Most tourists head to the town for a wine tour of the world renowned wineries, but horse riding in Mendoza is also a great option to see the local vineyards and Andean slopes. Writing for SouthAmerica.travel in Buenos Aires, I had the opportunity to visit Mendoza and decided to look for my very own gaucho (Argentine cowboy) experience.
Choosing a horse riding tour in Mendoza
Every visitor to Mendoza who enjoys a glass of wine should visit the region’s wineries, but since I had already spent one of my Mendozan holiday days sampling Malbec, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, I decided that my day on horseback should have a different flavour. Instead of taking a horse riding tour around the wineries of Mendoza, I opted to go horse riding in the Andes to experience the mountain scenery, far away from the clink of wine glasses.
Our English-speaking guide collected us punctually from the hotel and we headed out of Mendoza city. On the way to the stables, we passed some of Mendoza’s famous views; neat rows of vines surrounded by picturesque weeping willow trees, with snow capped Andean peaks in the background. After around an hour, we turned off the road onto a cross-country track, leading upwards into the Andes and away from civilisation.
A morning on horseback
We were greeted at the stables by the gauchos who would accompany us on the ride. They were traditionally dressed with leather waistcoats, neckerchiefs and pleasingly authentic cowboy hats. Our horses were already saddled up and ready for adventure, so we climbed aboard and set off. We were lucky to have picked a beautifully sunny day, but in the desert region of Mendoza, anything else would have been pretty surprising. Our steeds faithfully followed the rugged path through the desert shrubs – at times riding up steep banks and along a dried up stream bed, but the horses never faltered.
With the sun high in the sky, we arrived at the lunch area at a trot. The meat was already sizzling on the grill, and a bottle of local wine from Mendoza was ready and waiting. Sitting in the shade, we could look out over Mendoza and the surrounding area for miles, chatting to our guide about life in Argentina and horse riding in the Andes. Horse riding is hungry work, so the continuous stream of juicy Argentine steaks, sausages and fresh bread delivered to the table by our gaucho-chef disappeared in an instant. Delicious!
Back in the saddle
In the afternoon, we once again mounted the horses and set off into the wilderness. There were no other people to be seen, only the shadows of giant birds of prey hovering high above us. The sandy path wound its way through the Andes until we came to one of the gauchos’ houses. Tucked away amongst the trees and reachable only on horseback, it is was a real insight into how the gaucho lifestyle continues to be lived today. After around 3 hours of riding, we eventually arrived back at the stables, where we reluctantly parted from the horses and waved goodbye to the gauchos and their life in the Cordillera de los Andes. Driving home, we watched the sun gradually sink behind the mountains before arriving back at the hotel in Mendoza.
Your own horse riding in Mendoza experience
Spending several days in Mendoza is a great addition to your Argentina vacation itinerary, including a wine tour and horse riding in the Andes Mountains. At SouthAmerica.travel, we have loads of different Mendoza Argentina tours, so take a moment to browse and pick your favourite!A Day on Horseback: Horse Riding in the Andes, Argentina by Katherine Walker