Climbing season: From December 20 to March 30 th.
Duration: 7 days
This program offers the experience of crossing the Andes from Mendoza Argentina to Santiago de Chile, through a forgotten mountain pass at 4400 meters. For a week we leave the urban routine behind and travel through astonishing landscapes, among condors and guanacos.
The high pass “Portillo Argentino” is the gate to an old trail used by gauchos and travelers, such as Charles Darwin and General San Martín, to cross the Andes. From this steep col at 4380 meters of altitude, the path descends into a valley where an ancestral culture of horsemen and mountain people is still alive, in harmony with the wildlife. The traditional “reales” (campsites) offer the opportunity to sleep by the fireside and to share the skills of the arrieros (muleteers). A second pass, Portezuelo de Piuquenes (4030 meters), marks the international border and the descent to Chile.
Horseback ride or hiking options. If you hike, we take horses for the loads and to cross the river, so you can walk light and enjoy the place.
Our goal is to build experiences together with our clients. We work toward that goal by designing each expedition with a “customized” approach. We apply leave no traces and animal welfare procedures.
Arrival to Mendoza. Check in at the Hotel. www.elportalsuites.com.ar, or www.themod.com. Gear check. Assistance in shopping or renting gear if needed.
Breakfast. Transfer to the trailhead (2 hs). After riding the van through vineyards and viewpoints and visiting a small museum and monument, we reach the Border Patrol Station. This is the trailhead. Here we meet the gauchos and horse, complete the customs paperwork and have lunch.
Three-hour acclimatization ride or hike to our first campsite, Real de las Yaretas (3600 m). Barbecue, night in tents.
An intense day. Horseback ride or hike to Portillo Argentino, 4380 mts. Astonishing view of the Andes and the border with Chile. Then the trail goes down to the valley of the Tunuyan River. It is an 8 or 9 hours day. We have lunch in the trail and spend the night in a big refuge, property of the Army, where we enjoy a a strong dinner. The evening may offer some songs and stories, since the refuge is a meeting point for arrieros and travellers.
Rest day. Lunch we can explore the sourroundings or relax at the refugio.
River Tunuyán crossing (we use the horses) and ride/trek to Paso Hondo camp. We take a detour to visit a nice view point of the snowcapped Tupungato volcano (6570m). It is a good opportunity to sleep by the fireside and under the stars. 8-hour day.
Departure towards the Argentinean-Chilean Border. After an uphill walk to the International Border (3 hs), we have lunch by the isolated landmark at 4000 meters. Horses exchange (for sanitary regulations, the horses can’t cross from one country to another) and descent to Plomo river, in Chilean territory (3hs). River crossing, helped by our fresh horses. Here we meet the vehicle, say good bye to the gauchos and head towards San Grabriel. The dirt road takes us to the beautiful landscape of El Yeso dam. After riding the van for one and a half hour we reach the Chilean town San Gabriel. Here we compete the custom paperwork, at the local Police office. Then we ride for 15 minutes to nice lodge in San Alfonso. www.cascada.net, www.altiplano.net . Hot showers and big beds! We have a celebration dinner (not included) in the fine restaurant.
Breakfast. Transfer to Santiago de Chile. End of the program.
• In and transfers from Mendoza City and to Santiago de Chile
• Hotel in Mendoza (one night) and Cajon del Maipo (Chile, one night).
• Two night at the Armys refuge in the mountain (bunks, shared bathroom).
• Certified mountain guide/s (English and german speaking).
• Full board during the expedition (in the field).
• Dining tent (table, chairs and dinnerware service).
• Mountain tents.
• Riding horses and saddles (only for the horseback riding program).
• Expert local gauchos.
• Pack horse support during the expedition.
• First aid kit.
• Personal gear, sleeping bags and sleeping pads (consult for renting).
• Extra costs derived from leaving the program.
• Medical insurance.
• Celebration dinner at lodge in Chile.
Good general physical condition, Previous experience at high altitude is not required but good aerobic performance is suggested. Horseback riding experience is suggested.
Gear list for Andes Crossing
*1 pair of comfortable, rugged pants (like hiking pants, or horseback riding pants)
* 1 pair of underwear bottoms (synthetic).
* 1 pair of waterproof pant or to wear over the pants (not necessarily expensive gore tex pants).
1 optional pair of fleece pants, if you are usually a cold- suffering person. Most of the time the long underwear + hiking pant should be enough.