I'm keen to cycle from Santiago to Buenos Aires in the coming months, hopefully before the weather turns too cold. Does anybody have any experience with crossing the pass between Santiago and Mendoza? I believe it's called Paso Internacional Los Libertadores and is 3,200m elevation. In May is it likely to get closed due to snow at all?
Browsing the web I haven't found any accounts of cyclists riding over it, although I don't see why it can't be done. Looking at the map it seems that the last town in Chile, Los Andes, to the first town in Argentina, Mendoza, is a distance of roughly 200 miles / 300 km. With all the climbing as well this means I cannot ride it in a single day - do you think I'd be able to camp, or could I do something like hitch a ride at the end of the day, then hitch a ride the following morning back to where I left off?
Any other advice for me regarding the route/weather/sites of interest etc.?
If you look at the web page it says that traffic now travels through tunnels, and the original pass is only open during summer for tourist traffic. I would expect that it would be snowed in for quite a few months of the year....
An alternative pass, similar height, is Paso Pehuenche, closed for at least 4 months in 2013 due to snow causing damage to the road and infrastructure. However my daughter was able to ride it by bike in late November 2013 - she camped for 2 nights between the two border stations, in 'no man's land'. there was snow on the ground up high.
Here is a blog of the ride by another cyclist who got a lift - but there was lots of traffic that weekend (February) because of a fiesta at the top. She has lots of photos showing what the road and pass are like.
My daughter saw no cars at all one day while cycling from Argentina into Chile...
Hi paul! you whrite me by mail and i saw it. Between Los Andes and Mendoza there`s 300km, but between there's some villages where you can sleep and they have the basic services, For example in Chile you have a ski center called "Portillo" , after that you have the custom house (basic services) , In Argentina you have "Puente del Inca" (restaurant, basic services, police , sleep, medic center) , "Penintentes" is also a ski center ,"Punta de Vacas"(police), "Polvaredas" (police) , The bigges town is "Uspallata" where you have 3 campings , medic center, supermarket , touristic information, restaurants, bank, hotel and casino if you want ) , between Uspallata and Mendoza's city is "Potrerillos" a touristic village where you have a lot of services and campings.
In may starts the winter season, so the pass is open from 9.30 to 20.30 , and it's very cold . You will have extreme temperatures, maybe you can cross in a truck.
Both of you, thank you so much for the replies and information. I would have responded sooner, but I´ve been riding through the beautiful Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains of Guatemala without access to the internet for a while.
It seems that although it will be a challenge, it is possible to cross the Andes on this route. I hadn´t found much information on the internet so it is fantastic to hear from you guys who have experience with the area. I have another month before I will be travelling down to Chile so I have plenty of time to process the information and prepare for the challenge.
Again, thanks guys.
As mentioned there are plenty of places to stay between Los Andes and Mendoza. Plenty of people do the crossing - in summer it's a procession of cyclists - it might be a bit quieter in May though! The tunnel can get closed off during winter for days, sometimes for a week or more but it's notable enough for it to make the news here in BA when it happens. You will have to be escorted through the tunnel in a vehicle - if its closed and you're impatient you can try the dirt track that goes over the Cristo Redentor pass, (off to your right before you get to Chilean immigration - make sure you stamp out first) I remember it being about an 8km climb from the Argentinian side and quite a loose gravelly track, I did it in December so lord only knows what it would look like in May.
The crossing in general is quite easy, though you'll have the steeper climbs coming from Santiago. Make sure you have lights and a mirror as there are several tunnels to protect the highway from landslides/avalanches on the Chilean side that are very dark and don't have shoulders as I recall.
I confirm what was said : you hae some villages between Los Andes and Mendoza. And really good parillas in Uspalatta!!
We did it in April 2012, one (hard) day between Los Andes and the chilean side of the tunnel. We slept there in old buildings that are empty. The day after we choose to not take the tunnel and climbed to the christ. We had snow for the last 100 meter desnivel. And then, it goes down until Uspalata, making it very easy!!
Que la vaya bien! :-)
Paul & Simon - a little late, but also thanks for your replies. I'm now in Santiago. I'll first have a quick explore of the coast, before turning inland and going over the pass. I think I'll aim to ride from Los Andes to the abandoned huts close to the tunnel, then the following day ride up the extra few switchbacks to the statue and over the tunnel. Hopefully the weather makes this possible. I'll leave another comment on here in a week or so once I'm enjoying some Mendoza wine!
Hey cycling nuts,
I am thinking of doing a similar trip in a few weeks here, am not sure its possible and wondering what you think. I am planing meeting a friend in Santiago to pick up my bike on the 29th of September, then I would ride, solo, back to Mendoza. Does anyone know if the pass would be ridable that early in the season? Also what maps are people using of this route? I have heard ACA are good for Argentina and Kopec are good in Chile. Any advice you have would be appreciated!
I am pretty sure that the old pass is still closed now, probably till November. But the tunnel is always open except after heavy snow fall. The maps you mention are good. But you don't need a map for this route.
behind this link you will find the Copec maps of Chile, that you can print on A4 paper. If you select in the 'de rutas' menu Valparaiso Santiago, then you will find the map with the pass on it.