This Sunday I took a trip South of Mendoza, to Cañon del Atuel. Being some 240km to the south of Mendoza, we started the day quite early at 7.30 am, and it wasn't until 11 o'clock that we made it to the nearest city to the canyon, San Rafael. I was a bit disappointed to discover that we weren't going to be stopping in the city, rather just driving around the main streets for around 15 minutes. The main square, Plaza San Martín, was very beautiful, and I managed to snap a photo of the statue and fountains through the window, before we left for the canyon.
Before reaching the canyon, we drove along a river leading up to it. The lush gree trees made a stark contrast to the barren rocks in the surrounding landscape. In the afternoon we had a choice of activities to do, and 6 of us chose to go rafting on the river. Although not technically challenging (we were all beginners), it was very fun and I got soaking wet! I don't have any photos from it so far, as I had left my camera in the minibus, but one of the guys who did bring his camera out has promised to email me his pics of us dressed up in our rafting gear!
After the rafting, we entered the canyon itself. The scenery is amazing, with lots of strange looking rock formations that have been given names by the creative tour guides. By the time we got to one entitled the finger however, a vertical piece of rock sticking out of the top of a cliff, I think they had slightly exhausted their imaginations.
As far as I could understand in Spanish, I think the canyon was formed by the Río Atuel, which has now been harnessed for hydroelectric power, so water no longer flows through the canyon itself. After we reached the far side of the canyon, we had a late lunch in the town of El Nihuil, where the dam is located. It was so big you could barely see the other side, and it was as if you were looking out to sea.
By now it was 6pm and we were ready to make the journey back. Unfortunately, following the canyon had taken us further from Mendoza, and it wasn't until 10pm that we got back to the city, and 10.40 by the time I was dropped off at the house, ready for some sleep.