So my project in Uruguay wrapped up early and having a few weeks of free time I thought to take a trip. Initially I was thinking to stay later on to March and head to Peru and Boliva. That plan didn´t really pan out as planned. So I made an impromptu decision to trek through Patagonia (Southern Argentina and Chile). I roughly mapped out cities of interest and bought a ferry boat ticket to Buenos Aires.
Got into BA early Sunday morning and roamed around Retiro Bus Station to find companies with services to the city of Mendoza. I bought a ticket for that same day, put my large backpack in storage and roamed the neighborhood surrounding the bus station until it was time to leave.
The trip to Mendoza was a hefty 15 hr bus ride; it was a long sleepless trip. Got into town yesterday at 6AM. A friend has told me about day trips that go up to the Chilean border stopping at the national park for trekking and other geological interest sites. I asked around and found a company that runs such a service. To my luck or misfortune (how ever u see it) they had a bus leaving in 30 mins (6:30AM). I decided to go for it. Bought my ticket right there and had them save my large backpack in their offices until I returned later on in the evening.
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The trip was well worth it. From Mendoza we headed northeast to Uspallata crisscrossing through curvy roads through the Andes. From there we headed to the Aconcagua Provincal park, near the base camp of South America´s highest peak. Summitting it was out of the question as for someone as unexperienced as me it would take a 20 odd days and some serious cash.
The drive and Trek was spectacular and we continued on further east towards the Chilean border to Punte de Inka. A natural stone bridge over (at 2750m (7000ft) above sea level) the Mendoza river. The bridge which was part of the Ancient Inca route crossing the Andes and upwards towards Peru was a sight to be seen. The presence of sulfur deposits and its subsequent oxidation has turned the entire rock formation an incredible shade of bright yellow and orange.
Continued upwards and definitely began to feel the affects of the high altitude. Stopped at various other peaks to take a look at natural rock formations or just trek a bit through the Andes.
Finally we crossed over the Chilean border and hit our highest altitude at 4,200m (about 12,600ft). There was Chile´s own verison of Christo ( a gigantic statue of Christ). The views from here were unbeatable looking at the snow capped peaks. To combat the altitude sickness I was passed a sample size cup of this liquid (yellowish in colour). It was called Agua adriente. I should have guessed its contents since the alternative to combat these symptoms is chewing coco leaves. I downed the drink and that stuff was damn strong. But I gotta admit it was helpful definitely helped with the nausea and the light-headedness.
Got into town and walked around to 3 diff hostels until I found a place. Chatted a bit with a bunch of Chileans I met and then crashed for the night.
Today I´m planning to check out the city of Mendoza proper and the Parque Nacional de San Martín with a few ppl I met at Andes trek yesterday. This evening since I clearly didnt learn my lesson the first time, I´m taking a 19 hr bus ride further down south to Bariloche. The lake district just north of Patagonia. Not sure how many days I will spend there, depends on how much I like the place. I am enjoying taking it city by city and making definitive plans as I go. The people I´ve met thus far have been a great. It doesn´t feel like i´m traveling solo.
I´ll keep u updated.