I never thought I would get to see the Andes, not in my wildest dreams. Aconcagua is the peak with its 6962 m above sea level, and thus, the highest peak in South America. Well, I’ve been to the Andes! The hike wasn’t very physically demanding. The view and the scenery however, were by far the most spectacular and breathtaking I’d ever seen, with the Valle de la Muerte in Atacama the top 5 list. Looking just like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle, I will never forget the profound sense of connection with nature I felt there. It made me wonder why, for heaven’s sake, we live in our ugly, jammed, skyscraper filled cities.
The national park can be reached from the Andes Mendoza, Argentina or from Santiago in Chile. Domestic flights in Argentina are extremely expensive because there are no low-budget airlines.
The plane ticket to the Mendoza is around 200 $, and the flight time is 1.45 h. If you are coming from Santiago, the Andes can be reached by car and public buses or you can hire a travel agency to take you on tour. The ride takes about three hours.
Just before the Chilean-Argentine border, at an altitude of 3200 m, you will pass the Los Libertadores pass, with its 29 turns.
The turns are even numbered! After this bumpy ride you get the exclusive ski resort of Portillo. Since we went in the summer season, there was no snow, obviously :))), but we had great coffee at the hotel, served with some delicious biscotti.
One week (including ski pass) for two people costs $2700, what a bargain! Not. The resort has a swimming pool, overlooking the nearby glacier lake. The view is absolutely amazing!
We’re approaching up to the border crossing. Chileans are very strict when it comes to food intake in the State, is not allowed to enter any products of animal and milk origin, or fruits and vegetables. So, nothing but water. It didn’t work for me on the way back because I had an excellent sandwich, which I didn’t eat until the end in the Andes. Too bad! At the border, you are taken away a paper visa, which is obtained by joining in Chile,
Btw, the visa itself looks like the receipt from the store and one should be very, very careful not to accidentally throw it away in the garbage can… Like I did :)))
When returning again, you’ll get stamp in passport, and that’s all. On the Argentinean border you get a watermark to get in Argentina and you are free to go. At the exit from the border there are several small restaurants, a gift shop and a public toilet in the restaurant. It’s clean. There we stopped to look at Puente del Inca, a natural bridge from the sediments.
Finally! We arrive in Parque Provincial Aconcagua.
Hike begins at a height of 2950 m, via the pass the end of the Great Lakes and lookout point, from which you can see the Aconcagua. Although it doesn’t appear to be so, the snow top of Aconcagua is a 300 m thick! Peace of cake, or peace of snow 🙂
Depending on the ticket, you have bought, you have the right to hike only certain routes, for example up to base camp 1 (Confluenca at 3400m).
Unfortunately, ours was to the bridge (about 3200 m), which is the base camp located just 30 min away by foot. The bridge was built for the needs of the shooting of the film “Seven years in Tibet”, one of my favorite movies. When I laid down on the you bridge I could feel it trembling, such a nice feeling, the wind gently blowing over me and the sun shining. Paradise!
It is possible to pay the organized tour on Aconcagua. The tour costs $3980 and takes 18 days. In addition. it’s necessary to buy a ticket (licence), whose price is $582 or $800 (15.12.-31.1.). The price doesn’t include the mole for the transfer of storage, as well as medical assistance, which until 2018. was free.