Departure 08:31, Arrival 18:30.
Crossing the Andes between Valparaiso (Chile) and Mendoza (Argentina) was a unique and memorable experience. The journey provided magnificent mountain scenery, and included a close view of Mount Aconcagua (6,962 meters above sea level). Aconcagua is the highest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres.
The Andes is the longest mountain range in the world and the second tallest after the Himalayas. It extends nearly 7,000 kilometres from Central America to Cape Horn, traversing seven countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
The border between Chile and Argentina roughly follows the line along the highest peaks of the Andes. One of the most important crossings between the two countries is “Los Libertadores” (Chile) or “Uspallata” (Argentina).
Opened in 1980, the tunnel of the redeeming Christ is 3,080 metres (10,105 ft) long, and sits at 3,200 metres above sea level. At the middle of the tunnel is the national border between Chile and Argentina. The path can be closed during winter because of heavy snow that can block both ends. There is also the threat of closure due to rockfalls. It’s an inhospitable place in which to travel, to say the least.
The route, from the Chile side, first takes you up a series of hair raising 180 degree switchbacks before entering the tunnel. On the Argentinian side the road meanders down smoothly finally sweeping through the beautiful vineyards of Mendoza.
Next stage: Mendoza to Cordoba.