Aconcagua

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One of the best hikes in the world

Aconcagua Francia Base Camp

Brag that you’ve hiked (not climbed) the highest mountain in the world outside Asia

The 3 day trek to massive south face is the best hike.

Click PLAY or watch a short video on YouTube.

AT A GLANCE

  • Aconcagua 6962m (22,841ft)
  • one of the 7 summits, the highest peaks on each continent
  • easy access from Mendoza, Argentina
  • closest major cities are Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile
  • most hike with a guide but it’s possible to do it independently
  • 3 days, 2 nights
  • December through February best months
  • permits were once available at the Park entrance. No more. You can only get them at Centro de Informes, Parque General San Martin, Mendoza

Why We Like This Hike

  • get up close and personal with one of the most famed high mountains
  • a good excuse to spend time in tranquil Mendoza, Argentina. It’s an 8 hour bus journey between Mendoza and Santiago, Chile passing Aconcagua about half way.
  • these are the high Andes with many peaks 5000+ meters
  • the days are long in South America during their summer — it is light until at least 8:30 pm
  • no biting insects
  • good chance to see the Patagonian fox lurking mornings / evenings near Confluencia

  •  see the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior glacier en route
  • visit nearby Puente del Inca (2740m) on the same trip

Considerations

  • you may have to turn around due to altitude sickness symptoms
    • a doctor is available 24 / 7 at Confluencia
    • medical check is mandatory with that doctor after descent form Francia
  • the micro-climate around Aconcagua is horrible.
  • you can freeze and be sunburnt on the same day
  • low humidity requires increased fluid intake
  • if the cold doesn’t kill you, the winds may blow you off the trail
  • strong warm winds coming in from the Pacific are the major cause of snow storms on Aconcagua
  • electric storms occur frequently during summer
  • on the upside, rain in summer is rare on Aconcagua. This is a desert. During the day time you can likely walk around Confluencia in shorts and shirt.
  • speak conversational (tourist) Spanish if you want to do the trek on your own
  • Chamonix and several other outdoors shop in Mendoza sell camping gas. Bring your hiking gear from home. Chamonix does rent gear, however.
  • treat all water, even if it looks good
  • One site says children younger than age-14 are not allowed trekking permits. Youth age-14 to 18 need an authorization of both parents signed before a notary public .

Cost

  • in January 2018 (high season) we did this trek independently for US$160 (permit) plus bus $19 / person
  • the same 3 day trip guided cost $715 / person discounted to $470 / person + tip if you book in advance with Inka Expeditions
  • Of course everyone needs budget for medical or traveler’s insurance. Happily insurance is not required for the 3 day trek, but it’s a very good idea to have it just in case.

Routes

Almost every independent hiker does the same route — 2 nights camped at Confluencia — over 3 days

  1. Mendoza to Parque Provincial Aconcagua by bus. Hike 3-4 hours (400m) up to Confluencia camp (3350m)
  2. Hike 6-10 hours Confluencia to Plaza Francia (4200m) return. Many turn back at the second viewpoint about an hour short of Francia.
  3. Hike Confluencia back to the Park entrance. Bus back to Mendoza

Confluencia camp

Trekking Guides

The easiest and safest way to hike Aconcagua is with a company:

Logistics

This section is for those who would like to do Aconcagua independently.

Centro de Informes, Parque General San Martin

  • getting your independent trekking permit may be the greatest logistical hurdle
    • 1. apply herelink
      • if you find that too confusing, go in person to the reservations desk at Centro de Informes, Parque General San Martin, Mendoza (Google map). It’s easier to apply in person, actually.
        • apply for the 3 day trekking permit. Alternatives =  Long Trekking (7 days) and Climbing (20 days)
        • bring your passport
        • bring a copy of your travel insurance (just in case)
      • 2. pay for your permit at one of the Pago Facil kiosks around town
        • cash only
        • Argentinian pesos only
      • 3. return to Centro de Informes, Parque General San Martin to collect your permit. Be sure to tell them what you think of the confusing, lengthy process.

Once you have your permit in hand you have a window of about 3 weeks to trek. Wait on good weather. Keep checking the weather. No use climbing up high to slog through the fog.

Once ready to gamble on the weather, know that there are 3 buses a day from Mendoza to Aconcagua Provincial Park. Go early to the Mendoza bus station and buy a ticket in advance at the Buttini Bus kiosk. Seats are assigned. Ask for a window on the right side of the bus. Cost return in 2018 was AR$260 ($19 / person return). Distance is about 185km. The bus might take 4 hours one way as it makes a lot of stops.

The bus drops you at Horcones, the  Parque Provincial Aconcagua office on the highway. Get your permits checked here. Pick up your trash bag.

Local Information

  • aconcagua.mendoza.gov.ar (Spanish) is the official website of the Parque Provincial Aconcagua (Mendoza)
  • better is to go in person to Centro de Informes, Parque General San Martin, Mendoza. But be cautious, they gave us plenty of misinformation and conflicting information in January 2018.
  • try Chamonix, an outdoors shop in Mendoza that sells and rents gear
  • the Parque Provincial Aconcagua trailhead desk is busy. But helpful.

Best Trekking Guidebooks

No guidebook is needed for Francia. But if you’d like to read up on the region in advance we’d recommend the Cicerone climbing guide.

related – Aconcagua Guidebooks And Recommended Literature 

Best Travel Guidebooks

  • Lonely Planet Argentina (get the most up-to-date edition). Download the digital format purchasing just the chapters you need.

high desert similar to the Himalaya

Best Maps

When you arrive at the Provincial Park entrance they’ll give you a simple one page map. That’s all you need. 

If you’d like a map as a souvenir pick it up on arrival in Mendoza. Every gear shop carries them.

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports

Movies

Click PLAY or watch a snowy December trip on YouTube.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a REPLY on this page. Our editors will reply.

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