I enjoyed the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in and around Mendoza. Finally, I was able to fill my propane tanks, and purchase a transformer that enables me to plug my camper into the local 240 volt power. All systems in the camper are now fully functional.
My time in Mendoza was split between a secure parking lot right in the center of town and a large truck stop in the suburbs.
The parking lot was a block away from the main pedestrian street lined with open-air cafes, bars and restaurants, and a short walk to the five main plazas. My favorite vegan restaurant of the trip, “Govinda”, was nearby. The lot charged fourteen dollars for a 24 hour stay. The lot was covered, gated and had an attendant on duty. Management at the lot had no problem with my truck “camping”. I could even come in the evening and leave in the morning for seven dollars.
Mendoza was destroyed by a large earthquake in 1861. When rebuilt the beautiful large squares and wide avenues of the city were specifically designed to provide easy escape routes should the city get hit by another serious earthquake.
The climate is semi-arid but the city is very green. There are exposed stone ditches, essentially small canals, which run alongside many of the streets supplying water to the thousands of trees that provide shade. Watch your step!
The rest of my time in Mendoza was spent at the “Mega Parador Perdriel”, a large truck stop on the edge of town. It had hot showers, clean restrooms, WiFi and 24 hour coffee shop. There were fenced level paved parking areas out back, away from the road noise. It even had a football field. It bordered a vineyard and had a great view of the Andes. The best part was that all of this was absolutely free.
Mendoza the city is the capital of Mendoza the province, and lies at the foot of the Andes in the central part of Argentina.
The province is said to represent 80% of Argentine wine production, and is the largest wine producing area in Latin America. Argentina’s famous Malbec wines originate from Mendoza’s high altitude wine regions, located in the foothills of the Andes mountains between 2,800 and 5,000 feet elevation. Olive oil production is the second largest product, along with significant fruit and vegetable production. It is very inexpensive to buy good wine and enjoy a vegetarian diet here.
Wine tourism, is huge for Mendoza. There are hundreds or thousands of vineyards and bodegas seemingly endless in every direction. Mendoza is also the access point for outdoor activities such as climbing Aconcaugua, white water rafting, hot springs, etc.
I also visited the Yacopini Toyota dealership and as a courtesy the fine people read and reset my check engine light. I am told to use only premium fuel in the future. While there I looked at the new diesel Hilux truck. The Hilux is the international version of the Tacoma. It is a shame that the Tacoma is not available in the US with a diesel engine. It also seems the Hilux in Argentina is available with more luxury options than are available in the US.
Heading south I visited “El Manatial” warm springs about 100 km south of Mendoza near San Carlos. It was a holiday weekend and very crowded. This would be a good place to visit on a weekday or off season.
I also tried to visit Laguna del Diamante at the foot of the Maipo Volcano, which was highly recommended by the locals. The tourist office in San Carlos told me that the road is still closed due to snow and winter damage.
Another 130 km south I spent a day in San Rafael still in the province of Mendoza and still surrounded by vineyards. This pretty colonial style town seemed to have more than its share of bodegas.
Unable to find anywhere downtown that allowed camping I drove 12 km outside to the food workers union campground which was recommended by locals. Very nice campground for seven dollars a day. Tomorrow off to Las Lenas ski resort.