Have you guys ever heard of Aconcagua? I hadn’t before I came to Argentina. What is it, you ask? I’m so glad you asked. Aconcagua is a mountain. But it isn’t just any mountain; Aconcagua is the tallest mountain on Earth outside of the Himalayas. It’s massive and breath-takingly beautiful. In Quechua Aconcagua means Stone Sentinel and you can see why:
Let me take you through our trip from the beginning. Parque Aconcagua is a 4 hour bus ride from Mendoza. The bus left at 6am, so I got up around 4:30am for this glorious day. I got to the bus terminal and met up with my travel buddies, we got on the bus, napped and chatted for a few hours, drove through the Andes, and all of the sudden we were dropped off in the remote feeling Parque Provincial de Aconcagua.
Our first stop at the park was a ranger station where they had bathrooms (very important) and gave us a map. It isn’t really clear why, but they didn’t charge us any kind of entry fee, even though they were supposed to, but I’m not complaining. Given that we are in autumn here in Argentina and that we were very high up in the mountains it was brisk that day, but perfect for some light hiking!
We started on our day hike and one of the first things we came across were these giant boulders.
A nice sign informed us (in both spanish and poorly translated english) that these boulders had been left here when the glaciers swept through the area during the ice age. Water moved these enormous rocks.
When you first start your hike you can’t really see Aconcagua yet, but you can see the two also very large mountains that flank it’s sides. One of them is Mount Almacenes.
Since it was too late in the season to climb Aconcagua at all without some crazy gear and serious training, we never got that close to the big mountain. It’s nearby brothers on the other hand we were at the base of for most of our hike. They towered over us like a never ending gateway to Aconcagua.
I believe I have talked before about how I miss silence here in Mendoza, because I live in the city center and can always hear road noise or people shouting. This park was different. There were very few people visiting the park that day because it was cold (a condition the majority of Argentines abhor) and because it’s off season. So we got to enjoy silence, the rush of the river, and a view of the mountain. It was extremely refreshing.
The beauty and size of the mountain was mind boggling and we spent a large part of our day just staring at it, but I can’t have you thinking we were serious and reverent the whole time. Oh no, we goofed off too!
We came to a bridge that basically said “go no further”, we did continue, just in a different direction, but not before we made that bridge our playground.
We also played a good amount of Queen of the Rock: AKA we climbed a lot of really big boulders and hopped across the river quite a few times.
My travel companions, Beth and Janelle, are really fantastic and their company made everything even more fun!
About half way through our hike we stopped and ate lunch. We had a view of Aconcagua and the sound of the river in our ears. It is the second most beautiful place I have ever eaten lunch (stay tuned for the most beautiful place).
Of course I took a selfie with one of the biggest mountains in the world. What kind of Millenial would I be if I didn’t.
When we got back to the rangers station/visitors center we we had about an hour and a half before our bus came so we decided to drink some mate (pronounced Mah-tey), since we’d brought all of the materials for it with us. We asked very nicely and the rangers filled our Thermos with piping hot water for us. Nothing like mate and friends in the middle of Argentina.
So the method for getting back on the bus is simple: go stand outside on the side of a major highway, endure lots of idiot male drives honking and shouting things at you, and wait until your bus comes. When you see your bus coming, you stick your hand out to get it to stop. This is (from what I can tell) a universal method of stopping a bus or taxi. It is however strange when you are flagging down a long distance bus on the side of the only major rode through the Andes.
All in all it was an amazing day. I couldn’t have asked for anything more!
Welcome to Argentina.