Crossing the Andes by bus
When the combined Argentinian and Chilean armies crossed the Andes mountain range into Chile into 1817, it would lead to the downfall of Spanish control and independence for the country. When I did it, it would just lead to another stamp in my passport.
Oh, and a bunch of nice photos of the scenery.
I bet the guys in the army didn’t get any nice photos! (Partly because they were probably too busy worrying about that whole war thing… and partly because portable cameras had yet to be invented… but still.)
I’ve been on a lot of long bus rides during my time in South America but none has been as scenic and stunning as the one from Mendoza in Argentina to Chile’s capital, Santiago.
You see the mountains in the distance before you reach them. They’re imposing enough on the horizon.
When the ascent begins, though, you start to appreciate the scale of what you’re about to traverse.
Normally I might fall asleep on a bus trip, or watch the movie. In this case the scenery is enough to keep you awake. And the movie was a terrible Nicolas Cage one.
It’s amazing to see the small houses dotted through the mountains. How anyone could live in such remote and difficult conditions is unfathomable.
Then again, they would have some of the best views in the world – the ochre of the earth, the white of the snow, and the blue of the sky.
The highway winds through the natural contours of the landscapes, past rivers and lakes, and through canyons. At one point we drive under an awning built to protect vehicles from landslides.
Another time we drive through a tunnel through a mountain, where man has rebelled against nature and created an artificial shortcut.
Argentina Chile border crossing
As we cross from Argentine in Chile there are no shortcuts, though. The border crossing is notoriously slow but I was still surprised at the three hour wait we had while officials stamped passports and checked bags for any contraband food.
Chile is an island in some senses – a desert to the north, a sea to the west, the end of the world to the south and the Andes to the east.
Their agriculture is protected by these natural boundaries and they are very strict about what people can bring in with them.
The descent from the border into Chile is a somewhat dizzying affair. Maybe it’s the high altitude, the winding roads, or just the excitement to be in a new country, but I get a bit light-headed the closer we get to Santiago.
There’s a new adventure waiting ahead in Chile. What away to start it!
20 thoughts on “Crossing the Andes”
We only got to do the crossing from Bolivia to Arica but saw some spectacular scenery there as well – funny, the checkpoint looks almost exactly the same! The Andes are so beautiful!
It does make a border crossing a lot more enjoyable when you’ve got scenery like that! Such a beautiful place. Maybe I’ll get to do the Bolivian crossing one day too.
Wow, gorgeous landscape!
Thanks. It was quite an amazing bus trip.
What a wonderful trip! Beautiful photos — reminds me of when we were in the Andes in Peru. Have fun in Chile!
It seems that the Andes are stunning regardless of which bit you cross. I’m looking forward to seeing them in Peru at some point.
We did that same trip – incredible surroundings! It felt more like a tour than transportation!
Yeah, exactly! Perhaps people should do it just for the scenery, turn around and come back again! Or maybe we should start a business where we give a guided tour on the bus trip! 🙂
Stark, beautiful landscape. Reminds me a bit of the Musandam peninsula in Oman.
Oh really? I’ve never been to Oman. What’s similar about it?
What a beautiful landscape. I would love to see it in person.
The great news is that you can see it in person – and it’s all part of your regular transportation!
A tour with transportation indeed! Good shots. Did you get those out of the window on the bus or did you make them pull over every once in awhile.
Soo excited to see South America for the first time at the end of the year!
I wish I could have made the bus stop for my photos… although it probably would’ve added another 5 hours to the trip! They were all out the window.
You’re going to love it down here!
I love travelling in my car in Chile through the mountains and vineyards…..bit dangerous though as i’m always distracted! Any plans to turtle your way through Chile again?
I would love to head back to Chile sometime! It’s definitely one of the places I’ve been to recently where I already know what I would do on a second trip (more trekking in Patagonia and some time in the northern desert). Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long to get back there!
Thanks for sharing the photos, I can’t wait for my wife and I to be able to make the trip from Argentina to Chile
It’s funny how you get used to the long bus trips in South America. Even though they can feel like they’re dragging on, the scenery is normally stunning. And this is one of the best!
Killer photos. I hope the process of border crossing has sped up! I;m thinking of taking the bus tmrw. Feel free to visit my travel blog @ http://www.richtrek.com cheers!
Amo este país….todo ano dou uma passadinha por aí….È tão lindo, tão adiantado que não tenho palavras para definir o quanto amo o CHILE