- Dates: 26 March - 1 April, 2024
- Nights: 6
- Price: From $11,437 per person
- Group Size: 8
All aboard for the ultimate 4×4 self-drive Andean adventure.
A group of eight intrepid travellers, split between four Toyota Hilux, will embark on the six-night-seven-day journey, ranging through the high altitude desert, lagoons and salt plains of northern Argentina and Chile. This is not a trip for the faint-hearted.
Starting in the Argentine province of Catamarca, it is a short 3.5hr drive to Tinogasta, and Hotel Las Pircas, your base for the night. Kick back in the thermal baths with a glass of locally produced Bonarda – the real work begins tomorrow!
Today will be a drive of 7-8hrs, over more than 500kms. Waking early for the best light, you will climb to an ear-popping 4,800m – the same altitude as Mont Blanc – as you cross the Andes into Chile, at the Paso de San Francisco.
Descending into the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on the planet. It is a landscape of mineral lakes, salt flats, isolated mountains, hot springs and geysers. Approaching Copiapo, you’ll pass stalls selling watermelons and homemade empanadas, before colliding with the Pacific Ocean. Wara Nomade, both homespun and stylishly sophisticated, will be your base for the next two nights. A feast of abalone, pisco sours and fire-cooked sea bass await your arrival. Days here will be spent whale watching, kayaking, dune buggying and on guided 4×4 expeditions into the desert.
On day four, you’ll trace the Pacific south 4-5hrs through the orchards, vineyards, adobe villages, and lush pastures of the Elqui Valley. This corner of central Chile is known as the route of the stars, due to its mesmerising night skies. Casa Molle is your home for the next two nights, where you can enjoy horseback riding, pisco and wine tours, bicycle rides, kayaking, hiking, yoga and a good spa.
On day six, you’ll cross the Paso de Agua Negra, at 4,780 metres above sea level, one of the highest and most spectacular passes in the cordillera. This epic 8-9hr (750kms) traverse back into Argentina is the climax of the adventure. The pass – most of it gravel – twists and lurches its way through immense, unforgiving wildernesses of rock, precipitous canyons, ancient Inca trails and tumbling summits. At this altitude, there are very few signs of life, other than the occasional condor or vicuña.
Arrive, exhausted but elated, in time for a glass of something cold on the veranda of Posado Paso de los Patos, your final stop.
This is an expedition, requiring some preparation. All vehicles will be equipped with first-aid kit, picnic equipment, oxygen, a spare wheel, gasoline, and drinking-water tanks.
Ready to hit the road? Contact one of our experts to start planning your Andean odyssey.