Chile is a country in South America, it occupies a long strip of land – measuring only 150 miles wide! It’s bordered by the Andes mountains to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West. Despite being one of the South America’s smallest countries by area – only spanning a total of 756, 096 square kilometers, Chile is home to some 17 million people and has an average density of 22 people per square kilometer.
From a cycling standpoint, Chile has something for everyone who visits. The mountainous regions near the Andes offer terrific mountain biking locations, and the trails around the nation’s capital of Santiago is also hot property among mountain bikers. Touring cyclists can also enjoy long-distance touring routes – taking you through National Reserves, cities, and the country’s northern regions which provide a great physical challenge, but you reap the rewards with gorgeous mountain vistas.
Popular Bike Tour Destinations In Chile
The Rio Clarillo National Reserve is located 45 kilometers from Santiago, the National Reserve offers diverse cycling in a unique, natural setting. The trails, which favour mountain bikes, traverse throughout the National Reserve. The Reserve itself stretches some 29,000 acres of land, with altitude ranging from 850 meters, all the way up to 3500 meters above sea level. The higher altitudes make for some tricky and physically gruelling climbs.
The northern pampas are 47 kilometers from the nearest city of Iquique. The pampas are home to the Humberstone Saltpeter Works, this historical place dates back to the 19th century, when English colonialists mined this region for saltpeter – or sodium nitrate. There is a special path in the region for bicycles – both touring bikes and mountain bikes can enjoy this Chilean slice of history, although road bike tires will struggle in the terrain.
Colchagua Valley is Chilean wine country! Home to Chilean cowboys, it’s wineries are situated in valleys, overlooked by the high mountain passes of the Andes. Once again – mountain and touring bicycles are the order of the day if you wish to explore the region and indulge in the fine-wine-dining. Roads wander throughout the many, many wineries – these produce some of the world’s highest-ranked wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
Santiago is the Chilean capital. It’s home to some great city cycling, despite the fact that it’s greatly populated – as with most capital cities. It’s very cycle-friendly, however, offering (mainly) it’s resident a bike-sharing programme. There’s ample space on the road for cyclists with dedicated bike paths, and the walls are sometimes decorated with bike murals. The city’s American colonial roots are also present, with the Palacio de la Moneda in full view, built 1799.
The Carretera Austral is a very challenging route through the Chilean part of Patagonia (a region which it shares with Argentina). Though a real challenge for any cyclist – due to it’s high altitude climbs – the Carretera Austral is equally as beautiful. The Futaleufu River runs through the region and is popular among pack-rafters around the world. It’s also home to the Southern Highway – a 200km cycleable route from Puerto Montt, to Villa O’Higgins.
The Araucanía and The Lakes District, where this adventure takes place, is a particularly lovely section of Chile. It is defined by picturesque, snow-capped volcanoes and many shimmering finger lakes as well as several fine towns and small cities that are well-heeled to receive travelers with great restaurants and fine lodging. [/one_third] [one_third_last]
Your trek deposits you and your mountain bike as close as the season allows to a 16,000 + foot pass at the border of Argentina with Chile. This spectacular pass called Agua Negra ushers you into a spectacular slice of Chile from the Summit of the Andes to the Shoreline of the Pacific Ocean far below.
Facts About Chile
Among Chile’s mountain regions, there are over 1300 volcanoes, a number of which are still thought to be active.
Over 1/3 of the world’s copper is produced in Chile.
The Chilean city of Valpraiso is home to South America’s largest annual fireworks show.
Chile is the home of one of the world’s most deserted and remote deserts – the Atacama Desert.
Punta Arenas, at Chile’s southern tip, is the world’s southernmost city on a continent.
The Vina del Mar is the most popular tourist attraction in all of Chile.
In the early 2000’s, Chile topped the United States as the world’s number one exporter of salmon.
In the above-mentioned Atacama Desert, there was one of the world’s longest dry spells… It did not rain for forty years.