Archivo de la etiqueta: Rest of Argentina

A Stop at Puente del Inca, Mendoza

Puente del Inca (Inca Bridge in English) is an amazing geological formation located near the border between Chile and Argentina, and it is one of the most famous natural tourist attractions in the province of Mendoza.

panoramica-puente

This rock formation is so particular because it forms a natural bridge over the Las Cuevas River. The real explanation for that is unknown, but there are many theories about it. Two of them are the most feasible.

vias-frente-a-la-capilla

The first theory states that this was an old ice bridge which solidified. The other probable theory says that it was formed during the collapse of the south wall of the Aconcagua. No matter which is the right hypothesis, all of them have a common point: the bridge was formed long time ago and is still there today due to the action of the salts contained in hot springs.

acceso

The hot springs rise to the surface at a temperature of between 34°C and 38°C, and with a high concentration of salts and carbon dioxide. There are those who believe they have healing powers. Among them were the Incas, who frequented the area bringing people to heal. And that’s the reason of the name.

hotel

In 1917 a luxury hotel was built here by the english Compañía Hotelera Sudamericana. After the inauguration many people began to frequent the place, which became the most important station for the Trans-Andean train in this area.

banos

The hotel had access to the hot springs through an underground tunnel specially build for that purpose. Different diseases were treated there with the natural properties of hot springs. But a flood destroyed part of the building in 1965 and the hotel was abandoned from that moment.

tuneles

Some years ago people was able to walk across the bridge and visit the hotel ruins. You were able to do it even by car! But the river was partially diverted to use the water in the manufacture of handcrafts (as if you immerse an object in the water, it is petrified). As a result, the amount of salts needed to maintain the bridge does not longer reach it, and it is at risk of collapsing. That’s why you are not longer allowed to visit the hotel.

colores-increibles

Nor the chapel…

capilla-y-hotel

The chapel was built next to the hotel in 1929 by French architect Joseph Giré and the Argentine engineer Juan Molina Civit. Both of them worked for free.

la-capilla

In the past, Inca Bridge was a mandatory stop for travelers who were looking for a health treatment. Now it remains the same, but for tourists who visit Mendoza.

The impressive Randofo’s Dunes.

The Provincial Route 43 connects the towns of Puerta de Corral Quemado, near Belén, and Antofagasta de la Sierra, a small and remote town in the middle of the catamarca’s puna. I already told you about this route in this other post you can read clicking here, but today I want to focus on one of the most impressive legs of the trip.

Halfway you can find the Randolfo’s Slope, a section of the road where landscapes are amazing. One after another, the dunes cover the slopes of the montains.

The old road was characterized by constant and pronounced curves, one after another. It was really dangerous. There were frequent landslides, and that’s the reason why the locals looked for cross country shortcuts.

The new road does not cross the slope itself, and their slopes are softer, but the landscape is still magnificent.

It is a desolate area where the wind blows strongly and moves the sand from one side to the other. So the dunes are constantly moving and are never in the same place, nor do they show the same shape. Sometimes, even the route disappears under the sand.

The highest point, at 3200 meters above the sea level, is highlighted by a small and precarious chapel dedicated to the Difunta Correa, a local pagan figure of Argentine folk religion. As per the legend, she died of thirst when she was looking for her husband, who had gone to civil war. She was with her baby, who survived by breastfeeding from her until he was found and rescued. That’s why you will always see lots of water bottles in chapels dedicated to the «Deceased Correa»

The views are wonderful. In places like this, words are superfluous. That’s why here below you can find a few photograhps, so you can better imagine how it looks like.

Whereever you look the landscape is just unbelievable. But if you pay attention, you will notice that even in those remote places, people protest against mining companies. «Mining companies out!», you can read on the signal.

At this point you should make a stop to enjoy the views. Of course, you will need sunglasses. If you want, you can climb the dune and then slide down on the sand, but you will need to do it slowly, because of the height. Just remember that you are in the puna, at 3200 meters over the sea level!

And once you enjoyed the dunes, you can now continue the journey through Catamarca!