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Get ready for a strenuous riding adventure, 150 kilometers from Valparaiso and Santiago, into the wild Andes range at the “Los Patos” Spot where this spectacular expedition across the Andes begins. In an extraordinary journey right out of the history books, follow the footsteps of the Army of Liberation that freed Chile from the Spanish crown in 1817. During this fantastic nine-day expedition over the roof of America, glimpse the life-styles of “huasos” or Chilean cowboys and “gauchos” or Argentinean cowboys.
The accommodation is always based in double rooms for hotels and tents. Full camping gear, except for your personal sleeping bag and mattress, will be provided. You will be staying for one night in Uspallata Hotel in Argentina.
Travel in the shadow of glacier-capped Andean peaks such as Mercedario mountain (6,770 meters) and Aconcagua (7,050 meters), the Western Hemisphere’s highest mountain, fording rivers that rush through the arid lower ranges after tumbling off rocky summits frozen in eternal snows. In the midst of wind and cold to temper your spirits, you will be amazed by the variety of native wildlife to these heights, such as guanacos, vizcachas, and condors, keeping watch on their lofty domains.
Riding from Chile to Argentina, you will go through a close mountain range full of surprises and delightful places that are an invitation to rest. You will ride along rivers and streams, narrow paths with plentiful vegetation, and short bushes surviving to low temperatures, snowfalls, and winter winds. As you are climbing, leave behind the few trees you can see to move on to a wonderful color spectrum that dye the hills.
Crossing and descending to Argentina is to open a door to a big show of great mountains, big glaciers, and snow in contrast with wide and green valleys. Moving on and climbing again to 4,500 meters high through “El Espinacito”, pass by riding loyal horses will make you thank eternally for all the effort made by these powerful native horses.
When you reach the top of the slope, you will be able to watch such a magnificent show opening under your feet that will not be hard to understand the silence of the tourists. The excitement, tears, and hugs will make you become aware and remember that you are in the heart of the Andes, surrounded by the main heights where the value and merit of this trip is that you can live a different landscape every day.
Depart in the afternoon from your hotel to San Felipe, an area of vineyards in the Aconcagua Valley. Then, continue to Putaendo, later, head to Los Patos, and after an evening of getting to know each other over dinner and refreshments, camp for the night.
Here, the Chilean muleteers are waiting for you to load up the animals beginning this adventure. Ascend from the Chalaco River to arrive later in Maiten Bonito (2200 masl). Cross the river several times and go through Maitenese forests. The most typical aspect of this landscape is semi-desert vegetation, a lot of cactus and scarce vegetation. Camp and dinner around a friendly campfire.
After a strong breakfast, continue following the course of the Chalaco river passing through Colorada pass (3,530 meters). Here, you will have to get off your horses and walk since the track is located more than 1000 meters over the river.
During the journey, the vegetation is lower and you can appreciate small bushes which are the characteristic of the high Andean zone like the goat horn, thorny bushes, and the showy “yareta”. Then, you will continue the trip passing through “Las Vegas del Ciénago”. This place is covered with a large expanse of grass, contrasting with the mountains and the beautiful place to camp (2,550 meters). There, you will report with the Chilean frontier guards and set up camp and dinner in the same place.
Early in the morning, continue following the course of the Rocín River until the Chile-Argentina frontier (3,300 meters). The animals will ascend slowly through narrow paths. Grass and bushes start to run short but not small flowers that emerge and surprise you. Meet the Argentinean “gauchos” in the boundary.
It will be inevitable not to compare the Huasos and Gauchos clothes and also the way of loading the mules. It will be surprising to watch the different styles of loading, riding the saddles, and then the change of loading and riding animals to start the descent in Argentinean territory until Valle Hermoso, passing through a volcano river. Set up camp and have dinner but before, you must show the documentation in Ingeniero Sardinas Lodge (2,600 meters).
Today will be an active, resting day. You can get up later and have breakfast outdoors. Walk, in order to become acclimatized and have a wonderful view of the valley and its surroundings; have trips by surrounding areas. As a way of knowing better the zone, there will be a practice and explicative speech about map reading, distance calculatión, and then use a compass and emergency signals as a part of the essential knowledge for the highland survival camp and dinner.
Very early in the morning, begin the crossroad again. Here, the herb's green will admire you with grass fields surrounded by puddles and a great variety of birds. Discover an intensive subaquatic and aquatic life in this valley which makes a contrast with the imposing mountain range of Cerro La Mesa (6,280 meters).
The crossroad continues rising by Los Patos river to later arrive in Los Patillos river, which will approach you to the last mountain range that is left to rise: the large fertile plain of La Honda pass. Set up camp at the base of Rancho de Latas.
This day, the journey will be very hard for the animals because you must rise to Espinacito range going through sinuous hillsides by La Honda Pass at 4,500 meters. The ascent is sometimes dramatic when you see the big effort animals make. Rest and then continue the trip to reach the top of the mountain.
From this point, have a spectacular view of the Andes mountain range. Afterward, begin to descend until Las Leñas River and reach, at last, El Peñón, where you will camp.
Today will be the last journey in terrain. After leaving camp, continue by Las Leñas River arriving in Manantiales. Beautiful fertile plains are placed at this altitude. Here, you can see one of the most amazing rock formations in the entire journey. It’s really like being in the far west. Afterwards, descend to Hornillas, through the black pampa where a vehicle waits to take you to Barreal Pèqueño oasis en Medio de áridas montañas hacen sobresalir esta area, continue the journey by minibus to Uspallata. Arrive at the Uspallatas hotel and spend the night.
After breakfast, prepare to return from Uspallata to Santiago, crossing the frontier through the Los Libertadores. This track is a work of art built in the middle of the mountains. In the Argentinian side, it ascends right to the pass, on the Chilean side, it is made of big curves to get to Los Libertadores Customs where you will have to show your passports once more and do the migration procedures. Descend through the Andes Mountain Range in the Chilean side which has more vegetation but it is at the same time steeper for the end of the tour
Andes Riding will do everything possible to follow the indicated itinerary, although spot changes can occur due to unforeseen circumstances. Rides are subject to change depending on weather, location, and difficulty of the terrain. In the unlikely event that this happens on your trip, you are asked for flexibility and understanding; this is a sporty and adventurous vacation!
José Tomás was born in a mountaineer family and has been in contact with nature his whole life. His passions are horses and mountains so it is very usual to see him climbing summits or just relaxing on a riding day with some friends. He is licensed in ecotourism with an Ecotourism Management Degree from UNAB, Chile. He also has a qualification as a Wilderness First Responder and a trekking and horseback riding guide with more than 15 years in the tourism industry.
Full board meals are included in the package. Meals will include proteins, fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, sugar, eggs, milk, cheese, etc.
Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport
Please arrange your flight to arrive at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL). Transfers are included in the package, you may also give Andes Riding your address so you can be picked up there.
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