CÓRDOBA AND MENDOZA TRAVEL 2021
February 17, 2021
This blog post recounts my Córdoba and Mendoza travel experience during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes all the permits we needed, the status of various sites within both regions, and the cost of traveling during this period.
TOURISM SITUATION IN ARGENTINA (AS OF SUMMER 2021)
Argentina still hasn’t opened up its borders to international travelers as of January 2021. They were supposed to allow select neighboring countries to enter the country for tourism. Nevertheless, the plan got scrapped after everyone went on high alert after detecting the new strain of COVID-19 in some of the travelers, prompting them to limit incoming international flights.
As for local tourism, the local government decided to push through to help local businesses and the economy recover. They implemented a curfew (toque de queda) in some regions devastated by the pandemic, but some cities like Metropolitan Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and Córdoba decided not to.
DOCUMENTS NEEDED TO TRAVEL TO MENDOZA AND CÓRDOBA
Each province in Argentina imposed its own travel rules. Some would ask for a negative PCR test (Misiones), while some would ask for travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage (Santa Cruz). Luckily, both Mendoza and Córdoba asked neither. They only asked for a Certificado Verano (get it here.)
Everything is in Spanish, so be ready to translate some words. Aside from that, you will need a real bus or flight ticket and at least a hotel in mind to fill the form out. It was easy and we received our approved form after 20 minutes.
As for returning to Buenos Aires, we needed to fill out this Declaración Jurada and take a quick PCR test, which they administered free of charge at the Estación Dellepiane Ezeiza airport.
What will happen if you tested positive? They will monitor and ask you to isolate yourself at home for ten days and take another test after.
We bought our bus tickets on this website using our Argentine friend’s credit card, ensuring that we pay Blue Dollar rates.
CÓRDOBA – DETAILS
Córdoba is the 2nd largest city of Argentina and also its former capital. It is also a university city due to the high concentration of universities in the southeastern part, chief among them is the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, the country´s oldest university and one of the first ones in the Americas. Because of that, the city has a young crowd and is home to fabulous parties. Unfortunately, we never experienced this part, though, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO IN CÓRDOBA (COVID-19 EDITION)
Most articles regarding Córdoba suggested lots of activities and places to visit. Unfortunately, Most of them didn’t open due to the pandemic restrictions. I omitted those that are still closed and only included stuff that we did.
Visit Plaza San Martin
Plaza San Martin is where you’ll find most of the city’s numerous cathedrals, with Iglesia Catedrál Córdoba as one of the oldest and most impressive. Most hostels are around it, so visitors to the city would typically start their Córdoba itinerary here. It is also the meetup place for a free walking tour of the city.
Go to Parque Sarmiento and eat choripan at El Dante Choripanes Foodtruck
Parque Sarmiento is Córdoba’s answer to Buenos Aires’ Bosque de Palermo. It is the city’s most extensive open space where people would typically go jogging, do group exercise, or hang out. We went here to try the alleged ¨best choripan¨ in Argentina, none other than El Dante’s choripan. Well, it was indeed yummy; it came in a huge portion and customizable with at least 12 different condiments (I put chimichurri, escabeche, mushrooms, cheese, pico de gallo, and lots of onions on mine.) I am happy to tell you that their version can indeed be a contender for the country’s best ones.
Try Fernet and cola at one of the bars in Güemes
Fernet is an Italian liquor introduced to Argentina by immigrants during the late 19th century. It’s a concoction of various herbs and spices, giving it a bitter, herb-like taste.
Córdoba is the number one producer of fernet and also its number one consumer, drinking almost 30% of the country´s product.
As for the taste, I do enjoy it, and it´s me and my friend´s go-to alcoholic drink when we hang out together. Some people would consume it on the rocks, but the majority would mix it with Coca-Cola to minimize its potency.
Feel the German vibe at Villa General Belgrano
We didn’t include this in our itinerary, but we ended touring it after ruining our plans to visit La Cumbrecita. This city is like a mini German wonderland in the middle of nowhere, with houses and buildings inspired by Bavaria, and shops that sell German-artisanal items, plus they have their own Oktoberfest! As a bonus, there is also a viewpoint called Cerro de la Virgen and Pico Aleman that you can hike for an hour to see a bird’s eye view of the city and its surroundings.
Taste Lomito and Locro
Lomito is a colossal sandwich consisting of veal, cheese, ham, tomato, mayonnaise, and lettuce and customarily eaten as a heavy meal. On the other hand, locro is a hearty soup made with corn, white beans, bacon, tripe, chorizo, and lots more. While both items are typical Argentinean food also available in Buenos Aires, the version I tried in Córdoba is better, in my opinion. Recommendable restaurants for these are Vidon Bar for the lomito and Los Infernales de Güemes for the locro.
THINGS WE WEREN´T ABLE TO DO
Check out the numerous museums around the city.
All the museums in the city were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to cordobeses, recommended ones are the Museo de la Memoria, Evita Fine Arts Museum, and El Paseo Buen Pastor.
Ok, so we kind of ruined this one. We planned to visit this place, but we arrived ill-prepared. We forgot our credit cards so we can’t rent a car, so we traveled to Villa General Belgrano to catch the bus going there, but we arrived late and missed it by thirty minutes. Locals highly recommend it, so if you visit Córdoba, allocate a day to explore it.
MENDOZA – DETAILS
People would associate Mendoza with wine, and for obvious reasons. It’s the country’s top wine-growing region, known worldwide for producing exquisite, export-quality wines. Their top product is Malbec, which is what put Argentina´s name in the wine industry. However, they also grow other varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Tempranillo for vino tinto, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay for vino blanco.
Mendoza is also home to extreme river rafting, rappelling, ziplining, pool river, hiking, and many more. These activities are available in Mendoza Capital or San Rafael, a city three hours away from the capital.
Here are some of the things we did when we toured Mendoza during the pandemic.
Rent a car and explore Mount Aconcagua and Puente del Inca
Mount Aconcagua is a must-visit when you go to Mendoza, and if you are traveling in a group, the best way to explore it is by renting a car in the capital and drive there.
The advantage of doing it yourself is you won’t have to rush. Besides that, you can enter the rest of Mount Aconcagua’s viewpoints until the base camp(600ars for foreigners, payable via Mercado Libre). Along the way, you can also side trip to the Puente del Inca.
If you are traveling solo, it is best to avail of tour packages that will bring you here; a full-day trip only cost 1,800ars and will get you to the first viewpoint of the mountain (for free), Puente del Inca, the Cristo Redentor at the Chilean border, and Uspallata.
Visit the various wineries around Maipu and Valle de Uco.
A trip to Mendoza won’t be complete without visiting one (or more than) of its plethora of vineyards. Both Maipu and Valle de Uco have many world-class vineyards, but in the end, we decided to visit those in VDU as they are more picturesque. According to the tourist information center, it will be hard to see it by public transportation because the bus schedule is erratic, so we decided to rent a car again and go there ourselves. We did this on a Monday, and it was a non-working day for most wineries. Luckily, two of them were confirmed when we called; Bodega Piedra Negra and Viñera Corazón del Sol.
Here is the price list for the degustation in both wineries (As of January 2021):
Piedra Negra – specializes in organic wines.
Simple tour with welcome drinks – 400 ar
1.Degustación Aficionado línea joven – 600 ars
2. Degustación Excelencia línea reserva – 800 ars
3. Degustación línea premium – 1,200 ars
Corazón del Sol – export quality wines.
Tour with regular degustation – 1,500 ars
Tour and degustation with food – 2,200 ars
Some travelers would rent a bike, which I think is also a fantastic option. From what I know, there are bike rental shops around Maipu you can check for bike rental, though I am not sure about their availability during the pandemic restrictions.
Enjoy extreme sports at the Cañon de Atuel in San Rafael
Just like the capital Mendoza, San Rafael is also a city famous for its wine production. They boast some of the oldest wineries and most traditional wine-making practices in the country, dating back generations. Not only that, but they also have natural wonders to showcase, such as the Cañon de Atuel, where you can spend your day marveling at the beautiful scenery or joining one of the extreme sports on offer.
We decided to try white river rafting, as this is something this place is famous for—countless tour companies line up the sides of the River Atuel, all offering these excursions. I forgot the name of the company we chose, but it was a big one, and they have a group of people leaving every hour. An hour of activity costs 950 ars, and they also offer two activity combo for 1,600ars. They will also take pictures of you while you do it!
Things we didn´t do in Mendoza.
Visit olive gardens.
Aside from wineries, Mendoza is also famous for growing different varieties of olives for olive oil production. Most tour companies would combine a trip to both a winery and olive gardens on their package, so if you are in a hurry, it would be wise to avail one.
Explore the center of Mendoza city.
We felt dumb not including a city tour to Mendoza itself. Since we only had four days, we decided to cram every significant activity during our trip, leaving us without enough time to explore the capital. Since we arrived during the pandemic, there was not that much to do, so it warrants another future visit.