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thinknotes 05-10-11 10:55 PM

Need route suggestions - 2 weeks in Chile
Hi There

I have 15 days to ride my bike and i was thinking of touring Chile sometimes in Nov, perhaps around the Thanksgiving break. Any suggestions on a good route? I am a reasonably experienced tourer and am not afraid of a good climb either. Thanks for your help,

Warm wishes

wiiiim 05-11-11 04:20 AM

15 days is pretty short!
i'd suggest the Carretera Austral, by far the most impressive route in Patagonia, extremely popular among cyclists, between Chaiten and Villa O Higgins
imagine crystal clear mountain lakes, huge plants, green forests, waterfalls everywhere, water so pure you can drink from any river, hardly any traffic (apart from Cohaique, the only major 'city' you cross), wildcamp ANYWHERE you want

takes about 3 weeks through rough terrain (no asphalt, apart from small sections around Cohaique), if you ride north so south you have a feeling of riding to the end of the world, as the road leads to a dead end in Villa O Higgins, from there you take a boat to El Chalten (Argentina) which only takes passengers and bikes; and it only does the crossing once a week (twice a week in high season around January) so don't miss it!

its by far one of the most pure places i've ever been, not the easiest road though
here are some pictures i took:
* Part 1: Futaleufu - Cohaique:
* Part 2: Cohqiaue - Villa O Higgins:
* Part 3: Villa O Higgins - El Chalten:

that whole part took me about 3 weeks, but you could do sections, Cohaique would be the easiest place to start from i guess, otherwise El Chalten is a very touristy place as well with good bus connections

the part from O Higgins to El Chalten should not be underestimated (but its huge fun), there are 2 boat crossings and in between there is no actual road for about 10km, just a small walking trail, you need at least half a day to push your bike up the very steep hill, carrying it across rivers etc.
but its been done many times before, im sure you can find loads of info about this road :-)

if you want to take it more relaxed, try the Vulcanic region around Pukon and Villarica, its very nice, but also quite touristy, more traffic, etc.
heres a picture:

the best time to do these regions is december, january, february
i did it mid november and had good weather (2 weeks of sun), but you should be aware that the weather can be really harsh in these regions (around lake General Carera there were sections i could hardly PUSH the bike because of the winds)

and on a completely other note, the areas around San Pedro de Attacama are also very nice, its a desert climate, think alti plano, huge distance views, no vegetation, red rocks, ..

let me know if you need some particular info about these suggestions
i could go on and on :P

djb 05-11-11 07:49 AM

salut Wiiim,
Wow, that sounds and looks pretty darn cool. Neat to see your fotos senor.

thinknotes 05-11-11 09:38 AM

Thanks a bunch, Wim, this is great stuff. I will try and reach out to you separately on email and perhaps seek some additional guidance.

Much appreciated

axolotl 05-11-11 10:07 AM

With 2 weeks, you could go on a nice tour in la Region de Los Lagos in south central Chile, beginning in either Puerto Montt, Valdivia, or Temuco. Some of the towns to visit include Pucon and Villarica. You can also include adjacent areas of Argentina around Bariloche. South central Chile has some gorgeous volcanoes, lakes, and mountains. The ride from Puerto Montt to Bariloche is gorgeous, involving 3 different boats across 3 different lakes. The passes in this part of the Andes aren't very high or difficult.

The further south from Santiago you go in Chile, the wetter and cooler the climate becomes. You could still have wet weather in the lake and volcano area, and it's highly likely south of there along the carretera austral in November.

wiiiim 05-11-11 11:15 AM

i had lots of rain around Villarica, waited for a week in Bariloche for it to get better (actually i wanted to do a hike there but most trails were still closed), after El Bolson i got stuck for 2 nights and a day in my tent in heavy rain in PN Los Alerces; from there on the weather improved a lot :)
but yes, November is still very early, all the campgrounds will be mostly empty

thinknotes 05-11-11 11:21 AM

Thanks, Axolotl. It seems like Nov may not be the right time to go, perhaps end Nov or early Dec may in fact work better from a weather perspective.

axolotl 05-11-11 11:53 AM

My own trip was in December. It was drier than normal and I had no rain at all. It was a good time to travel there, as locals generally don't go on vacation until after Jan. 1. I stayed in hospedajes (Bed & Breakfast) which were inexpensive and nice. I didn't bother bringing camping gear. For the carretera austral, I think you'd have to camp most of the time. After Jan. 1, finding vacant rooms everywhere would be more difficult and perhaps more expensive.

One thing to be aware of is the limited number of paved roads, although Chile has paved more roads since my trip there. I brought a mountain bike with inverted tread tires because I knew I be on both paved & unpaved roads. In reality, most of my riding was on paved roads, but both passes I rode across the Andes were unpaved at that time. I know that one of them has since been paved. The unpaved roads were in good condition. Turistel used to have their excellent maps of Chile online, but the last time I looked, I couldn't find them.

pasopia 05-13-11 06:05 PM

The Carretera Astral is a very nice route, I loved it. I did it in about two weeks, but I cut into Argentina at Futaleufu. Lots of cyclists do this, because you have to take some ferries to get to Puerto Monte after that.

I did it in 2 weeks, you can read about it starting here:

Although I agree, more time is better. Also the end at Villa O´Higgins is remote, so getting to an airport from there could take some time.

I did it this last December. It was very wet, and can be very cold. It´s beautifull though. Mostly unpaved, rough roads.

The Volcano region around Villarica is also really nice. You could maybe do some sort of ride around there, and go to the different national parks in the area.

wiiiim 05-13-11 07:38 PM

judging from your blog i think i passed you briefly in the opposite direction about 20km before El Chalten :)
i remember you had the same bike as my French friend i was cycling with, but with some sort of electricity generator inside the weel
we didn't talk much, the wind was absolutely terrifying that day, we did 65 km/h without pedaling on that stretch while we could hardly keep it on the road sometimes, haha, i remember thinking POOR GUY!
but you made it to Peru, congrats! have fun :)

pasopia 05-15-11 10:58 AM

Ha ha, I remember that! It was indeed a very hard day. I was so jealous of you guys cruising past with the tail wind.

I'm in Quito now, I only have a few days left before my flight home. I ran out of time and had to take a bus from Loja to here. It´s been a blast though.

wiiiim 05-16-11 03:11 AM

i'm glad to hear you had a good trip! i'm amazed you got so far in that time!
enjoy the return!

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