Santiago de Chile

Not more than about 6 hours to drive from Mendoza to Santiago Airport.

From the Argentinean side the route to the pass is a slow, gentle incline until you enter a tunnel at 3,200 meters elevation. Annoying there was a very small toll for the tunnel, which had to be paid in Argentinean Pesos - and we had used all ours up in getting rid of them by putting petrol in the car. So a purchase had to be made in dollars in a local shop, and the change was in Pesos. Opened in 1980, the tunnel is 3km long. At the middle of the tunnel is the national border, which is the termini of Chile Route 60 and Argentina Route 7. The opening of the tunnel lowered the maximum elevation by 600 m), eliminated 65 hairpin bends and shortened the route by 10 km .

The combined Argentine/Chile border posts are at Paso Internacional Los Libertadores. It is a bit chaotic here with people and cars and buses milling around, without clear instructions as to what to do. Upshot is that you have to clear both customs and passport inspections, be sniffed by the dogs for contraband food, and have your luggage search by the Chileans too. Each stamps the form you are carrying, and when you have all the stamps on the form, you drive up to the crossing point where the guard eyes the form owlishly, and if all is in order, lets you on you way into Chile. An hour if you are lucky, but depends on the numbers hitting the crossing as you do. It is the busiest crossing between Chile and Argentina, and was certainly carrying a much heavier weight of traffic than the crossing we experienced two weeks earlier between San Pedro de Atacama and Salta

On the Chilean side the slope is far steeper, and the road descends down a long series of hairpin bends to make the descent.

Arriving at Santio Airport we had a bit of a barney with Hertz who said the car had a new dent. But I was covered by the all inclusive insurance, so should not have had to worry about it. However they insisted that I made a report to the airport police. Sp, having wasted a lot of my time and police time, I got the report, and that was the end of the matter.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to get a larger photo

Up and over the Andes, with dramatic scenery in many places and a long border stop.  
   
A night at Santiago Airport    
So it is goodbye to South America and back to Madrid on Iberia :-(  

The Holiday Inn is just 20 metres from the terminal at Santiago Airport. You check in, and your room card lets you enter the hotel - it is quite a good gizmo in an airport hotel, as it keeps out casual visitors .

I don't think anyone would want to spend any more time here than an overnight, but it is a good option for that one night stay. The room was standard Holiday Inn, and spacious and well furnished. The sound proofing was excellent. There is a small indoor swimming pool.

Breakfast was included in my room rate. But oddly they chargefor a cup of fresh coffee (only the standard stewed coffee that was made hours previously is included in their standard breakfast) . Having said that, the buffet itself was outstandingly good.

Serving coffee seems to be a problem here. The management appear to ponce around in the middle of the dining room, but do not actually supervise. I ordered a cup of coffee with my expensive, but ordinary, dinner. It never appeared. I told the manager on the way out, who promised to "do something" but never did. With the coffee at breakfast, which I had to pay for, it took some 20 minutes to get the bill and then the change (for reasons that escape me you cannot charge restaurant food to your room in this hotel). Again I mentioned this to another manager on leaving the restaurant, who again promised to "do something" but never did

So it is a standard Holiday Inn, with all that that implies, and is convenient for an early flight out from Santiago Airport, but I don't think you would want to spend your holidays here.

Holiday in Bolivia, Chile and Argentina