It’s a curious geological formation, and one of the most famous hot springs centre in Argentina.
Baths in these hot springs are recommended for different therapeutic conditions which, in addition to the singularity of this natural monument and the landscape that frames it make of Puente del Inca a place with unique features. It is located in the Andes mountain range at 2720 meters above sea level. It is a spot in the mountains famous for its natural bridge –a unique geological curiosity declared Natural Monument. The Bridge has been formed by the action of mineral water. The water flow made its own way among the sediments deposited at the bottom of a trough and then cemented by the hot springs. The springs "paint” the natural formation with orange, yellow and ocher colors. They also "paint” any object that is placed under them, giving them hardness due to their impregnation in mineral salts and acquiring a "petrified” appearance. On the right side, we find the famous hot springs: five of them with different temperatures and components. The particular mountains and the "Las Cuevas” river, which flows ten meters below the bridge, complete the landscape.
The story of the Bridge starts with the Inca Road and its legends. It was supposed to be known and frequented by this culture with the purpose of taking profit of these hot springs and their healing properties. Its reputation comes from its hot springs. There are deserted constructions at one side and under the bridge with small pools in which hot water flows from natural springs at a temperature around 34 – 38ºC. Baths in these springs were prescribed for people suffering from nervous, rheumatic and gynecologic conditions. Also, their therapeutic actions were advisable for children suffering from anemia, rickets and arthritis.
The area is favorable, also, for adventure tourism, international mountaineering, horseback ridings, skiing and snow games.
In 1925, the "Puente del Inca” hotel was built, which was a real luxury and visited by the most important personalities of that time. After surviving to many weather threats, which had formerly left the Transandine Railway out of service. The hotel was destroyed in 1965 by a devastating avalanche, but its ruins are still visited by thousands of tourists each year.
The legend of Puente de Inca. The name of the place comes from a legend that tells that many years before the Spanish colonization, an important noble Inca had a son who had been affected by paralysis. After trying all types of healing techniques without getting any favorable result, he heard that in the Southern lands, there was a place where healing waters could end his suffering. So, he prepared a group with his best warriors and headed towards this place. Once he arrived, he admired in amazement the famous hot springs flowing from the soil; but in the middle, there was a heavy-flowing river that blocked the access. His warriors, without hesitating, hugged each other forming a human bridge, so they could reach the other side of the river. Thus, the Inca walked through the warriors’ backs holding his son in his arms and reached the hot springs, where he found the cure he was looking for. When he looked backwards in order to thank his warriors, they were already petrified and formed what we know today as "Puente del Inca”.
A curiosity. In 1939, he formed part of the foreign academic Mission that the Argentinean Army sent to Europe, with residence in Italy. He specialized in Mountain Infantry (mountaineering and skiing). He came back in the early 1940s and was sent to the "Centro de Instrucción de Montaña” (Center for Mountain Instruction, Puente del Inca). In 1941 he was upgraded to Colonel. Since 1943, his military life began to converge on Politics, which would later be his main concern up to his final days.