Aconcagua trip preparation

Flights
You need to get to Mendoza in Argentina.You can fly there with a number of variations, via Santiago, Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo being the main nearest hubs. Airlines which serve the route include LanChile, TAM Brazil, Iberia, Air France and British Airways. Flights can become very expensive so best to to book early.

Another option if you have the time is to fly to Santiago and take a coach across the Andes to Mendoza which costs about £30.00 each way. Long distance coaches in South America are very comfortable, the semi cama class has a seat which lies flat to make a bed and the ticket includes meals. The journey begins in the main bus terminal in Santiago and there are many coaches which drive the trans-Andean Highway that passes Aconcagua on the way to Mendoza.

A flight agent that we recommend is www.dialaflight.com. They handle our own staff flights and they have a proven track record. You can reach them on aa@dialaflight.co.uk or 020-8935-9040 and say that you are an Adventure Alternative client.

Vaccinations and Travel Health
There are currently no required vaccinations required for entry to Argentina however you should consult your doctor if you have any concerns regarding existing conditions or health issues.

We have a contract with Interhealth in London which can provide expert travel advice and guidance on travel in any country. Benefits include:
* Free travel consultations and health advice with a medical team to discuss pre-travel requirements such as malaria prevention and vaccination requirements. Tel: 020 7902 9033- 2-3pm Mon-Fri or      doctors@interhealth.org.uk
* Access to our own Online Travel Health Advice Centre
* Urgent medical advice – for serious health issues, available 24 hours a day. emergency phone line: 079 7325 0026

Baggage
Please clearly mark your luggage with your own contact details and contact details for Adventure Alternative in South America which we will supply prior to departure. This will usually be the hotel that we will be staying in in Mendoza, usually Hotel Crillon or Cordillera hotel. 

Insurance
We advise you to take out your insurance as soon as possible to cover potential events that might cause you to cancel your trip. You need to ensure that you have a policy which covers trekking to 6962m, but it does not need to cover technical climbing. You should bring with you a copy of your policy and ensure that other people knows where you keep it. It is also worth bringing a photocopy of your passport and to keep it separate to your own documents just in case you lose your passport. Please also see our 'More Information' page entitled 'Insurance'.

Visa
UK passport holders do not require a visa to enter Argentina for a period of less than 90 days subject to your passport being valid for at least the period for which you will be in the country and a homeward flight ticket having been purchased. It is advisable to ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended return date. For any queries or further information please see the website for your nearest Argentine Consulate.

Money in country
You will need some cash for local expenses, which are made in Argentinian pesos. You can get these on arrival very easily. Your first purchase will probably be the taxi to the hotel, which is about 25 pesos. Meals are relatively cheap in town, but you can use your credit card for almost everything, including gear rental, hotel payments, souvenirs and going out. Our experience is that the total expenses come to around £150.00.

You will need to purchase your mountain permit, which is not included in the cost of the trip, and this costs USD$530 for the shoulder season or USD$720 (2012 prices) and this needs to be paid in local currency also. You cannot pay this with your credit card, it needs to be cash. 

Arriving in Mendoza

Arriving in Mendoza you will need to take a taxi to the hotel we have allocated. The journey is about 20 minutes by cab and will cost no more than about 35 pesos. It's a nice hotel, close to the city centre, and we use twin rooms unless you specify single rooms on your booking. 

Feel free to arrive a few days earlier to enjoy the beautiful city of Mendoza. You can also travel an hour outside the city to Vallecitos and do some preparatory hiking in the Cordon del Plata which is a popular skiing and hiking area with refuges to stay in. A three day visit could get you up to 4500m+ and stretch the legs before the expedition to Aconcagua.

Our staff will meet you at the hotel and talk you through the preparations for the trip. Hopefully you will have met online before the trip, and perhaps even met one another. We do offer training weekends either in the UK or in the French Alps, where teams can do a specific programme which will prepare them for Mount Aconcagua. Please contact us for details.

There are so many restaurants to choose from, but we recommend a wonderful place called Caro Pepe, which is a buffet grill that sells all types of Argentinian meats and specialities. The meat is cut right off the parilla, and there is wonderful wine too.

Aconcagua training

You will need to be fit and be able to cope well with the cold and have suitable clothing to do so. Although it is sometimes described as a trekking peak, Aconcagua should not be underestimated! It offers up very different challenges when it comes to terrain under foot and temperatures. Prior knowledge of snow or ice travel or experience using crampons and a walking axe will definitely be an advantage, but full instruction is given and the terrain is not very steep. It will be important to feel comfortable fitting your crampons, walking on them safely and knowing how to arrest your fall with an axe if necessary. Walking poles are necessary for this trip but on summit day the walking axe with provide the extra protection you need in case of a slip on snow.

A training programme should include at least one hill walk a week with a pack of around ten or fifteen kilos, and regular visits to the gym for the final two months before departure. Age is not a limiting factor either; the secret of climbing high is to go slowly, be prepared in terms of clothing for the cold and winter camping, drink well, eat well and sleep well. A regular, maintained pace will ensure proper acclimatisation.

Our trip to Aconcagua promotes good mountaineering practises for an enjoyable trip, a memorable holiday and one that may lead in the future to more mountain adventures. Our programme is safety-conscious and our staff purposeful in teaching you about issues like altitude sickness, and what it actually means. Most worries are borne of ignorance; but with knowledge comes calm, and with that calm comes the ability to prepare mentally and to prevent unnecessary stress.