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6 Reasons to Bicycle Chile and Argentina

by Maria Elena - Wednesday, April 3, 2013

1. Discover the Unexpected.
Due to their immense differences, it is somewhat unfair to talk about Chile and Argentina as if they were the same country. But, there is one particular thing they have in common – people just don’t know what to expect when they think about traveling down there. Generally, when one thinks of Latin America the first iconic images that came to mind were beaches in Mexico, the Andes and Macchu Picchu in Peru, colorful markets in Ecuador and the Amazon in Brazil. But when one hears Chile or Argentina – no immediate image comes to mind – except perhaps the Torres del Paine. To some, the unexpected may be a deterrent. To others, it’s part of the allure. We’ve heard “I didn’t know what to expect” from many people – and we’re pleased to say that every person who has uttered that comment has then said – it was so much more than I imagined. We invite you to travel south with us to discover the unexpected.

2. Bragging Rights – Yes, I’ve bicycled over the Andes.
You don’t have to tell people that it happened to be one of the lowest passes in the Andes at 1300 meters (4300 ft). Our trip in Patagonia’s Lakes District does indeed pedal over the Andes, but we promise that anyone with some determination, or who has ridden from Venice to Florence over the Apennines in Italy can do. Our route over the Andes climbs from 800 meters at the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi, up to the pass at 1300 meters and then down to 90 meters to Puyehue, on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. You could argue that this is a mostly a downhill day!

Standing at the border after climbing the pass.

3. Bragging Rights – At the wine shop and dinner table

You’ll be able to recognize most of the Chilean wines at the wine store. Of the many souvenirs you can take home – a better understanding of wine may be one of the most satisfying. We promise that if you travel to Chile and bicycle with us in Chile’s Wine Country, when you come home you’ll will not only recognize the names of the vineyards and wineries on bottles at home, you’ll have met some of the vintners and understand what makes each variety special.

Wine tasting at Neyen Winery in Apalta Valley.

4. Kick Start Your Cycling Season

When you go on a bicycle tour in January, February and March you kick start your cycling season and will be thousands of pedal strokes ahead of your spinning or gym partners if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Patagonia in December, January and February is warm and sunny and March is the perfect time to travel to Chile’s wine region as the grape harvest has begun and 70 and 80 degree temperatures are perfect for riding.

Cycling up the pass in Patagonia

5. Unique and Fabulous Accommodations
Normally I wouldn’t want to say that one tour has better hotels than another. But many of our veteran travelers have commented that the hotels we have chosen for our tours in South America all have something unique and special about them. It might be location – like the hotel in Petrohue that is on the shores of Lake Todos Santos or the hotel in Purmamarca in Northern Argentina at the base of the beautiful Cerro de Siete Coloroes. In some cases it’s history – like the hacienda turned wine hotel in the Colchagua Valley. And there is no shortage when it comes to character – like the two hotels on Chiloé, both perched on stilts.

The view from our hotel in Cucao

 

6. The Food

Whether it’s the curanto (basically a clam bake with much more than clams!) on Chiloe Island or the cowboy  BBQ in Northern Argentina, Chile’s seafood stew and freshly prepared crab, oysters or the home cooked meal in Chile’s Central valley – the meals on all of the trips down south are extra special and as unexpectedly interesting and varied as the cultural and historical regions we bicycle. Words don’t do some of this food justice,  so we thought this photo album would be the best way to whet your appetite.

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Maria Elena - Maria Elena Malpezzi-Price: 'M.E.' started her bicycle tour leading experiences as a 5 year old, translating ice cream flavors on our first Venice to Pisa tours. Since then, she's led tours in more than 10 countries (specializing in Spain, where she lived for more than a year). With a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and International Affairs and an MBA From the Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado, Boulder she manages the business and its development at the Fort Collins office in Colorado (and of course traveling to Europe in the summers). She loves going out on tour and hopes to manage to travel a bit even though now she is "in charge" of the Fort Collins office! You can e-mail her at MariaElena {at} ExperiencePlus.com.