Residents of the western Argentine provinces are crossing the Andes Mountains en masse this summer to "occupy" the sunny beaches of central and northern Chile and enjoy the cool waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Viña del Mar, Chile. It is a real tourist boom: since January 1st, nearly 70,000 people passed the border crossings between Argentina and Chile. Most travelers are Argentines heading to the beaches of the Valparaiso Region in Chile. The main destinations are the cities of Viña del Mar and Concon which have a large number of the best beaches in Chile and are among the top tourist destinations in South America.
View of Viña del Mar. The city is lined with kilometres of white sandy beaches
Coastal Route Viña del Mar - Concon. The Brunet Castle was built in 1926 by the Brunet brothers. It sits atop Castle Hill overlooking the ocean. The summer residence of the Chilean presidents is one of the closest neighbours. The Brunet Castle has been the property of "Carabineros de Chile" (Chilean Police) since 1974 and it's mostly used for social functions and to receive illustrious visitors.
In the first half of January, the number of Argentine visitors has been almost 40% higher compared to the number of tourists arriving in Chile from that country in the same period of the summer of 2011 when some 50,000 travelers crossed the mountains to enjoy the Chilean ocean beaches. Among the main reasons for this real "invasion" is the distance between the cities next to the eastern foothills of the Andes, Mendoza, San Juan and San Rafael, and the Atlantic coast of Argentina (about 1200 kilometers). While “Bonaerenses” (people from Buenos Aires) often vacation in the neighboring city of Mar del Plata, Argentina, and Punta del Este, Uruguay, the residents of the Argentine provinces adjacent to the Andes prefer Chilean cities such of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, distant just about 240 km from Mendoza.
Coastal Route Viña del Mar - Concon. Rockeries along the coastal route between Viña and Concon. In the background is the town of Reñaca Beach, a preferred destination for Argentine tourists.
Coastal Route Viña del Mar - Concon. Reñaca Beach is one of the longest beaches in the area and a prefered place for Argentine visitors to spend the afternoon. This picture was captured around mid-morning when most beach-goers are still recovering from the late night parties.
Coastal Route Viña del Mar - Concon. Coastline along the route between Concon and Viña del Mar. Many apartment buildings enjoy a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. Most are used as summer residence for Chileans living in Santiago or for rentals to Argentine tourists.
Among the main attractions of the coast of the Valparaíso Region is the Coastal Route between Viña del Mar and Concon. Although narrow, twisted, and generally difficult to travel during the summer months, the 10-kilometer road between Viña del Mar and Concon has the highest concentration of some of the best beaches along the Chilean coast. There are several fishing coves, beautiful dunes and rockeries and a large variety of seabirds. The area also has an excellent tourist infrastructure including several resorts affiliated to international hotel chains, a casino, exciting nightlife, and a host of restaurants specializing in seafood.
Coastal Route Viña del Mar - Concon. Large sand dunes and low-level vegetation constitute a unique habitat in the area that people living along the shoreline are struggling to protect from further construction of apartment buildings.
Coastal Route Viña del Mar - Concon. The Wulff Castle, a two-story building with tower, built between 1880 and 1920 by businessman Gustavo Wulff. Currently it houses the Maritime Museum with an interesting collection of seafaring items reflecting the history of the Chilean Navy.
Digital Journal recently toured the Coastal Route between Viña del Mar and Concon. The beauty of the winding road by the sea, the well-appointed beach resorts and the freshness of the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Humboldt Current, explain the long caravans of vehicles crossing the Andes and the growing fascination and determination of the Argentine visitors to reach the beaches and stay in Viña del Mar an average of 12.6 days. The local businesses are delighted.