Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Rio Mendoza - Argentina
November brings hot temperatures and lots of quality whitewater to paddle in Argentina.
The headwaters of the Rio Mendoza flow east from the shadows of Cerro Aconcagua, South America's highest mountain located in the high central Andes. From its confluence with the Rio Tupungato, the Mendoza loses its steep gradient but grows to a meduim-high volume as it descends into the arid wine making province and city of also the same name. The city of Mendoza is a historical Argentinean location with a wonderful climate, ridiculously cheap steaks, and very friendly locals who will push your understanding of the Spanish language to the limit. Once you head west from town on the major Chile-Argentina road (Ruta 7) you will soon find yourself in the small village of Potrerillos and the home of Argentina Rafting. The actual village of Potrerillos was recently moved to a higher elevation so that more water could be stored in the lake created from the dam on the Rio Mendoza. Soon Argentina Rafting will also make the move to a new location, but for now Martin and Erica Moreno and their fellow paddling crew have a great place to eat, camp and lounge at while you get some good melt-water playboating done.
Martin Moreno at home on the Rio Mendoza.
Water levels are low in October, however through November and on into Mendoza's hot summer you can expect clear blue water and many sections containing fluffy (III-IV) waves and holes. The Rio Mendoza is worth visiting even if Chilean paddling is your main goal. Those who have an extra weekend waiting for the plane in Santiago can jump on an easy 3hr bus over the Andes and be on the river by the afternoon. The views of Aconcagua, Puente del Inca, and other high mountain scenery won't be wasted even if your kayak never sees the water! Although access and information can be limited, Argentina is another paddling destination that will intrigue those looking for somewhere new. They may take a route to an opposite ocean than Chile, but rivers like the Rio Mendoza, Diamante, Atuel and Neuquen in central Argentina have more secrets to reveal. For more information about rivers and the sport of kayaking in Argentina, check out: www.kayakero.com.ar. (in Spanish)
Rafting the Argentina way means lots of good wine and steak before embarking under a full moon......
Posted by Basso