Climbing season: From December 20 to March 15.
Duration: 7 days.

This program offers the experience of crossing the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago de Chile, by a forgotten mountain pass at 4,380 m. We leave the urban routine behind for a week, 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 4.380 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 (4030m), marks the international border and the descent to Chile.
You can choose to ride a good mannered, sure-footed gaucho horse or to hike. In fact, as the camps and the logistics are the same, one person can choose to trek with our licensed mountain guides, and her or his traveling companion can choose to ride with the gauchos and the mules. Then everyone gets together for dinner and camping. Whether you ride or hike, we use pack mules, so you can travel light and enjoy the place. We apply “leave no traces” and animal welfare procedures.

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival to Mendoza (760m / 2,493 ft). Our driver will pick you up from the airport and drive you to the hotel. Team meeting, gear check.

Day 2
Transfer to the trailhead (2,30 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 horses, complete the customs paperwork and have lunch. Then we take a three-hour acclimatization ride or hike to our first campsite, Real de las Yaretas (3600m). Gaucho style barbecue, night in tents.

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Day 3
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 nice spot in the confluence of two streams.

Day 4
River Tunuyán crossing (we use the horses) and ride/trek to Contreras Camp, in the scenic Palomares Valley. It is a good opportunity to sleep by the fireside and under the stars. 5-hour day.

Day 5
From Contreras Camp to Paso Hondo Camp. A perfect campsite by the river, in the heart of the Andes at 3.400 m, is our home for the night.

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Day 6
Departure towards the Argentinean-Chilean Border. After an uphill walk/ride to the International Border (3 hs), we have lunch by the landmark at 4.030 meters. Horses exchange (for sanitary regulations, the animals can’t cross from one country to another) and steep descent to Yeso River, in Chilean territory (3 hs). River crossing. Here we meet the vehicle, and head towards San Gabriel. The dirt road takes us to the beautiful landscape of El Yeso dam. After riding the van for two more hours, we reach the Chilean town San Gabriel. Here we complete the customs paperwork, at the local Police office. Then we ride for 15 minutes to a nice and quiet lodge in San Alfonso. Hot showers and big beds! There we have a celebration dinner.

Day 7
Breakfast, transfer to Santiago de Chile, lunch and transfer to Mendoza. You can also choose ending the trip in Santiago de Chile.

Included services:

  • In and out transfers in Mendoza and Chile.
  • Hotel in Mendoza City (one night, with breakfast).
  • Hotel in Cajón del Maipo, Chile (one night, with breakfast)./li>
  • Full board during the expedition (in the field).
  • Licensed mountain guide/s (English speaking).
  • Dining tent (table, chairs and dinnerware service).
  • Mountain tents.
  • Riding horses and saddles (for the horseback riding program).
  • Expert local gauchos.
  • Pack horse support during the expedition.
  • Celebration dinner in Chile.
  • Sat phone.
  • First Aid kit.
  • Not included services:

  • Personal gear, sleeping bags and sleeping pads.
  • Meals in Mendoza and Chile, other than the celebration dinner.
  • Any extra costs derived from leaving the program early, such as mules, transfers, guides, etc.
  • Medical insurance, evacuation costs.
  • Requisites:

  • Good general physical condition.
  • Previous experience at high altitude is not required but good aerobic performance is suggested.
  • Horseback riding experience is suggested.