During our extended stay in Mendoza, Argentina we decided to head up into the mountains to escape the bustle and heat of the city. At first we thought of b-lining it to Uspallata, a small town located in the valley leading up towards the high Andes. It’s a great base camp for taking a day trip to Aconcagua, but we really wanted to stay in the mountains and ideally have hiking right out our backdoor.

After a bit of browsing on Google earth and Booking.com we found Valle del Sol—a small town nestled at the base of the Andes. Not to mention, we even had views of Cerro Plata (elevation 5955m) from our room!

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How to Get to Valle del Sol

If you don’t have a car, head over to the central bus station and buy a ticket from Buttini for around 58 pesos for the bus headed to Piedras Blancas.

From Mendoza you’ll head south through beautiful wine country before turning up a valley where you will pass Potrerillos, a small town next to blue alpine-stream fed lake. Just a little bit further up the road, and after it turns to dirt, you’ll reach Valle del Sol.

Silver Cord Bed & Breakfast

We made plans to stay at Silver Cord Bed & Breakfast and Adrian, the owner, was waiting for us at the bus stop. Adrian and Sonia run the top rated accommodation in the area and stay open all-year-round. They were both very welcoming and hospitable so it’s no wonder why.

DSC_0089When we arrived we checked into our room, dropped off our belongings then met Adrian for coffee and tea on the patio to talk about our plans during our stay like excursions and dinner schedule. Sitting on the patio was great because some of the peaks of the Andes were snow capped and we had a clear view of them.

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We stayed in a lovely suite at the bed and breakfast with everything we needed if we wanted to self cater. The suite is actually what I’d consider a fully furnished cabana with a living room, full kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. We even had our own patio and asado if we wanted to grill!

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All of the amenities are new and up to date, and the TV does have Direct TV satellite, not that you’ll need it with the beautiful scenery. The kitchen is stocked with cooking utensils, a gas-range stove and oven, a fridge and microwave as well a yerba mate set which is a popular tea in Argentina. This selection is great especially if you’re coming up here for 2 or more days.

Also a nice touch is the indoor jacuzzi, perfect on a chilly day or if you want to wind down after a long day of excursions.

In total, Silver Cord B & B has three accommodations. The first one to catch my eye, although not open yet, as we were pulling onto the property was the small log cabin with a canoe next to it. It immediately made me feel nostalgic for my home in Bend, Oregon. The log cabin looks very cozy and is ideal for a couple. Adrian also mentioned he has plans to build a similar one next door with an outdoor jacuzzi.

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Since the Swiss style chalet was right next to where we were staying and guests hadn’t checked in yet, we wanted to take a peak inside. The two level unit was cozy and was very Argentine in decor. The fireplace mantel was lined with traditional mate gourds, some even 100 years old.

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Our first afternoon was spent wandering the quiet streets of Valle del Sol and taking in the mountain views from, well just about everywhere. Valle del Sol is perfectly situated at the base of the mountains and we were looking forward to a planned hike to view Andean Condors the next day.

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Before dinner, Adrian took us down to the wine cellar which is stocked with local premium wine from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, to Syrah. He offers wine tastings which is a great opportunity for new guests to mingle and get to know each other. The cellar was built with 160 year old wood from a French vineyard that was stored in oak barrels.

We had a tasting of a 2007 Sin Fin Cabernet Sauvignon which is from a local Mendoza vineyard. With the elaborate selection of wine it was obvious that Adrian definitely knows and appreciates a good wine.DSC_0256

 

GOPR0831Another cool feature of the wine cellar is that the tasting table also doubles as a poker table if you want to play a hand or two.

Hiking to Vallecito

One thing that Silver Cord B & B also offers are excursion packages from various types of hikes to horseback riding into the Andes with a local gaucho.

The next morning after breakfast Adrian was waiting for us in his 4×4 pickup and we set off to hike into a picturesque valley known as Vallecito which is known as a great location for spotting Andean Condors soaring the winds above. First we made a quick stop by the local gaucho’s house, more of formality just to say hi and that we would be entering his land. We drove a few more clicks up a rocky road and parked at the side of a small creek which is where the trailhead is.

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DSC_0322Soon into the hike Adrian pointed out three holes in a rock which he said was likely bedrock mortar used for farming by indigenous farmers several hundred years ago. I thought that was a pretty cool piece of history.

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DSC_0346The various streams that sweep through the valley here eventually make its way down to feed the city’s water supply.

DSC_0359On the hike we did see several different wildlife, including a herd of guanaco, horses, hawks and Andean condors.

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Dinner + Breakfast at the Bed and Breakfast

We enjoyed dinner and breakfast at Silver Cord Bed and Breakfast both days of our stay prepared and created by the lovely chef, Sonia. Each meal was cooked with her own creative twist with original tasty recipes. I also loved that for dinner, we sat at the dinner table with the whole family, but if you are staying at one of the B & B’s accommodations that have a kitchen, you can choose to cook. However, I highly recommend trying out Sonia’s cooking.

The first night we had baked polenta with a pine mushroom sauce. Pine mushrooms grow on their property which is a great ingredient for cooking. We also had a a veal minced pie with a side of cabbage salad, similar to an empanada, but not quite the same. For dessert, we had chocolate ice-cream with homemade mousse topped with cherries!

The second night’s dinner we had homemade swiss-chard lasagna, fresh salad, fried egg plant and meatballs. For dessert, home-made custard with a meringue-like topping. Everything on the menu was homemade, unique and delicious.

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Overall we had a great stay at the Silver Cord Bed and Breakfast and despite some overcast weather, we were able to get in a day of great hiking with our Adrian from the B&B. The accommodation at Silver Cord B & B was incrdibley comfortable, cozy and had all the amenities we would need. Had it been a warm two days I would have considered using the asado to grill some chorizo and steak out on the patio.

Given that we were looking for an escape from the heat and bustle of the city of Mendoza, Valle del Sol was just that. It’s only a quick jaunt from Mendoza was the ideal setting for great hikes and fresh mountain air.