Making Memories with Malbec in Mendoza
By Nora Wallenius.
“Expect to get into at least one crash.” This is the advice my Argentinian friend gave me when I informed her of my plans to travel to Mendoza, the wine and adventure capital of Argentina. “After countless wine tastings and traveling between the wineries on bicycle, something’s bound to happen. But, it’s totally worth it!”
With this in mind, I headed off on a 16 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Mendoza. In three fun-filled packed days, I managed to do many of the awesome activities in and around Mendoza. I’ve recommended my favorites and some not-to-miss adventures in Mendoza. Of course, my friend did have a small bike crash, but it was totally worth it.
1. Wine Tasting
Whether you go by car, bus, bicycle, foot, or broomstick, wine tasting in Mendoza is a must. Malbec, Argentina’s beloved red wine, is seemingly consumed by the gallon in Argentina. Mendoza is home to this dark and intense grape, which is the largest Malbec grape acreage in the world. With its dry, desert terrain, the Malbec vines have thrived and become more delicious than their counterparts in French wine country. There are a variety of tours offered: private, groups in auto, and bicycle. I personally recommend going by bike, weather permitting. The terrain is flat and easy to ride, and you really feel like you are a part of the wine culture. If you want a more independent experience, check out Mr. Hugo Wineries and Bikes where you can rent bikes and tour the wineries on your own with a map. If you’d like something more structured, try a group biking tour with a guide like Mendoza Wine Bike Tour. Enjoy the ride, enjoy the atmosphere, and, most of all, enjoy the wine.
2. Thermal Baths at Cacheuta
I’m known with my friends as a “hot springs buff,” and even I was completely blown away by the Termas Cacheuta (http://www.termascacheuta.com/). The Terma Spa is perfectly located alongside a turquoise river, with a mix of hot to cold baths, indoors and outdoors. A mud bath, infinity pool, lounge chairs for resting, and sauna complete the spa complex. The included buffet lunch was one of the best I’ve ever had in my life: complete asado, past bar, hot and cold dishes, and salad bar. Enjoy the stunning mountain landscape and relax in nature while you’re being pampered.
3. River Rafting on the Rio Mendoza
Although its brown appearance may seem disarming, the Rio Mendoza is clean, refreshing and great for whitewater rafting. Rio Aventura runs rafting trips all year long, with high waters and large rapids during summer months and a calmer journey during the winter season. Enjoy the dramatic landscape of the snowcapped, brown mountains while letting loose with the charming river guides. Bring a sweater for after- the water is cold!
4. Korean-Argentine Fusion? Red wines paired with Sushi? YES!
It may seem out of place, but Mun @ Casarena offers a beautiful view of the Cordón del Plata and the vineyards while enjoying delicious and original Asian-Argentinean fusion cuisine. Enjoy a 6-course tasting menu with daily, fresh ingredients perfectly paired with local wines. Located in the vineyards of Bodega Casarena, Mun @ Casarena is an unforgettable meal and experience.
5. Winter Skiing
Skiing in the Andes Mountains is a skier’s dream: a wide range of runs, fresh powder, and stunning views. Las Lenas Ski Resort is one of the best in the region with fast lifts, beginner to highly advanced runs, and a daredevil trick park. Warning: the mountain is very steep, so don’t be intimidated and just go for it!
6. Hiking and Trekking
There are many day trips to nearby mountains for hiking trails, or, for the more adventurous, trekking which I discovered is a more “off the beaten path” kind of hike. Stomping my way through cactus and red sand hills, I felt very adventurous. For those who wants a view, Cerro Arco is a pleasant half-day hike, offering great views of both the Andean foothills and the vast expanse of Mendoza’s plains. If you have an extra day in your schedule, I highly recommend getting out into the wilderness.