Crossing the Andes Chile-Argentina - Day by Day

Itinerary - Day by day description of The Crossing of the Andes, from Chile to Argentina

* We recommend you to arrive in Santiago de Chile one day before the official meeting of day 1. That way, in case of flight delays or other travel problems, we avoid hold ups of the entire group and organization of the trip. Another advantage is that a good night of sleep after a long flight and jet-lag is a good idea instead of getting of the air plane and heading straight away to the mountains. More about it further below.

Atacama horse riding expedition Not for moaners nor whiners. This is big adventure!

Day 1 >  Santiago – Los Patos – Maitenes (Chile)
06:00 AM: Meet & Greet at Hotel xx in Santiago de Chile.
06:30 AM private transfer to Los Patos, place where the horses will be waiting for us and where we will start the expedition. Arrival in Los Patos at aprox, 09:00AM. Here the Chilean immigration officers will be checking your documentation and the equipment before starting the expedition.
Time to mount our horses so the expedition can begin. We ride through a fascinating and varied landscape sown with cacti. Today, as the next few days, we will tie our horses during lunch time and have our sandwich in the big outdoors. We will continue climbing the semi desert look alike mountains all the way till Maitenes where will will set up our camp to spend the first night in the Andes. A hearty dinner will be prepared in our field kitchen.

Day 2 > Maitenes – Lagunitas (Chile)
After our open air breakfast our mules will be packed and horses saddled to continue the expedition. We follow the Chalaco river and climb the region of the Colorada mountains. Once reached the high plateau we will have a fantastic panoramic view of our climb ad of what still has to come. We will descent to the Rocin river, cross the white water river and continue direction east till reaching Lagunitas. We will set up camp. Take a river bath and have dinner and wine under the stars.

Day 3 > Lagunitas – Valle Hermoso (Chile - Argentina)
We wake up early, have a hearty breakfast, and leave as early as possible, as we have to ride 9 hours (or longer) today. We climb and defy the high mountains. After a descent towards Ciénago we arrive at a Chilean police border base at 2.200m (the police here are dropped by helicopter and at this campo during the 3 summer months). We report to the police and ride on until we reach the border with Argentina after a solid climb. Here at 3.300m in the middle of nowhere we are welcomed by the Argentine Gauchos, their horses and their mules. We have our lunch and continue the expedition on Argentine territory. We ride descending several hours and arrive at sunset in Valle Hermoso. A stunning beautiful valley surrounded by mountains above 6000 meters. Here too, police officers were dropped by helicopter. We install our tent camp next to the Argentinian mountain police station and enjoyed our dinner and campfire.

Day 4 > Valle Hermoso  (Argentina)
Today is an active rest day; The main reason is height acclimatization before starting the hard work the next days. But what is an active rest day? Well, we will not ride, but walk. We will climb, each at his own pace, some surrounding hills to get used to the high altitude, only that way we will avoid accidents of high altitude sickness. After a morning climb you can take a bath in the river of the valley, go for some trout fishing or just relax in the midst of this enchanting valley. Valle Hermoso means Beautiful Valley! 
Dinner at our camp and overnight under a sparkling starry sky.
(our experience has taught us that having this day as a height acclimatization day is the key to success to reach without mountain sickness our destination)

Day 5 > Valle Hermoso – Rancho de Lata  (Argentina)
We continue our expedition and cross this immense valley of spectacular beauty. Rivers, grassland, colorful rocks and snowy peaks are the only witnesses of our caravan, We leave the valley and climb mountains and have one stunning panoramic view after the other till reaching o poit called Rancho Lata. Here in this very rocky terrain we will sent up our camp.

Dag 6 > Rancho Lata - Manantiales (Argentina)
Today we will be riding the sky! So, be prepared for a long, tough but incredible beautiful day in the saddle. Today is the day you will reach the summit of the expedition and become the highest riders of the world. Today you will climb to almost 5000 meters! 
Not we, but our horses will determine the pace of climb. Ice-cold winds, spectacular views, rough climbing, the eternal snow, the loud breathing and strong heartbeats of the horses and pack mules are facts and moments you will remember for ever! We will climb the Paso de la Honda pass and shout victory at the summit. the grubby climate, the high altitude and still long route to come force us to stay for only short while at this highest point of our expedition.
The entire afternoon we descent spectacularly the mountains and follow the Las Leñas river till reaching a far west landscape and a plateau called Manantiales at 3.000m.
Camp and dinner 

Day 7, Manantiales – Hornillas - Uspallata (Argentina)
Today we start the last stage of this fascinating mountain expedition on horseback. A descent crossing a fertile field and rocky wild west landscapes will bring us to a desert oasis called Hornillas. Here in the shadow of the eucalyptus trees we will open some bottles and toast to our victory! After saying farewell to our horses and gauchos we will get in a vehicle that will take us to Barreal, where we then drive by minibus to the town of Uspallata. (Province of Mendoza) In the hotel you can take a real bath.  You are invited to the farewell dinner in the restaurant of the hotel. You now have ridden in the footsteps of San Martin and will never forget this experience!

Day 8 > -Uspallata (Argentina)
After breakfast; end of our services.
We will help you to indicate the bus to the city of Mendoza from where you can fly home or continue your journey. You can also return from Uspallata by bus to Santiago de Chile.
- Uspallata – Mendoza: about 2,1/2 hour drive
- Uspallata – Santiago de Chile: about an 8 hour drive
- Mendoza – Buenos Aires: about a 14 hour drive or 1 hour flight

 

Night before & Local Transfer
It is recommended to arrive in Santiago de Chile one night before the official start of the trail ride program. That way nobody has to wait long hours at the airport waiting for other guests to arrive. So, we suggest you to stay one night in a hotel in Santiago (that we can book for you) and we meet all together the next day at breakfast in the hotel at 06;00. After the meet & greet at the hotel and some info about the expedition we start the official program of the trail ride and go all together with our private bus to the place where we will start the expedition. A double room in hotel xx is about USD 80/room including breakfast. The hotel we will book for you is located in xxx.