When you’re high in the Andes, you can’t help but be attuned to the scenery. Breathtaking, snow-capped peaks surround you, water rushes over falls as it hurries down the valleys, lakes brim with emerald water, and the world seems to spin just a little bit slower.
Crossing through the Patagonia from Argentina into Chile is one of the best ways to explore the landscape and gives you a glimpse of the spectacular expanse that comprises the eastern edge of the Pacific’s great rim of fire. The crossings between Argentina and Chile, whether by bus, bike, or boat, are not merely a passageway, but an opportunity to see firsthand the unsurpassed natural beauty of the region.
By guided tour from Bariloche, Argentina, you can cross from the Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina into the Puyehue National Park in Chile. The tour stops at a beach resort overlooking Lake Espejo atop a dramatic cliff. At Lake Espejo, which earned its name from the mirror-like quality of the water’s still surface, you can enjoy the tranquility of a private beach. The tour continues to the confluence of the pristine waters Blanco and Pereyra Rivers, and then continues over the Cardenal A. Samore International Pass. On the far side of the pass lies Chile’s Puyehue National Park, where boundless outdoor activities, beautiful scenic drives, and the Puyehue Hot Springs await.
If you’re interested in traveling over the emerald lakes by boat, a crossing from Bariloche, Argentina over Lake Nahuel Huapi is a wonderful choice. The crossing begins at Puerto Panuelo, where you will sail across Lake Nahuel Hupai to the shores of Puerto Blest. A short bus ride to Puerto Alegre, and you’ll board a catamaran that whisks you across the emerald-green waters of Lake Frias into Chile. You’ll arrive in the Chilean town of Peulla, where you’ll find the infamous Bridal Veil Falls, which are surely worth a visit.
Traveling to Chile from the Argentinean town of El Calafate by car or bus is a spectacular way to glimpse the stunning Torres del Paine National Park. Depending on your budget and time constraints, there are several options for crossing the border. The most inexpensive way is to travel from El Calafate to the Chilean town of Puerto Natales, the gateway to several National Parks including Torres del Paine.. Another option would be to have a travel agent organize private transportation through Torres Del Paine, which is a half-day trip. From Puerto Natales, you can stay overnight and catch a morning bus to the park, which is home to the “Cuernos del Paine,” three sheer granite towers that are among the most photographed in the park. The park is known for its untouched beauty and remote setting, with lakes of all shades of blue and green, and activities ranging from kayaking and rafting, to hiking and rock climbing.
The international border crossing of the Jama Pass begins in the Argentinian village of Purmamarca. This border crossing lead through the Patacal area into Salar, in Northern Chile. Set in the Andes, the Jama Pass is a highland plateau with daytime temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees C and at nighttime with temperatures dropping very low, sometimes freezing in winter. The road follows the Rio Grande River, and is an uphill journey for most of the way.
Crossing into Chile over the Uspallata Pass means a route that begins in Mendoza, Argentina. The passage leads to Chile’s bustling capital, Santiago. Situated in the Andes Cordillera at 12,500 feet, the crossing affords spectacular views of Mount Aconcagua, the tallest peak in South America. It also leads past the Christ of the Andes statue, which commemorates the peace and boundaries between the two nations. The Pan-American Highway runs through the pass, making it accessible by bicycle and automobile. Uspallata has also been the base for films like “Seven Years in Tibet” and “Of Love and Shades” because of its proximity to such stunning scenery.
No matter how you choose to travel from Argentina to Chile, each border crossing affords the opportunity to experience the unique landscape of the Andes. Whether you’re heading to Santiago for a cultural experience, or to one of the national parks in Chile for a memorable outdoor experience, the mountain range that divides the two countries is majestic and awe-inspiring. This will be a journey you’re sure to remember.
The All About Argentina website offers detailed information on traveling to Argentina, including Buenos Aires, Bariloche, and Iguazu Falls.