Cycle Chile & Argentina: Atacama to Salta

13 days
from
£2,649
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Trip code: 
MAQ
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Cycling
Group size:
5–16
Min age:
16

Cycle two South American countries.

This trip takes us on a journey through a part of the world that resembles no other. Starting in the popular town of San Pedro de Atacama and finishing in 'Salta la Linda', this trip takes us through many roads in which you will see very little traffic and no other cyclists. This 'once in a lifetime' journey includes cycling through salt flats, ravines, a serpentine-like road through a rainforest and in the driest desert in the world. 

Highlights

  • Cycle through a desert, salt flats, ravines and a rainforest 
  • Two South American Countries
  • Excursions to Atacama salt flats, altiplano lagoons and the Tatio geysers

 

Key information

  • 12 nights hotels all en suite
  • 10 days cycling with full vehicle support 
  • 80% tarmac, 20% unpaved tracks

  • Routes mainly follow quiet roads
  • Group normally 5 to 16 plus local staff. Min age 16 yrs
  • Countries visited: Chile, Argentina

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 9 lunches 
  • 12 nights hotels all en suite 
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Airport transfers (if booking incl. flights)
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation 
  • Airport transfers for Land Only bookings
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

10

Days of Cycling
Pace:

Moderate: 13-16km/8-10miles an hour

Terrain:

Approx. 80% tarmac, 20% unpaved tracks. Mainly good condition paved roads; some unpaved roads on several days; condition of unpaved sections dependent upon weather.

Day by day breakdown
Day 240.0km/25.0miles
Day 323.0km/14.0miles
Day 435.0km/22.0miles
Day 567.0km/42.0miles
Day 631.0km/19.0miles
Day 745.0km/30.0miles
Day 985.0km/53.0miles
Day 1064.0km/40.0miles
Day 1147.0km/29.0miles
Day 1276.0km/47.0miles

Itinerary

San Pedro de Atacama
to
Salta
  • Day 1

    Start Atacama; transfer to hotel.

    Those on our group flights will arrive to Calama airport today, after connecting in Santiago de Chile. There will be a group transfer from the airport to our start hotel in the nearby town of San Pedro. For those people who have booked Land Only and made their own travel arrangements, you are welcome to meet the group transfer should you wish (and have informed us in advance). Otherwise the meeting point is at the start hotel in San Pedro anytime in the afternoon/evening.

    Accommodation: Hotel Pascual Andino or similar

  • Day 2

    Cycle to Moon Valley; visit salt mines.

    This morning we get on our bikes for the first time and go on an acclimatisation ride. We will depart the town of San Pedro and cycle to the Valley of the Moon. Here you will feel as if you have landed on another planet, as it is often compared to Mars due to its red colour of rock formations and dunes. Afterwards we will ride a bit further to visit some salt caves, before heading back a different way to San Pedro town.

    Accommodation: Hotel Pascual Andino or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Visit El Tatio geysers; afternoon ride to San Isidro's chapel.

    Today is a very early start as we depart our hotel in San Pedro and set off towards the impressive Tatio Geysers, the third largest geyser fields in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. They are located at 4000 meters above sea level. Departing early gives us an opportunity to watch the sunrise in one of the most important geothermic fields in the world. On arrival we will enjoy breakfast in this beautiful setting, providing us with the perfect way to warm up.  On our way back to San Pedro we will enjoy some beautiful sites and stop off in the Village of Machuca, an atacameño village of 20 houses which are built from clay, straw and cactus wood. We will head back to town in time for lunch before a short ride scheduled in the afternoon. In the afternoon we will depart to San Isidro’s Chapel, stopping along the way at famous landmarks like the Devil’s Throat and Catarpe’s Tunnel. 

    Accommodation: Hotel Pascual Andino or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Cross border into Argentina; cycle alongside Jama salt flat; transfer to Susques.

    Today is a long travel day so we will get up early in order to say goodbye to Chile and cross into Argentina (approx. 2.5 hours), via the Jama Pass (4275m). We will be making some stops at viewpoints to stretch our legs and take some photos during the journey, including some lagoons in Los Flamencos Reserve. Once we clear immigration, we will continue our transfer to the town of Jama (approx. 2.5 hours). In Jama we will have lunch before getting on our bikes and cycle alongside the Jama Salt Flats. Then we have another transfer (approx. 1.5 hours) to our destination for the night, Susques.

    Accommodation: Hotel Pastos Chicos or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Transfer to Salinas Grandes; scenic picnic lunch and downhill ride to the Humahuaca Gorge.

    Departing Susques, we transfer (approx. 1 hour) to the Salinas Grandes Salt Pans. Here you will have the opportunity to experience riding on salt before making a stop for our picnic lunch. We will cycle onwards, climbing to the view point of Abra de Potrerillos (4170m). From there we will then enjoy a fast-downhill ride with amazing views of the surrounding coloured hills and rock formations to our hotel located just outside the town of Purmamarca, our destination for the next 2 nights. 

    Accommodation: Hotel Casa de Adobe or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Cycle to Tilcara passing the hill of seven colours; optional ride back.

    After breakfast we will start cycling straight from the hotel and head on a gravel track to visit one of the highlights of this trip, the Cerro de Siete Colores, ‘Hill of Seven Colours’. This unique colour range is formed over millions of years, caused by lake and river movements which got elevated with the movement of tectonic plates. Our destination is the small town of Tilcara. From here you can choose to jump in the transfer vehicle or cycle back along the same route to Purmamarca.

    Accommodation: Hotel Casa de Adobe or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Transfer to El Carmen; cycle through rain forest; transfer to Salta.

    We start the morning with a transfer (approx. 1 hour) to the small town of El Carmen. Today’s ride will feel completely different as we cycle through a rainforest on a paved road heading south towards Salta. This was the route that joined the two main cities in the province, Salta and Jujuy. This is one of the most spectacular cycling stages as you will encounter a serpentine road surrounded by lush rainforest on either side of the road. We will stop for a picnic lunch near the town of La Caldera before boarding a transfer to our destination for the next 2 nights, the beautiful city of Salta.

    Accommodation: Hotel Design Suites or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Free day in Salta.

    Spend today at leisure and enjoy exploring beautiful Salta. We recommend you visit the high mountain archaeological museum (MAAM), located in the centre of town. Here you will find three mummies of children from the Inca civilization, who were sacrificed at the Llullaillaco Volcano. Only one of the mummies is on display at any one time, as they are changed every 6 months. Please ask your tour leader and they will help you to arrange it.

    Accommodation: Hotel Design Suites or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Transfer to abandoned train station; cycle along Las Conchas river.

    Following breakfast, we transfer (approx. 1 hour), to the abandoned Alemania village and train station. After exploring this fascinating village, we will get on our bikes and start cycling along the Conchas River. We will pass many interesting rock formations which have over the years received names like the Amphitheatre and the Devil’s Throat. Today is our longest ride but we end in the tranquil town of Cafayate, which is renowned for its wine production.  

    Accommodation: Cafayate Wine Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    Cycle to the Sacred City of Quilmes; guided tour and transfer back.

    This morning we cycle towards the Sacred City of Quilmes. These are Calchaquí native ruins, from a tribe who once lived amongst the Calchaquí mountain range. It is considered as the largest pre-Colombian settlement in Argentina. We will have a guided tour of the ruins before having lunch and then transfer (approx. 1 hour) back to Cafayate. 

    Accommodation: Cafayate Wine Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 11

    Ride through the Valley of Arrows; transfer to Molinos.

    After breakfast we set off on our bikes towards Los Molinos. This is one of the most spectacular cycling stages, riding through the Valley of Arrows. You will not be disappointed, and we will make sure to stop off at the best locations to get great photos. Everywhere you look you will see horizontal rock formations which look like they have been fired at Earth from space. We will pass a few sleepy small towns and hamlets along the way. On arrival to Seclantas we will board the vehicle and transfer to Molinos.

    Accommodation: El Cortijo Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 12

    Cycle in Los Cardones National Park; downhill stage along 'Bishop's Hill'; final transfer to Salta.

    For our final day of cycling we will depart from the hotel and travel through the Los Cordones National Park. The name comes from the hundreds of cardon grande cactus which are everywhere throughout the park. From here we will have our final biking stage, downhill along the mesmerising Bishop’s Slope. The last leg of our journey is completed with a transfer back to Salta.

    Accommodation: Hotel Design Suites or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 13

    End Salta airport.

    On our final morning, we transfer to the airport to catch our flight to Buenos Aires. We will arrive in time for the evening flight to London. Land only portion of the trip ends at Salta airport. 

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Chile

British, most European and most other nationalities, including Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, do not require visas. All other nationalities should contact the nearest Chilean Embassy if in doubt. Citizens of Australia pay a fee on first entry into Chile by air (cash US Dollars only, no credit cards or cheques) $95 - valid for only 90 days). There is no fee for other nationalities at the time of writing. The one-time charge is valid for the life of your passport so keep the stub stapled in.

Argentina

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay.

No visa required for holders of British passport.

If you are crossing the border into Argentina from Chile on your trip, we will need to know your profession in order to provide when entering Argentina.

The Argentine government charges a reciprocity fee which applies to Australian citizens. The amounts is as follows: Australians - US$100 (multiple entry). This fee must be paid before you enter Argentina. For full details, and to make the payment, please visit: https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes

Vaccinations

Chile

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Argentina

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated the travel advice for Argentina with an update to the Health section – an outbreak of Hantavirus has been reported in Epuyén, Province of Chubut in southern Argentina; for more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers in Argentina, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

Dengue fever is also a known risk in Argentina. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Due to a recent outbreak of Yellow Fever in the Misiones province of Argentina, vaccinations are strongly recommended if you intend to visit the Iguazu Falls.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 9 lunches included.

Hotel breakfasts are normally buffet-style, and lunches will either be at convenient restaurant stops during our rides or packed lunches. There is a variety of good quality food on offer in the hotels and local restaurants for the evening meals that are not included in the price of the trip. Chile and Argentina traditionally have a lot of meat dishes in their cuisine, however vegetarians can be catered for throughout the trip. Please ensure that you advise us of any dietary requirements before you travel so that we can make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.

Weather

Departures are organised between April and October, to avoid the rainy season. During these months the temperatures in San Pedro de Atacama reach a maximum high of 24ºC, and a maximum low of about 1ºC. In Salta it is very similar with a maximum high of 26ºC, and a maximum low of about 3ºC.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified Road. 
Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging). 
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure for more important information on classification and grading. 
Average daily distance: 51km (32 miles)
Number of days cycling: 10
Vehicle Support: 100%

The set itinerary is not technical, however please note that the majority of this tour is spent at high altitude and some days the group is cycling above 3000m where the air is noticeably thinner. Because of this we recommend that you have a good level of fitness for this tour.   

Some cycling experience and good level of fitness is recommended. Total distance covered: approx. 510km

Terrain and route: Approx. 80% tarmac, 20% unpaved roads. Some large elevation gains; mixed cycling terrain; variable weather conditions and some remote locations.

Most of the roads are in good condition, although there can occasionally be potholes and poorer conditions in some short sections. You should be prepared for some cycling on unpaved gravel/dirt roads.

The roads are generally free of heavy traffic until we reach towns where we are more likely to encounter other vehicles.

 

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

We spend 12 nights in a range of hotels along the route. All rooms are en suite and breakfasts are included each day. Accommodation has been chosen to suit our group size and requirements. They are all cyclist friendly and strategically located for the best cycling routes possible.

We can arrange single rooms throughout the trip for a supplement (subject to availability). Please ask your sales consultant for details.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936