To ride over the Andes on horseback is a fantastic adventure and one steeped in history; you’ll be following in the footsteps of such famous names as General José de San Martin, one of the two greatest liberators of South America, and Charles Darwin, who was midway through his famous voyage of discovery. During the ride you’ll see Condors soaring in the clear blue skies, wild llamas grazing on the hillside and witness some of the world’s most panoramic views.
Min / Max group size
4 / 10
When to travel
15-Nov to 15-March
Number of days
4 days / 3 nights
You’ll be met in San José de Maipo by your guide Chano Quintana, you’ll then drive up into the mountains into the national park of El Morado. Here you’ll meet your horses and Guaso (Chilean cowboys) guides, Hugo and Claudio, before mounting up and setting off on the ride over the Andes.
During the ride over the Andes you’ll cross two vast lines of mountains with a long valley between them. This first day will be spent climbing up the first of these lines. The Chilean-Argentine border is at the the top, just over 4,000 meters above sea level, here you’ll have a quick change of horses and meet Mingo your gaucho (Argentine cowboy) guide. You’ll then ride down the bleak mountain side to the valley of the Tunuyan river, which this time of year is a lush green.
Night camping at Paso de las Obejas
Ride down through the valley of the Tunuyan river. Here, almost for certain, you’ll see Guanacos (wild llamas) wandering along the mountainside and the condor, emperor of Andean sky, circling above. Darwin mentioned this spot in his book ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’. He commented on how long it took to boil water; his gaucho companions put it down to local demons.
Night at old army barracks
In the days when Argentina was at loggerheads with neighbouring Chile the long Andean border was hotly contested – in parts it remains so today. There was a lot of chest beating, though fortunately no serious fight was started and both countries fortified the border, which is how La Cruz barracks came about. There is only a small contingent of soldiers today and the very sturdy building remains as a useful stop off for those crossing the Andes.
Today is the toughest day of riding. Leaving the barracks behind you’ll start the slow climb up the first line of the Andes; zigzagging up the mountains to the pass of Portillos, around 4,500 metres above sea level, before dropping down to the green mini plateau known as Yareta – riding time: 8 hrs
Night at Yareta
Yareta is a small area of flat land surrounded by the towering Andes. In the old days it was where the gauchos used to group cattle together before herding them over the Andes to Chile. It has an extraordinary cloud formation where due to pressure from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the clouds come up from further down the mountains and then drop down behind you. It gives you the uncanny feeling they are circling below you, like you are on some sort of island in the sky. It’s a beautiful spot and you’ll camp using the old gaucho corrals as a windshield.
The final day of the ride over the Andes will be down the stony track to the mountain town of Manzano Historico, named after an apple tree that General San Martin rested under on his way back from liberating what is today Chile & Peru.
End of trip
- Price includes – All food & beverages (including wine in the evenings). All activities mentioned in the itinerary. All tax.
- Price does not include – International flights to Argentina. Transport to San José de Maipo or from Manzano Historico. Personal medical insurance (compulsory). Any visa fees and extras such as tips, laundry etc.
Prices are quoted in US dollars.
- Sleeping bags and other personal camping kit are not included.
- This is a physically demanding trip. Anyone thinking about attempting the trip needs to be in good physical condition; have experience in high altitudes and most importantly be accustomed to long hours in the saddle.
This program is an example of one of many programs we organize round Argentina. All our trips are tailor-made and we can adapt all our programs to your specific needs. And, if you would like help organizing transport, accommodation or any other activity in any other part of the country we would be very happy to help.