Chile, willie.

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
Trip End Apr 15, 2009

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Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, April 4, 2008

From Mendosa we traveled the scenic route, not that the pavement version is not scenic when it comes to Chilean/Argentine borders but as we traversed the valley the mountains swirled up and gradually enveloped us. We enjoyed the slow scenic climb up and over the mountain range and at an altitude of 1751 meters we settled in Uspallata a small crossroads village which is a great place to stay while exploring the surrounding area. Apparently this is the area where- Seven Years in Tibet - was filmed. From here it is a short drive to the border, we spent the night and tomorrow will get us across the border and well into the valleys we so enjoyed last year.
On the way to the border we had a good view of Cerro Aconcagua 6960 meters high, the highest summit in the western hemisphere. With its permanent snow cap this mountain is a destination for trekkers and climbers. Reaching its summit requires 15 days of hiking and permits are mandatory during high season. A bit too serious for our hiking skills, we are quite happy to just gaze upon its grandeur.
Equally striking is Puente del Inca which is a natural stone bridge and underneath it are the ruins of an old spa which are stained yellow by sulfurous thermal springs.
So you can hike 'till your bones creek then soak in a warm spa.
We crossed at this border last year when snow laid all around and now we get to see it in another season. The border crossing went smoothly and in an hour we were descending the steep slopes into the valleys below, this time with no skiers flying over our heads.
It is always exciting to enter another country even if we have entered this particular one many times, each country offers new experiences adventures. The valley is full of ripe crops and vineyards laden with all kinds of grapes. We went straight to a familiar campground and once again find it out of season but the owners greeted us and let us in. Vertientes is in Campo just along the road from LOs Andes and San Felipe and an hours drive to Santiago.
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