The Door To The Andes – The Longest Mountain Range In The World

There were three reasons we decided to brave a trip into Venezuela. One was to visit Trujillo (read previous post here). The second was to enter the Andes mountains at their source. The third reason I will let you know in a few days.

The Andes begin in the town of La Puerta, Venezuela. La Puerta means “The Door”.

The Andes Mountains are no joke! They extend from north to south through seven South American countries including Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. That’s the entire continent from top to bottom, which makes the Andes the longest mountain range in the world. It is over 5,000 miles long. It ranges in width from 120 to 430 miles and has an average height of over 13,000 ft!

Anyone driving the Pan American Highway will spend an extensive amount of time in this mountain range. But again, the mountains START in Venezuela. That means if you truly want to drive the entire stretch of the Andes, which we do, then you have to go into Venezuela to start, which we did!

Stevie – Yes my love, I know, it’s not a competition. I’m just giving them all the info.

And so we went to the little town of La Puerta, and from there we entered The Door into the Andes!

The temperature quickly dropped as we began climbing into the clouds. Our destination was the mountain town of Merida.

We passed many small villages living at the high altitude. Pretty cool to see.

On our first pass we crested over 13,000 feet. The roads were extremely steep and narrow. In many places landslides had wiped them out and narrow dirt lanes were carved into the mountain side for passage. It took us 5.5 hours to drive 98 miles in excellent weather conditions. I guess its going to be a really long trip to the end of the Andes.

We made it to our destination safely. We plan to spend the next couple weeks exploring the Andes mountains from our new Posada in downtown Merida.

We’re still traveling with our friends, but we suspect they will be moving on soon. From here they will take a bus to Brazil. That’s class 5 hardcore just so you know.

Guillermo’s lesson the last couple days has been on changing our perspective about traveling… 

He says that wherever we go, we should not view ourselves as visitors or travelers. Rather we should view that place as our home. We should care for it and the people as if they were our own, because they are.

What an interesting change in our perspective, and a powerful shift in how we view the world.

Cada dia es mejor. Cada dia estamos mejor!

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  1. insanely cool. you guys are too much. what an adventure. I can see why you don't want to come home. Although you're missing great surf Tree!

  2. Dave Adair says:

    I just got back from five months in Guatemala, and I'm leaving Tuesday for a van road trip in Europe. And I'm envious! I guess that's how I know I'm a traveler. I love this stuff.

    I'm really enjoying your updates, insights, and photos. But I suspect it's the insights that are transformative and important…

    Cheers, fellow voyagers!

  3. Ruin Running says:

    Make sure you have a vented gas cap. Sometimes a non vented one will cause problems with your vehicle. Especially if your going high then low with the elevations.

  4. Eric – thanks man. Don't worry about waves for us, Peru is just around the corner

    Dave – Van trip around Europe, Wow! sounds amazing. We can' wait to tour Europe. What a cool place.

    Steve – Thanks for the heads up bro. I'll keep an eye on it

  5. Anonymous says:

    Interesting coincidence – when Michele & I lived in Madrid in the early 70's we decided to take a hitchhiking trip to Portugal during spring break. We traveled west, first place we spent the night was a small town named Trujillo, second night a town named Merida – small world !!


  6. Guillermo is right. We are all human and live on this planet. That's the scary part about the world, respecting the environment is a global issue, not a country issue. We have to come together as one and decide to change our ways.

  7. Mick, no offense my dear friend, but how the HELL do yu remember that shit? I can't remember where we slept last month!

  8. Alexis, (AKA SIS)
    OMG, you're starting to sound left of your sister. I love it!


  9. Guillermo sounds like a pretty smart guy.
    You two are moving along at a pretty good clip.
    I have found, that the idea of slower travel gives one a chance to actually get to know an area, a town and the people.
    Also is a lot less stressful.
    Be safe – I know the roads cannot be much better than they are outside of Guatemala City, and those suckers were bad – with the landslides wiping out whole sections of 4 lane roads!
    Be careful but most of all enjoy the smell of the roses on your journey – don't speed on by them, slow down and enjoy the fragrance.
    John D. Wilson
    aka – The Big Mozey

  10. Hola amigo mozey! You are very right in your support of slow travel: it does offer the traveler more to gain with less stress, and slower is our ambition! We have a couple commitments in South America that are dictating our pace right now, but by the end of july, we hope to slow it down for a while. All in all, we plan to spend a couple years at least in S.America before we head on to Europe or wherever calls us next.

  11. cecilia Paredes says:

    Guillermo rocks! Saludos!

  12. Well Barry and I may never make it to the Andes, but we have hiked the smallest mountain range in the world… located in our old back yard are the Sutter Buttes in the Sacramento Valley. Here is some fun information for you…

    Here's the Wikipedia write-up on the Sutter Buttes:

    The Sutter Buttes, also known as the Marysville Buttes or Histum Yani (from the Maidu Indians), are a small circular complex of eroded volcanic lava domes which rise above the flat plains of the California Central Valley, USA. The highest peak, South Butte, reaches 2,117 feet (645 m) above sea level. The Buttes are located just outside of Yuba City, California in the Sacramento Valley, the northern part of Central Valley. They are named for John Sutter, who received a large land grant from the Mexican government.

    The mountains are about 10 miles (16 km) across from north to south and east to west, and are the smallest mountain range in the world. The valley formed in the middle of the Buttes is called the Peace Valley.

    The Sutter Buttes were formed over 1.5 million years ago by a now-extinct volcano. Some geological references have suggested that it represents the southernmost of the Cascade Volcanoes, but there are significant differences in age and form compared to the other volcanoes in that range. The questions about their origin and connection to other regional volcanic activity remain unanswered.

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