If you do a Google search you’ll find at least 5 different names for this pass – Uspallata Pass, Bermejo Pass, Cumbre Pass, Paso Internacional Los Libertadores, and Los Libertadores Pass. But I’m just going to call it the Andean Pass between S&M!
The bus left Santiago at 8 a.m. to drive through gorgeous lush green countryside of healthy vineyards that looked startlingly like the Napa Valley area about 30 years ago! Then we approached a wide canyon that looked more like a slanted valley. It was a gentle uphill at first – nothing alarming!
The highway is wide, well paved and cared for, and handles an incredible amount of traffic, including large semi-trucks and trailers.
And then the steep switchbacks began! We were gaining elevation rather quickly!
It’s kinda cool … they count the switchbacks here! There are road signs that state the number of the switchback you are on! In all, there are 29!
And then we saw tunnels ahead!
Here we’ve just exited one tunnel, turned a hard switchback and are entering another tunnel!
Looking back from whence we came! We’re still climbing, the cars below are headed to Santiago!
I hadn’t realized there was a ski area enroute! But it makes sense! Winter skiing must be awesome!
More switchbacks! Still climbing!
There’s a ranch up here?
There are military encampments not far from the pass, supposedly to protect/defend their border.
There’s even a restaurant up here! Amazing!
What astounding colors the mountains displayed!
This mountain appears to be turning into sand!
There were some startling contrasts of colors in these mountains!
And then – there it was! To the north – Mt. Aconcagua! It is the highest mountain outside of Asia, and is the highest in both the northern and southern hemispheres! Elevation 22,841′!
We arrived at the Border Control …
… where we spent 2 hours (!) until we could reboard again! Why so long? … well … it was lunchtime! Very few clerks were available for the traffic load – most of them were having lunch!
Here we are happily reboarding and getting ready to roll again! Now we’re back in Argentina and we have crossed the pass with it’s 12,500′ elevation!
An old railway bridge …
… an abandoned hosteria …
… and brilliant colors all made for an interesting ride down through the Andes on the Argentinian side!
An amazingly high rock mountain peak in the distance!
As we descended from the Andes, some of the mountains looked quite different here from those on the western side.
And finally we arrived at the lower elevations of the Andean Mountains pass.
We passed a bridge to nowhere and unfinished buildings …
… the bridge to nowhere really did go … NOWHERE! Looks like the road got washed away!
Last views of the mountains before seeing nothing but flatlands in front of us!
The last splash of shocking yellow color in the mountains before entering the vineyards!
Now we’re in the Mendoza region – wine capitol of Argentina! And how much fun could THAT be!?! Get out your wine glass! We’re about to find out!