After a short stay in the city of Mendoza, we headed for the foothills of the Andes mountains to enjoy some nature time. The Andean foothills (precordillera) is a dry desert-like region where you can find wine valleys, ranches, cowboys, paleontological sites, and oil-extracting pumpjacks. It just so happens that the foothills in our home province of Alberta has plenty of ranches, cowboys, paleontological sites, and pumpjacks (but no wine valleys). As we drove through the Andean precordillera, we couldn’t help but feel at home.
El Leoncito National Park
Jeanne and Aaron, our overlanding friends from Idaho, recommended that we camp and hike at Parque Nacional El Leoncito, just three hours north of Mendoza City. They said that the park had one of the best campgrounds they had ever visited in Argentina. These two climbed peaks all over South America and tent-camped every night, so we knew we wouldn’t be disappointed by following their advice.
Jeanne and Aaron were absolutely right – the campground was awesome. It’s nestled in the woods and surrounded by pretty hiking trails with great mountain views. Unlike most Latin American campgrounds we’d seen up to this point, we had access to a BBQ grill, fire pit, unlimited firewood, picnic tables, outdoor hot-water sinks, hot showers, and clean toilets. There was even wifi access at the nearby ranger station. All of this was free of charge. We loved it.