My last weekend in Mendoza I took a trip that I had been looking forward to a long time: a visit to Aconcagua National Park. For those who don’t know, Aconcagua is the tallest mountain outside of Asia and is one of the Seven Summits making it a very popular destination for lovers of the outdoors. Before going on my trip, I had to plan a little but because the entrance to the park can only be bought in San Martin Park in Mendoza city. The cost for 3 days of hiking was $130 dollars for foreigners and $1000 pesos for Argentinians. With the 3 day pass, was I was able to camp in Confluencia for 2 nights and hike as far as Plaza Francia.
On Friday morning, I took the 10:15am bus from Mendoza bus terminal directly to the entrance of the national park. The bus fare was $120 pesos one way and it took around 4 hours. Once at the park I checked in, got my trash bag, and met up with my friends. We took our time hiking to Confluencia campground and stopped to take a lot of pictures along the way. Our hike from the entrance of the park to Confluencia took around 3.5 hours with a 30 minute break for lunch along the river. Once we arrived at camp, we pitched the tent and then when to drink mate on the hill near the campground.
Travel Tip: Confluencia campground has free drinking water and bathrooms.
On day two, we checked in with the campground doctor (a regulation of the park) and got a little bit of a late start hiking to Plaza Francia. Luckily, my friends and I are fast hikers and we were able to make it to the Mirador (normally a 4 hour hike) in 2 hours. When we arrived to the Mirador it was only a couple kilometers more to Plaza Francia but the view was so beautiful we decided to eat lunch and have a siesta there in the sun before hiking back to Confluencia. Being able to get closer to Aconacgua really put into perspective how big the mountain is. It was also fun because we met several people who were going to the summit. Talking with them about their preparation and excitement for the trip was wonderful and made me want to make a summit attempt.
After our afternoon break, we hiked back down to Confluencia which took about 1.5 hours but we were moving at a fast pace. Typically hikers make this trek in 3-3.5 hours. That evening, we stayed up admiring the stars and mountains surrounding the camp and we also enjoyed getting to know the park rangers and some of the guys that worked there at the camp. There was also some bonding over our mutual love of fernet and coke which we enjoyed sharing with other people in the camp.
On Sunday we packed up camp and hiking back down to the entrance of the park in about 1 hour 45 minutes (again at a quick pace) in order to catch the 11am bus from the entrance of the park.
Overall, I am so glad I decided to go to Aconcagua National Park and not just for a day but truly see more of the park by going for 3 days. Obviously, a summit attempt would have been even better but with my budget and lack of mountaineering experience I would have needed to go with a guide/company. For those in a similar situation of wanting to hike and see some of the mountain as well as save some money by going alone the 3 day pass is a great option. I am definitely inspired now to return to Aconcagua to go to the summit on another trip!