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Patagonia - Carretera Austral

Guided Bike Tour




15 days

Prices from

$5,820 P.P.
Join us in the wild, rugged, and remote Chilean Patagonia as we enjoy the very best of the Carretera Austral. Our journey will see us cycling around 70 kms per day on a mix of dirt roads and tarmac as we weave our way southwards on what is one of the world’s most scenic roads. This is a landscape of lush forests, mountain passes, glaciers, icy rivers, crashing waterfalls, turquoise lakes and fjords, where each and every day is packed with scenic highlights.
Following our arrival in Puerto Varas, "La Ciudad de las Rosas," we begin our journey southwards, with the initial two days spent criss-crossing the estuaries and fjords of Los Lagos as we make our way towards the coastal town of Chaitén. Situated across from Chiloé Island, Chaitén boasts spectacular views of both the Chaitén and Corcovado volcanoes. 
Heading away from the coast, we soon find ourselves winding our way through an area of lush vegetation and crystal clear streams and rivers as we skirt Parque Pumalin to reach Puerto Cardenas situated at the northern shore of stunning Lago Yelcho. A challenging climb up and over Cuesta Moraga drops us into the Aysen region, where the Rosselot Lake National Reserve and the impressive Ventisquero Colgante (Hanging Glacier) await. The Puyuhuapi Eco-Lodge in the sleepy fishing village of Puyuhuapi is one of the accommodation highlights of the trip, with its thermal waters to soothe tired muscles after many miles on the bike.
The largest ascent of the Carretera (the Queulat Pass) and its 21 hairpin bends brings us to the regional capital, Coyhaique. Here we take a day off to rest our legs and explore the town and its bustling craft beer and food scene. Back on the bikes, we make our way to Puerto Rio Tranquilo on the western shores of Lago General Carrera. The deep turquoise, silt-heavy waters of this glacial-fed lake hide one of Chile’s most spectacular natural wonders—the so-called ‘marble cathedral’ caves which we explore by boat.
Possibly the most scenic day of the trip follows as we take on the roller-coaster ride along the Las Llaves Pass to Chile Chico, with the vivid colors of the Lago General Carrera as our constant companion. Following a crossing of Lago General Carrera, our final day is spent cycling through the beautiful Valle Simpson - a fitting end to this incredible journey along Chile’s Southern Highway.
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  • Riding one of the world’s classic cycling routes
  • Taking in the impressive hanging glacier Ventisquero Colgante
  • Enjoying a rest day in Coyhaique
  • Lake Carrera’s spectacular ‘marble cathedral’
  • True wilderness biking
  • Relaxing in the thermal waters of Puyuhuapi Eco-Lodge

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Day 1

Today you start your journey, boarding your flight to Chile and Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport Santiago (SCL), arriving the following day.

Day 2
Arrival Chile - Puerto Montt - Puerto Varas

After your arrival in Santiago, Chile, you will need to clear customs and immigration before heading to the domestic terminal (just upstairs) in order to catch your internal Chilean flight to the capital of the Chilean Lake District, Puerto Montt (PMC), where you will be met by your Saddle Skedaddle guides.

Following arrival, we transfer you to your hotel in Puerto Varas. Situated around 20 Kms from Puerto Montt it occupies a lovely position on the shores of one of the largest natural lakes in South America, Lake Llanquihue.

From here the perfect cone of Osorno Volcano and the snowcapped peaks of Calbuco volcano and Mt. Tronador are clearly visible from the lakefront. It’s a great place to take things easy after a long flight(s) and with this in mind, the day is spent resting-up from your travels and preparing the bikes for the journey ahead.

Our evening meal is taken in one of the great restaurants that exist in Puerto Varas. With the area renowned for seafood, we’ll make sure this is an option. At a convenient point during the meal we’ll discuss the programme for the tour in a little more detail and be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Day 3
Puerto Varas to Hornopirén
28 Miles / 45 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Following breakfast we load up our bikes and leave Puerto Varas in our support vehicle. This initial section takes us via Puerto Montt at which point we hit the Carretera Austral and begin our way southwards.

On reaching the northern edge of the Reloncavi Estuary and small town of Caleta La Arena, we board the ferry for the scenic 45-minute crossing to Calete Puelche where we disembark.

It’s here that we unload the bikes and commence our cycling journey. Today’s ride is around 45 kms and sees us taking an unsurfaced coastal road via the small town of Contao to Hornopirén, the North Gate of the Austral Highway, which serves as a great introduction to this amazing area.

Hornopirén is both the name of the town and nearby 1572-metre volcano. The name is derived from horno, the Spanish word for oven, and pirén, the native Mapudungun word for snow, loosely translating to snow-oven. Our accommodation tonight is on the outskirts of town at a family run guesthouse.

Day 4
Hornopirén to Caleta Gonzalo
Non Cycling Day
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

After an early breakfast we start our journey to Caleta Gonzalo via ferry, where we navigate through the Comau Fjord between Hornopirén and Leptepu. This stunning fjord is flanked by high mountains and steep banks and runs from Caleta Pichanco in the north to Caleta Leptepu in the south.

Upon disembarking in Leptepu, we hop aboard our support vehicle for the 10 km overland trip to Caleta Fiordo Largo. It’s from here that our next ferry departs for Caleta Gonzalo. This is a much shorter journey than this morning, (approx. 45 minutes) that sees us crossing the Reñihue Fjord.

Our accommodation tonight is at well-appointed Cabañas on the edge of Pumalin National Park. The Cabañas are situated on the rocky shore of the Reñihue Fjord and boast unparalleled vistas. Aesthetically pleasing, they were designed by The North Face founder, Doug Tompkins, and are the perfect place to stay the night. Doug (who died suddenly in 2018) along with wife Kris have been instrumental in the conservation of this and many other wilderness areas in Chile, especially along the Carretera.

Day 5
Caleta Gonzalo to Chaitén
37 Miles / 60 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Back on the bikes once again today we’ll be heading to Chaitén, which is around 60 kms away and is reached on a combination of tarmac and dirt roads. During the ride we’ll pass by Lago Rio Negro and then smaller Lago Blanco before reaching the coastline that leads us pretty much all the way to Chaitén.

Situated across the Golfo de Corovado from the Chiloé Island, it boasts spectacular views of the Chaitén and Corcovado Volcanoes, with much of the surrounding territory protected due to its National Park status.

Our accommodation tonight is at a small hotel close to Rio Chaitén. For those looking to stretch their legs a little, the walk to the mirador makes a nice post meal stroll and offers great views of the city and across to Chiloé.

Day 6
Chaitén to Puerto Cardenas
31 Miles / 50 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Another great day on the bike as we head to Lago Yelcho. The terrain remains very similar to yesterday. Heading away from Chaitén and the coast we soon find our ourselves winding our way through an area of lush vegetation, criss-crossing streams and rivers as we skirt Parque Pumalin.

Today’s ride ends at the caserio (hamlet) of Puerto Cárdenas situated at the northern shore of Lago Yelcho. Nestled between the mouths of the Malito and Futaleufú Rivers it is a lovely spot. Our accommodation tonight is a superb lodge/chalet style hotel at the edge of the lake and where we take our evening meal. With the area famous for fly-fishing they’ll be no doubt plenty of pescado on the menu. It’s a great place to stay after today’s ride with its cosy bar, perfect for catching up and chatting about the last few days with your fellow riders and guides.

Day 7
Puerto Cardenas to La Junta
62 Miles / 100 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

A long day on the bike today, though some newly well-surfaced sections will help you eat up the miles. Today is not however without its challenges, with the most notable Cuesta Moraga hill that we’ll encounter before we arrive at the small town of Villa Santa Lucia. The climb tops out at around 650 metres and although steep in places the views it affords from its lofty vantage point are superb and well worth the effort. Safely down we soon reach Villa Santa Lucia, a small outpost situated close to the volcano of Chaitén – It’s a great spot to take a well-deserved break!

From here you are able to head eastwards towards Argentina via Palena or Futalefu. But for us, we’ll be continuing our southwards direction to La Junta. The dominant mountain now will be Peak Macizo Nevado (1951 metres) to our left and to our right the lush vegetation of Parque National Corcovada. It’s a truly stunning area and a delight to cycle through!

For the majority of our trip so far we’ll have been cycling in the Los Lagos region, but today we’ll enter a new region – Aysen, and end our ride in the town of La Junta. Set in lush grounds at the edge of Rosselot Lake National Reserve, our lodge/hotel is the perfect place to finish the day.

Day 8
La Junta to Puyuhuapi
28 Miles / 45 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

A nice undulating route today that ends with a real mid-trip treat. This shorter day of cycling (around 45 kms) sees us cycling through a landscape of huge cliffs, towering waterfalls, and dense verdant vegetation. Continuing this paved portion of the route, we weave our way through Rosselot via the waterfalls of Alcantarilla and the idyllic fly-fishing waters of Rio Risopatron. As we reach Lago Risopatron,the surface deteriorates somewhat before we speed our way down to the Pacific Ocean and the sleepy fishing village of Puyuhuapi.

Our accommodation tonight is a superb eco-lodge on the shores of a fjord that carefully balances sophistication and simplicity. To reach here, we’ll hop aboard a small boat in order to cross a tranquil bay. The lodge is not only famous for its enviable position but also for its thermal waters, open-air hot springs, and Spa facilities. Enjoy!

Day 9
Puyuhuapi to Villa Amengual
62 Miles / 100 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Suitably refreshed, we’ve a cracker of a day ahead for you! Fantastic fjords, fairytale forests, and the Quelat Pass to challenge you.

From Puyuhuapi, the route follows the eastern shore of the Puyuhuapi Fjord and skirts Parque Nacional Queulat — a superb start to the day. After around 20 kms, the route turns inland toward the Hanging Glacier or Ventisquero Colgante (see above photo),where we’ll take a break before heading to the viewpoint. From here we cycle alongside the inlet of the fjord – a great place to spot dolphins, seals, numerous seabirds.

We then follow the Río Queulat before tackling the largest ascent of the Carretera: the Queulat Pass. The pass involves 21 switchbacks for an ascent of 500 metres in under 10 kms! From the top of the pass, there is a speedy descent that passes Bosque Encantando (the Enchanted Forest) on the way down to the X25 Junction. From here it’s about 20 kms and one cheeky climb to the Mirador Río Cisnes before the pinnacle of Cerro Picacho signifies our arrival in Villa Amengual and another superb lakeside lodge.

Day 10
Villa Amengual to Coyhaique
43 Miles / 70 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

With the distance from Villa Amengual to Coyhaique around 145 kms and no real choices for suitable accommodation in between, we start the day with a 45-minute transfer to the X50 junction (one of the few junctions you’ll see!) where we continue our cycling along the Carretera Austral.

Today’s distance is still around 70 kms with some steep ups and downs along the way — a challenging day in the saddle. Mid-point we’ll stop at the small community of Villa Ortega which is famed for the super-expensive Murillo mushrooms that grow in the region. From here it is 35 kms to Coyhaique along mostly unsurfaced road.

Coyhaique is the regional hub of Aysén and whilst certainly more developed than the small towns we’ve travelled though over the last few days, it still retains its charm. Wonderfully positioned in the middle of an impressive mountain range of snowy peaks, it’s a place that never fails to impress.

Our small boutique hotel (where we’ll stay for two nights) is located on the banks of the Coyhaique River. With great mountain and forest views yet only a short stroll from the city centre, it’s a great place to base ourselves.

Day 11
Non Cycling Day
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

There is lots to do in and around Coyhaique with a range of outdoor activities on offer so with this in mind we’ve scheduled in a day off the bike to enjoy the area.

For those looking to chill-out completely, you’ll find a nice selection of cafes and small restaurants around the Plaza De Armas where the arts and crafts fair is also located. Here you’ll find great quality handmade products using native wood, leather, stone and wool, and is the perfect place to pick up a few souvenirs.

Our evening meal will be taken at one of the fine restaurants in the centre where over una copa de vino, you’ll be able to chat about how much or how little you’ve done today.

Day 12
Coyhaique to Puerto Rio Tranquilo
62 Miles / 100 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

A big day ahead that starts with an early wake-up and transfer of 1.5 hours to Villa Castillo where we start riding. Ahead of us is another wonderful day’s riding (mostly on dirt roads) as we make our way to Puerto Rio Tranquillo, a village of shingled houses on the western shores of Lago General Carrera.

It’s a challenging day with 3 big climbs but the scenery along the way is superb and will keep you enthused and excited as you cycle alongside Río Ibáñez and through the lush Valle Murta, where the glacial waters of the Río Murta flow into one of Patagonia’s jewels: Lago General Carrera. Our eco-cabins / lodges are situated on the very edge of this incredible lake and are the perfect place to relax after this classic slice of Chilean cycling.

But the day isn’t over yet as before settling in for the evening we’ll be taking a boat to check-out the amazing Marble Cathedral caves of Lago Carrera.

Day 13
Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Chile Chico
62 Miles / 100 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Leaving our tranquil surroundings, we hop aboard the support vehicle for an hour before unloading close to Lago Bertrand and Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael. It’s here that we leave our faithful friend the Carretera Austral in order to take the small lakeside road to Chile Chico and embark on another 100 km day and one that will live in your memory for a lifetime.

It’s a roller-coaster of a ride along the Las Llaves Pass, with your companion for the day the vivid clear waters and turquoise colours of Lago General Carrera that contrast spectacularly with the dry pampas and moonscape valleys, especially as we near Chile Chico. It’s also a great area to spot Andean Condors so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for these amazing birds!

We end the ride at the small town of Chile Chico. Positioned on the southern shore of Lago General Carrera and only a few kms from the Jeinimeni border crossing with Argentina, it tends to be a sunny little place due to its geographical position and is nicknamed the “Sun of Patagonia”. Our cozy accommodation, as you would expect, is close to the lake.

Day 14
Chile Chico - P. Ibañez - Coyhaique
25 Miles / 40 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Following an early breakfast, we board the ferry (approx. 2 hrs) that will take us across Lago General Carrera (the largest lake in Chile and second largest in South America) to Puerto Ibañez.

From here, we transfer to Valle Simpson (approx.1hr) at which point we’ll start our final day of cycling.

It’s a much shorter day today of around 40 kms, but one that is nevertheless as spectacular as they always seem to be in this part of the world for your final day fix of towering mountains, dense forests, rivers and streams

Our day ends with our arrival at a lovely lodge close to Coyhaique with great views of the Divisadero mountain range and the peak of Cerro McKay (816 metres).

Our final evening meal will be taken at the accommodation with celebratory drinks and delicious food rounding off another great day on the bike and our classic cycling journey through this incredible part of the world!

Day 15
  • Meals: Breakfast

Having rested at our lodgings and after a final glimpse of the mountains, we make our way (approx. 50 kms/45 mins) to Coyhaique’s Aeropuerto Balmaceda (BBA) for onward travel to Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez Airport (SCL) and international connections.

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The Cycling


During our cycling journey along the Carretera Austral we’ll be passing fjords, rivers, waterfalls, volcanoes, mountain ranges and of course lakes. Great cycling and constant highlights! There aren’t any major elevation changes, and the route is approx 25% on sealed roads and 75% on compacted wide gravel tracks, with light traffic on most of the days. The exceptions are when we encounter ferry traffic (which is infrequent) and as we get closer to Coyhaique. Along the way are some challenging climbs both on paved and gravel terrain followed by fast descents. These include Cuesta Moraga hill (Day 7) and the Queulat Pass (Day 9).


Cycling Adventures Grade

Grade 4 : Active

Distances between 30 to 50 miles per day / 48 to 80 kms per day

For those who cycle frequently

Will include some long and / or steep climbs

Often over varying terrain (some sections may see you cycling over uneven, unpaved or loose ground)

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

You ride quite frequently at home and perhaps enjoy cycling as one of your forms of exercise. Weekends will occasionally see you spending the day in the saddle exploring routes which take in some steep climbs. These tours may also see you riding over varying terrain and so it’s preferable if you have some experience of riding on uneven / unpaved ground. We’d generally expect those on a Grade 4 holiday to be fit and healthy, and ready to take on an achievable challenge.

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Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Price p.p.
Start Date
Return Date
15 days
Start Date
Return Date
15 days
Start Date
Return Date
15 days

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin rooms)

B) Meals as per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service including guides, back up vehicles, etc

D) At least one tour leader qualified in First Aid procedures

E) Entrance fees to National Parks National Reserves

F) All ferry / boat travel during the trip

G) Boat trip to Marble Caves – Day 13

H) Airport collections – Puerto Montt Airport (PMC) – Day 2

I) Airport drop-off Balmaceda Airport (BBE) – Day 15

What's not Included Cross

A) Cost of visas (if necessary)

B) Medical check ups and inoculations

C) Tips for guides, etc

D) Travel insurance

E) Bar bills, hotel refreshments, laundry, souvenirs, etc

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Bike rental (available if required)

H) Flights and associated charges for travelling with a bike

I) Airport transfers on non-scheduled arrival / departure days

J) Optional activities in Coyhaique (non-biking day)

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The Essentials

Travel Options

We ask that you fly into Puerto Montt (PMC) and back from Balmaceda (BBA). There are no direct flights to Puerto Montt from North America, so you will need to fly into Santiago (SCL) then catch a connecting flight. You will also need to fly via Santiago from Balmaceda for your return. From the USA there are direct flight connections to Santiago (SCL) with LATAM and United Airlines. Copa also offers a wide range of non-direct options via Panama City.

Airport transfers are included in the holiday cost any time on the scheduled arrival and departure days. Please check the details with us before booking your flights.


Accommodation is a combination of hotels, lodges and guesthouses chosen for their location and hospitality. As you would expect when travelling through this remote area accommodation options can be limited with a balance struck between limiting lengthy transfers (that affect the flow of the trip) and available accommodation.

However the overall standard of accommodation remains to a high standard with hidden gems along the way. Eg Puyuhuapi: puyuhuapilodge.com, Chelenko Lodge : www.chelenko.com & Nomades Hotel www.hotelnomades.com in Coihayque.

Limited single rooms are available. In Caleta Gonzalo (Day 4) and Villa Amengual (Day 9) these are not possible and in addition on Day 4 some twin/double rooms are non-ensuite.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have mountain bikes available to rent for this trip.

The current models available are 27.5” Giant, Cannondale or Kona models. All models have front suspension and a wide-range of gears, disc brakes and Shimano or SRAM transmission.

We also have a limited amount of e-mountain bikes for this trip. Please contact us for the latest specifications for these and to check availability.

If you do decide to hire we can include a helmet (though always nicer to bring your own along!) and all necessary spares that are required.

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News, Reviews & Stories

Carretera Austral & Lake District

Read on to find out more about our new trip as well as our true classic through Chile and Argentina...

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Meet our Chilean head honcho, who ensures you all enjoy the best possible cycling across the pond.


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