Ruta "Valle de Los Patos"
Crossing The Andes by "Patos Valley" border pass "Valle Hermoso"
Province Mendoza and San Juan - Argentina Season 2016/2017
The horseback riding "Crossing the Andes Mountain Range", starts and finishes in Mendoza - Argentina. The expedition arrives until the international border between Argentina and Chile and comes back on horses for the argentinian side. We will ride through the Aconcagua region up to the Chilean border. Here stands the most massive and immense mountains in America, including its tallest peak, the Aconcagua (23,000 ft). Riding at heights over 4000 meters. (13,100 ft). It is in these uninhabited places, which you can only reach on horseback, where huge herds of guanacos roam freely and the Andean condor nests. Only in unique places like this can you enjoy watching them in plenitude.
This is also a place where history was written. In 1817, the Los Andes Army, led by San Martin (Gral. Liberator) crossed through this exact same spot on their way to liberate Argentina, Chile and later Peru from the Spanish Conquistadors. The setting offers a glimpse of the efforts our Fathers of Independence had to overcome. As the sun sets, the spectacular stars of the southern hemisphere will cover the sky. Relax at the camp with its peaceful atmosphere. The campfire lightens up the darkness as you share a cup of coffee or tea. All this creates the ideal ambiance to feel the timeless spirit of nature and make new friends.
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. Altitude above sea level: Mendoza 746 m. (2,500 ft).
Day 1: Mendoza - Las Hornillas
In the morning the expedition begins with a meeting during which you will get to know the members of the trip and we will check your equipment before leaving. Then we will drive in a private vehicle towards the Uspallata valley and the Barreal. The trip will lead us to the heart of the fabulous Andes mountain ranges though the international road to Chile. During the trip we will pass through Potrerillos, the Uspallata valley, Pampa del Leoncito and the town of Barreal. During the early afternoon a four-wheel drive bus, will transfer us from Barreal to Las Hornillas (Álvarez Condarco, San Juan Province). Overnight in tents. Dinner: Argentinean Welcome Barbecue (The famous asado). Distance: Mendoza to las Hornillas: 350 km. to the North. Duration of the trip in vehicle: approximately 6 hours. Altitude above sea level: Las Hornillas 1920 m. (6,300 ft).
Day 2: Las Hornillas - Manantiales
Pack mules and horses will be waiting for you near "Las Hornillas", ready to go. We prepare the loads and all the equipment necessary for the expedition that will be carried on mules and then we will start the first day on horseback towards the highest Andes peaks. We will settle our first camp at Manantiales. Dinner: Braised barbecue "asado". Riding time: approximately 5 hours. Altitude above sea level: Manantiales 2600 m. (8,500 ft).
Day 3: Manantiales - Vegas del Yeso
Along with the rising sun we will start the most intensive day of the expedition. We will walk along a gorge where the river Las Leñas flows. After lunch the path gets rockier, we will cross several times the same river. The horses walk on the slippery rocks with an incredible assurance. Passing the Cordón del Espinacito, we ride along the big mountain crest until reaching a pass at an altitude of 4500 meters. Then, suddenly, on the other side of the mountain appears a vast and imposing valley with magnificent colors. We ride down towards our next camp sourrounded by good pastures for our horses. The night falls and the flames of the fire warm us up, while the guide prepares a delicious and comforting meal typical in the Andes. Riding time: approximately 9 hours. Altitude above sea level: Vegas del Yeso 3350 m. (11,000 ft).
Day 4: Vegas del Yeso - Valle de los Patos
Today we will be able to admire the highest mountain in the American continent, the Aconcagua with a height of 6962 meters. Then passing the Yeso hills, we arrive to the vast and imposing "Valle de los Patos" (The valley of the ducks) where we set up our camp on the bank of the river bearing the same name, near National Gendarmerie's refuge "Engineer Sardinas". This large valley with luxurious pastures and lush green colors, make it one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. The tranquility, silence and mild climate of this place make it the perfect place to rest. La valley de los Patos will be our base for 3 days. Riding time: approximately 5 hours. Altitude above sea level: Valle de los Patos 2650 m. (8,700 ft).
Day 5: Valle de los Patos - International Border - Valle de los Patos
We ride westwards until the Valle del River Volcano (Valley of the volcano river) from where you will enjoy a unique view over the Aconcagua. After four days of horse riding, we approach the border to Chile (Argentinean-Chilean frontier). From here, looking behind you, you can admire a fantastic valley surrounded by snow-covered mountains, and in front of you, you can see exuberant landscapes with green pastures full of flowers with streams passing through. Riding time: approximately 9 hours. Altitude above sea level: Argentinean/Chilean border Paso Valle Hermoso 3500 m. (11,500 ft).
Day 6: Valle de los Patos: Day of rest
Today with the expedition leader we will do some trekking and learn about the flora and fauna of the mountains. Upstream of the river, we reach a place where you can often find trout, try your luck fishing with a fishing rod or just a thread with lead or hook. Trout caught today will be dinner to night.
Day 7: Valle de los Patos - Rancho de Lata
From the valley de los Patos we undertake our return, coming back to the high Andes peaks. We spend the night at the "Rancho de Lata". Riding time: approximately 5 hours. Altitude above sea level: Rancho de Lata 3300 m. (10,800 ft).
Day 8: Rancho de Lata - Manantianles Last camp)
Once again we undertake the ride on the high Andes crests, reaching 4300 meters, passing the Paso Honda (Sling Pass). This place of unequaled beauty is surrounded by impressive landscapes and a multitude of colors. The horses, with a firm and steady step, walk down along the steep mountainside. Riding time: approximately 9 hours. Altitude above sea level: Manantiales 2600 m. (8,500 ft).
Day 9: Manantiaales - Las Hornillas - City of Uspallata
This will be our last riding day, after the incredible Andes crossing we will ride the last four hours of our trip until we reach the vehicle which will transfer us to "El Barreal" and later on to the Uspallata valley. We will celebrate the end of the riding adventure with a farewell dinner in a pleasant mountain hotel where we will spend the night (double bedrooms). Duration of the trip: approximately 4 hours. Altitude above sea level: Uspallata1900 m. (6,200 ft).
Day 10: Uspallata - Mendoza
We will return to Mendoza in a private vehicle which will mark the end of our most thrilling Andes adventure. Duration of the trip: approximately 2 hours. Altitude above sea level: Mendoza 746 m. (2,500 ft).
You don't need to be a superb athlete, but you do need to be in a good health condition, so that you can enjoy a 10-days expedition in direct contact with nature, far away from daily comfort or commodities (For example: It is necessary to mount and get off a horse many times a day, sleep in tents etc.). The land we will cross has varied terrain such as crossing of rivers, ascents and descents on narrow and steep paths. This is not difficult for the horses, as theses mountain horses are used to the climbs.
The days vary between 4 and 9 hours on horseback. The maximum altitude above sea level is 4500 meters (15,000 ft). We put the Andes crossing in the category "moderate difficulty".