Potrerillos was, with no doubt, my favourite place in Mendoza. It did not have the most extravagant scenery, but the activities that can be enjoyed here are the liveliest in Mendoza. It is located in the beginnings of the Andes mountain range.
Here are some of my favourite tips, activities and useful information that you must know before going to Potrerillos!
1-Kayaking in the Dam
As you might know, Potrerillos is a small town up the hills facing a breathtaking dam. The dam was constructed in 1999 and nowadays functions for many things. It controls the flow of the Mendoza river, produces hydroelectric energy, and most importantly, it keeps the water for the vineyard irrigations.
Kayaking in the dam was one of my favourite activities. It is relaxing, yet very intense since depending on the day, you might get some wind which creates little waves that are harder to go through than what it seems. The aqua coloured water is stunning. It can be a little cold sometimes, but for a summer day with a neoprene suit, you will be okay. Along the banks of the dam, you will be able to find some narrow pebbly beaches where you can stop for a rest, enjoy the sun and listen to the sound of nature while you have some Argentinian mates (the drink) and biscochitos, while appreciating the beauty of the far away snowy mountains if it is winter, fall or spring.
If you are looking for something different, I strongly recommend a flooded forest in the south bank of the Dam. This used to be a campsite but after a rise of the water, the trees became covered and then died. Now, the water covers only half of the trees, so you can kayak around the white dead trees which contrast with the clear waters and the brown mountains in the background. This location makes stunning Instagram bangers!
The options for Kayaking are either renting some kayaks and paddles in the cottages by the dam, or you can go with the various companies that offer guides, equipment such as neoprene suits and helmets, and lunch. In my case, we went with a company called Potrerillos Explorer. We had a guide called Tomas (he was super nice) who came with us for kayaking and took some pictures, and later that day, we all went Rafting. For lunch, we had an amazing picada for a really good price!
2-Rafting in Mendoza River
We also did this activity with Potrerillos explorer. The good thing about this one is that we got to know some new people who went on the raft with us. This sport is insane, at least for me; given the fact that it was my first time rafting and it was a level four out of six. There were 7 people in the raft, including the guide, who was the soul of the group, always cheering us on. We went through 5 or 6 rapids and got wet like never before. We also had a GoPro set at the front of the raft and recorded the best moments. When the river was calmer, we were able to jump off and swim. This was even more exhausting than rowing since the current was really strong even though that was not the hard part. Getting on the raft again seemed impossible, but in the end, we all could.
The Mendoza river is really fast, and it has a wonderful landscape since it is surrounded by mountains. The best thing is that all this takes place in the low part of the Andes, so it is not so cold. For this reason, rafting and other activities can be enjoyed almost all year long. In the winter, however, it is almost impossible to do rafting because of the snow.
3-Termas de Cacheuta
Termas de Cacheuta is a thermal water park, spa and hotel. Near Potrerillos. If you came to Mendoza for a relaxing vacation, this is the place is for you. You can relax, get massages and different relaxing therapies while enjoying the nature of the mountains around you. However, the park is not so quiet. It gets full of families with kids. Still, it is worth the visit if you have extra time after the intense rafting for a relaxation. Just outside the park, there are local vendors selling hand-made crafts and typical food. Argentinian alfajores are different in every province. If you feel like eating something sweet you MUST buy the well-known brands of alfajores Entre Dos and Chocolezza, a special from Mendoza.
Another location for a great photo is the hanging bridge that stands outside the park that connects two sides of the river across the mountain. It is a stunning landscape!
Tips and Information:
1-BRING SUNSCREEN. This is a must, especially if you do kayaking, since you will be in contact with the sun for long periods, and the sun shines really bright in Mendoza.
2- BRING A COAT. Sometimes the weather can get a bit windy, so even during the summer, you might be a bit cold. Of course, during the winter bring a lot of warm clothes. It gets very cold during this season and it is very likely to have snow.
3- GO BY ONE PATH, COME BACK BY THE OTHER. There are two ways of going to Potrerillos. One is surrounding the mountains. This option is a bit quicker since you can drive at higher speeds. But it is not so much different as regards time. The other way goes through the mountains. You will see better landscapes and go under tunnels. The most impressive sight of this path is being under the dark tunnel and suddenly it all opens up to the view of the dam. I recommend the second path for going, and if you are short of time, come back by the first one. The map below shows the paths that connect Potrerillos and Mendoza City.
Mendoza has it all. And when I say all, I mean it. This was just the beginning, just one day of all the days I spent there. There is a lot to do; so stay tuned!