Logistics I - Flights and Lodging
We traveled by American Airlines from Denver to Dallas and then onto Santiago, Chile. From Santiago, we crossed the Andes to Mendoza, Argentina. Given American Airline's performance during our 2007 trip to La Paz, Bolivia, we were hoping for the best but quite aware of what American might be capable of should they seek to surpass the experience they provided for me and 200 other passengers in 2007.
The selection of airlines from the U.S. to Santiago included Delta, Continental and American and, at the time of our purchase, the fare was $1,484, inclusive of the connecting flight to Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina, about a $300 kicker, but it's got to be better than taking a bus.
For those contemplating a similar trip, when we went, American was flying out of Dallas, Miami, and JFK but regardless of the departure airport, all flights had a departure between 8 p.m. and a bit after 9 p.m. from the States. Delta offered service from its Atlanta hub but again with a departure at a bit after 8 p.m. Our hands down choice of carrier would have been Continental but their flight to Santiago was a two leg affair through Lima, Peru. We opted not to go with Connie due to the extra baggage transfer, hence one more opportunity for someone to lose the gear en route. Alternatively, we could have flown to Atlanta to avoid American but that really seemed like a great deal of extra effort and time.
Now that the trip is over, I will state that American did a good job . . . each flight was on time, the rides were fine and I can make no complaint about their service. In fact, I am glad to write this as it was sad, no . . . more like pathetic, to witness the depth to which a great airline with such a proud history and name, fell to back in 2007.
From Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina, we flew on Lan Airlines, which had 3 departures daily, at mid morning, early afternoon and late afternoon. Our scheduled arrival in Santiago at 9:45 a.m. allowed for a four hour layover and then a 1:30 p.m. departure for Mendoza. Lan proved to be a class act and again, no complaints.
Mendoza is a far cry from Huaraz, Peru or La Paz, Bolivia . . . so we selected a three (3) star hotel, specifically the Hotel Cordon del Plata at 9 de Julio 1543 in the main part of Mendoza. We spent three nights there, one on arrival and two on the back end of the trip. The front desk staff was helpful, cheerfully made restaurant reservations, helped out with some other small tasks and generally did a good job.
The hotel's air conditioning left much to be desired each day but alas we were in Mendoza at the height of the summer heat season and the daily highs were around the 100 degree mark. Also on our second night and a bit of the third morning, there was no water for some time and the power went out in the height of the afternoon heat, driving us to the street. Our cost per night was about US$90.00 for three people and I will say that their web site paints a prettier picture than the property delivers. But, remember, when I think Argentina, I think more European style than American, and this hotel pretty much fits with the three star accommodations I have experienced in Europe, inclusive of the a/c.
Following our climb, we did not make the trip from the Santa Ana trail head to Mendoza in one day due to having walked the entire distance from the Pirca de Polacos base camp to Santa Ana in one day. As such, we chose to break at Barreal for an evening with an overnight at the Posada San Eduardo. A classic place . . . foot and a half thick walls, 20 foot ceilings . . . . a shaded central courtyard, all designed to beat the heat and make for a very comfortable stay. No complaints whatsoever.
The tab for three people in three beds as US$91.00 and that included a light breakfast. There is a pool, grassy lawn, covered parking, friendly dogs under the breakfast table and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.