Crossing the Andes Mountain Range by "Piuquenes Pass"
Route "Tunuyan Valley" - 6 days
The high mountain pass "Portillo Argentino" (located in the Argentinean Range), is the gate to an old trail used by 'arrieros' (muleteers) 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 world where an ancestral culture of horsemen and mountain people is still alive, in harmony with the wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
The horseback riding "Crossing the Andes Mountain Range", starts in Argentina and ends in Chile. This expedition crosses the international border on horseback. We will ride above 4380 meters to cross the famous "Portillo Argentino". Duration: 6 days / 5 nights (05 days in the mountains on horseback)
The high mountain pass "Portillo Argentino" (located in the Argentinean Range), is the gate to an old trail used by 'arrieros' (muleteers) 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 world where an ancestral culture of horsemen and mountain people is still alive, in harmony with the wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. We are going to follow the history path, of those who bravely transited these mountains two centuries ago, integrating the columns of the Army of the Andes led by "Liberator General San Martin". Surrounded by mountains and nature, away from the bustle of the cities, you are going to enjoy a unique week. The horse becomes our faithful friend beside him discover the exciting gaucho life. The crossing can also be done on foot, with the support of animals in cargo.
The traditional "reales" (campsites), offer the opportunity to sleep by the fireside under the mountain sky. You will be able to experience and share the skills of the arrieros, from handling the horses to prepare "asado" (barbecue). We like to travel the old way, but with a twist: we take pack horses to carry the loads and cross the rivers, a good cook and set dining tents in the camps, along with mountain tents for the travellers. We also carry a satellite phone and offer to assistance for custom paperwork in Chile and Argentina. Mendoza is the starting point of this adventure. Owner of America's highest peak, "Aconcagua", it is a City world-renowned for its wines, ditches and tree lined streets. Its people will welcome you with warmth that characterizes it.
You have to arrive in Mendoza a day before to departure date. It's necessary to check equipment. We offer you add one night of accommodation, we can help you with this reservations and add this cost to the total rate.
Day 1: Mendoza - Manzano Histórico - Scaravelli
In the morning the expedition begins with a meeting during which you will get to know the members of the trip. Then we will drive in a private vehicle towards the “Manzano Histórico” (2 hs.), located in the “Valle de Uco” (Uco Valley). Uco Valley is a viticulture region southwest of Mendoza City in Argentina. It is widely considered one of the top wine regions in Mendoza, and all of Argentina. Here lies a Museum in memory of the liberator "San Martin", which will have a chance to visit. We arrive then at the Refugio Portinari (National Gendarmerie). Reception and presentation of guides and local muleteers that will be part of this spectacular expedition on horseback. Here we perform customs clearance and registration with the authorities of the National Gendarmerie. Dinner and bonfire.
Day 2: Scaravelli - Portillo Argentino - Real de la Cruz
Breakfast and enlistment of the horses to follow our route. This day we are going to climb to the "Portillo Argentino", rising to 4380 m.The mules help us to carry all the luggage. It is a pair of hour's uphill riding, with the reward of an astonishing view of the Andes and the border with Chile. Then it is a 5 hours plus riding (mostly in a downhill trail) to the valley of the Tunuyan River, where is the mountain shelter "Refugio Real de la Cruz". This rock shelter belonging to the Argentine Army, is used by adventurers, porters and mountaineers. We spend the night here and enjoy a dinner that will surely be energizing adorned by the experiences of this day for adventure. The evening may offer some songs and stories, since the refuge is a meeting point for muleteers and travelers. This will be the longest day on a horse (8 hours approx.).
Day 3: Real de la Cruz
The third day is for rest. They may choose to stay near the shelter or make a trek of recognition accompanied by the guide, identifying flora and fauna. After lunch we can participate in a demonstration of gauchos' skills (with 'lazo' and 'boleadoras'). Dinner and overnight at “Refugio Real de la Cruz”.
Day 4: Real de la Cruz - El Caletón
After breakfast in the shelter, we prepare the horses and mules for embarking the Tunuyán river crossing with the strong horses guided by the skillful muleteers. The ride continues through the viewpoint of "Mount Tupungato 6800 meters" and then following upriver the beautiful "Palomares" stream, until the last campsite in Argentinean territory: "The Caletón." If the weather allows, we can have a relaxing bath and "beauty treatment" in a stream with mineralized waters. It is a good opportunity to sleep by the campfire and under the stars. Rest, night in tents.
Day 5: El Caletón - International Border - Termas del Plomo (Chile)
Departure towards the Argentinean - Chilean Border. Another big challenge lies ahead on the fifth day. Departure to Step Piuquenes to 4030 m., boundary between Argentina and Chile. At noon we will enjoy a unique lunch at the border marker. For sanitary and custom regulations, the horses can’t cross from one country to another, so we have to change the animals at the international boundary. New Chilean horses and Chilean muleteers guides will lead us going down to the river "El Plomo” in Chilean territory, the final leg of the expedition. After crossing the river, private vehicles are waiting for us. Move by track to the Cajón del Maipo, the “Embalse del Yeso” (reservoir) coasting to San Gabriel, people carrying out customs formalities where we complete custom paperwork at the Police office. Accommodation in a beautiful complex of cabins and farewell dinner at local restaurant.
Day 6: Transfer Cajón del Maipo (Chile) / Santiago de Chile
Transfer to Santiago and end of the program. Optional transfer to Mendoza (consult).