Puente del Inca, Mendoza Province, Argentina
Puente del Inca is a natural bridge located northwest district of Las Cuevas, which has formed over thousands of years by the interaction of extreme temperatures—freezing avalanches and steaming thermal waters. Declared a natural monument, which has been visited by the likes of Charles Darwin, Puente del Inca has five nearby hot springs known for their healing properties. In 1925, the Hotel Puente del Inca was built, each room featuring its own spa; however, it was destroyed by landslides in the sixties and has remained abandoned ever since. Although you can’t bathe in the thermal pools anymore, the striking oxidized rock formations make for a great photo op.
Ruta Provincial 86
A 75-minute drive south of downtown Mendoza lies the province’s burgeoning wine destination—the Uco Valley. Composed of three subregions—Tupungato, Tunuyan, and San Carlos—the Uco Valley is a 45-mile long strip of land sitting 3,000–5,000 feet above sea level at the foot of the Andes mountain range. The terroir of the Uco Valley is conducive to growing quality wine grapes, especially Mendoza’s flagship malbec grape, as well as merlot, cabernet sauvignon, torrontes, and chardonnay. Some of the world’s most significant winemakers have been lured to Uco Valley’s fertile soil. Over the past ten years, grape production has doubled in the Uco Valley thanks to international investment. State-of-the-art wineries, gourmet restaurants, luxury boutique hotels, and golf courses are popping up more frequently in the region as the wine tourism industry continues to grow. A visit to Mendoza would not be complete without a visit to several of Uco Valley’s distinctive wineries for wine tasting, dining, and soaking up the stunning landscape. Uncorking Argentina, Trout & Wine & Ampora Wine Tours can create personalized itineraries of Uco Valley’s top experiences.
Laguna del Diamante, Mendoza Province, Argentina
One of the most beautiful natural lakes in Mendoza is hidden in San Carlos. The provincial reserve “Laguna del Diamante” is 10,600 feet above sea level with a view of the towering Maipo Volcano. Its name comes from the volcano’s diamond-shape reflection in the lake. It takes several hours to get to from downtown Mendoza with a four-wheel drive vehicle, but it’s worth the trip. Hike around the four-mile lake, where your only company will most likely be guanacos and foxes (neither are dangerous). You can also go fishing, which costs $20 pesos. The area is naturally windy all year round, so bring a warm coat and comfortable shoes. A shuttle from the main square in San Carlos departs early in the morning and the last one returns at around 8:00 PM or you can camp overnight, ($750 pesos for a round trip shuttle ticket). There’s a $300 peso discount if you stayed in Uco Valley the night before. Laguna del Diamante is only open from January to the first week of April.
Mendoza, Capital Department, Mendoza Province, Argentina
One of the most widely sold mineral water brands in Argentina comes from Villavicencio, a private nature reserve located on the way to Uspallata, about an hour from downtown Mendoza. It is a historic route because General San Martin took it on his way to Chile to free Argentina from the Spanish crown. The road leading up to Villavicencio has a dizzying 365 curves and has been given the name “Camino del Año” or “Road of the Year”. On the reserve is a picturesque hotel and spa built in 1940, where the wealthiest families in Mendoza used to summer vacation, bathing in the crystal mountain waters and natural hot springs. Today, the hotel has been named a National Historic Monument. It’s closed to the public, but you can hike around the hotel and surrounding nature reserve. There’s a $25 peso entrance fee that includes a guided visit. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Ruta Provincial 82, Km 38, M5507 Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
If you’re looking for a day of grape-free respite in Mendoza, head off-the-grid to the hot springs of Cacheuta. The Terma Spa welcomes guests with an assemblage of thermal baths overlooking the scenic Mendoza River flowing downstream from the Andes. The indoor/outdoor thermal spa circuit winds through waters ranging in temperature from 73 to 105 degrees. Bubble beds, a water volcano and foot baths are strategically placed throughout the circuit to knead tense muscles. The Natural Solarium has a basin of therapeutic mud for slathering all over your body and baking on the pool deck. Scrub yourself clean in the bithermal hydrojet shower and kick back on the flowering Andaluz patio. Next, head underground to the vaporarium and detoxify in its natural steam. Relax in the verdant garden until you’re ready for an afternoon spa treatment or another convalescing soak in Cacheuta’s healing mineral waters.