The Road to Chile

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Puente del Inca

I arrived in Mendoza with no plans and no idea where to start really. All I knew was that there were vineyards somewhere to the south of the city and you can visit them.

I’ve been doing very little planning before arriving at places on this trip, normally nothing more than a quick read through of wikitravel, and sometimes not even that.

In part that is because of poor internet at a lot of the hotels and also because I’ve been cramming so much in that I haven’t had a lot of spare time to plan ahead.

It’s often chance meetings that give you information.  Chatting to a random stranger at the airport he told me ‘oh you must go to Cristo Redentor (‘Christ the Redeemer’); you go up a road that twists and turns and the views are magnificent’.

Well that sounded like something to do so my first night in Mendoza I found a company offering this trip and promptly booked it.

They picked me up at 7.30AM and drove us all along in the direction of the Chilean border.

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We made a quick photo stop along the way, just outside of Mendoza

Then we stopped at a ski resort. Obviously shut up for summer, though you can still take the ski lift up for some amazing views.

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There is always something a bit odd about ski resorts out of season…

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Then another quick photo stop to see the highest mountain in the Americas

Then a stop that turned out to be a highlight for me: the Puente del Inca (‘Inca bridge’). This was an interesting place. Just over 2,700 metres above sea level, the orange ochra colours you see are made from the minerals in the water. The water also colours anything put in it (you can buy bottles that have been ‘painted’ and hardened in the waters). It is quite a spectacle.

In 1925 a luxury hotel was built and the place was thriving as a spa; a dip in the waters was prescribed for all kinds of ailments.

The hotel was destroyed by an avalanche in the 1960s, although the ruins remain.

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So does the ruins of the old railway.  Once pulsating with visitors keen to heal themselves in the spa, the rail track is now mostly overgrown.  The spas themselves have moved a little further down the road to Cacheuta.

After that it was time to face the road up to the Christ statue that marks the border between Argentina and Chile.IMG_6434

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Christ the Redeemer statue, erected in 1904 as a symbol of peace between Argentina and Chile (the two countries had been constantly bickering about where the border should lie).  And no I have no idea who those people in the picture are; I could not find a moment when somebody or other wasn’t stood in front of it taking a picture.

I got a sudden intense headache when we got to the top, which I can only attribute as altitude sickness, since we were around 3,800 metres up (it went away when we went back down). A bit worrying, since I am soon flying into the world’s highest capital city, which tops this by another 250 metres.

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The snail road up to the statue.  The tour buses tear up and down the road all day.  They have a special hand signal they make to each other as they pass.

You can’t cross into Chile from here; they don’t process people here and you have to go through the checkpoint on the main road. This is something I will be doing in a few days, so I can look forward to seeing most of this again, albeit only from the confines of my bus.

2 replies »

  1. Morning Sarah. I just love the colour in your photos. It just looks as if the stones are moving! I wonder why they never redeveloped the spa hotel there to take advantage of that beautiful landscape. I guess in case it happens again. And yes, the ski resort looks scary lol. But skiing would be scary. It is true what you say that sometimes you can just plan too much and it never works out yet by speaking to people you find out more. It looks as if you are having a blast my friend. Take care xx

    • Yeah it’s all quite beautiful around there. Trouble is I”m getting a little tired from travelling and moving on every few days and I think that shows in these posts. I need to settle for a bit again.

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