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A region full of old churches and singular attractions, Eastern Mendoza is a group of sedimentary plains in which, according to Argentinean classification, we find two types of territory: The dry land, an area where dazzling prairies prevail, among ancestral villages surrounded by carob, arum and Chañar trees; and the oasis, with green crops, agro-industrial emporiums and dams with crystal clear waters.

Two big rivers are born in the mountains and cross this land: the Mendoza and Tunuyan Rivers. It includes the Santa Rosa, La Paz, San Martin, Junín, Rivadavia and Lavalle Departments.

Along the roads interconnecting these locations we can find extensive deserts with wonderful true oases with vineyards, fruit tree plantations, agro industrial complexes, and the mythical and prestigious Bodega wine cellars of this part of the country.

It is the capital of the department holding the same name and part of Greater Mendoza. We can reach it driving along Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route. It was declared a city on March 31st 1861, after the big earthquake, when it was proposed as a replacement for the devastated City of Mendoza. Its prestige transcends Argentinean borders because of its magnificent wine production.

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The word "Maipu" comes, apparently, from "Mapu" and "Maipo" that means territory, nation or native site, while the word "Mapuche" means "people from this land". Maipu is also the name of another place 15 kilometres south of Santiago de Chile, and the site of a decisive battle for that country's independence in 1818. Maipo is also the name of a 5,323-metre-high volcano in the Andes Mountain Range, on the border between Mendoza and the Chilean capital.

The Religious Patroness of the city is Nuestra Señora de La Merced - Our Lady of Mercy, whose temple was inaugurated in 1863, and whose pontifical crowning was carried out in 1961. The Virgin of Mercy was declared General of the Argentinean Army in 1812, during the North Campaign (that is why she wears army stripes and sash). Her festivity is celebrated on the 24th of September.

Maipu is located at 804 m.a.s.l. The Mendoza River, embracing its cultivated fields, crosses the southern tip of the department and heads northwest down its lower course.

In Maipu, within few kilometres, there is a succession of mythical wine cellars that have become a living monument to this Mendoza passion and which make Maipu the unquestionable Cradle of Wine and Olives.

Using the latest technology, these wine cellars currently produce wines that are renowned around the world. Family establishments that make wine using ancestral techniques still exist.

In Osakis and Suarez streets, for example, we find the Antigua Bodega Giol, which, at the beginning of the XXth century, became one of the most important in the world thanks to the titanic effort of Juan Giol and Bautista Gargantini. This centennial bodega still occupies the original buildings with typical XIXth century style. Inside we can find the historical barrel that was awarded a prize during the celebration of the Revolución de Mayo May Revolution Centennial. Nowadays this ancient bodega is run under a cooperative system.

A few metres away from the bodega, in the former manor house, we can find the Museum of Wine and Wine Making, in a French style architecture. Objects employed in the making of wine and its transportation are exhibited here, such as presses, wooden casks, and whole workshop where barrels were produced.

North, along Pedro Vasquez Ave., we find the Bodega Lopez, a prestigious establishment specialized in fine wine. The Andalusian immigrant Jose Lopez Rivas founded it in 1886.

In Maipu we also find a Historical Museum with native artefacts that especially belong to the Huarpe culture, archaeological pieces, as well as the local historical archive. It is on Vergara N° 57, in the former house of Jose Alberto de Ozamis, one of the city founders.

About 34 kilometres from the Capital City of Mendoza, the city of Lavalle is famous for its traditions, its religious festivities, and because we can find surviving Huarpe indigenous communities, with their native customs, on its outskirts. We can visit the Historical Chapel, the Regional Museum and the House of the Beekeeper.

Lavalle is in itself an extensive plain where the population is very dispersed. They grow apricots, prunes, damson plums, almonds and grapes. It is famous for its sweet watermelons and melons. It has a typical dry and sunny weather.

Lavalle is also one of the most important honey producers in the province. It has about 7500 beehives, and an annual production of more than 250000 kilograms.

One of its most attractive spots is the so-called "altos limpios", where the sand dunes are as impressive as the ones in the famous Sahara desert.

Ecological tourism has been encouraged in Lavalle, combining the pleasures of discovering and understanding the flora and fauna, with the opportunity of contributing to their conservation. The established circuits combine past history, culture and religion.

The Capilla del Rosario Chapel
It is located about 107 kilometres from the City of Mendoza, along National Route N° 40 on the way to San Juan. A little more than half way down the road, we turn right towards the Lago Rosario Lake. About 15 kilometres down this road, we turn left and drive 30 kilometres further to reach the Chapel.

The first chapel was built in year 1630. Carob tree trunks and branches were used in its building. The second construction was made out of adobe bricks in 1753, and was erected by Franciscan priests with native support and at the request of the Junta de Pobladores a Chilean Citizens' group. In 1861 the chapel was partially destroyed by the earthquake and it was reconstructed three years later.

The chapel has simple lines, with front arches, long walls and small domes. The interior is long and narrow. It has a single nave. Two mezzanines rise above it: One lateral and the other, which forms a chorus, which communicates with the courtyard through a small balcony.

The Telteca Forest and The Altos Limpios Sand Dunes
About 107 kilometres from the City of Mendoza, along National Route N° 40, Provincial Route N° 34, and the National Route N° 142, we reach the junction of the San Juan and the Mendoza Rivers, an area where the remains of the once important lake complex of Guanacache still stand.

The Interpretation Centre El Pichon is located there, and park rangers provide the traveller with the necessary information to join the excursion to the Telteca Natural Reserve and the Municipal Development Area.

Sandy deserts dominate the landscape with no evidence that for over one thousand years there was in this area a stable ecosystem of ponds and wetlands, with abundant fish, aquatic birds, guanacos and Ñandu South American ostriches, and a large aboriginal population.

At the end of the XIXth century, an immigrant wave and the systematic implementation of irrigation provoked decisive environmental changes. The lakes finally dried up in 1960.

The Reservation area comprises 20400 hectares. The aim is to protect mountain flora and fauna. It is a hundred year old carob forest, which represents an ecosystem that used to occupy great extensions of the province's territory. We can see parrots, parakeets, plovers, vizcachas, pumas and foxes.
We suggest travellers to hire guides for a walking excursion. Or to get on a truck that takes adventurers to the sandy terrain of Altos Limpios, a succession of sand dunes shaped by wind erosion. We do not recommend summer visits.

This department is 50 kilometres east of the Capital City. Most of the land is cultivated. San Martin is to the north, Rivadavia to the south, Santa Rosa to the southeast, and Maipu and Lujan de Cuyo to the west. It has almost 30,000 inhabitants and about 100 wine bodegas. Its streets are the typical tree shaded boulevards, which are characteristic of Mendoza.

One of its most typical places is the Historical Mansion Museum. It is a building complex consisting of a Colonial style museum, an oil factory, the old Barriales Mill, the traditional Bodega Orfila, which dates back to the first years of the XXth century, and a sanctuary in honour of San Cayetano, the patron saint, who is worshipped during the first week of August, besides the mansion itself built by the Libertador San Martin.

We can also try typical dishes and watch beautiful bare-footed young ladies trample grapes in high casks. You cannot miss this folkloric celebration.
We can reach this town driving along a road under the shade of trees on each side. Surrounded by extensive vineyards, olive trees and fruit plantations, we can visit here the Benegas Dam, on the Tunuyan River course. It offers the possibility of practicing sport fishing of rainbow trout, perch and the so-called arroyo.

It is the easternmost of all departments in the Mendoza Province. It is the door to Mendoza, when you come from Buenos Aires. It is an extensive but scarcely populated territory.

It offers the traveller a regional history museum. It was inaugurated in year 1999 and it has a room exhibiting farming tools donated by local families. We can also find there the old railway phone, and the Morse system telegraphic equipment used in the station.

There is a photographic exhibition of the first families that settled in La Paz, the first streetcar, which dates back to 1940, an 1820 farm wagon pole, and a stone mortar to grind wheat. There is an area dedicated to the Vendimia Winemaking Festival Queens and the Department Overseers.

About 60 kilometres from the City of Mendoza along National Routes N° 7 and N° 40, and Provincial Routes N° 16, N° 62, N° 67 and N° 71. It has 50000 inhabitants, mostly living in rural properties. It is an agro industrial area. The main crops are grapes and melons.

The El Carrizal Dam
An obligatory tour. To reach it simply go along National Route N° 40 in the direction of Rivadavia, and when you reach the village of Ugarteche, take Provincial Route N° 16 to the dam.

It is on the Rio Tunuyan River on a plain surrounded by the arid mountains of Las Huayquerias del Carrizal and the Los Huarpes lowlands.

It is built of stone, earth and clay, and it dams up a water mirror fifteen kilometres long by four kilometres wide. The eastern shore belongs to Rivadavia, where you will find 12 sport fishing and yacht clubs, and the western shore belongs to Lujan de Cuyo and it has eight clubs and tourist recreation complexes.

It is an optimal place to fish for sweet water atherine and to practice yachting, windsurfing, water scooters, canoeing, water ski and camping. They also organize walks and horse riding in the surrounding areas. The Derivation dam Tiburcio Benegas is nearby.

It has a splendid swimming pool, several types of restaurants and the Food Court where we can try regional and international gastronomic specialties, and good Mendoza wine.

The weather is dry and temperate. Mountain vegetation surrounds the place, and it has an all-year tourist season.

Nearby there is an as yet unexploited oilfield.

About 44 kilometres east of the City of Mendoza, along National Route N° 7, there is a succession of modern bodegas, farms, estates, fields and industries until we reach the active town of San Martin.

It has important agricultural and industrial activity based on vineyards, olives and fruit trees. The main street is the Avenida Boulogne Sur Mer, a picturesque boulevard where you will find most of stores and coffee and pastry shops in town.

The Las Bovedas Historical Museum
It is a replica of the house built by General don Jose de San Martin to end his days as a modest farmer. It has two ample white domes that resemble an inverted ship's keel, both made of wood, mud and reeds, and joined with cow leather sounding rods.

General San Martin's original house was built in the eastern part of town, a few metres away from the current replica. It almost disappeared in the 1861 earthquake. Later, in 1905, one of the owners, don Ricardo Palencia, built the current replica 300 metres west of the original site, with the vaulted ceilings that give the place its name.

It has a symmetrical structure, surrounded by four wide galleries where objects and farming machines of the XIXth century and early XXth century are exhibited. It has 13 exhibition rooms: Coins, archaeological displays, and objects of everyday XIXth century life, folkloric material, and more. It is on Avenida Pirovano and Godoy Cruz Street.

The Capilla del Buen Orden Chapel
It is located in a village about two kilometres from San Martin town, along the Buen Orden Lane. Both the square and the chapel preserve a delicious rural atmosphere. The chapel was built in 1883. It is a simple construction, made of wood, and it possesses three naves.

The Capilla del Alto Salvador Chapel
It is in Cerreceto, about eight kilometres away, along the Costa Canal Monte Caseros Lane. It is one of the most remarkable rural chapels in the country. Its construction dates back to 1852. It is built in a Florentine Renaissance style. It has an open nave, a closed chapel crowned by a pronged dome and a lookout tower.

It is about 82 kilometres from the Capital City, always along National Route N° 7. It is an ideal place to start an excursion to the Ñacuñan Reserve, an area where visitors can find peaceful landscapes and watch typical mountain fauna and flora.

During the first week of January the Fiesta de la Cueca Folk dance and the Damasco Damon Plum Festival is celebrated. Together with the election of the Queen, local Criollo cooking stoves are built, and we can try the local dishes and exquisite wine.

The Bernardino Razquin Museum
In a spacious hall, the museum exhibits archaeological remains, such as a Huarpe burial and Huarpe pottery, Guanacache culture arrowheads, and an Ischigualasto rock collection. It also exhibits the cassocks used by priests at the end of the XIXth century, Santa Rosa de Lima chandeliers, a shark's jaw, fossilized coral, whale ribs, as well as photographs of astronomical phenomena. The whole collection once belonged Bernardo Razquin.


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