Mendoza River


Mendoza River is the heart of the Argentine wine country but today it’s running fast with melt-water run-off and is almost exactly the colour of milky coffee. As a wave rears up and crashes over the front of our bucking raft I get the impression that it really is coffee: the water is loaded with dust that leaves a layer of ‘coffee grounds’ in my mouth.

I should probably keep my mouth closed I think. But this is impossible. I have been on white-water rafting trips on some of the world’s most spectacular rivers and I can recall very few moments when I was not doing so with an insane smile on my face. There is something delightfully reckless about shooting down a wilderness canyon at the whim of galloping currents and ricocheting rocks. And when the snow-capped peaks of the high Andes are looming above you on the skyline even the short spells of rest where the river widens out are guaranteed to keep that smile on your face.

Then there is the yelling. Rafting is pointless if you don’t hoot and holler and scream like a kid on the dodgem cars. But the yelling on the river is all light-hearted and done simply for the sheer joy of yelling.

It is late in the afternoon, when I am back at Argentina Rafting’s Mendoza River headquarters, that the yelling starts in earnest. High on the rock outcrops that loom over the canyon is a web of some of South America’s longest and highest flying fox zip-wires. The longest is half a kilometre long and, for some reason, I opt to ride it upside-down. My feet are on a level with the wire and my head is whizzing along at break-neck speed 100m above that choppy cafe au lait current. 

Perhaps I was still high on white-water adrenalin. Or maybe I was drunk from the run-off from all those vineyards. There are times in life when there’s no substitute for recklessness and irresponsibility but it occurred to me halfway through my dizzying inverted flight across the canyon that, just maybe, I should know better by now. Perhaps it’s time I grew up after all.

Posada El Encuentro ( and Lares de Chacras Boutique Hotel

( make the ideal accommodation in Mendoza and can arrange rafting excursions through Argentina Rafting (