Want to connect with your inner gaucho? This is how you should spend your 24 hours in Mendoza:
9am: Even gauchos go shopping. Get kitted out with your garb at Las Vinas (Las Heras 399, city centre) or Ayllu (Panamericana 8343, Chacras de Coria) where you can get yourself all your mate (local herb) paraphernalia, a leather hat and a pair of bombachas (typical gaucho trousers, although be careful when ordering as the same word means knickers or panties… which won’t look too gaucho at all).
10am: Take off down south to the Uco Valley where most of the gauchos hang out and where your trusty steads await. It’ll take you 1.5 hours by car, 2 hours on the local bus to Tunuyan (from where it is another 40mins to the Manzano Historico), or 15 hours on horseback.
Midday: You can rent a horse for a couple hours in the Manzano from one of the couple horse stables there. Mosey on into the Andes with your gaucho guide on top of a sturdy criollo as you pass snowmelt streams and climb the mountain foothills where you can learn to whoop and yell like a proper gaucho. It is also a top condor spotting area.
3pm: If you don’t fall for the temptation of a mountainside asado, then head back down to the Manzano where you can tuck into some rustic countryside fare at one of the many restaurants there that specialize in a truck load of grilled meat and a few bowls of salad to keep the chinas (female gauchos) happy. Two well established classics are Almacen de Uco and Posada de Jamon.
6pm: Take a walk with your pot of mate to work off the wine from lunch and have a look around the spot where national hero San Martin came up with his master plan to attack the Spanish, and you can browse through the local artisan markets.
8pm: A true gaucho would now head to a peña (social music improvisation meeting) or go to hear some folkloric music, so check the listings in Tunuyan if anything is going on. Otherwise head to a more traditional bar back in Mendoza city, like the pulperia style city restaurant El Pelanque (Av Aristides Villanueva 287) or a countryside inn in Lujan de Cuyo, Cavas de Cano (San Martin 2488, Lujan de Cuyo). Either way, the only way to end your gaucho day is with a good penguino (jug) of wine and a hearty meal.
Alternatively, take advantage of our own gaucho experience, where you can embrace traditional gaucho culture, learn about fire-cooking methods, and sample some juicy wines in the countryside Maipu home of Lucas and Julia.
Photos on horseback & mountain asado by Aya Lowe.