What is Aconcagua?
Aconcagua, at 6,961 metres, is the highest mountain outside of Asia and is located 183 km from Mendoza, Argentina. If you find yourself in Mendoza (and many travellers do when crossing from Santiago, Chile), a day trip to Aconcagua is well worth it to see the mountain.
Most people coming to Mendoza come for the wine but many seem to skip out on this adventure. Depending on how much time you have, your trip can range from 9 hours to 5 days. We found many people offering day tours to Aconcagua but we weren’t really keen on spending 1,000 pesos each ($70 USD / $100 AUD) for something that seemed pretty doable by ourselves.
Getting to Aconcagua
You must take the Buttini bus from Terminal del Sol (just across from the major bus terminal where long-distance buses come and go). The bus trip takes 4 hours each way and times are:
|Days||Departure time||Return time|
|Monday – Friday||6 am ; 10:15 am & 3:30 pm||11:40 am & 4:35 pm (Horcones)
8:00 pm (Inca Bridge)
|Saturday, Sunday and holidays||7:00 am; 10:15 am & 3:30 pm||11:40 am & 4:35 pm (Horcones)
8:00 pm (Inca Bridge)
Tickets can be bought on the day and although we bought a return ticket, you can buy the return ticket when you hop on the bus on the way home.
Cost: 90.20 pesos each way ($6USD / $9AUD)
Where to get off
The stop is Horcones and NOT Aconcagua so make sure you let the bus driver know. The stop is immediately after Puenda del Inca and there is a triangle building there. This is the Visitor Centre where you check in and start your trek (open 8 am – 6 pm).
We met a girl who told the driver she wanted to go to Aconcagua which is the last stop on the route and ended up being stuck there for 2 hours with nothing to do and missed seeing the mountain completely so make sure you get off at the right spot!
Note: The return bus (Horcones) is just across the road. If you plan on taking the Inca Bridge return bus then you will need to walk to Puente del Inca (approx. 2 km).
Day hike options for Aconcagua
2 km loop – takes approximately 1 hour and costs 20 pesos ($1.40USD / $2 AUD).
Confluencia- approx. 17.5 km round trip (incl the 2km loop), taking you from 2,800 m to 3.200 m and 3 – 4 hrs there. Cost: 200 pesos ($14 USD / $20 AUD).
Note: Aconcagua hiking was the first trek of our trip so we weren’t accustomed to altitude and took it easy with many short breaks (we’re pretty slow walkers too). We managed to make it to Confluencia in exactly 3 hours, stopped for 20 mins and trekked back in 2.5 hours with many stops for photos. We took the 6am bus there and the 4:30 pm bus back.
There are also 3-day and 7-day treks available. If you’d like to do these treks, we suggest you have a chat to the Aconcagua Information Centre in Mendoza (level 1 in the Tourist Information Centre).
What to bring
Hiking in Aconcagua is cold but can get hot. So being prepared is a must.
Warm clothing (in layers)
Sun protection: sunscreen, sunglasses and hat
Lunch and snacks
Water (there is a water station at Confluencia)
Tissues/toilet paper (toilets are at the Visitor Centre and at Confluencia only)
Final tip: The trip to Aconcagua is spectacular, make sure you look out the window. You will catch beautiful glimpses of the Andes mountains and some other incredible sights.