South America Trip Report: Western Argentina

More tasty mate. Nacho makes a mean mate but then again, he’s an expert.
Hello! Here’s the fourth part of my South American trip report, although this one has mostly pictures. After we returned from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires, we stayed in a hotel for a few days, then finally caught a bus to Neuquén, in western Argentina. There we met up with our friend Nacho and stayed with him for a few days until his girlfriend Carla got to town. From there, Nacho –an excellent host, it must be said– drove us all the way from Neuquén to Santiago, Chile, stopping in a few places on the way to visit and sleep. Here are some pictures:

On the bus from Buenos Aires to Neuquén. As it turns out, some parts of Patagonia aren’t as majestic as magazines might have led you to believe; in fact, some parts of it look like Nebraska.

Angela eating some of Nacho’s delicious food.

Nacho, El Nuevo Libertator, consummate host, CIA-trained extreme chef, and King of Deep Cuts on CD mixes. And Angela, who is also pretty great but who lacks such auspicious titles…so far.
We stayed at Nacho’s place for a few nights and hung out in Neuquén, a pretty calm provincial capital. It was a bit like parts of Colorado, in that it was really dry, warm, and flat. After a few days, Carla arrived from Buenos Aires, and the four of us set off towards the north in Nacho’s car.

Carla making mate in the back seat.

Our first stop was Mendoza. It seemed like a pretty nice city, and it would be nice to go back sometime and spend a bit more time there.
Angela and I in Mendoza

Nacho and Carla
For our second night on the road, we stayed in a town called Uspallata, on the road between Mendoza and the Chilean border. We also stopped at the Trapiche winery to see how the wine was made.
Carla and Nacho in front of the vineyards

Angela and a llama
Finally, after Uspallata, we made our way up the mountains to the Chilean border, relatively high in the Andes. We stopped on the way to take a look at Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas.
The four of us
Aconcagua

Someone had problems, so they had to do a helicopter evacuation. Angela likes helicopters.

Our captain and his trusty Jeep.
The road after entering Chile. I wanted to take this picture earlier since we had already passed about half of the curves at this point, but there wasn’t a good opportunity before this. But I think you get the point: it was curvy.
Once we crossed the border, we went down an incredibly twisty and curvy road with something like 32 switchbacks. The landscapes were very interesting, a mixture of Alpine, Mediterranean, and Desert scenery depending on where we were at the moment. And finally, we made it into Santiago, or at least the area near Santiago. It’s probably good Nacho was driving, because he was fairly patient, but the roads were not clearly marked, and it was a bit confusing to find our way into the city itself. Once we were there, we also had to find a place to stay, which was another pain. But in the end, we found a hotel at a tourist info center, we actually got to the hotel, and then we went out to have a final dinner together.
The perpetually short Angela and her two gentleman heroes. 

At dinner in Santiago
The next day, Nacho and Carla headed back to Argentina, and Angela and I hung around the city. That just goes to show you what great folks Nacho and Carla are, going all that way just to keep us company and spend time with us. 
Anyhow, there are a few more posts coming up but if you want to look at more pictures from this part of the trip, you can check them out on Flickr in the meantime. Thanks for reading!
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