Cerro Aconcagua usually overnight here), it’s a good base for exploring the area. Trekkers and climbers can head north to the base of Aconcagua, south to the pinnacles of Los Penitentes, or even further south to 6650m Tupungato.

About 1km before Puente del Inca (directly across from Los Puquios), the small Cementerio Andinista is a cemetery for climbers who died on Aconcagua.

Buses from Chile pass through (it's only 1km from the immigration and customs post at Horcones) but are often full and won't stop to pick you up. Nearly every Mendoza tour operator offers day tours to Puente del Inca in the summer months.