Over the Andes – Santiago to Mendoza
Best for: wine-tasting, mountain walks, horseriding, views, dining
Route: Santiago – Chacabuco – San Felipe – Panquehue – Puente del Inca – Mendoza (Argentina)
When to Go? October to May, when there’s no snow on the Chile-Argentina border
Only the intrepid ride over the Andes at these altitudes. It takes days, leather buttocks and quite a lot of pesos, whereas the road trip from the Chilean capital to Mendoza, Argentina’s famous wine-making city, can be completed in six hours. Nevertheless, it’s worth giving yourself two-to-three days to pit stop, explore and enjoy the mountain views.
Along the route, see the Monument to the Chacabuco Victory, which honours the independence fighters who defeated Spanish royalists in 1817. Stop also at Panquehue, near San Felipe, for the two-hour tour of 136-year-old Viña Errázuriz, wandering its sun-kissed vineyards, then continue to the stunning Inca Lagoon at Portillo (a ski resort Jul-Sep).
After getting your passport stamped near the 3,810 m-high Bermejo Pass, be sure to go hiking around Argentina’s Puente del Inca (a natural stone bridge) in order to glimpse the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. Finish in Mendoza, which sits in the rain shadow of the Andes, and is a sedate, sun-baked city with some fine restaurants and cafés.