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Mountain Biking and Cycling - Activity Info. - Chile

Chile is a bonanza for cyclists and mountain bikers. Pedal lakeside loops and through backcountry villages, or rattle your frame rocketing down volcanic slopes. Cycling congested city streets will test your tolerance for stress and air pollution, but in rural Chile, beyond the reach of public transportation, biking is an unhurried way to take in the country’s extremes of climate and geography. Single tracks criss-cross mountains and valleys, and a number of inviting long-distance routes stretch latitudinally, including the Panamerican highway, Carretera Austral and Sendero de Chile. Biking the entire length of Chile is becoming the trek to boast about, and, if you have the means, the Pacific Islands’ steep, meandering trails make for challenging, secluded riding. Biking in Chile is best done October to March (spring-summer), though in some parts you can cruise year-round.

If you’re flying to Chile, break your bike down and bring it as checked luggage. In-country you can put it on buses without being charged, however you’ll pay a fee when traveling by ferry. If you’re planning a long-distance biking trip, gear up before arriving, as items such as racks and touring panniers are costly in Chile. Those seeking vertical descents will need a solid front suspension to withstand the rugged, bone-rattling backroads. Chile has no shortage of repair shops, but you should still carry your own kit for emergencies. When renting, check the bike thoroughly before setting out.


You can bike easy and expert trails in the windy altiplano all year, but beware of heavy rain and even hail in December and January. The sun is scorching, water is scarce and towns are an anomaly in the Atacama desert, so bring as much water as you can when riding. Bring a filter or water treatment tablets if you’re planning to stay in small villages, where bottled water isn’t always available. In addition to battling the elements, you’ll be faced with the challenge of high altitude. Be sure to acclimatize before hitting the road. Popular trips in the north include the Quebrada del Diablo (Devil’s Gorge) near San Pedro de Atacama—a scribble of looping single tracks, and the vast, flat Atacama desert. A unique option is to bike a path that follows an old railroad line from La Ligua to Ovalle, on which you pass through five tunnels. 

Central Valley

Winter and spring are the best seasons to bike here, where riding here is less rigorous than in the north. During the summer, ride early or late to beat the heat, or head up into the Andes. Well over half of Chile’s population lives in the central valley (70 percent), so it’s harder to get away from the masses. However, there are day rides aplenty, many within striking distance of Santiago, and even within the city. Cerro San Cristóbal, the hot springs at El Plomo and Valle Nevado, which has a mountain biking lift during the summer months, are popular destinations. Less taxing day rides can be made around coastal resorts.

Lake district and Patagonia

Here, biking is a more relaxed affair. You’ll have the lakes and volcanoes nearly all to yourself. The weather is generally mild in the Lake district. Near Pucón, on Lake Villarrica, you can ride through villages to the waterfalls of Los Ojos del Caburga. There’s more vivid scenery at the Cuevas Volcánicas and on Volcán Casablanca. The extremely popular Carretera Austral begins in Puerto Montt and unfolds over 1000 km of mostly gravel—and some paved—road down to Villa O’Higgins in northern Patagonia. The weather is full of surprises in Patagonia. Hop ferries between the islands on the Carretera, and cycle around lakes like Llanquihae, or grind it out up Volcán Osorno, before zooming down its side.

Activity Info.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Wine tours, Observatorio Callowara, Suggested Reading for Chile, Los Ojos del Caburga waterfalls, Villarrica volcano, Plaza de Armas, Skiing and Snowboarding, Hiking, Climbing and Parque Natural Dos Rios .

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