“Alta Montana” is a very popular one day tour starting in Mendoza which covers about 400 kilometres. Its declared highlights are a view of Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, a visit to Puente del Inca and the monument of Cristo Rendedor.
Well, we believe that the scenery going to all these places is equally, if not more intriguing. Considering that we had driven through hundreds of miles of countryside featuring polychromic mountain slopes in the northwest of Argentina, we still found this drive exciting.
The windy trip up the steep road to Cristo Redentor was a bit of an excitement and offered a great view of the surroundings, but the view at the top of the mountain is rather disappointing. At 4.200 meters above sea level, the huge statue was erected after a land dispute between Chile and Argentina was settled in 1902 and thus stands equally on Chilean and Argentinean soil.
We had great weather and thus a perfect view of Mount Aconcagua, which is often hidden by clouds. This mountain, at 6,967 meters above sea level, is a very popular destination for climbers, but requires good mountaineering skills and no less than two weeks of your time.
Another natural wonder is Puente del Inca, a stone bridge over Rio de las Cuevas. It shines in a bright orange colour, which stems from the sediments of the sulphuric waters. Right next to the bridge are the remains of a former spa that was part of a nearby hotel. The hotel was destroyed in a mudslide and never rebuilt. Also the bridge was closed because the heavy traffic of visiting tourists took its toll.
We found the tour rather disappointing in the way it was organised. Like stopping at a deserted ski resort giving those who wanted to go up the chair lift a chance to do so, while the rest was waiting exposed to the chilly winds. But on the other hand they did not bother stopping to get a good view of the fascinating rock formations of “Los Penitentes” very close by. Our lady tour guide never gave an accurate time of when to meet again and when to leave so we spent a good time just waiting around and when we finally voiced our frustration she would make rude comments in Spanish knowing perfectly well we would understand.
The very same evening we celebrated Heidi´s birthday at Restaurant 1884 Maximilian Mallmann: great atmosphere, excellent wine from Familia Gascon, but the food did not live up to the restaurant’s reputation.