Expedition: Patagonia Coast to Coast - Chile to Argentina

Expedition: Patagonia Coast to Coast - Chile to Argentina

Are you ready to pedal Coast to Coast across South America? Join us on this expedition from Chiloé, Chile on the Pacific Coast, over the Andes, down the Chubut River valley through the Argentinian Steppe, to Playa Union on the Atlantic Coast. There are plenty of surprises along the way: starting with the unique culture of the Chilote people who are of Spanish and indigenous Mapuche descent; the Welsh settlement and tea houses at Gaiman; and Ruta 25, the main road of Argentine Patagonia but one of the least traveled roads in the country. We'll enjoy oceans, rain forest, mountains, deserts, river valleys and just about every other type of terrain you can imagine on this 700+ mile, 17-day expedition.

Expedition tours are designed for experienced riders looking to challenge themselves. You can read more about how they differ from a regular ExperiencePlus! tour here.

Is cycling in South America for you? Check out our What to expect: Cycling in South America page.

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
Jan 10-26, 2020
USD$7595
USD$1000
Contact Us for Availability. Private Rooms may not be available every night. Price includes tour leader gratuities.  

* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

Tour Style: Expedition Book This Trip Now Hold-A-Space/Questions Download Itinerary Request Custom Date

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 17 Days
  • Total Distance / 1128 km (700 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 87 km (54 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 5.0 Expedition
  • Countries / Argentina, Chile
  • Begin/End / Puerto Montt, Chile/Playa Union, Argentina
  • Price / From USD$7595
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  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Chiloé Island, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, penguin colony, market in Castro, rafting, Old Patagonian Express, Last frontier feeling in the Argentinian Steppe, Guanacos, Gaiman, Irish tea house.

    Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

    - Expeditions require that you be prepared for anything and a sense of adventure will be your most valuable asset!
    - Because of gravel or poor road conditions there will likely be 2 or 3 instances where you will have to shuttle.
    - You will travel to remote areas where accommodations will be very basic.
    - Private Rooms may not be available every night.

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Expedition tour at the Expedition Tour Style page.
  • Includes
    17 days, 16 night's accommodation, 16 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 dinners. Price includes all tips including tour leader gratuities. Day 1 shuttle from Puerto Montt to the tour start. Day 17 shuttle from Playa Union to the Trelew Airport.

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Expedition tour at the Expedition Tour Style page.
  • Arrive / Depart
    Puerto Montt, Chile (via Santiago, Chile) /Trelew, Argentina, (via Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    51km / 624m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    3
    110km / 1523m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 5.0
    4
    75km / 1372m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 5.0
    5
    56km / 659m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    6
    54km / 562m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    7
    52km / 368m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    8
    Rest day
    9
    Rest day
    10
    75km / 745m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 2.0
    11
    95km / 626m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.5
    12
    164km / 1024m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 5.0
    13
    57km / 184m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.5
    14
    190km / 987m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 5.0
    15
    111km / 375m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 2.5
    16
    43km / 131m
    Mostly flat
    difficulty level 1.0
    17
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: Long days and varied terrain with some days including up to 4000+ feet of climbing.

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary

DAY 1: Meet in Puerto Varas

Highlights: Chiloe Island

Our trip begins with a shuttle to Ancud, Chiloé (about 90kms, 2 hours) where we fit bicycles and take a warm-up ride to stretch out our legs. Founded in 1767, Ancud was a fortified city, a base for seafarers coming north around Cape Horn, and the last Spanish stronghold in Chile. Chiloé is a fascinating island with one of the largest indigenous populations of any place in Chile.

DAY 2: Dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean

Highlights: Magellan and Humboldt penguins colony, walk on beach, Curanto Lunch

We’re in Ancud again tonight but we'll take an excursion today to be sure our bikes are properly fitted, dip our toes in the Pacific on this spectacularly remote beach and visit the penguin colony. A 30 min. boat ride will takes us to Puñihuil, the only place in Chile where both the Magellan and Humboldt penguins breed.

For lunch we'll have a Curanto lunch - experience a 10,000 year old recipe and cooking style.

  • Distance: 51km (32mi)
  • Gain: 624m (2047ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 3: East Coast of Chiloé Island

Highlights: Fishing port, East coast of Chiloé Island

Our route today takes us on the Panamerican Highway for about 40 km, then off to the east coast of Chiloé Island. A little over half way into our ride we'll pass the Aucar islet, a tiny island with just a church and cemetery but special because of a 700m wooden bridge which connects it with the Island of Chiloé. (For those who want to add a few km the wooden church of Colo is worthwhile the detour( there will be another wooden church on the route tomorrow)). We’ll end our day in Dalcahue, a fishing port north east of Castro, the capital of the island.

  • Distance: 110km (68mi)
  • Gain: 1523m (4995ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 5.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: Explore fishing community, bicycle to Castro

Highlights: Church of Santa María de Loreto in Achao, Palafito Houses and Market in Castro

From Dalcahue we'll take the ferry to Quinchao Island. We'll bike to Curaco de Velez and after that to Achao to explore the oldest church (1793) in the archipelago which is one of the iconic wooden churches of the Chiloé Archipelago and a UNESCO site. On our way back we'll have lunch at an "agroturismo". After ferrying back to Chiloé we'll bicycle to Castro where you'll have time to explore the local market of Castro and discover produce you've never seen before and artisanal handicrafts!

  • Distance: 75km (47mi)
  • Gain: 1372m (4500ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 5.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: Castro to Chiloé National Park

Highlights: Ride to Pacific, Chiloé National Park, lunch with locals

We pedal from Castro to Chiloé National Park on the Pacific Coast today. In the National Park we'll go for a 1-2 hour hike to explore its ancient forests and learn about its history. This region was described by Charles Darwin on his famous voyage as rich in its diversity of temperate-zone forest plants. The park was created by the indigenous communities of Chiloé who have fought to protect the environment threatened by intensive deforestation. The national park is also home to rare species of animals endemic to Chile, such as picaflores (hummingbirds), kingfishers, huillines (sea otters), and pudúes (the smallest deer in the world). We'll visit with members of the indigenous community of Quilque over lunch with local products. Tonight we overnight in a unique stilt hotel in the small town of Cucao.

  • Distance: 56km (35mi)
  • Gain: 659m (2162ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: Pedal to Chonchi or Castro and Ferry to Chaitén

Highlights: Ferry to Chaitén

Our schedule today will vary depending on ferry schedules. If the ferry leaves mid-day we'll take a quick morning ride from the ocean back to Castro or Chonchi. We arrive in Chaiten later this afternoon after a 4-5 hour boat ride. We'll spend the night in Chaitén and explore this town as it is being rebuilt. In 2008 Chaitén was partially destroyed during the eruption of the Chaitén Volcano after it having been dormant for 9000 years!

  • Distance: 54km (34mi)
  • Gain: 562m (1843ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: Cycle to Yelcho in Patagonia

Highlights: Bicycle Chaiten - Yelcho en Patagonia

We will rest our legs on a shorter ride today and get ready for the Andes. Our accommodation tonight is in a "hidden corner of the world." We will stay on the shores of the lake of Yelcho, one of the largest lakes of Chile surrounded by ice capped peaks and rain forests.

  • Distance: 52km (33mi)
  • Gain: 368m (1207ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 8: Boat ride to Futaleufú

Highlights: Boat ride across Lake Yelcho

We jump on a boat across the lake today to experience the the mountains from a different point of view. We'll spend some time enjoying the little community of Futaleufu which is mostly known for its world class rafting and fly fishing. No riding today, just some time on the lake and exploring town.

  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 9: Futaleufu - Rest day in the Mountains

Highlights: Scenic rivers, rafting and hiking

You have the option of a half day of rafting or spending your day simply enjoying your beautiful surroundings. If you are a fly fisher we can help find you fly fishing options for the day, or simply a nice walk in the hills if you prefer! Tonight we'll have dinner together and celebrate our last night in Chile before we cross the border tomorrow.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 10: Esquel, Argentina and into the Foothills of the Andes!

Highlights: River views, views of Patagonia Express narrow gauge steam train

We head up the river this morning and climb about 2,000 feet by the time we arrive in Esquel, a small ski resort in the foothills of the Argentine Andes. Esquel is famous as the terminus of the Old Patagonian Express one of the oldest continuously operating steam railways in the world. The train now operates primarily as a tourist attraction. We should be able to get some good photographs.

  • Distance: 75km (47mi)
  • Gain: 745m (2444ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 11: Climb to Tecka

Highlights: Bicycle Ruta 40, the Andes

You'll continue to climb on today's ride as you leave Esquel for Tecka. After about 10 km. you intersect the famous "Ruta 40" which we’ll follow to Tecka where we spend the night. (If you continue south on the Ruta 40 and you’d end up in southern Patagonia - after about 4 weeks on your bike!).

  • Distance: 95km (59mi)
  • Gain: 626m (2053ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: Tecka to Paso de los Indios

Highlights: Barbecue, Argentinean steppe

Today is your first opportunity to ride a century, from Tecka to Paso de Indios on Ruta 25, rather than Ruta 40. We'll go over our last mountain range and head down to the beginning of the Chubut River Valley. The choices for accommodations are very limited in this remote area so we'll stay in a simpler style hotel. Keep your eyes open and you'll see eagles, and some guanacos.

  • Distance: 164km (102mi)
  • Gain: 1024m (3359ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 5.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: Down into the Valle de Los Altares

Highlights: Bicycle the Rio Chubut

Continuing east from Paso de Indios we encounter the Rio Chubut and the landscape changes dramatically as we enter the Valle de Los Altares. This green river valley contrasts starkly with the eroded sedimentary cliffs on either side. Our destination tonight is a small hotel in the village of Los Altares.

  • Distance: 57km (36mi)
  • Gain: 184m (604ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: Bicycle to Dique Florentino Almeghino

Highlights: Cycling the plains - longest day of cycling!

Our route continues down the Rio Chubut today following the river to Las Plumas. We then continue on to where the Rio Chubut was dammed in 1963 to provide irrigation, hydroelectric power, and flood control for communities down the river. The prevailing winds are strong and should be at your back (fingers crossed) as you ride down the valley. If the winds are unfriendly there will be a shuttle available at the 100 km mark.

  • Distance: 190km (118mi)
  • Gain: 987m (3237ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 5.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: Bicycle to Gaiman

Highlights: Welsh tea house

As we follow the Rio Chubut further eastward, the last thing you might expect to find is a Welsh tea house and a city of 6,000 people speaking both Spanish and Welsh, but that is precisely what Gaiman has to offer. Settled by Welsh immigrants in the 1860s and 70s, the entire region is a miniature Welsh enclave.

  • Distance: 111km (69mi)
  • Gain: 375m (1230ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 16: Bicycle to the Atlantic

Highlights: The Atlantic Ocean

We continue pedaling through this unlikely Welsh cultural region, and capital of the Chubut region. We then head on to the Atlantic coast to dip our feet into the Atlantic and end this expedition in the small town of Playa Union.

  • Distance: 43km (27mi)
  • Gain: 131m (430ft)
  • Terrain: Mostly flat
  • Day Level: difficulty level 1.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 17: Farewell and enjoy Argentina or Patagonia

Highlights: Fly out to Buenos Aires or down to Tierra del Fuego

Our tour ends on the Atlantic Beach this morning. You understand Patagonia and the Steppe a little better now! Spend some more time discovering the Peninsula of Valdés. Buen viaje!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Meet in Puerto Varas

Lodging: Hotel Don Lucas

Your tour starts with a shuttle pick-up on Day 1 at the meeting hotel in Puerto Varas listed below (your spot is already reserved on this shuttle):

Note:

As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying into the Puerto Montt International Airport (PMC)

We will be glad to arrange your pre- and post-tour stay at the Meeting Hotel for you upon request. Note that we will not sleep there as a group and the stay there is not included in the tour price.

Getting to the Meeting Hotel in Puerto Varas from the PMC airport

  • Taxi (30min/30,000 pesos)

Tips on flights:

Puerto Montt Airport (PMC) has connections to Santiago, Chile (SCL), Buenos Aires International Airport (EZE), and Buenos Aires Domestic Airport (AEP) see LATAM

  • Connecting in Santiago, Chile: LATAM offers several 1.5 hour direct flights from Santiago.
  • Connecting in Buenos Aires: LATAM offers several flights daily from both Buenos Aires Airports - you may have to connect through Santiago). It is a 4.5 to 5.5 hour flight. We would recommend connecting through Santiago rather than Buenos Aires.

For more travel planning tips, including our packing lists, visit our Travel Planning Pages.

Day 17: Departure Information

Farewell and enjoy Argentina or Patagonia

On the final tour day, we shuttle from the tour end you to the Trelew Airport (REL). Shuttle departs at 6:00 a.m. with arrival at the airport by 6:30 a.m. in time for the first flight to Buenos Aires at 7:50 a.m., which is good if you have an international connection to catch later in the day. Tour Leaders will take your shuttle reservations on tour.

If your flight is later in the day (which is also recommended if you are planning on staying in Buenos Aires), there are a number of taxi services available. Tour Leaders or your hotel can assist with arrangements.

Tips on flights:

Trelew Airport has connections to Buenos Aires, from where you can connect to the United States from Santiago, Chile. Non-stop flights from Trelew to Buenos Aires take less than 2 hours but be aware of some itineraries that make several stops along the route and therefore take much longer. See LATAM

You will likely have to change airports in Buenos Aires. Read details on how to do that here.

Keep in Mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

- Expeditions require that you be prepared for anything and a sense of adventure will be your most valuable asset!
- Because of gravel or poor road conditions there will likely be 2 or 3 instances where you will have to shuttle.
- You will travel to remote areas where accommodations will be very basic.
- Private Rooms may not be available every night.

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Expedition tour at the Expedition Tour Style page.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To Do Today!

3–6 Months Prior to Departure

  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed. As you make your plans refer to the Getting To and Away sent to you in your booking confirmation email it provides meeting times and the starting and ending hotels and shuttle information when applicable.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights. Please refer to the Getting To and Away sheet you received in your Reservation Confirmation Email.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program www.experienceplus.com/training.
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 Weeks–2 Weeks Prior to Departure

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your Getting To and Away information and one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike comes with a pack for the rear rack, lock, cyclometer (bicycle computer), a spare tube and patch kit and pump. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages and straps available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet. Daily Routine (Procedures and Logistics)

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

At breakfast each day we will make the "Master Route Map" available so you can highlight your map for the day's ride. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

We'll be taking photos throughout the tour and we encourage you to do the same. Please note that we may use these for promotional purposes. Please inform us if you prefer images of you not be used. We realize that many of our travelers are great photographers and often people want to share photos after the trip. We'd love to see and share your photos from the tour with the world so if you don't mind the possibility of being famous (at least in the ExperiencePlus! world) send us a link to your tour photo gallery, or upload your favorite 20 - 30 pictures to your tour departure gallery - we'll send you the link to that online photo gallery in your final email!

Expedition Tour Style

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Expedition tour at the Expedition Tour Style page.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • Tops on my list is the accomplishment of completing the trip, riding coast to coast, crossing the Andes and biking two century days. I really think the whole of the trip is much more than the sum of its parts. I booked this trip to mark the milestone of my 40th birthday, and it exceeded my every expectation. I not only challenged myself physically, I also experienced and learned about two amazing countries while getting to know an amazing group of fellow travelers. What better gift could I ask for?

    Roger P. Sacramento, CA
  • I recently returned from the Coast to Coast South America expedition in Patagonia, and it was a wonderful, unforgettable adventure. I would have repeated it immediately ... without hesitation ... because I enjoyed it so much!

    Linda H. Plattsmouth, NE
  • Great trip and great guides as usual!

    Sybil P., Boulder, CO
  • "All in all this was a very nice trip, well organized, nice people, interesting location, excellent staff, a lot of fun, a lot of hard work and exercise,(that's a good thing)good equipment."

    John D. Madison, CT
  • "I felt very comfortable with the family business because they all made me feel like 'one of the family!'"

    Mary G. Sarasota, FL
  • The trip expanded my world!

    Gary M., Denver, CO
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