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  • Ruth Wood

Sunrise in Mendoza

Sarah Kraemer ready for the ride back down the mountain

Early mornings in Mendoza are magical. If you get up before sunrise, you will be rewarded by the splendor of the southern sky with the clear Milky Way, the Southern Cross, crystal clear Venus as well as a fireworks show of shooting stars. Absolutely mesmorizing!

Today’s early morning rise was proving to be that, and so much more. At 5:30 am we were to be picked up by a real-life Gaucho named Nino.

Rolling up through the magnificent vineyards was an Argentinian cowboy (Gaucho) straight out of central casting. Leather - Indiana Jones- hat, long shiny brown hair, sparkly eyes and a twinkle of mischief about him.

Off we go - into the night with this strange happy man who has an expression I’ve seen on kids headed to Disneyland. I am infected with his optimism! Lettttsssgoooo!

We stop at the bottom of the Andes mountains- still completely in the pitch black night with only the stars to guide us. We hop in a Jeep to navigate the last 10 minutes of bumpy roads to where the fun is to begin.

Coming upon a flashlight in the hills we meet Nino’s band of Gauchos, a pack of saddled horses and two dogs that look as excited as Nino. They are all there to accompany the lucky night visitors.

We jumped up on our horses and, trusting our new friends to guide us, we started climbing the mountain on horseback. Nino, with sweet, gentle songs (Frank Sinatra) to lead the way, gently directing the animals and giving instructions. We were star gazing and watching as the stars melted into the twilight. The Andes mountains are magnificent from any angle with glaciers and black tipped mountains combined, but as the light changes one can’t get enough. We arrive at the peak of our mountain about 15 minutes before the sun rose. We were able to take in the beauty of our surroundings, the strong animals that guided us up a huge mountain, the dogs now taking their rest for the trek back down and our handsome cowboys who looked pleased to be there.

Nino pulls out a small snack with coffee -which he insists we all combine with Jimmy Beam (its now 8am?!?) and tells us stories of the mountains and the Gods that loved them.

Long awaited, the bright red sun emerged to turn the mountains pink. No one knew which direction to look, as the 360 degrees of splendor was overwhelming. Pictures were taken, the family of riders named themselves the lucky ones as the adventurers that we were. Good choice to say “yes” to this activity!

We all mounted our steeds and headed back down the mountain, sad that the early morning had come to an end. The quiet awe of the morning uphill climb turned into a merry chirping and singing pack of wanderers, complete with a harmonica.

Travel offers everyone the ability to experience these kinds of mornings. This is why we forge through JFK! But may I suggest that I would have never been able to find this magic with out my partners in Argentina. Let our relationships in these far away places help you find the magic that awaits. Let us Chart Your Path!


Nino -our lead Gaucho- full of mischief!

Pink tipped Andes Mountains

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