Mendoza Mini Guide
What can you Tell me About Mendoza?
Its municipality is the fourth largest by population in Argentina. It was founded in 1561 on the site of a native city because of its access to plentiful water from the irrigation system devised by the local tribes. Once the potent combination of water and fertile soil had been discovered, the city grew rapidly with the economy based on agriculture and eventually wine. Discoveries of mineral reserves including oil propelled the population forward faster still. Today it is a popular destination for wine buffs and winter sports enthusiasts with the slopes of the Andes close by. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the western hemisphere, is also not far from Mendoza.
How do I get There?
Mendoza has a small international airport which accepts daily flights from Chile
and from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires
. Weekly flights are also now available from other domestic airports. The flights are comparatively expensive which is why many in Argentina choose to use the slow, crowded and often dangerous bus system. Travellers from Europe will need to fly to one of the major South American capitals such as Lima
or Buenos Aires to continue onwards to Mendoza by plane.
What is There to See and Do in Mendoza?
The majority of what there is to do in and around Mendoza is based on you getting out and being active. In the southern hemisphere’s winter you can ski, snowboard or skate in one of the many winter sport resorts in the upper foothills of the Andes Mountains nearby. Even in their summer there’s still snow on the higher slopes and the mountains stay snow-capped all year round.
Aconcagua, the world’s tallest mountain outside the Himalayas is nearby, set in a national park. There’s a fee for entry to the park but it’s a lot cheaper to pay at the park entrance than to book in town. Guides are available but the routes are fairly easy to get within gasping distance of the peak but check the weather carefully beforehand or you may see nothing but cloud and fog. Another less strenuous activity but just as enjoyable is to visit one or more of the hundreds of bodegas in the region that is known as one of the nine wine capitals in the world. Check out the Mendoza Festival which celebrates the wine harvest.
What can I buy to Take Home as a Souvenir?
There are a lot of choices in Mendoza. Leather goods are cheap, a by-product of the cattle ranching industry, whilst the city’s wealth has led to a propensity for shops selling unusual home ware. Wine has got to be a consideration, especially when low prices mean you can pick up a decent vintage for the price of a bottle of plonk.
What Should I eat in Mendoza?
As you might expect, the typical fare around Mendoza is the steak, grilled lightly and served with a bottle of Mendozan Merlot. Often it’s accompanied by a rich wine sauce or something spicy such as a salsa salad.
What About Entertainment in Mendoza?
There are tango clubs where you can be taught by the masters of tango whilst sipping the local version of tequila in a dark and smoky room or you can join in the street celebrations of one of the many festivals that the city celebrates. All are accompanied by loud music, plenty of alcohol and brilliantly coloured costumes.