Cycling the Paso San Francisco in Chile

5 Reasons to go cycling in Chile

by Bicycle Junkies

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.

Cycling the Carretera Austral in Chile

Cycling the Carretera Austral

#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.

Cycling the Carretera Austral

One of many volcanoes

#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. 😉

Cycling Paso Pichachen

Cycling Paso Pichachen

#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?

Cycling in Chile

Flamingo at Laguna Cejar

#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.

Hiking the W-trek in Torres del Paine

Los Cuernos in Torres del Paine

Well, those are our highlights, want to share yours? Please comment below, I’m sure other cyclists will appreciate your input too!

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Amanda Zeisset October 4, 2015 - 00:09

Chile is our next destination. We can’t wait to get there for all of these reasons! I’ve just saved your article to refer to once we are closer. Thanks for all the great info!

Bicycle Junkies October 4, 2015 - 01:57

Hi Amanda, you are welcome. It’s a beautiful country, we loved it. Happy travels!

David Gostelow October 6, 2015 - 17:02

I’ve just moved to Chile to live with my wife and have the rest of my life to explore this amazing place by bike 🙂

Bicycle Junkies October 7, 2015 - 00:24

Lucky you David! It’s such a beautiful country, been there on three different travels and loved it each time and there is still more to discover, such as the far North. We’ll be back!

Jason Blu September 21, 2018 - 05:42

Planning for bikepacking on chile next year.. i stumble on your blog. I get more excited and motivated after reading. Thanks


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