The highest mountain in America, with its 6,962 meters above sea level, is a spectacle to be admired. That is why we tell you the alternatives trekkings in Aconcagua Provincial Park, the gateway to this wonder of nature.
Aconcagua Provincial Park includes peaks over 5000 meters high. The mixture of colors ranging from the reddish and brown of the mountains and the white of the snow, meets the transparency of the water coming down from the rivers and high mountain streams.
Seeing the highest mountain in America with its almost 7000 meters high just a few kilometers away is really impressive. The different trails to approach the base pass through colorful valleys, small lagoons and glaciers.
Looking for more places to see in Mendoza? Check out this article about things to do in Uspallata and route 7 to Chile.
Trekkings to do in Aconcagua Provincial Park
Horcones Lagoon Circuit
It is the easiest trekking and does not require physical effort. It is two kilometers long and an hour’s walk, passing by the Espejo Lagoon, small hills called moraines, the small Horcones Lagoon and the imposing viewpoint of Mount Aconcagua, from where you can see the southern wall of the highest mountain in America.
In addition, there is a fossil record resulting from the geological evolution of the terrain. The product of an ancient marine habitat, one can see what was once the mold of a mollusk.
📷 Book here the tour to visit the Inca bridge and trekking through the Horcones lagoon circuit. Transfers and guide included.
Trekking routes through the Horcones Valley
The circuit through the Horcones valley borders the river of the same name until reaching thePlaza de Mulas base camp, where the vertiginous ascent to the summit of Aconcagua begins on the south face. There are three different types of trekking to do in the area, ranging from less to more physically demanding.
- One day round trip through the Horcones Valley: this trekking route in Aconcagua goes from the Horcones Lagoon circuit to Confluencia, returning to the park entrance the same day. The duration is from 3 to 4 hours and the ascent ranges from 2800 to 3300 meters above sea level in Confluencia.
- Short trekking through the Horcones Valley: in this case the circuit is completed in 3 days and 2 nights. The first day is the Horcones to Confluencia stage, the second day is a round trip from Confluencia to Plaza Francia (4250 meters above sea level) of about five hours, and the last day is the return from Confluencia to Horcones. The two nights are spent camping in Confluencia.
- Long trekking through the Horcones Valley: 7 days and 6 nights circuit. Until the third day the route is similar to the one described in the short trek. On the fourth day we ascend from Confluencia (3300 masl) to Plaza de Mulas (4370 masl) walking for about 10 hours. Plaza de Mulas provides a close view of the south face of Mount Aconcagua and the Horcones and Gossfeldt glaciers. The fourth, fifth and sixth nights are spent camping in Plaza de Mulas. On the last day, the descent from Plaza de Mulas to Horcones takes 8 hours.
📷 Book here the trekking to reach Confluencia base camp in a day. Includes transfer, high mountain guide and lunch.
Vacas Valley Trekking Routes in Aconcagua
The circuit through the Vacas Valley borders the river of the same name, and then goes to the vicinity of the Polish Glacier and arrives at the Plaza Argentina base camp, where the climb begins to reach the summit of Aconcagua by the Polish route.
In this case, there are also three possible hiking routes to follow, but keep in mind that the distances between base camps in the Vacas valley are greater than those in the Horcones valley.
- Round trip during the day through the Vacas Valley: it takes about five hours from Punta de Vacas to Pampa de Leñas, at 2870 meters above sea level. On the same day we return to Punta de Vacas.
- Short trekking through the Vacas Valley: completed in 3 days and 2 nights. The first day is the Punta de Vacas to Pampa de Leñas stage, the second day is the ascent from Pampa de Leñas to Casa de Piedra (3245 meters above sea level) in about six hours, and the last day is the descent from Casa de Piedra to Punta de Vacas in eight hours. We camp one night in Pampa de Leñas and one night in Casa de Piedra.
- Long trekking through the Vacas Valley: 7 days and 6 nights circuit. Until the second day the route is similar to the one described in the short trek. On the third day we ascend from Casa de Piedra to Plaza Argentina (4300 m.a.s.l.) in five hours, where we camp for two nights. The fifth day begins the descent from Plaza Argentina to Casa de Piedra in four hours, the sixth day from Casa de Piedra to Pampa de Leñas in four hours and the last day from Pampa de Leñas to Punta de Vacas in four hours. Camping in Pampa de Leñas, Casa de Piedra and Plaza Argentina.
Short and long treks through the Horcones Valley are only allowed with the assistance of a duly authorized company, which manages the permit.
In order to make the long trek in the case of a foreigner, the climber must have insurance that covers evacuation and medical assistance in case of any eventuality. This does not apply in the case of Argentines.
Tips for trekkings in Aconcagua Provincial Park
- Drive only on authorized trails without deviating from the road, as there are fragile areas.
- Take enough time to acclimatize to the altitude. Do not forget that many of the treks reach up to 4300 meters above sea level, which requires the body to adapt to the conditions and lower oxygen levels. If you have severe headaches, it is recommended that you immediately descend in altitude.
- Wear appropriate clothing and footwear including gloves, wool hat, waterproof jacket, fleece, thermal shirt, sunscreen, sunglasses and water.
- Dispose of food packaging waste in the bags provided by the park.
- For personal hygiene and washing utensils, it is necessary to move at least 60 meters away from water sources.
If you are looking for a route to do in Mendoza, we recommend this article about things to do in Mendoza in five days.
Food and camping in Aconcagua Provincial Park
The different base camps have small facilities with park rangers. For camping it is recommended to bring:
- Igloo tent with sleeping bag that can withstand temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius, sleeping pad and insulation.
- Gas or benzine heater and small eating utensils such as pot, jug, plate and cutlery.
- As for meals, it is recommended to bring plenty of water, sweetened juices, cereal bars, dried and dehydrated fruits. For breakfast tea with cookies or cereals, sandwich for lunch with some fruit. At dinner, caloric and quick-to-make meals such as rice, soups, noodles and dehydrated mashed potatoes are best.
Prices trekkings in Aconcagua Provincial Park (2023)
The prices for the different treks in the Aconcagua Provincial Park are as follows:
- Foreigners (non-Latin Americans): 1.300 pesos Horcones interpretative trail, usd 90 short trekking (3 days), usd 180 long trekking (7 days)
- Latin Americans (not Argentineans): 1.000 pesos Horcones interpretative trail, usd 90 short trekking (3 days), usd 180 long trekking (7 days)
- Argentineans: 800 pesos Horcones interpretative trail, 5.900 pesos short treks, 11.200 pesos long treks.
The activity must be booked in advance before going to Aconcagua Park, paying via Pago Fácil or Mercado Pago. It is necessary to go to the park with the paid ticket, identity document and permit managed by the lending company, in case of short or long treks or ascents to Aconcagua. You can see how to book and all the information about the circuits available here.
The only exception is for Argentineans who want to do the Horcones interpretative circuit or the one-day trekking, who can enter the park only by presenting their ID card.
Ascent to Aconcagua
The ascent to Aconcagua must be done with aprevious permit from an authorized company. The permit is valid for 20 days. In the case of foreigners, evacuation and medical assistance insurance should be taken out to cover any unforeseen event.
The fee for the ascent of Mount Aconcagua is usd 550 for non-Latin American foreigners and usd 400 for Latin Americans. In the case of Argentines is 22.000 pesos.
Although the ascent to Aconcagua can be done through the Polish route or the south face, at present it is only possible through the Horcones ravine.
How to get to Aconcagua Provincial Park from Mendoza
Located 190 kilometers from Mendoza City, access to the park is on Route 7 to Chile, after passing Puente del Inca. By car, it is almost a three-hour drive. If you are also going to visit the Inca Bridge and Christ the Redeemer on the same day, it is advisable to leave early in the morning to be able to make the complete tour.
By bus, you can get to Aconcagua from the bus terminal in Mendoza with the company Buttini, which has a stop at Puente del Inca.
There are many tour agencies that offer the tour with transfers and guide from Mendoza and Uspallata.
Aconcagua Provincial Park opening hours is from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.but it is recommended to start trekking before 4:00 p.m. in the case of the Horcones valley, and before 1:00 p.m. in the case of the Vacas valley so that it does not get dark while walking.
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