With Mendoza being so close to the Andes there are a lot of opportunities to peruse more adventurous outdoor activities – white water rafting, horse riding and trekking were all on offer. I was not keen to spend a load of money, but really wanted to get out and see some of the surrounding landscape, so Laura and I signed up for a cheap tour trekking up a small mountain about an hour outside Mendoza.

We started early, a van coming to pick us up from the hostel first thing. He was doing the rounds, stopping at several hostels in the vicinity and the van was full by the time we headed away from the city. One thing everyone else I meet seems to have done is memorise their passport number. This is proving impossible for me, like trying to memorise Spanish words, and once again I was shown up as a registration sheet was passed around asking for these details. Sure enough there were about 13 numbers and one empty space when it was returned to the front – it transpired that it wasn’t a problem, but I made a little note to myself; learn that fucking number!

As we got further away from Mendoza the scenery became more and more impressive – rolling hills and big lakes, mountain peaks disappearing behind low clouds. Very different to the lush environment I’d got used to in Brazil and up near Iguazu – this was much more barren and harsh looking, but equally as beautiful. We arrived at the place which catered for all sorts of different adventure activities. Registering it became clear that we were the only ones doing the cheap, 4 hour mountain trek option – everyone else was signed up for rafting and horse riding. This worked out really well as we basically got a personal guide and a very un-tourist-tour experience.

It was a good job Spanish speaking Laura was with me as when our guide finally showed up he didn’t speak a word of English. This was a good thing though as I think I need to be in more situations where there is more pressure for me to try and speak Spanish, but like I say, I was pleased Laura was there to act as traductor. We set off towards the mountain looming large on the horizon in front of us. At this point I should tell you what it was called, but I wasn’t taking notes and I can’t remember – what I can tell you is that it was 750m high and the actual altitude at the summit would be just under 3000m.

We’d both anticipated it being a fairly straightforward walk up pre-made mountain paths before we arrived, but within a few minutes it became clear that there was no path and that there would be some climbing involved. Our guide explained that he takes a different route every time depending on the lie of the land and suddenly it seemed like a little bit more of an adventure.

We climbed up in bursts, stopping at various points for a breather and a drink. It was a good work out but not too taxing, just what I needed after a few weeks without any real exercise. We had a great day for it too – beautiful sunny skies allowing for brilliant views across the mountains. Our guide warned us about snakes, which added a bit of spice for a few minutes, but we didn’t get a sniff of one and soon forgot about that threat.

It took us about an hour and a half to make it up to the top. For the last 20 minutes or so of that, as the views got better and better our guide kept talking of the surprise in store for us when we reached the summit. The surprise turned out to be the most incredible view looking over a huge lagoon, it was spectacular and a nice reward for the effort we’d put in getting up there. We spent 20 minutes or so eating lunch (which was another surprise our guide had in store for us… we’d made our own but kept that hidden as we felt bad not taking his – plus, free food – who would turn that down?), taking photos and just admiring the amazing scenery.

We came down the other side of the mountain which was just as much fun as coming up. I realised that I was getting burned a little bit too having been exposed to the sun all day without any protection. Luckily my skin seemed to have finally acclimatised and this just turned into tan later on. In fact maybe the best tan I’ve ever had, annoyingly just on my face neck and forearms (I knew I should have climbed in just my speedos). We made it down and back to the activity centre in time for a beer with our guide. I had an amazing day, that kind of outdoorsy-climbing thing is not something I’ve done a lot of and this seemed like a nice gentle start. I’ve been calling what we climbed a mountain and I’ll stick to that as it sounds better, but technically I guess it could have been a steep, rocky hill – or a pointy mound. Whatever it was, I had fun getting to the top.