I you can, by all means rent a car. It need not be a 4x4; just make sure that it has good clearance and a good engine. You will be climbing mightily. After leaving Mendoza to the North (this it the only time where it would be easy getting lost) one follows what looks like a never ending straight road. Soon enough you will enter a ravine. From there on, there are hundreds of switch back on a gravel road with the most spectacular views. This is a trip that is best done very early in the morning; you will be heading NW and then West; you want the sun on your back. Ignore the ruinous Hotel Villavicencio (take water and snacks). After you leave the hotel behind, the real trip begins. I am willing to guarantee that, assuming you follow the entire route all the way to Uspallataa, you WILL see guanacos. There is better that a 50/50 chance that you will see condors. Also, upon reaching the top of the switchbacks, on the place call the "Balcon", there will be a very photogenic fox. I have the feeling that the Chamber of Commerce placed him there for the enjoyment of the tourist. Very tame; do not attempt to feed him (that is what he is looking for). You will continue to gently climb until you reach the place call "Cruz del Paramillo". Here is where you will be glad you left early because the place will afford you glorious view of the Cordillera de los Andes, with Ansilta and Mercedario to the North, Aconcagua in the middle, Plomo to the immediate left and a string of volcanos farther South. I may have some of the names wrong, but not too many. I have done this road a half a dozen times. It has never disappointed me. In the descent toward Uspallata the highlights are the spot marking where Darwin passed during his trip with the Beagle (no Beagle here, he left it in Valparaiso). Further down you will come upon the most colorful arrangement of low altitude hills, almost upon reaching the Uspallata valley, and time for lunch. Enjoy a good goat barbecue in one of the multiple restaurants supplying the Panamerican Road. Head back to Mendoza on "Ruta 7"; do not drink and drive. I promise you will not forget the trip. '
I came back here after looking at the questions below. THERE ARE NO SERVICES IN THIS ROAD. THE LAST BATHROOM is in the ranger station by the Hotel. You must stop there if for nothing else to query the rangers on the state of the gravel road. What ever the answer is, drive slowly. Bring your camera!
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