Last few days in Argentina, Mendoza
To get to Mendoza from Cafayate there is no direct bus so we had to go via San Miguel de Tucumán which is 6 hours from Cafayate (we arrived an hour earlier than scheduled), so instead of banging out an overnight bus straight after that we stayed a night in Tucumán. An uneventful stay and not much to report on there.
We arrived in Mendoza around 11am and made it to our hostel, check-in was at 1pm so we headed out to get breakfast instead. The bus trip does actually include food, and we did get dinner brought to our seat as well as breakfast during the trip, but as below breakfast was not really sufficient (for us).
Instead we opted for the other traditional style breakfast here in Argentina, Coffee with milk served with either small croissants or a toasted ham and cheese sandwich on thin white bread, a tostada. This is it for breakfast, you won’t find anything else on the breakfast menu, no quinoa puffed granola, scrambled eggs on rye with smashed avocado and certainly no pancakes made with coconut flour topped with a berry coulis and Greek yoghurt. Oh god, just made myself miss Sydney a little bit more, Argentina right – back to Argentina.
Mendoza is of course famous for it’s Malbec and a day visiting the vineyards (by bike again) is definitely on the cards for us during our four night stay, but we decided to tick off one of the other requirements for Mendoza and go horseback riding for the day. We went with a company called Los Pingos Horse Riding which were great and we felt ticked all the boxes for us. We were picked up at our hostel and driven out to a simple ranch among the vineyards a half hour away from downtown. We joined three other Japanese girls who were full of fun and lovely to laugh and chat with, it was just the five of us and our guide Nacho. (More details and prices below)
When we arrived we were offered a turn on the mate bowl, which is something we have been wanting to try so it was lucky the opportunity arose with only a few days left to go in the country. Mate is served with a metal straw from a shared hollow calabash gourd. It is traditionally drunk in a particular social setting, such as family gatherings or with friends. The same gourd and metal straw are used by everyone drinking, yes even if they only just picked you up from your hostel half an hour prior. It is a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink, particularly popular in Argentina. It is prepared by steeping dried leaves of yerba mate and for this reason you will see locals walking around parks, malls, driving buses just about doing anything with one of these bowls and a thermos flask of hot water under their arm, bus stations, gas stations just about everywhere also offer hot water for top ups.
We spent two hours on horseback and as we are both novice riders this was the perfect amount of time. We did a bit of trotting which was nice to get the heart rate up, but to be honest they don’t build the horses as big in Northern Argentina so falling off would not really be from such a great distance. We weren’t offered helmets, but I guess we expected that but our guide Nacho was great – he showed us different types of flora and fauna along the way and gave us a little bit of background information about the terrain. His English was spot on and I guess we were a little spoilt being with other English speakers this time around, as listening to the guide run through Spanish then English in every instance can get a little tedious. Just before we headed back to the ranch for lunch we stopped at a stream for a splash and a drink.
Returning back to the ranch we found an asado being prepared for us, which is a term used both for a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue. We were served up a sausage each and then as much delicious fabulously cooked steak, potatoes, tomato salad, warm bread, grilled aubergine with a tangerine each to finish. There was also a jug of red wine to enjoy together, it wasn’t the finest drop but was plentiful which we appreciated instead of being poured a stingy glass.
We certainly won’t be needing dinner after our huge lunch, at least nothing fancy. Two minute noodles for Rob and a bowl of oats for me are on the cards I’m thinking, typical backpackers.
Aconquija bus Cafayate to San Miguel de Tucumán:
Monday – Saturday: 2:15am – 6am – 2pm – 6pm
Sunday: 6am – 6pm
Los Pingos Horse Riding Mendoza:
SUNSET (2 hours horse riding + “asado” (BBQ) + potatoes+ salads+ seasonal fruit + wine + bonfire and guitar player + transfers to and from your accommodation)
Pick up: from 4pm
Drop off: 11pm
AR$440 per person
CRIOLLA (2 hours horse riding + “asado” (BBQ) + potatoes + salads + seasonal fruit + wine and guitar player + transfers to and from your accommodation)
Pick up: from 9am
Drop off: 3pm
FULL DAY (4 hours horse riding + asado + potatoes + salads + seasonal fruit + wine + transfers to and from your accommodation)
Pick up: from 9am
Drop off: 4pm
HORSEBACK RIDING (2 hours horse riding + transfers to and from your accommodation)
Pick up: from 4pm
Drop off: 8pm
AR$330 per person