CROSSING THE HIGH ANDES
The mythical High Andes of Argentina and Chile over the remote Vergara Mountain Pass
This fantastic journey will take you over and through the Andes Range, over a little-used mountain pass (the Vergara Pass, at 2460 meters above sea level – 8070 feet). You will share the road with the desert wind, condors soaring high above, and your fellow cyclists. The tour begins in Malargue, a small city in the province of Mendoza, Argentina, bordering with the Northern edge of Patagonia. After 6 days of exhilarating cycling, we´ll arrive in Curico, Chile. The challenging climbing is rewarded by long downhill rides once we enter Chile. We will camp under incredibly huge skies, envolved in a magical setting of jagged peaks, snow-capped mountains and desolate desert landscapes.
Our experienced team of tour leaders, support staff and cooks work as an efficient team, always a step ahead of our guests´ needs. You will always have a team member nearby; if you prefer cycling alone, whether it be cycling strong at the front, or at your own relaxed pace in the rear, you will have this freedom.
Our team members will greet you around the next curve with an encouraging word and a friendly smile, supporting you every step of the way.
We have been successfully running this tour for years, so you can be assured that every detail has been thought of, letting you concentrate on fully enjoying your journey across the Andes, and to deeply experience our country and culture. Live this once-in-a-lifetime experience with us!
Guests starting with us in Buenos Aires will depart in our van on Friday afternoon. Our meeting point is in Buenos Aires (flight to, and accommodations in Buenos Aires are not included in tour price). We recommend flying to the city of San Rafael, in Mendoza Province. If you choose to fly to Mendoza, you must arrive in Malargue by Friday or Saturday. The nearest aiport is San Rafael, which is 180 km from Malargue. We can arrange for your transfer from San Rafael airport to Malargue for a aditional cost.
Difficulty Level: advanced
9 days, 8 nights
to be announced
Trip begins in: Malargue, Argentina
Trip ends in: Curico, Chile *
Flight-in city: San Rafael, Argentina
Flight-out city: Santiago, Chile
Please ask us about prices for private groups.
Spaces are reserved in order of arrival. To reserve your place, please complete the contact form; if you'd like to speak with us, please send the contact form, and we will gladly telephone you.
DAY TO DAY ITINERARY
(Saturday): Welcome to Malargue
We´ll arrive in Malargue in the afternoon, giving you free time to stroll the town, visit a museum or rest. Tonight we´ll be lodged at a local hotel. Dinner is on your own, so that you can visit the town and choose from the varied regional options. Malargue is famous for chivito, the local name for goat. Of course, you will also find the famous Argentine grilled meat here.
(Sunday): First stage from Malargue to Bardas Blancas
After our detailed welcome and safety talk, we begin biking from the town´s central square. The first stage involves leaving Malargue heading south, over the famous Route 40, which stretches the length of Argentina along the spine of the Andes from the border with Bolivia in the North, to the edge of the continent in Ushuaia, in the South. We´ll have the Andes Range in sight on our right, cycling over a paved road to the Chihuido Slope, climbing 550 ms (1804 ft) in the first 42 km (26 miles), and stopping for lunch after accomplishing this first stage. Our support team will prepare lunch and dinner every day we are cycling, welcoming guests at midday with a hearty outdoors lunch, and preparing dinner at our previously organized campsite in the evening.
Today´s ride ends by the Rio Grande at Bardas Blancas, a small border settlement where we will spend our last night near civilization. This also marks the end of the pavement – we´ll be on a dirt road from here on. During this first stage, the temperature will be around 30º Celsius (86º Fahrenheit) at day, and as low as 0ºC at night (32ºF).
67.5 km (42 miles) of cycling, with 774 ms (2,530 ft) of uphill riding, and 740 ms (2,420 ft) of downhill.
(Monday): Second stage from Bardas Blancas to Las Loicas
We´ll begin cycling at our campsite, our goal being to reach Las Loicas, the last border control in Argentina. The first 16 km of today´s ride is over a newly paved road, after which the road turns to dirt, with a river always snaking alongside it and within our site. As always, you can choose from cycling hard ahead of the pack, or at a relaxed pace, taking your time to snap pictures and marvel at the landscape. Our support vehicles will be used to move our equipment and baggage ahead as well as to give support to riders. Tonight we´ll set camp at a local puesto, basically a hamlet where locals will treat us with the famous chivito of Mendoza.
37.5 km (23 miles) of cycling, with 330 ms (1,080 ft) of uphill riding, and 160 ms (523 ft) of downhill.
(Tuesday): Into the Andes, from Las Loicas to Río Montañés
After crossing the Chico River, we´ll bike along its left margin, entering the Valle Grande. The scenery is amazing, with vast views of our desert landscape, strange rock formations and high snow-covered peaks all around us. The river is fed by snow-melt, and becomes clearer as we ascend. We will also cross large fields of sand, bike over long straight paths, and hopefully get a glimpse of the majestic Andean Condor, flying high above us near their nesting sites. Tonight we´ll camp near the Río Montañés, in this arid, almost surreal mountain setting. We´ll savour today´s success at our campsite, with a hearty, replenishing group dinner. Temperatures will be near 0ºC (32ºF) tonight, but we´ll sleep cozily in our warm sleeping bags.
49 km (31 miles) of cycling, with 620 ms (2,027 ft) of uphill riding, and 410 ms (1,340 ft) of downhill.
(Wednesday): The Thermal Baths of El Azufre
Today´s challenging stage will see us begin early, getting us ever closer to our ultimate goal. Our objetive will be the wonderful sulphuric hot baths under the Peteroa Volcano, which last blew ashes in the 90´s. We´ll see this amazing smoking massif high above us. The ride involves plenty of climbing, getting us into the very heart of the mountains. We´ll also see fields of volcanic stone and ash as we reach our campsite, which will be set up under a nearby glacier, with the hot baths at our reach. No better way to celebrate today´s accomplishments!
48 km (31 miles) of cycling, with 1,145 ms (3,745 ft) of uphill riding, and 455 ms (1,488 ft) of downhill.
(Thursday): Over the Andes, from Termas del Azufre to Río Teno
Emotion and excitement will abound us, as we finish our climbing and we leave Argentina across the border into Chile. This is the start of some amazing downhill riding! After 14 km we´ll reach the border control, as well as the tour´s maximum elevation of 2,465 ms above sea level (8,070 ft). The zig-zag downhill path will get your adrenaline flowing; but be sure to stop for the amazing views. We´ll arrive at our campsite near the famous Teno River, where olympic kayak teams train. One more night to replenish ourselves with a nourishing meal, enjoying the company of our group, which will by now be a unified team!
39.5 km (25 miles) of cycling, with 420 ms (1,374 ft) of uphill riding, and 1,620 ms (5,298 ft) of downhill.
(Friday): Río Teno to Curicó
More downhill riding on this last stage of our High Andes Crossing. Still, there are plenty of challenges, as we must carefully steer our bikes over the winding dirt road. The temperatures will rise today as we near sea level, so we´ll begin early to enjoy the swimming pool at the hotel this afternoon (well worth it!). The landscape will differ drastically, as we experience a change in vegetation in the more humid Chilean region. After crossing the town of Los Queñes, we´ll once again cycle over a paved road, with 26 km to go before reaching Curicó. The support team will await at the hotel with lunch prepared, ready to celebrate the success of our tour with champagne! After loading our bikes, you´ll have time for a relaxing shower, with a free afternoon to enjoy the pool, followed by a group dinner at our hotel.
68 km (42.5 miles) of cycling, with 420 ms (1,374 ft) of uphill riding, and 1,420 ms (4,644 ft) of downhill.
(Saturday): adiós to Chile
We´ll leave Curicó in our minibus, heading towards Santiago, where you can fly home or extend your travels in the amazing country of Chile. From the famous wineries of the Central Valley, to the deserts of the North and the glaciers of the South, Chile offers truly magical destinations. The van will continue from Santiago back to Mendoza, Argentina, travelling 600 km over a paved road, under the Aconcagua massif (the highest mountain in the Americas) and eventually back into the valleys of Mendoza Capital. We´ll arrive in the evening, spending the night in cabins.
(Sunday): back in Buenos Aires
After an early start in Mendoza, we expect to arrive in Buenos Aires around 10pm, travelling over paved roads throughout the day.
Difficulty Level: advanced
Days: 6 days of cycling
Distance per day: 50 km (31 miles) or more
Support vehicle: Available throughout the tour (3 vehicles will be supporting the group)
An advanced bike tour allows our guests to cycle at their own pace, but there will be an established minimum of 50 km per day to be covered (31 miles). You will need to be in good physical shape and have had previous experience in a challenging bike trip. You should also possess technical mountain bike skills, as we will cycle over dirt roads and trails. There will be stages with altitudes of between 2,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level (6,560-9,840 ft), as well as elevation gains of between 500 to 1,000 ms per day (1,640-3,280 ft).
- 13- to 18-person van equipped with tv and video
- Support vehicle equipped with two-way communication radio (everyday, with on-board service, including granola bars, fruits when possible, and other snacks and drinks)
- Mountain bike transportation during the extent of the tour
- Spare bike available (in case your breaks down)
- Bilingual Tour Leaders, equipped with two-way radios, and local guides
- All meals, at campsites, hotels or restaurants (except meals while on transit, dinner on Day 1 and lunch on Day 8)
- Support staff in charge of setting up camp and preparing meals every day of the tour
- All accommodations:
- while camping, our comfortable 2-person tents (individual tents are available – please inquire), with dining structural tent, latrine tents, and comfortable camping equipment including tables, chairs and dining ware.
- one night at a 4-star hotel in Curicó (Chile), with double occupancy
- one night of hotel in Malargue, Mendoza (Arg), with three guests per room (single supplement is available – please inquire)
- one night in cabins, for those returning to Buenos Aires in our van
- Daily Trip Information Notes, with maps, routes and detail on the region
- Pre-trip information package with details on how to prepare, what to bring, and more detailed information
Read what past guests say about their
Crossing the High Andes experience...
This has been an unforgettable experience
“I take with me great memories. Excelent organization by Mariano. Many thanks.”
Mariano wasn´t just our guide, but a travel mate, and a relaxed but very responsible organizer
“To put it briefly, a “boludo” of the best level! I am totally satisfied with the service. Approved and recommended!”
The crew was most responsive, hard working and fun
“The only thing left was for them to pedal for me! The outfit was very well organized and disciplined – I was the recipient of a red card for descending too fast on a beautiful, shoulder-less, and railguard-free mountain road into Chile. The only words that come to mind to attempt to describe the views are: it was like riding on the moon surrounded by great people, food and memorable views.”
This has been one of my greatest bike tours
“it was good to meet so nice people from South America. I’m sure that I will find an opportunity to travel with you again. Again, thank you and take care”