Puente del Inca - place where legends are shaped by nature; place where the natural bridge over hot sulphuric waters of Rio las Cuevas, is painted in fabulous colors by mineral deposits....
Inca Bridge - facts
Puente del Inca is an amazing geological marvel located in Altas Cordilleras 2720m ( 8920 ft) above the sea level in the upper part of the Uspallata Valley.
Since the “beginning of time” the valley played a vital role for travelers.
It was part of the famous Inca Road spanning one of the largest empires of all times.
In modern times it connects Mendoza (Argentina) with Santiago and Valparaiso (Chile) initially by a famous Trans-Andean railroad (unfortunately not operational anymore) and then by the modern road RN7.
The phenomenon of Puente del Inca (English name - Inca Bridge) is much more than just a natural rock-arch bridge over the muddy, fast flowing waters of the Rio de las Cuevas. The real fame is added to the place by the “colorful” presence of thermal springs with sulfuric waters. Not surprisingly Puente del Inca comes with legends and tales adding extra charm to the ”aura” of this extraordinary place.
You are witnessing here the hand of the Mother Nature....
It appears that this 48m (158 ft) long and 28m ( 92 ft) wide natural bridge has been formed by the complex action of waters. Most likely soft deposits left by receding glaciers were pushed away by the rushing water while the upper layers of sediments were solidified by sulfur compounds and several other minerals carried by the hot waters.
Whatever was the sequence of events and the origin of this natural wonder, the final result is spectacular and frankly breathtaking. The whole area of a narrow ravine around the bridge is covered by colorful mineral deposits with the spectrum of colors ranging from green through all shades of yellow, orange and brown, ending with the reddishness of ochre.
View on the natural bridge and old baths covered by layers of mineral deposits....
In 1925 on the right bank of the river a luxury Hotel “Puente del Inca” with Thermal Baths was built to harness the healing power of thermal waters.
The baths were connected with the main building by the tunnel so hotel’s guests could reach the thermal baths regardless the weather (to make it clear – the winter at this altitude in the middle of the High Cordilleras is a “serious” matter!)
The Nature created here five different springs with slightly different mineral compositions and temperatures ranging from 34 degC to 38 degC (93F to 101F).
The water with some degree of alkalinity is rich in sodium chloride, various salts, arsenic, bicarbonate, calcium, sulfur, peroxide of iron to name only its few components.
Unfortunately in 1965 the hotel was totally destroyed by the devastating landslide marking an end to the thermal baths as well. The abandoned baths located in the ravine of the Rio de las Cuevas near the natural bridge were overrun by sulfuric waters.
Time combined with the creative work by the Mother Nature ceaselessly building up layers of sediments from overflowing waters made this place so spectacular and unique.
The natural beauty, stylishness and kind of grace of the Puente del Inca has been attracting and fascinating visitors since forever. It is worth to mention that Charles Darwin visited this natural wonder memorizing the event in a set of drawings.
Far in the background: lonely church survived the avalanche in 1965
Part of foundation and loose stones around are sad remainders of the destroyed hotel-resort Puente del Inca.
Rainbow of colors like from a colorful Fairy-Tale
I'm sure that you would like to stay here for longer watching this natural art in different shades of light during a day.
It may be hypnotizing catching not only our eyes but pretty much all our senses. But there is more to see, read and touch on the following page.
Like most breathtaking places, Puente del Inca (Inca Bridge) comes with many legends, myths and stories adding extra "colors" to this anyhow dazzling site.
Some of them are clearly an effect of the human imagination, some you can witness with your own eyes….
But the best is that on the nearby market you can also buy “made-by-nature” souvenirs taking home part of this stunning spot, as an everlasting memory of your adventurous vacations.
To continue the story of the Puente del Inca please click on the left picture or follow the link:
Puente del Inca next - (page 2)
However if you are falling in love with Argentina (I wouldn't be surprised, it happened to me), then you are invited to the following pages to find the large selection of tourist destinations and attractions in Argentina, as well as travel tips for those heading there for the first time....
To see the selections of tourist attractions in Argentina please follow the link: Tourist Destinations in Argentina
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