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This route borders the course of the Rio Mendoza River, from the ample agricultural oasis that surrounds the Capital City of the province, to the spectacular mountain range that marks the limit between the Republic of Argentina and the Republic of Chile.

It winds across valleys, flat lowlands, streams, rivers, foothills and the highest peaks of the Cordillera de los Andes Mountain Range. All of them, part of the mountainous areas of the Lujan de Cuyo and the Las Heras Departments.

It is an adventure that the traveller will not be able to forget easily. North and south of the river, the Andean mountain ranges, crossed by green and beautiful valleys in intermediate zones, will bring you no end of fascination.

The adventure begins in Cacheuta, Potrerillos and Uspallata, the three best-equipped towns in the Mendoza mountains. And it ends with one of the most fascinating tours in the world: the ascension of the stone sentinel: the Aconcagua.

At 29 kilometres from the City of Mendoza, along the Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route, we reach this small oil-producing location that stands out for its famous hot springs. The location keeps the name of a Huarpe indian chief. It is divided into two parts by the Rio Mendoza but at the same time it is brought together by a suspension bridge 138 meters long.
Mendoza Argentina
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* Central Zone
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In year 1873 its tar pools were exploited to be used to make waterproof wine skins and vessels, and ten years later Carlos Fader founded the Compañía Mendocina de Petroleo and provided petrol gas for public lighting. The oil duct, 34 kilometres long, was the first built in South America.

A train station, key to providing access to the Pacific from Buenos Aires, was built there in 1880. Then, with the construction of Hotel Termal it was transformed into an important centre of tourist attraction.

The Centro Climático Termal Cacheuta Hot Springs Resort
It is a resort that includes a hotel and a restaurant. There is a terrace with a swimming pool that offers an excellent panoramic view over the river canyon. The hotel was built in 1986, on the same spot where the Hotel Balneario Cacheuta used to stand at the beginning of the XXth century, and it still keeps its elevator tower.

The baths are in an artificial grotto, at 1,200 meters over sea level, and at a temperature that oscillates between 35°C and %°C. There are seven individual and collective pools. There are also green areas for camping, reed hurdles and meat broilers.

In the area we find the hydroelectric power plant, camping grounds, a hotel, two additional hostels, tearooms, a civic centre with all services and the old train station.

A picturesque valley 39 kilometres from the City of Mendoza, along Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route. From Cacheuta, the road winds along ravines and very steep curves. The town glitters between the foothills and the Cordillera de la Plata Mountain Range. Next to the banks of the Rio Mendoza River, we can see old bridges, tunnels and tracks of the Tran Andean Railroad, which connected to Chile at the beginning of the XXth century.

Potrerillos is an old settlement of country houses with agriculture and cattle production that began its economic take-off with the arrival of the railroad at the end of the XIXth century. The construction and paving of the road enabled the arrival of a temporary population and the building of weekend houses.

Since then, it is traditionally used for rest, to spend one day in the countryside or for long stays. Nearby we find an important number of estancias, camping grounds, and the distinguished Hotel Potrerillos, which stands in a place where the immensity of the mountains can be appreciated.

The Potrerillos Civic Centre offers a storehouse for provisions, a service station, restaurants and a picturesque church. In town there are approximately 300 inhabitants and about 1000 in the area of influence.

The Rio Mendoza River, together with the Rio Blanco River and its streams, offer lavish vegetation and landscapes of amazing beauty. For that reason, it is an ideal spot for adventure tourism: trekking, horse riding, rafting, mountain climbing, gliding, mountain bike, and other alternatives.

Very close by we find the Potrerillos Dam, which has the purpose of regulating the water volume of the Rio Mendoza River with the aim of improving the supply of drinking water and the production of hydroelectric energy. Its beautiful and transparent water mirror offers great possibilities for lovers of nautical sports.

At the foot of Cordon del Plata, at 2900 m.a.s.l, and 30 kilometres away from Potrerillos, along a steep unpaved road, we find Vallecitos, the oldest ski centre in Mendoza Province, and the closest one.

On the road, the traveller will have the opportunity of watching a hill of an intense black colour, and the Rio Mendoza River which, in that section, stains stones with incredible colours due to minerals carried in its waters.

Vallecitos holds a series of shelters standing along the road, and six tracks with different degrees of difficulty to practice cross-country Nordic and Alpine downhill skiing. The total skiing surface encompasses 88 hectares.

Uspallata Valley Mendoza Argentina Travel At 93 kilometres from the City of Mendoza, on the crossroads of two branches of Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route coming from Potrerillos and Villavicencio, between beautiful and luxuriant boulevards, fields sown with vegetables and tubercles, and alfalfa fields, we find the small town of Uspallata.

The town reached an unusual importance during colonial times. This was due to the conjunction of three important factors: it was the main road between Mendoza and Santiago de Chile, fertile lands, and mining. Already by the year 1693 a silver mine was exploited, and there were smelting furnaces.

Its foundation dates back to 1824, but it only became a reality 30 years later through the land expropriation.

The valley fluctuates between 1900 and 2500 m.a.s.l, and the town possesses wide streets and picturesque poplars, and it is an ideal spot for horse riding. It was one of the important places of San Martin's campaigns, and a post on the Royal Road of the Viceroyalty.

On its outskirts the Cerro de los Siete Colores Hill stands out, near the centre of Uspallata, which is a mountain with colourful stripes similar to the famous hill with the same name in the Humahuaca Gorge, in the Jujuy Province.

It is a pleasant relaxation centre. There we can enjoy splendid landscapes, a generous microclimate, and an interesting supply of lodges, restaurants and camping grounds. In the area we can practice sport fishing, adventure tourism, as well as cultural tourism.

When we descend towards the valley we will find the Ciudad Fantasmal de Paramillo
Ghost Town, the ruins of a Huarpe settlement that in the XVIIth century was used by the Jesuits for mineral exploitation. Besides, two Inca settlements, Ranchillos and Tambillos, still subsist.

The picturesque town possesses two important Military Mountain Regiments.

The Puente Picheuta Bridge and the Bovedas de Uspallata Vaults
At 23 kilometres from Uspallata, along Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route, we cross the historical and colonial Puente Picheuta bridge, and we reach the Bovedas de Uspallata Vaults. They are mud buildings with vaulted ceilings. They date back to the end of the XVIIIth century and were a mineral processing plant.

During the independence war, its furnaces were used to smelt metals, which provided the material to manufacture the guns and cannons of the Ejército de los Andes Army. They have been declared a National Monument. At present there is a museum.


Polvaredas and Punta de Vacas
From the town of Uspallata to Los Penitentes, along Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route, and after crossing a succession of tunnels, we reach two picturesque locations: Polvaredas and Punta de Vacas.

Polvaredas (Dusts) is an old and almost empty train station at 2050 m.a.s.l. Its name is due to the intense dust raised by colliding wind currents. Very near, we will find Punta de Vacas, a village formed by several hamlets, and where there is a National Gendarmerie post.

From this location we can watch, in its full splendour, the Cerro Tupungato Mountain, 6800 m.a.s.l, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Here we find one of the entrances to Aconcagua National Park.

The Cementerio Andinista Cemetery
Further on, always along Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route, we will find the Cementerio Andinista Cemetery. A resting place for expeditionaries from different parts of the world who lost their lives while trying to reach the Aconcagua summit. There are also plaques that honour missing expeditionaries. Among them, the Argentinean climber Nicolas Plantamura, who reached the summit in 1934.

At 165 kilometres from the City of Mendoza, and at 65 kilometres from Uspallata, along Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route, we find Los Penitentes, a winter resort with several hotels, hostels, apartments, coffee and pastry shops, restaurants and a service station.

It is located beside the Rio Las Cuevas River and the Santa Maria and Cruz de Caña streams, at 2580 m.a.s.l, and owes its name to the surprising relief formations on the high slopes that resemble a procession of monks carved by erosion.

It has a skiing surface of 300 hectares, in 17 tracks of varying degrees of difficulty. Their length ranges between 7000 and 60000 metres. It possesses eight elevation systems such as chair lifts, ski lifts and carrousel. We can practice cross-country Nordic and Alpine downhill skiing, competition ski, snow games, sledges, and snowboard and snow scooters.

During summer time it also offers trekking, Andean mountain climbing and landscape watching.

It is also an important meeting place for Andean mountain climbers from all over the world, who come, especially in summer, to climb the imposing Aconcagua.

The Puente del Inca Bridge
At 71 kilometres from Uspallata, and at 2719 m.a.s.l, we find a natural geological bridge formation that crosses the Rio Las Cuevas River and which has been declared a Natural Monument. It was formed by thermal erosion caused by the sulphurous waters of the river, and its sediment gives it a peculiar ochre, reddish yellow and orange colouration. In winter it is practically covered by snow.

If we cross the Puente del Inca towards the mountain range, we can see three natural pools with thermal waters at a temperature between 33 °C and 39 °C, ideal for therapeutic treatments.

The excellent Hotel Puente del Inca was built here in 1925, and it was destroyed by a landslide in 1965. From that disaster, only La Capilla remains, a chapel built at the foot of the slope in 1902, and which has been reconstructed on different occasions due to the avalanches it has withstood in this place.

In handicraft stores we can purchase various objects, petrified or solidified by the sulphurous waters of the region. Nearby there is a hostel frequently visited by Andean mountain climber expeditions that wish to climb the Aconcagua.

We suggest visiting it in summer or the beginning of autumn. In those seasons trekking and horse riding expeditions from Puente del Inca to Aconcagua are organised, lasting between three and eleven days.

Los Puquios
It is a base camp for ascending the Aconcagua. On its right margin there is a group of five hot springs that became famous for their saline components, and because they can petrify objects in 40 days. It provides hostel services, shelters, lodging in a military zone, a post office, telephones, restaurants, stalls with petrified objects handcraft, and ski grounds with a ski lift.

The Aconcagua Provincial Park
Surroundings of the Aconcagua Volcano Mendoza Argentina Travel At 165 kilometres from the City of Mendoza, and at 75 kilometres from Uspallata, along Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route, we find the Aconcagua Provincial Park, which holds the colossus of the Americas, The Cerro Aconcagua Mountain, at 6959 m.a.s.l.

It was declared a Protected Natural Area in the year 1983. It is one of the 10 Natural Reservations that form the system of Protected Natural Areas of Mendoza Province. The Park holds big glaciers, which make an excellent reserve of fresh water. There are also important archaeological sites.

Mountainbiking by the Aconcagua Volcano Mendoza Argentina TravelIt is the scenery preferred by Andean mountain climbers from the entire world. Its total surface borders 71000 hectares, and together with the Aconcagua a series of snow-capped mountains rise over 5,000 m.a.s.l. Amongst them we have Dedos, Tolosa, Mexico, Almacenes, Ameguino, Cuerno, Pan de Azucar, Cupula Güssfeldt, La Mano and Catedral.

The Aconcagua, Watchtower or Stone Sentinel, translated from a quechua word, shows imposing slopes that change colour, a rocky texture, snow-capped summits, enormous icicles, big moraines, subterranean rivers, streams, hanging glaciers, and above all, perpetual snow.

On the Cerro Aconcagua Mountain, relative humidity is extremely low and oxygen percentage also diminishes for the same reason. Winds produce low-pressure zones that intensify these effects. It must be taken into account that Base Camps, from where the ascent begins, lie at more than 4,200 meters over sea level.

In 1883, the German climber Paul Güssfeldt, under adverse conditions, was only able to reach an altitude of 6560 metres, but he opened the way for future expeditions. It was the Swiss climber Mathias Zurbriggen who first reached the summit on January 14th, 1897.

The mountaintop is 12 kilometres from the border with Chile, and 18 kilometres from the international route. To the north and southwest lie the Los Horcones Gorge and valley, where the Los Horcones River runs; to the south lies the Horcones Inferior Lower River Gorge; to the north and east lies the Las Vacas Valley.

Access Route: Horcones
A few kilometres away from the Puente Inca Bridge, it is the most common ascent route. About 80 percent of the mountain climbers enter through here. At the beginning of the road we will find the Central Commanding Post of the Park in the Refugio de Horcones Shelter. All managing activities of the Park are coordinated from here. Through this route we reach the Plaza de Mulas (4300 m.a.s.l.), and the Plaza Francia (4200 m.a.s.l.) at the foot of the Pared Sur Southern Wall. The intermediate camp is named Confluencia (3300 m.a.s.l.) and lies four hours away from Horcones.

Access Route: Rio Vacas
Andean mountain climbers who attempt ascending through the Glaciar de los Polacos Glacier enter through here. The approach takes longer than through Horcones and we reach Plaza Argentina, Base Camp at the foot of the glacier, at 4200 m.a.s.l. Approaching on foot takes three days, and on the route we find the Pampa de Leñas and the Casa de Piedra intermediate camps.

  • Persons interested in climbing the mountain must previously obtain a permit, presenting their National Identification Document if they are Argentinean, or their passport if they are foreigners.
  • Minors between 14 and 21 years old need permission from their parents or tutors to climb it.
  • The best time to attempt climbing the mountain is in January and February, during summer.
  • We suggest obtaining information from the Club de Andinistas de Mendoza, at F. L. Beltran 357. Tel.: (061) 431-9870.
  • Be careful with high altitude sickness.
Las Cuevas
It is the last location reached by Ruta Nacional N° 7 National Route. It lies at 3112 m.a.s.l, and just 14 kilometres away from the entrance to the Aconcagua Provincial Park, and it is also known as Villa Fronteriza de Las Cuevas, since it marks the border with the Republic of Chile.

It has attractive Nordic style buildings, which give it a peculiar aspect. Two roads branch off from here: the one to the right leads through the International Tunnel to Chile, and the one to the left leads to Paso Bermejo, an old international route that takes the traveller to the Cristo Redentor sculpture.

It is important to consider that in winter, from July to September, although the route is paved, the road may be frozen due to the altitude. For that reason, snow avalanches and landslides are frequent, so circulating on this road must be carried out with extreme caution.

If you wish to visit Chile, visitors who require a visa must obtain it in the City of Mendoza, because no kind of visa permits are issued at the border.

The Cristo Redentor Christ Redemption Statue
At nine kilometres from Las Cuevas, through a winding road, we reach the well-known Cristo Redentor. It is a bronze sculpture approximately eight meters tall and weighing six tons, located at 4200 m.a.s.l, on Paso Bermejo, which marks the border between Argentina and Chile.

The monument was inaugurated in the year 1904. It was declared the First International Monument for Peace between both countries. It represents the image of Jesus of Nazareth, standing on the Earth, and holding a cross with his left arm. The image looks towards the northwest along the borderline.

It was created by the Argentinean artist Mateo Alonso, and to place it in that location all the materials were carried by mules from Mendoza, because these animals are very effective as beasts of burden in this type of mountainous terrain.

The season for climbing up to it is from January to March. In the southern hemisphere autumn and winter it is practically impossible to reach it.

From the top of Cristo Redentor we can enjoy spectacular views towards both countries and the Aconcagua with its surrounding mountain range. The traveller must watch carefully for the intrepid flight of a sentinel condor from the area. It is recommended to dress warm, appropriately for mountain zones.


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