Exploring Chile's Lake District on two wheels

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of November 14-20, 1996
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Getting away from the beach in Manzanillo
Exploring Chile's Lake District on two wheels
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Fat-tire fun near Phoenix

Exploring Chile's Lake District on two wheels
Question: Can you please advise names of bike tour operators with trips to Bariloche and Port Montt (Chilean/Argentinean Lake Districts), South America?

Lisa Calmenson
Honolulu, HI
[email protected]

You'll pedal to hot springs
in Chile's Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales

Adventure Adviser: Berkeley-based Backroads runs an 11-day inn-to-inn mountain biking trip in the Lake District of northern Patagonia. Starting from Chile's Puerto Varas in the foothills of the Andes, you can pedal between 19 and 40-plus miles a day along the shores of Lago Llanquihue, past the volcanic cones of Osorno and Calbuca, to the lakeside village of Frutillar.

From there, it's into the Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales, Chile's first national park. Sandwiched in between days of two-wheel touring, you can raft the Rio Petrohué, hike up the slopes of Volcan Osorno, and pedal to nearby hot springs. A layover day gives you time for fishing, horseback riding, or boating in the Region of Seven Lakes. Nights are spent in small family inns and chalets known for their calorie-replenishing meals, spectacular views, and--at least in one case--after-dinner tango lessons. Terrain for the most part is pleasantly rolling with some moderately hilly stuff. Knobby-tire bikes are the steeds of choice, as about half of the route is on dirt roads. Trips depart from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, December through March and will set you back $2,795 per person, including most meals; air fare is extra. Call 800-462-2848 for more details.

Another good bet is Southwind Adventures' 10-day inn-to-inn pedal through the area on 21-speed mountain bikes. The riding is moderately challenging, mostly on rolling dirt roads. In addition to seven days of spinning 25 miles across low-elevation terrain, you'll get to indulge in the usual Lake District pleasures: hot springs, rafting, national parks. Trips run October-March and will set you back between $1,725 and $1,925, depending on group size. Air fare to Santiago is extra; call 800-377-9463.

In a slightly different vein, Mountain Travel-Sobek offers an eight-day hiking, biking, and rafting trip in Chile, with stops in the Lake District, wine country, and thermal pools of Termas de Huife. The emphasis here is clearly on the multisport experience, so your biking will be limited to two days to make room for a crampon-assisted trek to the summit of Villcaria Volcano and a half-day whitewater adventure down the Trancura River. Trips leave late December through mid-February and cost $1,395 per person, not including air fare to Santiago. For dates and details, call 800-227-2384.

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