Its 1,210 meters of height and the colorful vegetation around make it one of the most popular routes among tourists during their journey towards Chile.
Travelers may set out either at the City of San Martín de los Andes
or at Junín de los Andes
. This is a very quiet road across an unspoiled area where changes in nature are easily observable.
Once we left the City of Junín de los Andes behind, we crossed the bridge over the Chimehuín River and at the fork located by the Highway Patrol post, we took Provincial Route 23. On an excellent paved road, the bends and undulations followed one another and started to slowly go uphill.
The old narrow bridge over the Malleo River indicated a change of direction. Always on the pavement, Provincial Route 60 led us to the border as we outlined the contour of the exceptional fishing environment.
On one of the bends, a group of monkey-puzzle trees appeared upright before us and, farther ahead, already in the Lanin National Park, a woodland area containing hundreds of monkey these trees sheltered ancient specimens of various ages and sizes.
At this location, the Lanin Volcano
made its great appearance and it was unbelievable to stand so close to it, to behold its structure and its eternal glaciers. We got out of the car and took several shots with our camera so as to keep a vivid memory of this experience.
We soon found the Gendarmería Nacional
(corps border guards) post, the park ranger station and the customs building, where we carried out all the necessary proceedings to leave the country. Bearing the corresponding documentation, we advanced a few meters more and found the Chilean post.
In addition to the control over our documentation and our car papers, we stood before the Servicio Agrícola Ganadero (SAG)
(Agricultural and Livestock Service) to declare that we were not carrying any vegetable, animal or fresh foods products.
Back on the road, we started a 30-kilometer gravel road stretch and entered an area where vegetation became thicker. On the right, we found a lake called Quillelhue. We bordered its shores up to a viewpoint where we got out of the car to behold a beautiful cascade.
Even though we did not know all the tree species, we realized that the rainfall regime was the cause for the dense forest. The road went downhill and small country estates started to come into sight. They displayed old wooden sheds, animals grazing and smoke coming out of their chimneys, which left a grey trail in the sky.
The pavement appeared again in Puesco, where the old Chilean customs was, a beautiful very picturesque village where there is a tourist information office, a gas station and a convenience store. Colorful and neat, it gave us a nice mental postcard to remember, and of course we also took pictures of this place.
Upon leaving this urban settlement, the road to Pucón became quite amusing. We had the chance to stop for a drink at one of the classic bar-restaurants on the road, where we filled up the tank.
The local hot spring resorts were marked on a map we had been given at the tourist information office. It is well known that there is a great deal of springs in the area providing thermal waters with very beneficial properties.
All of these venues have outdoor and screened pools, as well as hot tubs. They offer superb gastronomy and accommodation services. The great variety in the local vegetation ensures a direct contact with nature and the possibility to go hiking and enjoy outdoor life.
San Luis, Menetúe and Huife hot spring resorts, to name a few, are connected by good paths to the main road we were traveling.
Thus, almost before we could notice, we reached Pucón after having covered a mainly paved route. We got deep into the downtown streets and the commercial area to enjoy the local hustle and bustle.
Opening hours: The pass is located at a height of 1,210 meters and is open year round, except for some contingency resulting from snow accumulation in the winter. Snow chains are compulsory during this season.
The Argentinian and Chilean Customs Office coordinate their operations and are open from 8am to 8pm year round. Chile changes its time zone during the winter. Therefore, before setting out, it is advisable to check the open hours at the tourist office.
Bear in mind: Remember no vegetables or fresh food may be carried through the pass.
(4920000) Pucón - IX Región - Chile
Tel: +56 45 44-1265
San Martín de los Andes Customs Office
San Martín de los Andes - Argentina
Te: + 54 2972 427273