Sacred Earth Travel - Sustainable Nature and Adventure Travel

Self-Drive: Andean Contrasts

Day 1: Santiago – Mendoza (385 km /240 mi)

vineyards near MendozaToday you can buckle up for a great adventure across the Andes.. We will start our climb towards Los Libertadores Pass which lies at 3.100 m/10.160ft above sea level. From there we will start our descent into Argentinean territory. The views of the Cordillera are simply spectacular as they reach different shapes and colours.. This truly is one of the most beautiful border crossings between these two countries. Once we reach the city of Mendoza we will head south towards the impressive Valle de Uco. Overnight in Valle de Uco.

Day 2: Valle de Uco and surroundings

Today we will be able to explore the surroundings of the Valle de Uco, which is where most of the best wines of this area are produced. By following the classic Ruta 40, one can admire the views of the Tupungato or the Maipo Volcano, the reflection of which is beautifull to behold in the magnificent Laguna Diamante. The wines produced in this area are the result of ancient traditions engraved after many years perfecting the wine making processes. Not to be missed are the Malbecs and Semillons. Overnight in Valle de Uco. (B)

Day 3: Valle de Uco – San Rafael (185 km /115 mi)

This day we start heading southeast towards the village of San Rafael, which has become one of the fastest developing destinations for ecotourism in recent years. It is here that one of the most impressive landmarks of this region stands out: the Atuel Canyon. As a result from centuries of erosion the Atuel river has created impressive shapes and figures on its walls. The town of San Rafael is not only famous for its great amount of vineyards to explore, but also, and maybe even more so, for the exiting and adventurous nature of the activities one can take on. Overnight in San Rafael. (B)

Atuel CanyonDay 4: San Rafael – Atuel Canyon

Today is a perfect day to explore the rugged nature of the Atuel canyon. Our journey begins driving towards El Nihuil, which is where the first dam was constructed and also the origin of the canyon, this lake covers 9.500 ha or 23.470 ac. Driving a bit more one can see some of the natural monuments such as the Rivadavia Chair, the hanging gardens and the lizard, just to name a few. The contrast between the aridness and the intriguing rock formations emerging from the water provides one of the most radical views one can see during this journey. The colours in the rock layers speak of the geological forces that forged these landscapes; a truly amazing sight. Time to go back to San Rafael for a good reserve wine. Overnight in San Rafael. (B)

Day 5: San Rafael – Malargüe (185 km /115 mi)

Our Journey continues towards the town of Malargüe, which is well known as the capital of adventure travel in the Mendoza District and located right on the Ruta 40. This area stands out for the impressive plateau of Payún, a silent witness of past volcanic eruptions. Malargüe is also famous for its traditions and festivities, such as the Chivo party, where Gauchos barbeque goats Argentinean style, a real treat for meat lovers. Another great alternative is to check out the Pierre Auger Observatory, which focuses on cosmic rays; the most energetic and rarest of particles in the universe. Also to the west: The Castillo de los Pincheira, an impressive rock formation shaped by the wind after thousands of years. Overnight in Malargüe. (B)

Day 6. Malargüe – Curicó (350 km /219 mi)

It is time to start our return into Chilean territory. While driving towards el Planchon pass, we will be witnessing the vast pampas that unfold in front of us as far as the eyes can see and start our climb over the Andes. As we approach the border we will follow the waters of the beautiful Rio Grande. Another point not to be missed is the Termas del Azufre; these thermal pools are located in such a remote place that the chances are you'll have them just for yourself. Once we reach the border we start winding our way into Chile, where it is possible to see the contrast between both landscapes once more. We'll drive by the impressive Planchon and Azufre Volcanoes and if we feel adventurous we can always take the 15 km road to the base of the first one which is located by the beautiful Lagunas de Teno at 2.300 m or 7.540 ft. Overnight near Curicó. (B)

Day 7: Curicó – Santiago (204 km /127 mi)

The Curico Valley offers a great variety of vineyards to visit and explore, so, before heading back to Santiago to return our vehicle, we can always wander around and find the perfect bottle to take back home or simply make it to Santiago to explore some of its remote corners. (B)

Rates on request. This itinerary is highly customisable. For further information and booking inquiries please send us and e-mail.