So you are planning a cycling trip in Chile and you don’t want to miss any highlights? Well, before you go, first check out the highlights we recommend for cycling in Chile.
Since we’ve done quite a lot of bicycle touring ourselves, we thought we’d share our experience with others. This article is the second in line that deals with our highlights. Check out the Top 5 to go cycling in Argentina too! Anyways, check out these 5 reasons to go cycling in Chile:
#1 – the famous Carretera Austral
Probably the number one cycling destination in Chile: the Carretera Austral. And I guess for good reasons! What about turquois colored lakes, plenty of awesome wild camping opportunities, excellent views, mind blowing glaciers, hardly any traffic, streams and rivers, etc. etc. The Carretera Austral has it all! And if you plan to cycle all the way to or from Villa O’Higgins, make sure you do the Villa O’Higgins to El Chalten crossing.
#2 – Volcanic district
Chile has many volcanoes; some are extinct, but some are pretty active. In fact, we climbed Volcan Villarrica in 2014 and that same volcano later erupted in 2015. That being said, cycling among these snow peaked cones on black sand and passing the former lava streams is pretty impressive. So is climbing one of them, but even though not very high, reaching the summit is no walk in the park. Make sure you have a reliable outfitter that doesn’t take any unnecessary risks.
#3 – High Andean passes to Argentina: Paso Sico, Paso San Francisco and Paso Pichachen
In our opinion you haven’t really cycled through Chile (or Argentina for that matter) if you haven’t crossed at least one or two high altitude Andean passes. The barren landscapes and the mineral rich colors of the mountains are not of this world and you must see them for yourself to really understand this. Of the six passes we have crossed so far (Paso Pichachen, Paso Agua Negra, Paso Cristo Redentor, Paso de Jama, Paso San Francisco and Paso Sico) Paso Sico is our absolute favorite. Windwise we recommend cycling the pass from West to East, you’ll be thankful for that. 😉
#4 – The wonders of the Atacama Desert
With pictoresque yet touristic San Pedro de Atacama as its starting point, the Atacama desert has a lot to offer. Whether you decide to cycle to these highlights or take one or more tours, this place is worth a visit. Not far from San Pedro you can cycle through the Valle de la Luna and watch the sunset here. Add to that the El Tatio Geysers, Laguna Miscanti & Miniques and the flamingos at Laguna Cejar, we are sure you won’t get bored. San Pedro is also a good starting point for Paso Sico and while you are in the neighbourhood, why not ride up to Bolivia from here?
#5 – Get off your bike and hike the W-trek in Torres del Paine
Yes, you can cycle through Torres del Paine National Park, but make sure to take a hike too! Yes, it’s busy at the campsites, but the views make up for that for sure. We hiked the famous 5-day W-trek, but if you are really in the mood, you might want to consider to hike the whole 9-day loop instead. If you didn’t bring any backpack (like us), you can rent backpack, poles etc. from Erratic Rock in Puerto Natales. They also provide an information session about hiking in Torres del Paine National Park and we highly recommend to pay them a visit.
Well, those are our highlights, want to share yours? Please comment below, I’m sure other cyclists will appreciate your input too!