On my way up to Mendoza, I did a very quick rest stop in San Rafael, where some of the first wineries were opened in the province of Mendoza. I stayed at the Aventura Hostel, right in the center of the town, and a 25 pesos drive from the bus terminal. It was very low season when I was there, so it is hard to say how the hostel is ran when there is more people. It was super quiet (read boring) and there wasn`t really any atmosphere in the hostel itself. The guy at the reception in the morning was more or less helpful; he helped me book a tour for a day but kept confusing the times and the location of the tours, and even woke me up at the wrong time the day of the tour thinking I had missed it (which was very considerate of him, but slightly funny considering I was almost the only guest in the hostel… he still couldn`t remember which tour I booked).
I have been slowly learning in Argentina that Sunday is a day where you won`t find much to do in town anywhere, eventhough it is the week-end. It is the time to go out in the park and drink mate. From now on I am trying to plan my bus trips on Sundays, as being in any town on a Sunday now appears a bit of a waste of activity time for me (aha). Basically when I arrived in San Rafael, every thing was closed! I just went to enjoy a nice stroll in the main park and have a look at the kids park which is full of houses in trees and big castles… and ate an absolutely incredible waffle meal with bananas, chocolate, caramel, creme patissiere and too much sugar!
On my second day I did a half-day tour to Los Reyunos, which is about 35km out of town. The tour was 300 pesos including pick up from the hostel. We first stopped in a Bodega, La Abeja, which is the first bodega in the region. We had a nice tour and a wine tasting. I think the tour and tasting are free and can be done separately from the actual tour, if you would like to plan yourself some wine tastings (it could be done by biking around town).
We then headed to Los Reyunos and stopped a few times on the way to take photos or learn more about the area. At Los Reynos, there is a small tourist complex where you can buy some food at a kiosko, enjoy the views or pay 150 pesos for a catamaran 50min cruise or a Zip-Line (only one) over the water. I decided to save my pesos for other things at this point and just sat down with some other Argentine travellers to enjoy a mate. On the way back we stopped in a local shop to try some fresh alfajores and buy some local produces. I finally got my hands on some very good honey to help with my cough and second laryngitis of my trip!
They say you haven`t seen San Rafael if you didn`t go to the Canyon del Atuel. I wanted to go but changed my plans… the tour was 450 pesos for a full day including wine tastings and some time to enjoy the canyon… but again with low season, all the actual activities to do at the canyon were closed. Instead I decided to keep that money for other things when I head a bit up North in the next few weeks. Definitely I think San Rafael is worth visiting but, even more so during higher season!