Paso de los Libertadores

Libertadores Pass, an Andean pass from Chile to Argentina

Chile and Argentina share more than 5,000 miles of border, most of them drawn on the imposing peaks of the Andes. With over 40 border crossings between the two countries spread over the mountains, the most spectacular and important is Paso de los Libertadores, also known as the Paso del Cristo Redentor It's one of the most scenic drives in the world.

Is Paso de los Libertadores paved?

The road through the pass is totally paved. Due to the unique location and the climb in elevation over thousands of feet (the pass reaches an elevation of 3,207m 10,521 ft) above the sea level, and passing through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. It is the most important step between the capital of Chile, Santiago, and the Mendoza region of Argentina. The border is actually a tunnel: the Cristo Redentor tunnel, located at 3,209 m altitude and with 3,080 meters long, of which 1,564 are in Chilean territory and 1,516 in the Argentine side. Opened in 1980, the tunnel sits at 3,175 m (10,417 ft) above the sea level, and the path can be closed during winter because of heavy snows blocking both ends and the threat of rockfall. Its name comes from the 4 ton Christ the Redeemer of the Andes (Cristo Redentor de los Andes) statue placed in 1904 near the entrance of the Argentine side at an elevation of 4,000 m (13,123 ft).

Is the road to Paso de los Libertadores difficult?

The Argentinian side (RN7) turns out to be a gentle ascent, up relaxed through rugged mountain scenery of the area until the hole in the tunnel entrance. Extreme patience and skill are the key, and the adrenaline rush and thin air make for a thrilling, if occasionally slow, driving experience. Wind can also slow things down, but conquer all that and you'll be rewarded by magnificent views of the switchbacks below and South America’s highest peak, Aconcagua.
The Chilean side of the road (Ruta 60) is very difficult to navigate through one of the most winding routes in the world, giving the appearance of the coil of a fridge from the air. It features one of the most scenic drives in the world on a short section known as Los Caracoles (the snails). It’s a terrible steep climb featuring more than 20 hairpin turns. Los Caracoles is a series of hard switchbacks on an extremely steep incline. The snow together with nature of the road requires extreme patience and skill to negotiate. Access by the Chilean side is harder than on the Argentinian side. The landscape remains the same, but the road gets higher with much more quickly, forcing a winding route so perfectly delineated that, seen from the air, looks like the coil of a refrigerator. The traffic is intense, especially for heavy vehicles facing this part with calmness and resignation, forming long convoys that slow pace, amounting port. Viewed from a distance the trucks seem snails.

Is Paso de los Libertadores dangerous?

It is maintained pretty regularly and does not have a morbid accident record. The road is covered with snow for the most part of the year; still, traffic is intense; cargo trucks and even double-decker tourist buses travel the road on a daily basis year-round, forming long, slow convoys, hence the name. Despite the fact that it's one of the most challenging roads in the world, Los Caracoles Pass has a strong safety record. With intense traffic, especially full of slow moving heavy vehicles, accidents are rife. Not only that, for a vast proportion of the year the road is covered in snow requiring severe caution at all times. The road can be closed anytime during winter because of heavy snows blocking both ends and the threat of rockfall. It has many steep inclines and hairpins. There are no guardrails.
Pic: www.planetatriatlon.com

 

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