Aconcagua - With 6962 m The Highest Mountain On The American Continent
Towards the end of our trip we have to cross the Andes again from Chile to Argentina. As there are not that many choices we decide to take the Ruta 60 just a bit north of Santiago de Chile. This will bring us directly to Mendoza. A few weeks earlier a couple from Germany already made us aware about the fact that there is some construction work going on and we can only pass over at certain times. Meaning in fact that for 11 hours traffic is going in one direction and after a one hour break in between the traffic is going into the other direction.
Given the fact that this is one of the main crossings between Chile and Argentina we didn’t really believe what they where telling us - only to find out that it is true as we arrive around 3 pm in the afternoon. Not really a big deal for us as we have our home with us and the plan is to cross over at 8 pm that day.
We enjoy the sun, have something to eat, took a short nap before at 8 pm sharp the police opens the barrier and starts to escort hundreds of cars and lorries up the step slopes of the Andes. Up to more than 3000 meters above see level where the border crossing is located.
It is only when the convoy get's moving its way up the mountain when we realize that we have a problem with our car. The rear lights don't work - at all. Not a big issue going up the mountain as part of the convoy. Needless to say however, that there was no point in continuing much further than just beyond the border. Especially as suddenly the entire electric system stops working. OK, enough, just outside Puente De Inca we stop on a parking lot where according to our travel guide we were hoping to find a camping site - which is not here anymore.
After a pretty cold night in the Andes we wake up with the sun and try to investigate the problem after a short breakfast. We quickly realize that is is more complex than just a loose cable or a broken lamp. Not to loose any more time we decide to make the most of this beautiful day before we have to hit the road down to Mendoza.
Puente De Inca is Spanish and basically means the “Inca’s Bridge”. It is located next to the former spa the British built in the early 20th century. This was the hot spot for the wealthy society from around the world until an earthquake destroyed the place in 1953 . It was never rebuild.
The colors come from the sulfurous water from the hot springs. While in the past the water was used to cure certain illnesses the locals today use it to petrify all sorts of stuff including cups, cutlery, shoes and even back packs that they sell to tourists.
RN 60 across the Andes to Argentina is only open in one direction at the time.
Puente De Inca on the left next to an old British Spa from the early 20th century.
The colors come form the sulfurous water from the hot springs.
Used in the past to cure illnesses the locals today use it to petrify souvenirs.
4 - 4
For us the real attraction is the 6962 meter high Acogncagua. This is the highest mountain we have ever seen in our life. However, as you might see on some of the pictures it actually does not look very spectacular. We are already on more than 3000 meters and there is nothing really we can compare it to. Right now it is not really the season to climb the mountain - despite the great weather. Instead we do a walk from the gate to a view point. We can already feel the altitude as for the last few days we have been almost at sea level.
To break this record we take a narrow but pretty steep gravel road we climb up further. Our destination is the Cristo Rendentor Monument located around 4000 meters above sea level. Never before have we been at such an altitude and for sure not with a car. We are even more impressed to see small buses making their way up here.
Luckily we get up to the top early and so not a lot of people are up here. It’s only later on our way down that we realize that it’s weekend and even more buses making their way up to the top. This is one of the popular day trips from Mendoza as we find out later.
The monument was built pretty much on the boarder between Argentina and Chile as a symbol of peace between the two countries.
For us 4000 meters was not enough of course. Especially since we only did this by car. ;-) As there is a small hill to climb next to the monument we try to make our way up to the top on a small path. Very interesting experience to say the least. Of course our bodies had no opportunity to adjust to this altitude as we only arrived the night before. Every step up the hill feels like you are carrying some heavy back pack. Pretty quickly we get a headache and don't feel well. Combined with the strong and chilly wind we decide to make our way down again before we reach the summit. The lower we get the better we feel again. No surprise of course but still a very interesting experience.
We take a short walk right from the gate of PP Aconcagua.
Further into the valley we should have a better view.
Here it is, Aconcuaga, the highest mountain on the American continent.
We want to get even higher via this tiny little road.
The Cristo Rendentor Monument located around 4000 meters above sea level.
We try to get even higher but realize quickly that this is not such a good idea.
Hence we make our way down and continue to Mendoza.
7 - 7
Really lucky with the weather we have a fantastic drive through this spectacular mountain scenery all the way down to Mendoza. Our last stop and another opportunity to do some more wine tasting before hitting the road across the country back to Buenos Aires.