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When Ampascachi talks about "Crossing the Andes", they mean that it is “more” than just a horseback route. Crossing the Andes Mountain Range represents a difficult and long journey with a striking natural beauty that places the rider in the midst of immensity itself. The trip across the Andes allows seeing snow-capped mountains, valleys, rivers, and waterfalls. This trip also awakens the most resilient spirit to overcome the inclement weather.
During this program, you'll get to know some of the most beautiful places in Argentina and Chile, and Ampascachi has chosen different hotels because of their location and service which meet international quality standards and their architecture and interior design. Some nights may also be spent in the Ampascachi camp. During this program, you'll stay at the following accommodations:
An excellent location, within walking distance from the city center of Mendoza and 8 kilometers from “Gob. Francisco Gabrielli” International Airport. Comfortable executive suites, two-room suites, premium apartments, and presidential suite. Sauna, swimming pool, gym, business center, and meeting rooms. The restaurant, El Faro Bistro, is on the 14th floor and it has a wonderful view of the Andes Mountains and the urban landscape, and an exquisite menu with gourmet dishes.
Discover the Best Western Premier Marina Las Condes located in a new and sophisticated area in Las Condes, beside the Andes Mountains. This hotel is your best option in the modern city of Santiago, Chile. Santiago is the largest city in the country, business center, high and modern buildings, and very close to world-class ski resorts in the Andes. The hotel is an upscale property, completely designed and built between the years 2007-2010, with 244 rooms, including four junior suites, a lounge bar, a restaurant, meeting rooms, a pool, and a gym.
Three-person igloo tents (it will accommodate 2 people), dining kitchen dome tent, folding tables, plastic floors, complete tableware, 5-kilogram gas stoves, kitchen utensils, lamps. Please note that if you wish to sleep in single tents, there will be an extra charge of 270 EUR. In this type of accommodation, guests might have to share a tent with other people.
Words cannot express how it feels to be in such a beautiful place. And the reason is clear: this trip combines adventure, effort, beauty, solitude, and magnificence. You will see what it means to spend 7 nights sleeping in tents, riding your horse for up to 5-6 hours a day on some occasions, and withstanding harsh weather conditions. Of course, you will appreciate the true value of your horse in such circumstances.
You can also understand what the Argentine national hero, General José de San Martin, must have felt when he crossed the Andes with his forces. You'll follow the same trails that were once used by his Liberation Army in 1817 to liberate Chile from the Spanish monarchy.
You will make your journey across this imposing mountain range sharing with “huasos” and “gauchos”, their typical muleteer customs and traditions, and you’ll be surrounded by the highest mountains of America: Mercedario (6,770 meters) and Aconcagua (6,959 meters), the highest on the continent, covered with glaciers and eternal snows.
During the ride, you will discover the breathtaking landscapes of the Andes Mountains, which are abrupt and semi-arid in the low mountain range; barren and rocky in the snow area. The wind and the cold will sculpt your mettle and you will have to overcome the obstacles that the mountain presents. You will occasionally see abundant wildlife. Guanacos, Vizcachas, and Condors will be watching from the heights – their territory.
It should be recalled that, in these mountains (not exactly in the same place where you will make your journey, but of very similar characteristics), in October 1972, a plane that was carrying the young members of an Uruguayan rugby team crashed. Some of its members survived the impact, the cold, the subsequent deaths, and the snow avalanches.
They were lost for more than 72 days without being found and search efforts were canceled after eight days. However, the three of them managed to leave the mountain through a valley and just there, they made contact with civilization. This episode, known as The Miracle of the Andes, is one of those most shocking and moving survival examples of all time. That is the Andes Mountain Range, and to cross it on horseback, with the security provided by Ampascachi and its team, is and will certainly be an experience that you will never forget.
An important aspect of this program is that it is one of the few that crosses to the Chilean side. The trip starts in Las Hornillas, in the province of San Juan and at the foot of the Andes, and crosses the border with Chile. You will spend two and a half days on the Chilean side, where you will enjoy some beautiful landscapes until you reach Los Patos.
During your journey on the Argentine side, you'll ride Ampascachi’s Peruvian Horses and on the border with Chile, you will change horses. Due to sanitary regulations and in accordance with Argentine and Chilean law, you'll continue the ride on superb Chilean Criollo horses.
Arrive at Plumerillo Airport and transfer to the oasis city of Mendoza. This city is the starting point of your trip across the Andes. Free afternoon to visit the city. In the evening, enjoy a Folklore and Tango Show in one of the best Dinner Theatres of Mendoza.
Early departure from the city of Mendoza by car to the town of Barreal, located in the south of the province of San Juan. On your way, you will see Potrerillos, Uspallata Valley, Pampa del Leoncito, and the town of Barreal, where you will stop for lunch. Then, arrive in Las Hornillas; located at the foot of the Andes, in Alvarez Condarco, province of San Juan.
The muleteers will be waiting for you with the horses and pack mules, and the staff will bring all the necessary gear for the expedition. Here, at the camp, take the time to try and choose your Peruvian Paso Horses, the ones that will take you to the border with Chile. In the evening, after a delicious criollo-style dinner, go to sleep in your tents.
Early in the morning, your first riding day begins. Cross the Aldeco River and head into the black pampa until you reach the plains of Manantiales. At night, camp near a stream. Dinner and overnight in the tent.
After a nutritious breakfast, descend towards Las Leñas River, passing by Peñón de San Martin. Today, you'll have the most intense leg of the expedition. Ride along the Las Leñas river gorge. The road becomes increasingly rocky and you will cross the same river several times.
Climb the spectacular Paso del Espinacito (mountain pass) located at 4,500 meters of altitude, where you will enjoy a panoramic view and contemplate the immensity of Mount Aconcagua and the entire mountain range bordering Chile. After that, head into a valley, ride across Vegas de Yeso, and arrive at the camp in Vega Larga.
After breakfast, mount your horse and ride across the Yeso hills until you reach the stunning Valle de Los Patos (Valley of the Ducks), passing by the Argentine Gendarmerie’s “Ingeniero Sardinas” shelter. Continue riding across the plains towards Valle Hermoso, where you will set up the camp and spend 2 nights.
During the ride, the highest mountain in America, the Aconcagua (6,962 meters above sea level), is visible all the time. You can also see the peak of Cerro La Mesa, with its vast glacier at the top.
On this day, you will have the possibility to enjoy a pleasant sunrise, as you don’t need to rush to have breakfast early. Today is your day of rest: everything will slow down. You can go fishing in the afternoon and after a nap, the gauchos will teach you how to throw the boleadoras (bolas) and you can go for a walk and take good photos of the amazing surroundings.
Unlike the other days, this time, you will have a hearty lunch instead of a light meal, since you will not ride in the afternoon. And in the evening, you’ll enjoy a typical Argentine asado (barbeque).
Head west and reach the border with Chile at 1 p.m. There, visit a memorial that commemorates San Martin’s heroic deed and you can see the boundary marker between the two countries. At this point, you must change horses. Due to phytosanitary restrictions, it is not allowed to go into Chile with horses from other countries.
In this place, you will meet the Chilean huasos and muleteers who will be your guides during the next 3 days. After a welcome snack and drink, continue your ride along the Rocín River until you reach the Carabineros’ outpost in Las Vegas del Ciénago. There, you must arrange custom formalities with the Chilean border control. Ride for about one more hour until you reach the camp in Lagunitas, where staff will be waiting for you with a delicious dinner.
Breakfast at 7:30 a.m., continue the expedition following the course of the Rocín River. Once you leave Lagunitas behind, you will cross this river twice to go up a 1,000-meter slope and reach the La Colorada pass, located at 3,500 meters above sea level. From there, you will have a magnificent view of the Andes Mountains, the Coastal Range, and the central valleys of Chile.
After a good rest for you and the horses, follow the Chalaco River downstream, where you can discover the vegetation, including small bushes which are characteristic of the high Andean region: goat horn, thorny bushes, and the colorful “yareta”. Lunch box during the ride. At about 5 p.m., arrive in Maitén Bonito. Camp and dinner by a cozy campfire.
At about 9 a.m. after breakfast, ride your horses knowing that it is the last day of your trek. Continue descending along the Chalaco River to Los Patos. During the ride, after several days, you will see taller trees and the vegetation will become increasingly lush. In Los Patos, the Chilean international police will check your documents and baggage. Lunch box during the ride. Then, go to Santiago, Capital of Chile, by car. After almost 2 hours, you will arrive at the hotel.
At 9 a.m., you will have breakfast at the hotel Best Western Hotel Marina Las Condes. Enjoy it slowly as you recall all the landscapes and the experiences you lived on this journey. Then, take the transfer to the airport of Santiago. Say goodbye with a warm loving embrace. Thank you for traveling with Ampascachi and reiterate that you are welcome to join again whenever you like. See you soon, they will be waiting for you!
The area you'll visit is the Andean High Range, the area with the highest peaks of the central Andes. There are mountains with a height of more than 6,000 meters, such as mounts Ramada (6,300), Mercedario (6,700), and Mesa (6,200), which have beautiful glaciers embellishing their mountainsides. However, the one that steals the show is Mount Aconcagua.
Reaching almost 7,000 meters, it is the colossal guardian of the Andes and it will also be part of your setting for 2 days. During the horseback ride, you will go up and down crossing three mountain ranges: Paso del Espinacito - 4,400 meters, Cordón Limítrofe - 3,500 meters, and La Colorada of 3,500 meters on the Chilean side.
The vegetation is scarce; however, in the marshes and wetlands, you can find a great variety of birdlife. These pastures, with their intense green, will brighten the landscape. You should not be surprised to see herds of guanacos in the distance, as well as curious condors near you.
The anatomic saddle used was specifically designed to give comfort to the rider and protect the horse’s back. Their look is esthetical and similar to the Argentine gaucho saddles. The reins and bridle are made of sole leather which is also used when getting a horse under saddle as it is light and transmits the given helps easily to the horse’s mouth.
At Ampascachi, they use the same bridles and reins for their rides as they use during the training of the horses and obtain docile, well-educated, and versatile horses. They use Pelham bits with short shanks so the horse responds easily to soft aids.
The saddle consists of an iron frame, the pommel, and the cantle. With a blanket that absorbs sweat and a very comfortable felt pad that provides extra cushioning for the rider’s weight. On top of the saddle, they have the sheepskins for greater comfort. That is the “mountain” saddle, which is used for farm tasks and also for lassoing animals. In this case, two cinches are placed for safety.
There is another saddle, the “corralera”, which is much more aerodynamic and provides close contact with the horse’s back. The reins and headstalls are made of braided leather or leather sole.
Ampascachi are breeders of Peruvian horses, the ones that Ampascachi uses for its horseback treks. For the Andes expedition in particular, they can only use the Peruvian horses on the Argentine side for sanitary reasons. Neither the horses nor the saddles can be taken into Chile. All the same, since Ampascachi is always committed to excellence, they have selected superb Chilean criollo horses for the Chilean side.
They will talk about their characteristics later. The education of the horses is based on the principles of the ethology which studies the brain and learning processes of horses and emphasizes on the respectful and ethical treatment. It is a unique experience to meet their horses!
The Chilean horse, also known as “corralero”, is a horse breed used in the rural areas of Chile, especially in the central and southern part of the country. Its muscles have been specially developed for speed and they are completely adapted for a life in mountain areas. The hooves are strong and its double coat makes it very adaptable to both cold and warm dry climates.
This horse is used in several farming activities, such as herding. Due to its medium height, it is specially used for the Chilean rodeo. Thanks to this medium height, which doesn’t usually exceed 152 centimeters, the Chilean horse can stop a steer with the chest and not with the forelegs. The average height is 1.50 meters in males and 1.45 meters in females. In addition, the chest circumference ranges from 1.62 to 1.82 meters.
All horses are Peruvian Paso horses, they have been breeding them for over 20 years by selecting the best horses. The Peruvian Paso horse moves in a special gait, the paso llano, which is very comfortable for the rider, and at an average speed of 10 to 12 kilometers per hour, it allows to move quite quickly over a long period of time.
The horse moves both legs of the same side, first, the hind leg steps down and then the front leg. The paso llano is a broken, harmonic four-beat gait, the center of gravity is almost immobile what makes it a very smooth and comfortable gait to ride. The horses are also trained in the gallop, a gait that is natural in all horse breeds.
The horses were bred and selected by Ampascachi and have passed a process of education and training without aggressions. All horses are unique, have a stable character, and are prepared for equestrian activities.
Nevertheless, riding or any other equestrian activity always bears a certain risk, this is why they ask you to be honest about your horse experiences and to follow the instructions on how to tread and ride the horses that our guides give you during the whole duration of your holiday. Ampascachi strongly recommends the use of a riding helmet; you can bring your own or borrow one for free at Ampascachi.
Make sure that the helmet fits correctly to fulfill its purpose to protect your head. During the rides, at all times you are accompanied by a guide and at least one more member of the Ampascachi team. On your first riding day, your guide explains important security measures and the right behavior to protect yourself and your horse in situations that could be dangerous. The members of the Ampascachi team always carry a satellite phone and a first aid kit for emergencies and they have knowledge on first aid.
Mendoza is a city in western Argentina. It is the capital of the province of Mendoza and is located on the plain on the eastern side of the Andes Mountain Range. It is one of the main cities of the country. The metropolitan area is called Gran Mendoza and has a total population of over one million inhabitants. The city covers an area of 57 square kilometers although its metropolitan area covers 168 square kilometers.
It is a major industrial hub, a fundamental strategic point for the relations with the Mercosur. The economic activity is linked to trade, the service industry, and mainly tourism, which concentrates on the wine industry. For this reason, together with other cities around the world, Mendoza is one of the “Great Wine Capitals”.
It was a cosmopolitan city, due to a large number of immigrants, mainly Italian and Spanish, arriving between the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the last century. Although there are other immigrant minorities, such as Arabs or French, most people in Mendoza, like almost all Argentines, come from the confluence of Spaniards, Italians, and indigenous people. At present, there is a considerable number of immigrants from neighboring countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Peru.
It has a varied range of cultural and nightlife activities. It is a quintessential tourist city and an outstanding university center. Its physiognomy has an evident European influence, like the rest of Argentina, which is reflected in the architectural styles, also in its wide avenues and tree-lined streets.
The extensive Uspallata Valley divides the pre-cordillera (pre-mountain range) from the high mountain, and it is situated in Cordon del Plata. It is located around 1900 and 2500 meters above sea level and is lined by the Mendoza River and the San Alberto and Uspallata streams. Since it is the mandatory route to travel to Chile, its landscape also marvels at those who travel to the Trans-Andean country.
The Uspallata Valley, which was a relay area at the time of the viceroyalty, has had great historical importance as it was part of San Martin’s campaign because it was here where the two armies gathered before crossing the Andes. The town of Uspallata is surrounded by poplars and other trees; it is located on the banks of the Mendoza River and is crossed by the San Alberto and Uspallata streams. It has wide streets and picturesque poplar trees, and the area is ideal for horseback riding. The film Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt, was filmed here.
The Barreal Blanco or Pampa del Leoncito is a wide plain located 20 kilometers from the town of Barreal, in the Calingasta department, in the southwest of the province of San Juan, Argentina. The plain is located on the side of the road that connects the town of Barreal with the El Leoncito National Park.
The Barreal Blanco is a perfectly smooth dry plain, which is about 10 kilometers long and 3 kilometers wide. It appeared when a lake dried out some several million years ago, during the Holocene (Quaternary period). The color of the surface sediments is whitish due to the silts and clays of saline sedimentation.
Outside the boundaries of the “Pampa”, you can find shrubs and grasslands typical of this mountainous ecoregion. Inside the “Pampa”, the vegetation disappears, leaving a compact surface, with polygonal cracks. The climate of the area is dry and it has 100 mm of rainfall a year, especially in summer. It usually rains heavily in short periods of time. Occasionally, the “pampa” is completely covered with water coming from torrential rains and the runoff from the Sierra del Tontal, the eastern boundary of the plain.
Facing the Andes Mountain Range and in the heart of the San Juan desert, lies one of the most charming valleys in Argentina. There, the small town of Barreal is nestled among poplars and the rumors of running water in the irrigation canals, with an ideal rhythm that will make you forget about the world for a few days.
Time seems to stand still at siesta time. The 6,770 meters of Mount Mercedario take over the horizon under a sky that erupts before the eyes of the visitor. Barreal, in the Calingasta department, is an invitation for your senses, a discovery ritual that continues to amaze everyone who visits it.
Gateway to the history and natural beauty of the region, with its streets shrouded in the shade of poplars and willows, and the irrigation canals that are alive with the gurgle of water, this place has everything to be one of the most captivating tourist destinations in the province. %Strategically located 230 kilometers from the city of San Juan and 220 from Mendoza, the town surprises you with its ritual of calm and silence. On Roca Street, the main artery that crosses the urban layout and extends the access roads to the north or south, you'll find the San Martín Square, the municipality, the tourist information offices, the service station, the supermarkets, and the restaurants.
Los Patos is a small town in Chile, at 1,100 meters above sea level. It is located in the interior of the town of Putaendo, at the foot of the Andes. It is a small agricultural area where apples, peaches, and alfalfa are grown. It is located next to the Rocín and the Chalaco rivers. Today there is a paved road and the public road ends right in front of the outpost of the Chilean Carabineros (national police).
They are responsible for controlling and inspecting all the tourists and muleteers traveling across the mountains. According to history, the bulk of the Army of the Andes commanded by General San Martín traversed the Chalaco River in February 1817. Near this area, in a place called Las Achupallas, the first battle was waged with a small detachment of the royalist troops. The place is surrounded by medium-sized mountain chains and very few trees.
Santiago, also called Santiago de Chile, is the capital of Chile. It is also one of the six provinces that make up the Metropolitan Region of Santiago. Located on the banks of the Mapocho River, Santiago was founded by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, under the name of Santiago del Nuevo Extremo, in the 16th century.
It is currently the financial and administrative center of the country, and the largest urban area with the most densely populated region, 6.9 million inhabitants, of the national territory. Santiago is located at an approximate altitude of 567 meters above sea level. With an area of 837.89 km. Santiago is usually regarded as a leading city in Latin America in a number of social, economic, and environmental issues.
The Chilean capital is the second most competitive city in Latin America, second only to Sao Paulo, as well as the city with the third-highest quality of life — the second in South America and the 90th in the world, and the safest in Latin America. Also, in 2012 it was rated as the third most competitive Latin American city — also the third in South America.
Dynamic and cosmopolitan, Santiago captivates you with its diverse panoramas and its characteristic versatility. Several cultural events and major international festivals take place here. Any visitor to the Chilean capital will see that it is bursting with life. Diversity can be felt in many neighborhoods; visiting them is the best way to get to know the city.
Wander around its streets to find some exclusive art galleries, innovative design shops, and craft fairs, as well as restaurants, bars, and cafes, which complement this attractive and original offer. And if you love the nightlife, don’t miss the chance to see the Bellavista Neighbourhood! Tour the city center to soak up Santiago’s life. You can learn more about Chile in many museums or you can visit the famous Central Market to taste the exquisite products of Chilean gastronomy.
If you prefer outdoor activities, you can admire the capital from the surrounding hills and marvel at the views of Santiago at the foot of the imposing Andes Mountains. Also, take the opportunity to prepare a picnic in one of the city parks. You can go shopping in the fancy Alonso de Córdoba neighborhood, or in one of the many modern shopping centers of the city
The diet for this type of expeditions is mainly based on stews, carbohydrates, soups, salads, and meat. Since one of the biggest setbacks Ampascachi has in this trip is keeping their food at the right temperature, legumes are also a very good option because there is no refrigeration and everything must be carried on mules. There is a hearty breakfast that includes coffee, tea, cereals, yogurt, cheese, cured meat, and juice.
If you have specific requirements for your diet (celiac, diabetes, food allergies, vegetarian, etc.) please let Ampascachi know upon booking.
Gov. Francisco Gabrielli International Airport (El Plumerillo)
Please arrange your flight to arrive at Gov. Francisco Gabrielli International Airport (MDZ). You can book your holiday program at Ampascachi with or without international flights. Flights need to be booked apart, dates of arrival and departure depend on the dates of the beginning and end of the chosen program. You need to book your flights yourself and choose an airline that you think is best for you.
Ampascachi will be happy to help with information and recommendations if required. Ampascachi has special agreements with travel agencies and airlines that fly from Europe to Argentina, they can offer flight prices that you can either accept or not. If you wish to receive recommendations, please send Ampascachi an inquiry.
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