Crossing the Andes

Adventurous routes across Chile’s Andes Mountains

Adventure awaits on these spectacular routes across Chile’s Andes Mountain range in the country’s spectacular far south Patagonian region. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 Category: Tourism - World Reviews on Chile
Crossing southern Chile’s Andean peaks (Photo by Dave_B_/flickr) Crossing southern Chile’s Andean peaks (Photo by Dave_B_/flickr)

For those seeking an exciting, full-immersion alternative for getting across Chile’s Andes Mountains, look no further than the following adventurous routes traversing Chilean Patagonia.


Each year in February, Chile hosts the mountain adventure race Cruce de los Andes, organized by outdoor sportswear brand Columbia. Runners compete in teams of two in the challenging race, covering over 62 miles (100 km) from Argentina to Chile in the course of three days. Thousands of running enthusiasts from all over the world compete, and many come for the singular, majestic Patagonian landscapes through which the race travels. 


The 2013 race is programmed to take place on tough mountain trails with difficult inclines - a true challenge for any adventurer!


For those interested in a more laid-back crossing option involving less running and more traveling at one’s own pace, the not-to-miss pass at the end of Chile’s Carretera Austral offers the perfect blend of adventure and opportunities to take in the scenic highlights. At the southern tip of Chile’s winding Carretera Austral highway, the town of Villa O’Higgins marks visitors jumping off point. Seven kilometers from Villa O’Higgins, a ferry from Puerto Bahamondez to Candelario Mansilla brings visitors within a short walk’s distance from the Argentine border. Once across, the hike continues nine miles (15 km) to El Chaltén in Argentina. A boat transfer across Lago Desierto is an option for those interested in eliminating this final nine-mile (15 km) hike from their route.


A longer, three day trekking option leads past the snow-capped volcanic peak of Volcán Tronador near the northern edge of the Carretera Austral and through Chile’s misty temperate rainforests. Beginning in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, the Paso de las Nubes trek commences with a ferry from Petrohue, on the edge of Todos Los Santos Lake, to Peulla. From Peulla, visitors continue on  foot 30.5 miles (49 km) to Pampa Linda. After crossing the Argentine border, trekkers can continue on foot to the small locale of Lago Puelo or to the larger town of El Bolsón, about 44 miles (70 km) from the regional capital of Bariloche in Argentina. 

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