Explorers Connect

Cycling Chile's Famous Carretera Austral

Join a TeamJames Hipkiss

A challenging, two-week mountain bike journey along the legendary Carretera Austral highways southernmost portion and visit some truly unique places, like Caleta Tortel. Between 13th and 27th December 2015Trip Summary- Transfer to hostel in Coihaique, enjoy the evening- A predominantly paved route, youll cycle through to Villa Cerro Castillo- A long day starting with a 50km transfer, youll then cycle unpaved roads to Puerto Murta- Slow day to Puerto Tranquillo, near Lago General Carrera- Passing lakes and farmland, a gravelled route to Puerto Bertrand- Follow the Baker River to Cochrane- a 60km gravel ride takes you to a campsite and authentic Patagonian barbecue!- 97km to Caleta Tortel - a fascinating fishing village built on stilts and boardwalks- Rest day in Tortel, maybe visit the Jorge Montt glacier- Transfer, boat journey and 95km to Villa OHiggins - gateway to the South Patagonian Ice Cap- Cross Lago OHiggins by boat to Candelario Mancilla and rest up in tents under the stars- Hike / cycle up an adventurous trail to Lago del Desierto; crossing by boat; transfer to Chalten- Day to yourselves, whether resting, hiking the many surrounding trails, or any other way- Morning transfer to El CalafateRequirements:Must be fit and able to cycle up to 100km on unpaved surface.Trip ItineraryDay 1: Arrive in CoihaiqueYou will arrive in Coihaique and a transfer will be waiting for you with a sign ready to take you to your hostel. Coihaique is the biggest city in the region and the commercial center for this part of Patagonia. We will spend the night in the town and you will have the opportunity to explore and enjoy city life for the last time in many days.Day 2: Coihaique - Villa Cerro CastilloYou will be able to take it easy this morning, we will ride 40 km on paved road towards El Blanco. The town was a post for travelers and populated by farmers. There are just 500 people that live in the town today. In the afternoon we will continue to Villa Cerro Castillo. It is approximately 64 km more on paved roads. You will pass by the Reserva Villa Cerro Castillo and admire the interesting landscapes and peaks. In the evening you will settle into a hostel and enjoy a filling meal!Day 3: Villa Cerro Castillo - Puerto MurtaWe will start out very early today, because we are going to have a big riding day. Breakfast will be at 7:30 and we will leave before 9:00, the first 50 km of the day will be ridden in a transfer. We will get out of the transfer and continue our way on our bikes. The ride is on gravel and we will continue peddling past beautiful lakes, rivers, and through valleys until we finally reach Puerto Murta. We will spend the night in the tiny town and rest after a long day.Day 4: Puerto Murta - Puerto TranquiloTo make up for yesterday, today will be extremely slow. We will have a late departure and ride 23 km on gravel road to Puerto Tranquilo. This small port town is home to Lake General Carrera, the largest lake in Chile. If we have time in the afternoon you might want to visit Exploradores Glacier and San Valentin Mount and ice field; both bodies of ice contribute to the northern ice field.Day 5: Puerto Tranquilo Puerto BertrandToday we will leave the peace of Puerto Tranquilo and head towards to Puerto Bertrand, a place where the famous and amazing Baker River starts. Along the route we will pass three lakes, during the summer months the lakes will rise and flood a lot of the areas farmlands. We will ride 78 km on gravel roads and cozy cabins will be awaiting us in the evening. The town is a great place for fly fishing and we may encounter serious fishermen in this town.Day 6: Puerto Bertrand - CochraneAfter a nutritional breakfast we will begin cycling along Baker River. You will be able to relax and admire the impressive rapids along the way. We will ride 62 km on gravel road, and cycle over a couple of demanding stretches as we head towards another bigger town. We will stay in a cozy hostel in Cochrane. This is the last town we will stop at with internet and telephone connection. After today we will be entering some of the most untouched places in Patagonia. Outside of Cochrane you can find San Lorenzo Mount, this is one of the highest peaks in the region (12,158 ft) and on a clear day you can see it in the distance. We will spend the night in Cochrane before delving further into Patagonia.Day 7: Cochrane - Camping Los NadisWe will be off into the wilderness! Camping Los Nadis is a nice stop along the road, there arent many options for accommodations in the area, but this is a perfect spot to stop and enjoy a typical Patagonian barbecue. You will enjoy beautiful views and a peaceful campsite after a 60km ride on gravel roads.Day 8: Camping Los Nadis - Caleta TortelToday we will leave the peaceful camp and get back on the road. Our destination today is called Caleta Tortel; it is 97 km, along gravel roads, away from Camping Los Nadis. It is an incredible town built on steep stone cliffs and until 2003 was only accessible by water. Today the town is connected via boardwalks and when you arrive you will have to get a boat-taxi or walk along the boardwalks for about 30 minutes until reaching our final destination in a cozy hostel.Day 9: Day of ExplorationDuring our rest day we will have the opportunity to visit Jorge Montt Glacier. We will enjoy a day trip by boat to see the northern portion of the Southern Ice Fields, which is the third largest fresh water reserve in the world. In the evening we will return back to Caleta Tortel and have another good nights rest.Day 10: Caleta Tortel - Villa OHigginsWe will need to start out early today because the journey today is 155 km on gravel roads and on water. We will begin the day by taking a transfer to Puerto Yungay where we will board a boat. This ferry will save us some distance peddling and also make the last leg of our adventure on the Carretera Austral more interesting! We will head towards Villa OHiggins after the ferry crossing docks in Rio Bravo and have 92 km to go on gravel roads. Finally we will arrive in Villa OHiggins and prepare for the crossing the following day.Day 11: Villa OHiggins - Candelario MansillaToday we will begin our voyage across Lake OHiggins and Lake San Martin. First we will have breakfast and prepare to cross the lake on a ferry. We will have to ride 15 minutes down a gravel road and then board a ferry that will take us two and a half hours across Lake OHiggins to Candelario Mansilla, where we will stop and enjoy the life of this remote Estancia for the evening. We will eat dinner here and sleep under the stars in tents.Day 12: Candelario Mansilla - Lago del Desierto - ChaltenToday will be a bit longer than the day before. We will begin the day hiking/cycling four to six hours on a trail that isnt maintained very well; the distance is only 22 km. It will be difficult, but will add an aspect of true adventure and wilderness to your expedition. Finally you will read Lago Del Desierto and you will board another boat that will take you across the lake. A transfer will meet you and as you come into El Chalten you will notice the amazing peaks that made this area famous. It is a short 40 km ride to El Chalten and we will arrive in time for a shower and dinner.Day 13: Hiking DayToday you can spend the day for yourself. You can take a walk out of El Chalten or just relax in the quaint little town. We can also arrange for a guided tour this day if you wish.Day 14: El CalafateIn the morning you will catch a bus to El Calafate. Your flight should not be before noon, and your transfer will take you to the airport depending on what time you depart.http://www.swoop-patagonia.co.uk/carretera-mountainbike-challenge/