Paso Los Libertadores Crossing the Andes from Valparaiso to Mendoza

Los Libertadores
One of the highest Border Crossings in the World, this also was an amazing and scenic Landscape. The Paso Los Libertadores. A trip I would recommend anyone doing, it really is a Bus trip that anyone should add to there list.

When I first started planning this whole trip, I was really just looking at where I can cross from Chile to Argentina. Somehow the Border from Santiago to Mendoza appealed to me. And I did not think any further. Who would? Well it turns out you are crossing the Paso Los Libertadores is one of the highest Border Crossing. During the Winter Month this Paso (Crossing) is often closed, due to heavy Snow fall. Winter in this part is from June to August.

Turns out I go lucky. But more to that later.

The Bus left Valparaiso (it would be the same for Santiago) at 8am in the morning. It was still dark. However the Bus Station was already Buzzing. I was extremly nervous, and was wondering the whole time, if I would acctually be able to make it across. I meet a Canadian Couple who had the same wish as I did, just to get going and on with it. The previous day they had meet two other Canadians, who had returned to Valparasiso. Not only once but twice.The Bus will go no matter what the Weather Conditions are, as they are so variable especially in Winter. Once the Bus gets to the Border, it will either keep on going or turn around, and drive back the same 4 hour trip that is came from.

I honestly hoped for better luck. The Weather had been good the last Couple of Days, the temperatures High and it had not snowed for the last few, I felt like I had a good chance. The ticket was booked  July 18, proposing the trip by one day for one reason. At the time of you Booking you choose your seats, on the Friday there where no more front row seats available. Let me explain; a lot of Tour Bus Companies have Double Decker Buses, which allow you to sit above the Driver, and the best view; right at the front on the Top. Seat 12 was still available on the Saturday. I went for it. I had heard the scenery was stunning and beautiful, a drive to remember. Let me telll you I did not get disappointed. (So if you are planning this trip get your tickets early; a couple days, in summer maybe more, to grab the best seats in the House.)

The first part of the Trip went by quite unevenful, as with the motion of the Bus it lead to a short early Morning nap. We got served some coffee, but somehow the Hot Water was missing, or maybe it was because I had fallen asleep that I never recieved any. From Valparaiso you first head to Vina del Mar, as well as one other small town, before the long road comes towards the Border. But even here there are some small views of the stunning scenery that is about to be shown.

As we went further and further into the Andes it became more breathtaking by the minute. The Snow covered Landscape added to the whole feel. And this really did add to the whole feel of it all. The higher you got the more Snow was on the side of the Roads and you could slowly understand the whole reason why it was so hard in winter.

The real understanding was at this point. YES those lines along is the Road. There was a total of 28 Curves going up, something I really don’t want to have to drive up in the snow or at night. Right above our heads there was one of the many Ski Lifts. Insteresting was my thought on this.

Today was a lucky day! We made it through the Chilean border, and entered Argentina. This means the Paso Los Libertadores was open today, making me very happy, not having to turn around.

A long while into Argentina, or I will call it the – no mans land of in between – , the actual border crossing came. As we arrived you already saw the long line of Buses and Cars, we where where told to get out and go to the Bathroom and have something to eat at one of the places if we wanted to. Besides that after around 4 hours on the Bus it was nice to just be able to stretch you legs.

This was probably the longest Border Crossing I have ever participated in. From the time the Bus had arrived it took another hour until we where able to proceed through to Immigration. Everyone lined up. First stop leaving Chile. Lining up again and entering Argentina. The funny thing was that these two immigration officers where sitting right beside each other in a booth. And it would have been easy to just cross from one window to the next without lining up again. Besides the point of only having one Immigration officer for the whole bus of around 50 people. It defintally took its time. After this step was complete, everyone got back on the Bus only to get of another 15 minutes later, where all the luggage was offloaded of the Bus and scanned. A Bag inspection was also done. Really it was more of a glance in the Bag. By the time this was all completed 3,5 hours had passed and we where able to leave the Border Crossing at 3:30 pm. Or approximate arrival time in Mendoza was suppose to be 4pm. A time that would have only been made if we would have driven straight through the Border without stopping.

As we entered the Argentina part of the Andes you could see the changes in the Landscape. It became a lot more Canyon like, the Rock more Red. The Valleys a lot more spread out.

El Rapio ( the Bus) arrived Mendoza at 7:30pm. It was already dark, and the last memorable view was the Sky changing colors. And let’s be honest after that Journey I was happy to have arrived, it was a long day and drive.

Another Lucky Star helped me when my seat Neighbor had not not booked a hostel, an decided to join me to the Hostel I had pre booked. That way I did not have to walk by my self though dark Mendoza and felt a lot safer. At the Hostel not only were we greeted with a Glass of Wine but the Canadian Couple I had meet that morning, was sitting on he couch waiting to check in. The night ended with Wine and good stories!

What did I learn from this; sometimes you just have to take a chance.
Arriving in Santiago, I was told that I would NOT be able to Cross into Argentina, as it was Winter and the only way to do it is to fly. AND I am so glad I did not listen to the advice and went for it. It truly was an amazing trip (long, YES) but worth it. It is one of those Jounrey’s that I would defiantly do again, during the day. I am glad I made it, as I really did not like the idea of Flying. Finding information about the Border Crossing was harder than I though, no one was able to help much so I consulted my friend Mr. Google. He lead me to two sites that I hope will be able to help you if you do decide to take this Crossing upon yourself. They certainly helped me, and they are also the reason I decided to risk it. I hope if you do decide to ever embark on this Jounrey that you will also get lucky.

Here are some Helpful Website to make you Los Libertadores Journey easier to plan:

• This is the Chilean Border Control Site: it has information about when the Border is open and Closed. As my Spanish is not good, I just used google translate to translate the whole Page.

• Check out this Page for an up to date Weather Forecast.
I was told that if the Weather Forecast is for a stretch of 5 days, you should try your luck and try to Cross.

If you do get unlucky the Bus will turn around at the Border and go back to your start destination. You will then get a refund and you can if you are up for it try again.

Still what ever you do and get the chance it is a trip and crossing that I found well worth it. You got to at least try! Now here in Mendoza, the Wine Country; with around 1000 wineries in the Area.

The Los Libertadores are very weather dependant but, worth the trip. It is all about Bus rides in South America.

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