In February 1994 I journeyed with Laurie Skreslet on a 12-day trekking on horseback in the province of San Juan, Argentina. We circumnavigated Cerro Mercedario (22,400 feet) during 12 days covering a distance of 230 km. Allowing time to explore the surrounding area and fish for trout in pristine mountain rivers.
Evening departure Toronto International Airport. Toronto, Mendoza.
Picked up at Mendoza International Airport for drop off at the Nutiberra Hotel. Relaxed enjoyed a glass of fine quality Mendoza wine by the pool. Had dinner in one of the cities famous sidewalk restaurants.
After breakfast in the hotel departed early in the morning by private transport for a 5-6 hour drive to Barreal. Box lunch was be supplied on route. On the way we stopped to view a portion of the Inca Trail, which was visible from the road. We arrived in Barreal and arranged the final preparations with the mule and horse providers. Once we reached the trailhead we found the camp already set up and dinner served upon arrival.
Broke camp after a hearty breakfast, rode for 3 hours to our lunch stop. Another 3 hours brought us to Porto Espinacito, where we camped for the evening under the stars by a mountain stream.
This day involved three hours on the horse before lunch. We then crossed Espinacito Pass (approx.15,500 feet) in the early afternoon and dropped down to our next riverside campsite. This day offered a spectacular view of Aconcagua (22,835 feet) as well as an opportunity to view many fossils in the area around the pass.
This day we descended and crossed the barren and windswept Rio Blanco riverbed and rode up to where it joins the Rio Mercedario, arriving at our campsite by early afternoon. This would have been a great opportunity to fish if we had brought gear for this. The clear waters of the Rio Mercedario afford everyone the opportunity to see where the fish are. So it is just a matter of trying your luck.
Involved very little in the way of distance to cover. So we walked this portion of the trip, washed in the river, read book in a quiet area of reflection. We camped on the side of a lake, at the foot of the west face of Mecedario.
The longest day spent on the horse. We crossed the Porto del Mecerdario into Chile (14,000 feet) travel about two hours then broke for lunch below the Porto de las Ojotas. On the way we had a tremendous view of the Leguna del Pelado deep in the valley to the west. We then re-entered Argentina, camping in a lush area with a spectacular mountain view.
Working our way slowly upward we crossed Porto de la Guardia and descended to our next campsite just below the Laguna Blanca.
This was another short day of travelling with another opportunity to wash up in the Rio Blanco. We camped for the night by the river.
Using an old mining road we ride out of the mountains over the space of several hours to the juncture of the Rio’s Platos and Blanco where we had our final camp on a sandy river bed.
After an early breakfast we were picked up on the other side of the Rio Platos and driven to the Barreal-Mendoza highway. Here we met our transport, which took us back to our hotel in Mendoza. The afternoon was spent cleaning up and relaxing by the pool, plus an evening farewell dinner in one of Mendoza’s fine restaurants.
More images can be found here.