The Cruce Andino route across the Andes between Chile and Argentina was born with the intention of uniting two neighboring countries with a journey across the snow-capped Andes. Over the past century, it’s transformed into an ecological adventure that counts among South America’s “must do” bucket-list experiences.
From wool to wanderlusters
At the end of the 1800s, Chilean entrepreneur Carlos Wiederhold started a business transporting Patagonian wool across the Andes from Puerto Varas in Chile to the city of San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina. His pioneering route crossed four lakes — Llanquihue, Todos los Santos, Frías and Nahuel Huapi. Upon reaching Bariloche, the wool was transported to Buenos Aires and a long maritime journey to Europe across the Atlantic Ocean.
With the construction of the Panama Canal, followed by the First World War in Europe and the Great Depression, Wiederhold’s business fell into bankruptcy and was bought by Swiss visionary Ricardo Roth, who transformed it from a commodity transport company into a tourism activity.
Ricardo Roth and Perito Moreno
While visiting Peulla — one of the major waypoints along the Cruce Adino route — Roth had a fortuitous encounter with Francisco “Perito” Moreno, an Argentine explorer, museum director and environmentalist who wanted to conserve Patagonia’s incredible landscapes and natural beauty.
As a result of this friendship and collaboration, Roth became a fervent promoter of the creation of Chile’s first national park — Vicente Pérez Rosales — which protects forests, mountains and lakeshores near the western end of the route.
Roth’s entrepreneurial spirit, together with his love of nature, gradually changed a rugged pioneer route into an unmissable journey both for Chileans and foreign travelers. In the last decade alone, the Cruce Andino route has attracted more than 500,000 travelers from more than 25 countries.
This crossing offers passengers the chance to marvel at the natural beauty of two national parks in an Andean environment, namely Vicente Pérez Rosales in Chile and Nahuel Huapi in Argentina.
It also gives travelers the opportunity to discover magical places like Peulla and Puerto Blest, as well as mountainous landscapes so beautiful they almost literally take your breath away.