If anyone is qualified to give travel advice, it’s Bertram van Munster. He’s the executive producer of the Emmy award-winning reality show “The Amazing Race,” a show now in its 21st season that challenges teams to race around the world.
The travel lover has seen plenty of amazing sites – in fact, he says he’s circled the globe 57 times. But what’s one of van Munster’s all-time favorites places in the world? The Chilean Andes.
In an interview with Emily Brennan for The New York Times, van Munster described what keeps him coming back to the Andes and recommended two of his favorite road trips across the famous mountain range.
Santiago, Chile, to Mendoza, Argentina
One of van Munster’s favorite roads is the Paso Internacional Los Libertadores. This mountain pass across the Andes connects Santiago with Mendoza, Argentina. The road is famous for its winding switchbacks.
“That road blew me away,” said van Munster of Paso Internacional Los Libertadores. “It carves along the jagged ridges of the Andes, and the biggest tankers looks like toy cars. The journey takes only about six hours, and you drive past Mount Aconcagua, about 23,000 feet high. It’s spectacular.”
Mendoza is a popular destination for a long weekend excursion from Santiago. It’s best undertaken in the summer months, as the Paso Internacional Los Libertadores can close due to snow and inclimate weather during the winter. Buses depart daily for Mendoza from Terminal Santiago, the capital’s central bus station, and Tur-Bus and Pullman are popular bus companies for the journey. Arrive early to the station to get a window seat for the best view of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas.
Puerto Montt, Chile, to Bariloche, Argentina
Another of van Munster’s favorite road trips is the route between Puerto Montt in the Lakes Region of Chile into Bariloche, Argentina via the Cardenal Samoré pass. This beautiful drive also crosses through Parque Nacional Puyehue, one of Chile’s most visited national parks and one of the largest protected areas in the Andes.
The TV producer encountered a wide range of environments on this drive, even during springtime. “It’s wild because at noon, you’re at the top of a mountain, caught in a snowstorm, and by 4 p.m., you’re back in beautiful weather. It’s like being in Siberia one minute, and the south of France the next, the weather changes that rapidly.”
Buses depart to Bariloche daily from the main bus terminal on Diego Portales in Puerto Montt. Companies Tas Choapa, Buses Norte, and Via Bariloche all offer the trip, which takes about seven and a half hours, plus border formalities. For those who are less interested in a long bus ride but still want to witness this incredible scenery, Bariloche can also be reached from nearby Puerto Varas by lake crossing. The popular ferry trip can be booked in advance with TurisTour.