Crossing the Andes


E. and I elected to take a bus from Mendoza, Argentina, to Santiago de Chile. Overall, we were happy that we took the bus over a plane because it was a clear, mild day and we had beautiful views.


My favorite part of the Andes was seeing the layers of sienna, ochre, and brown juxtaposed with the blue sky. The ride from Mendoza to the land border was smooth and tranquil. It took about an hour and a half for the immigration and customs officials to stamp our passports and search suitcases. While the immigration lines could have been more orderly, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. It looked more painful for cars which were backed up for a mile.

The Chilean officials are vigilant against taking fresh fruits and vegetables over the border and aren’t afraid to give out fines.


I have to be honest: the ride down the mountain was a little scary. There were a series of switchbacks, and the driver kept turning the bus so that the front wheel grazed over the ledge. The entire bus was silent as we knifed down the mountain–possibly from terror. Because E. and I were in the front, we could feel the gravel fall underneath the tire each time we took the sharp turn down another slope.


If you decide to take the bus, the front right hand side seats are preferable because you have the beautiful view and photo opportunities. Book ahead of time and request this spot. We suggest taking the Andesmar bus if you are coming from Mendoza or Buenos Aires.



Filed under Argentina, Chile

12 responses to “Crossing the Andes

  1. Sounds like the ride of a lifetime–in more ways than one! At least you got to enjoy the beautiful vistas, even if your heart was leaping out of your chest (you are far braver than I’d be. . . ). Stunning photos!

    Thanks for the compliment; my husband took the photos.

    I don’t know if I’m brave. 😛 I just kept telling myself that the driver had navigated these turns hundreds of times. Right!?

  2. It looks like your bus ride was worth it, despite the increase in blood pressure. 😉 Your husband snapped some excellent shots – my kudos to him! When we went to Bariloche, the tour bus snaked its way along some white knuckle-inducing roads, so I feel your pain!

    What was the total travel time from Mendoza to Santiago?

    The ride was about seven hours in all, with the border stop.

  3. I made it to Mendoza, but never crossed the border to Chile. The landscape there is very similar to where I grew up in Texas. I remember being reminded of home at the time.

    As for scary rides, we had a very similar one full of switch backs and an adventurous driver on our way to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico. Again everyone was silent and some people were losing their lunches–it was hard not to. If you survive to tell the tale it makes for an interesting story!

  4. Aunt Marge

    Wow! Beautiful pictures. Glad you made it alive.
    Best of luck on your next adventures.

  5. Wow, LOOK at those bends in the road!

    Lovely pics! Thanks for sharing and I am glad to be following you along on your journey 🙂

  6. LB + I are glad you made it safe. Stunning pictures. We miss you.

  7. Wow, amazing, a trip through the Andes.

  8. Jay

    May I ask how long the bus trip took you?

    I will be spending one month in Buenos Aires doing an intensive course at the Universidad de Belgrano (starting next month!), and then 2 semesters at Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile.

    I don’t know whether I should cross the border by plane or bus.

    I am aware of the fact that Mendoza is much closer to the border than Buenos Aires.

    If you have the extra time, I would recommend taking the bus. The overnight bus from B.A. to Mendoza is nice. The Andesmar bus left B.A. about 8:00 p.m. and arrived in Mendoza around 9:00 a.m. The trip from Mendoza to Santiago should be about seven hours.

    Good luck!

  9. I love the Andes mountains. we have crossed over into Santiago during the winter…not fun! we were the last ones allowed before they shut down the border…and a semi-truck tipped over while descending the “spiral” highway. i remember praying for my life that year as we had 6-foot snowdrifts on both sides of the van. not fun…but makes for great memories!

    And we always ride in the front side of the bus, you are right reservations are always necessary for those two seats, but nobody else has that great view.

    Your story is much scarier, Tania!

  10. Tina Marshall

    Wow! These photos are incredible! I think I might have gotten carsick had I been in your place 🙂

    Also, there is a new Peterman’s Eye Travel community that I thought I’d share….today’s post is on the Andes Mts!


  11. Pingback: 50 Unforgettable Natural Wonders |

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