Explore the Mendoza wine region and sample South America’s favourite wine, malbec.. Come face-to-face with Aconcagua, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest mountain. Walk through glacial valleys and over rugged Andean peaks on an adventurous, week-long trek.
Trek to the base camp of Aconcagua, the Southern Hemisphere’s highest mountain, during this 10-day trip. Begin in Mendoza, the home of malbec, and learn about its production while touring wineries with a local wine expert before heading into the mountains proper for an expedition through the beautiful Andean ranges. Interact with climbers and trekkers from around the world at base camp then return to Mendoza to raise a glass of the good stuff to your group – there’s no doubt you’ll have earned it.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 6 Dinner Included: 6
Welcome to Mendoza, the heart of Argentinean wine country and perhaps the most beautiful setting for a city anywhere. Having grown up under the watchful gaze of the Andes, Mendoza is a popular stop for adventure enthusiasts thanks to the nearby mountains and, of course, a seemingly endless supply of delicious malbec wine. Mendoza is the largest wine-producing region in Latin America, so why not share a bottle when you meet your fellow travellers this evening.
Mendoza - Wineries
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Mendoza, drink wine (but remember, this is a trekking trip). This morning you’ll meet a wine expert who’ll take the group to the heart of the winemaking region. Here, you’ll have an opportunity to learn about Mendoza’s traditional and industrial wineries. Visit three wineries and learn about the local soil, regional production and the different varietals and most importantly, you’ll be tasting some straight-up Andes juice from its heavenly source. Return to Mendoza in the afternoon to explore the city or, if you’ve indulged in the lion’s share of malbec, maybe take an afternoon nap because tomorrow we start trekking.
It’s time to walk off that malbec. Drive from Mendoza through Villa de Penitentes, a ski resort, and onwards to Laguna de los Horcones and the entrance to the Parque Provincial Aconcagua. Permits will be checked at the ranger station then you’ll begin your trek by walking 4-5 hours to Confluencia, Aconcagua’s first camp which sits at 3400 metres. Tents, group gear and any base camp extras will be transported by mules so you’ll only be carrying your personal equipment each day. On arrival in camp, enjoy a cup of tea and a meal prepared by the cooks. All meals are included during the trekking element of your trip and will include fresh fruit, meat, vegetables, eggs and bread among other things to keep your energy levels up.
Our goal today is Plaza Francia, which sits below the intimidating south wall of Aconcagua at 4200 metres. It’s a 6-8 hour journey and you’ll likely feel out of breath because of the high altitude, but your body will acclimatise as you sleep so rest up and eat lots (like we need to tell you twice). Aconcagua is not-so-affectionately known as the Death Mountain, more because of the poor preparation of climbers rather than technical difficulty, and the south wall is perhaps the most dangerous of all the approaches. While you’ll neither be climbing the south wall nor summiting Aconcagua, today you’ll see both Aconcagua for the first time and the south wall in its entirety – a breathtaking moment, and not just because of the altitude.
Plaza de Mulas
Greet the day with a steaming mug of tea looking over the mountains before breakfast. Today you’ll trek 8–10 hours to Plaza de Mulas base camp at 4250 metres, starting by crossing Playa Ancha – though it may not be the kind of ‘playa’ you’re used to – before gaining altitude up to the Horcones Superior Valley. You’ll be walking at a slow pace due to the altitude, and after climbing the steep Cuesta Brava (Rugged Slope) you’ll reach Plaza de Mulas. Keep your eyes peeled for the mighty Andean Condor, one of the largest flying birds in the world, circling overheard as you walk.
Plaza de Mulas
Today is a much-needed rest day before tomorrow’s ascent of Mt Bonete. The Plaza de Mulas, or Place of Mules, is the most populated base camp at Aconcagua and the point where many expeditions will begin their attempt on the summit. You’ll get together with your guides and talk all things medical while reviewing the equipment needed for tomorrow’s ascent. Resting at base camp provides a fantastic opportunity to talk and share stories with mountaineers and trekkers from all over the world, so take it easy and take it all in.
The ultimate goal of this trek, Mt Bonete, rises 5000 metres with expansive views over the surrounding valleys and peaks. Begin trekking after breakfast and, all things permitting, make your way to the summit from which you’ll see Aconcagua’s western face and look down on the huge Plaza de Mulas base camp from where you came. Make your way back to the base camp after taking some obligatory snaps of the snow-capped mountains, deep valleys and, of course, a very happy trekker.
Plaza de Mulas
After yesterday’s effort of 1500 metres ascent and descent, today is another well-earned rest day at base camp. Explore the surrounding area including the Horcones Superior Glacier, which has an incredible sunset view of Aconcagua’s west wall, and catch up with your old friends at base camp while making some new ones.
This is your last day in the mountains proper. You’ll organise your pack after breakfast and head back down to Horcones. A private van will be waiting to transport you and your fellow trekkers to Penitentes, where you’ll wait for your equipment to be delivered by the mules. There may be time to visit the Puente de Inca, a beautiful natural bridge over the Vacas River, before returning to Mendoza. Time for a glass or two of malbec, si?
Your trip will end after breakfast and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time.