Cycling and Skiing through Chile: A Photo Journal
After moving to Chile last year to help grow our new office in Santiago, I was lucky enough to experience the delights and epic landscapes that Chile bears. A country that has many activities to offer, I worked my way around trying new experiences and getting under its skin. Cycling and skiing are just two of the ways:
Cycle around the edge of Lago Llanquihue to Frutillar.
Our Lake District cycling adventure starts off today in scenic fashion as we navigate clockwise around the shore of Lago Llanquihue (the third biggest lake in South America) and stretch our legs for the more challenging days ahead. From the lakeside road we will enjoy spectacular views of the volcanoes and the Andean mountain range that lie just to the east. Volcanoes Osorno (2652m), Puntiagudo (2190m), Tronador (3451m), Puyehue (2240m) and Calbuco (2015m) are all visible on a clear day. We’ll cycle to the picturesque lakeside village of Frutillar, a German influenced settlement which is home to the modern ‘Teatro del Lago’ theatre. The ride ends here and after lunch we’ll transfer back to Puerto Varas. There will be the option to cycle back via a different route for anyone that wants to clock a few more miles today.
Ride from Puerto Varas to Petrohue; boat ride on the emerald waters of Todos los Santos Lake.
We follow the shoreline of Lago Llanquihue once more today but in an easterly direction past Puerto Chico and Ensenada, straight towards the imposing Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes. Gateway to the Andean Lakes, our journey from here across the mountain range takes us in to more remote and spectacular environments. We cycle onwards, following the banks of the emerald coloured Rio Petrohue towards the ‘Saltos de Petrohue’ waterfalls. Upon reaching ‘Lago Todos los Santos’ we are greeted by a beautiful setting and we’ll swap our mode of transport in order to board a catamaran ferry. Cruising across the lake is a wonderful and peaceful experience as we keep our eyes peeled for Andean condors flying overhead (journey time approx. 1.5/2 hours).
Begin the Andes crossing to Argentina; lake crossing and some tough cycling sections to arrive at Puerto Blest.
After breakfast we start cycling towards the Argentinian border which involves riding 20km with a steady incline before taking on a challenging climb (approx. 700m over 7.5km) to reach the frontier. There is then a short descent into Puerto Frias. Depending upon how the weather has been in the proceeding days, the unpaved mountain roads can either be well compacted or sometimes loose and dusty. The final leg of today’s iconic journey across the Andes is a short ferry crossing on Lago Frias followed by a 3km ride to your hotel in Puerto Blest.
Ferry across Lago Nahuel Huapi to Puerto Panuelo; cycle to Bariloche.
Puerto Blest is situated on the westernmost point of Lago Nahuel Huapi and from here we board a catamaran to take us to Puerto Pañuelo. Instead of cycling directly towards Bariloche, we will take a scenic route on a paved road that loops around via Punto Panoramico to enjoy an awe-inspiring view of the Argentinian Lake District. Linking up with the lakeside main road, we’ll arrive to San Carlos de Bariloche, which will be our base for the next two nights.
Free day; time to explore the city of Bariloche and ascend the nearby viewpoint of Cerro Campanario.
After several days of travelling, today is a free day allowing a well-earned chance to relax and take in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District. You may wish to take a look around the centre of Bariloche, a ski and adventure sports hub with numerous chocolate shops. There are plenty of adventurous activities available should you wish to indulge, such as guided ‘stand up rafting’ on Rio Limay, or the opportunity to independently trek up to Refugio Frey and back again on the slopes of Cerro Catedral.
Transfer to Villa La Angostura; cycle the 'Camino de los Siete Lagos' to San Martin de los Andes.
After breakfast we’ll transfer for approx. 1.5 hours around the northern edge of Lago Nahuel Huapi to bypass the busy Bariloche traffic and reach the starting point for another spectacular cycling route. The ‘Camino de los Siete Lagos’ (Seven Lakes Road) is an incredibly scenic route that winds its way northwards past lakes and forests connecting the alpine towns of San Carlos de Bariloche and San Martin de los Andes. Depending upon the exact start point, today involves us riding a total distance of around 52km through spectacular and rewarding landscapes. We will break the ride up with a lunchtime picnic stop and should therefore arrive in San Martin de los Andes in the afternoon. Entering in to the picturesque small town of San Martin involves a wonderful approach along the shore of Lago Lacar.
Ride through Huilo Huilo biological reserve; boat ride to Port Fuy; ride to Choshuenco Village.
After breakfast we will say goodbye to Argentina and cross back in to Chile via the Huahum Pass. We start cycling up to Pirihueico Port, crossing the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve. We will make a stop for coffee and lunch at the port. From here we will take a barge (boat) that will sail us to Port Fuy, (approx 1.5hours). From here we will cycle to the village of Choshuenco.
Free day in Pucon; optional hot springs or trek up Villarica Volcano (weather dependent).
Should the local conditions permit then today is the perfect opportunity to climb to the crater of a live volcano! Villarrica Volcano (2840m) is situated just outside of the town and most recently erupted in March 2015. Obviously this activity comes with its risks and so the local tour company will only take groups if the conditions are totally safe. All equipment can be rented, meaning that you only need to bring your own waterproof walking trousers. The early morning ascent takes around 4 hours and involves wearing crampons to cross a glacier before a memorable and unique descent after reaching the crater (this isn’t for the faint hearted!). Depending upon the amount of snow at the summit, the normal way of getting down the volcano is to sledge down a specially crafted series of compacted snow and ice channels. This is a special experience from start to finish, but should only be undertaken if aware of the challenges.
Transfer to Cunco; cycle into the lunar landscape of Conguillio National Park; stay at base of Llaima Volcano.
Departing Pucon, we transfer northwards after breakfast to the town of Cunco. From here the cycling starts with a 33km stretch of paved road towards Conguillio National Park, stopping for lunch in Melipeuco. Shortly afterwards is the turn off to enter the national park where the road eventually becomes unpaved and dusty in places. From the entrance we will take a short walk to the Truful Truful waterfall. Afterwards we will carry on cycling for 7km until we reach our accommodation for the night.
The scenes that we encounter today are vastly different from the rest of the tour. Clouds rise up from surrounding valleys and quickly change form whilst passing over the volcanic lava. Llaima Volcano (3125m) dominates the skyline and we spend the night in a remote and charming eco-lodge. The property restricts energy use as part of its self-sufficiency, meaning that electricity and hot water are not available during the night.
Ride through Conguillio N.P.
It is our last day of cycling today as we continue riding further within Conguillio N.P. and see several beautiful lagoons (Laguna Arco Iris, Laguna Verde) and Conguillo Lake. We will also visit the parks interpretation centre in order to find out about how the park was formed. (Please note that this may not be possible as sometimes the centre is closed during our visit). We will then walk for an hour through the native forest to see ancient monkey-puzzle trees. Tonight will be the last evening all together with group and staff, so it is the perfect opportunity for a last meal and drinks to look back on what will have surely been a fantastic journey.