Most Inspirational Moment
Waking up in the mornings and looking out at exceptional views in so many locations. The scenery in this part of the world is part Alps, part Dolomites, part Rocky Mountains, part South Island New Zealand. Then add perfect volcanoes and you've got the Lake District of Chile and Argentina! Riding the valley between Peulla and the border pass was my most breathtaking memory, partly because we saw our first condor, and partly because it was such joy not to be in yesterday's pouring rain! Conguillio National Park is the icing on the cake - so stunning it's hard to describe, and so different from the rest of the experience. On day one, because of the rain, our guides arranged a tour of Teatro del Lago. This should be part of the tour, it was an outstanding experience.
Thoughts on Group Leader
Our group leader was Alejandro and he was exceptional. His side-kicks Yal and Diego were too. The three made such a great team. We've never been disappointed with tour leaders, and these three were top-notch, and so much fun to be around.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Yes, plenty. There was so much good about this tour from the leaders to the scenery to the hotels to the food, but if you are a road cyclist then you might be in for a surprise. I know the trip notes say there's 26% of unpaved tracks but that doesn't even begin to describe how rough some of the cycling is. It's more like 30% anyway, and given the time it takes to navigate we reckon we may have spent 50% of our riding time on unpaved surfaces. You need to be prepared for this. There are only two days out of the nine riding days that are entirely spent on paved roads - and they are both heavenly rides, listed as day 7 and day 9 in the trip notes. There are also two days that are entirely unpaved from start to finish, that's day 4 and day 12. Strange there's no mention of this in the trip notes regarding individual days! These days were difficult, and yet they were also the must stunningly beautiful. The advice from our leader to lower your saddle when negotiating steep unpaved downhills with rocks and boulders was extremely helpful and made us feel safer. Quite a bit of walking was happening too. Everyone was in the same boat, but those with off-road experience obviously fared better. There's considerable elevation gain on this tour too. Funny that's not mentioned in the trip notes either. Cycling trip notes with daily distances but without daily elevation gains seems incomplete to us. We made enquiries and eventually got the daily elevations sent to us. Suggest you do the same. They are anywhere from 230 m to 984 m. It is hilly, every day!
Don't be put off by the trip notes for day 4 about the challenging 700 m climb. You can choose to ride up in the hotel pick-up truck that brings along the lunch. You can also choose to walk it, without your bike which will be taken in the truck. We were also give the choice of attempting to ride it and abandoning the bike if necessary and walking - the truck would rescue the bike. So there are options, and people in our group took all of them. The 3 km rocky descent on the other side of the border however has no options as the truck can't cross the border.
The bikes we had were Giant, almost new, well maintained, front shocks, disc brakes, very suitable for the terrain.
Another piece of advice is to bring a gel seat, and some kind of small handlebar bag for your camera, phone and sunscreen. It's not terrifically hot, but the sun is strong. Don't bother with power bars as the daily snacks are excellent; bananas, chocolate covered peanuts and raisins and more, coffee, tea, always at around 20 km. We also took our toe cages and they were happy to put them on our pedals for us, we were very glad to have them because did I mention that it's hilly?! We are now looking to buy the velcro-strap handlebar mirrors that some people had - these would have been very useful on the main roads; a flashing red rear light would be a good idea too, especially if you have some dark, rainy days; and you might!
It was chilly at times, most people wore a Buff in the mornings and long-fingered gloves too. The van will take things as you remove them, no need to cycle with a day pack.
Go with your eyes open to these conditions and you will love your Lake District tour.