Into the Mountains

Into the Mountains

into-the-mountainsMadeleine Wiener jumps on a horse to get a flavour of Argentina on a day tour with Argentina Mountain adventure company. Photos by Timarie Chan.

Quebrado del Condor is just an hour and a half from Mendoza city, but it feels like a different world. The drive takes you through the vast and spectacular Uco Valley, weaves in between forests of tall, multicolour trees, and carries on alongside the high altitude 7 Colours Mountain (although 7 is selling it short – more like 25 colours mountain). Our transfer van bounced over streams and manoeuvred between herds of cattle and horses, and finished with a white-knuckle driving experience on the hairpin mountain bends. After a journey learning about the history of the land with our guide and getting pumped up on mate, we arrived at Quebrado del Condor, to be greeted by real, live gauchos. Clad in berets and alpaca sweaters they tended to their horses but soon joined us at the table for more mate and medialunas (croissants).

With more than 500 acres of natural beauty onsite; some old and cosy cabins; delicious asados and welcoming hosts, this place is sure to go above and beyond your expectations. Known for the condors that paint the sky and have a wingspan of nearly 3 meters, Quebrada del Condor has the ability to stretch your own wings and let you soar to a new place of comfort, relaxation and beauty.

After a late breakfast on arrival, we got started on a bumpy but thrilling horseback ride. Although I had never into-the-mountains02ridden a horse before, the guides were very friendly and made me feel welcome, comfortable and like I knew exactly what was doing. Gypsy, my horse, carried me down into the valley, splashing through creeks, up little hills, and through bushes (luckily they gave us chaps to wear). After three unbelievable hours of moving between giant mountains, passing around the binoculars to look at herds of guanacos (the Andean brother of the llama), and seeing miles and miles of valleys and hills, we made it to a midway point. Here our gaucho guides whipped out a cutting board with sliced cheese, olives, sausage and wine. We sat alongside a stream that was as cold as ice and fresh enough to drink. It tasted exactly like snow. “Que rico” as the Argentines would say. As we headed back on our horses to new heights and views, our guides told us stories of the land, gave us history of the wineries and potato fields that we could see in the distance and pointed out the little blue spec of a house where we would soon be eating and drinking a horse’s weight in artisanal beer and meat.

You might know Argentina for its wine, but the tour offers a special insight into Argentina’s hottest trend: artisanal beer. The beer tasting started with the lightest and 4 glasses later ended with the darkest and hoppiest (if that’s a word). Fortunately we had plenty to line the stomach as the host continually brought around hot empanadas – a typical Argentine appetizer. Soon enough we sat down at the beautifully set table to bowl after bowl of different grilled vegetables, salads and every type of barbequed meat cut under the sun. All accompanied by local Malbec of course.

After a delicious pear and whipped cream dessert (and in need of a bit of belt loosening), we headed back to Mendoza, watching the sun set behind the Andes and the sky turn a pink-purple color. A great Argentine day out.

For more information on tours offered by Argentina Mountain, visit www.argentinamountain.com or call the office on 261 431 8356.