I woke up to heavy the rain, that as a desert region Mendoza desperately needs, and thought my weather luck had ended. I have been told to make sure I took the bus from Mendoza to Santiago during the day as the journey was beautiful. Here was I with my sixth day of overcast weather and the first day of heavy rain. I really thought my weather luck had deserted me but if there is a lesson to be learnt then it is don’t assume the weather will be the same over the course of a 500km journey especially when traversing one of the biggest mountain ranges in he world. You can see my view from the photos below.
I was sat next to Miri from Germany, who is studying in Mendoza and was visiting her boyfriend in Santiago. She was an avid rock climber and had been in the Andes several times and gave me advice on how to do the hikes as well as asked her boyfriend for advice about hikes in Chile. We bonded over the forever present disused train line. Both of us would rather have taken the train and I get really sad when I see lines are no longer used as they are in much of Argentina. Trains are the perfect transport for a country of this size.
As we approached Potrerillos the weather started clearing and I even began to see some of the huge snow capped mountains in the distance.
There are two mountain ranges that we needed to traverse the Andes and the older Precordillera mountain range that is closer to Mendoza. We stopped in the town of Uspallata that sits on the crossroads and the driver cleaned it the front window before we started through the pass.
All the trees you see in the photos above are not natural to the area, it is a dessert after all. We soon left the town boundaries and approached the Andes.
And then things started to become really beautiful!
As I mentioned above you can still see the old train infer-structure, especially the bridges.
And we passed many of the sites along the road including the biggest mountain outside of Asia, Aconcagua standing at 6900 metres. Miri told be about her trip to the mountain and I regretted not taking the bus due to nerves. It left at 6am and the pickup was a little down the road but I was unsure. If I do get a chance to return anywhere on this journey to view missed opportunities then this will be the first place.
Just an example to show the difficulties of getting good shots from a moving bus, but I think this came out quite well.
Then it was time to cross the border to the Chilean side. It was a quick crossing with no issues but I was sad to not get an exit stamp from Argentina.
I had been told that this journey in winter would be scary due to the snow. I didn’t really understand until I saw this little climb, well descent in my case, on the Chilean side. 27 steep turns and no crash barriers!
But it was fine and the driver reached the bottom like a pro and soon we were checking out the sites on the way to Santigo.