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This morning we left the wineries behind and drove west for three hours, almost all the way into Chile. 

A long windy road but incredibly scenic.

Our destination was Aconcagua National Park. Mount Aconcagua is the tallest mountain outside of Asia (22,825 feet), the tallest in the Southern and Western hemispheres. The mountain holds 5 hanging glaciers.

A beautiful valley leading up to the mountain.
The top is just shrouded in clouds but you can just see it.
9678 feet above sea level – no wonder I can’t breathe today! And the wind is insane up here!
We saw a few mule trains. They knew the path home for food.

We have seen Andean Condors several times in various places soaring above our heads. When we arrived at the park we saw what looked like Mama Condor (with a huge wingspan) flying with a juvenile (teaching to fly or hunt?). We got so excited when the juvenile landed on a fencepost right beside us (probably to get a break from the incredible wind). Turns out he is not a condor, but a raptor called a caracara. Still a pretty bird!

He was curious about us and posed for many photos.
Here he is just to the left sitting on the fence posing with Kris.

Since we were so close to Chile, we decided to drive to the border for a photo – we are not allowed to take the rental car into Chile. Typical of any border crossing, there was a huge line-up of cars and transport trucks so this is as close as we got!

Argentina/Chile border just around the bend

The Puente del Inca is a natural rock bridge over the Las Cuervas River, a tributary of the Mendoza River. It was formed by a mineral spring, not by the Incan civilization! Although a legend says it was formed when the Inca king’s guards were mineralized in place when they lay down and made a bridge for him to walk on. The building is a leftover from the abandoned spa hotel. When the hotel was built, it changed the flow of the hot spring water and mineral formations put the stability of the bridge in question so people are no longer allowed to walk across it.

Remains of the old hotel.
Pretty stone church above the hot springs.

We technically had a timed entry ticket for Parque Aconcagua (a leftover from the CoVid pandemic) so we beelined for the park this morning. On the way back we had more time and were able to enjoy the amazing scenery along the way. The drive back took an extra hour because we kept stopping. And as usual the photos don’t do the views justice. Dave got many new photos for Zoom backgrounds.

More mountains, more glaciers
Glauconite (an iron potassium mineral) makes for green rock
Kris’ favourite rock colour combo – Purple and Gray (likely hematite/iron and magnesium)
Winding road, blue blue sky, sandy mesas and lush riverbed. We had many kilometers of this view.

Tomorrow we leave wine country and head to Patagonia.

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