Just when we thought our “why-did-we-rent-a-car-in-Chile” woes were behind us we were presented with a third opportunity to cross the Andes…this time via car.
After we explored the coastline past Renaca we turned inward to make our way up to Los Andes and Portillo – two mountain towns that offer spectacular views of the beautiful Chilean mountain range. We did our typical drive 10 minutes, stop for pictures (particularly when we started hitting the vineyards) etc. etc. We realized we needed to start heading down to Santiago in order to return our rental on time.
Then we hit some terrible traffic. Except, traffic would imply that we were still moving. We encountered a parking lot. That’s it. A parking lot.
After about 45 minutes of sitting some cops started directing some of the traffic onto this dirt road going off into the Chilean mountains. We approached the cop and asked if the road would lead to Santiago.
Oh Si, si!
Off we went. On a dirt road, up mountains not really sure of if and/or where it would lead us. There were a small caravan of cars going along with us…so at least we wouldn’t be alone if our vehicle careened off the side or if we were hijacked by marauding mountain folk. Completely sane and necessary things to consider, I know.
We quickly realized that the dirt road, again about the width of two smart cars (super wide!) was not a one way road as a caravan of semi-trucks came rumbling down the mountain towards us.
We saw such amazing views and close ups of rock formations, even a couple of rock climbers which never would have happened if we had simply been able to take the tunnel that leads under this mountain pass.
After an hour of traversing the Andes on a dirt road we made it back to pavement and found our way back to the highway and onto Santiago.
What an adventure!