Our Favorite Bike Routes in Chile
Great cycle routes are one of the things we at Upscape pride ourselves on; Both Brian (Owner) and Manuel (Operations Manager) are passionate cyclers and constantly debating the best new routes. For travelers who want to keep active, Upscape offers several different trips in Wine Country and the Lakes Region. Like with family members, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but here are a few rides that Brian considers to be standouts among the many routes.
Rosario Ibacache Route
This 37 km day ride does a loop of the Rosario Valley, starting and ending on the Matetic winery property. Coming down from Lagunillas, cyclists pedal through about 10 km of pristine rural countryside before going over the pass at Ibacache, and then down the windy hill to the valley. On the way, the topography is typical of the central valley, with native scrubland, populated by many hard-leafed (sclerophyll) trees, including espino, a type of acacia that blooms yellow. There are also the occasional grazing cows or goats, as well as towering, fragrant eucalyptus. The Rosario valley is one of Matetic’s many properties, and one of the original winemaking areas of the central valley. There are abandone cellar from some 60 years ago, and an old winery that still houses the original wooden barrels. From there, cyclists enter the new pristine vineyards on unused back road, at Matetic up to the main winery, where there is a view over much of the Rosario Valley.
From Matanzas to Marchigüe
This metric century (100 km) trip is also in the central valley, on an excellent road with nearly no traffic. It starts in the kitesurfing capital of Chile, the beach town of Matanzas, and follows the curve of the Río Rapel, before powering over the small coastal ridge. In the town of Lituechue, the trip stops at one of Brian’s favorite picadas (informal eateries) in Chile, where fresh strawberry juice, fresh salads and filling, healthy food are the order of the day. From Litueche the trip continues on freshly-paved roads further south, with the last 30 km being through wide open pampas at the end of Chile’s Colchagua valley. Travelers often comment that the pampas remind them of savannahs, with low, straw-colored vegetation. The day ends at a restored Jesuit residency in Marchigüe, which has been converted to lovely B&B accommodations.
From Ensenada to Puerto Octay
On this 45 km trip, cyclists spend the day pedalling alongside Chile’s second largest lake, Llanquihue. This lake, which changes in color from turquoise to dark blue or even grey, depending on the weather, has a surface of 860 sq km. It was formed by piedmont glaciers coming into the flat terrain, which are responsible for its fan-like shape. For much of the beginning part of the trip, the lake is on cyclists’ left, and Volcán Osorno, the snowcapped 2,600 meter tall conical stratovolcano (think Mt Fuji) is on their right. After passing through the small town of Las Cascadas, the route veers away from the lake for some kilometers heading north, and cyclists take a left on a different regional road before heading down to the postcard perfect town of Puerto Octay, situated at the lake’s northern point. The town, which was formed in 1851 has German wooden architecture, and abundant bird sighting opportunities at the water’s edge.
Panguipulli to Coshuenco
This 50 km bike ride starts in the medium-sized town of Panguipulli, considered a jumping off point for nature exploration in Chile’s Lakes Region. The name of the town means “hill of the puma” in the local indigenous language, though pumas are shy and seldom seen. Panguipulli is on the western shores of the lake of the same name, and is one of several glacial lakes that make up Chile’s Lakes Region. The ride continues around and along the lake, which is nearly 30 km long. Brian describes the brand new road here as being “carved into the hillside” and at times like a roller coaster. There is nearly no development along the lake, cyclists get 360-degree views of rolling Andean forest. This day includes a visit to a local brewery, which brews its beers with glacial meltwater.
Some visitors want to use a bike to see the best Chile has to offer, and some come specifically with training in mind. Upscape offers something for them, too. One challenging ride that Brian jokes “would be good to test guides on” winds around from Tunquén up into the Casablanca Valley, up to Las Dichas, coming through the western side of the Casablanca Valley. The terrain here is rolling, at times steep, and there are stands of 200-year old eucalyptus. This trip is nearly always fueled in part by some tasty, fresh-baked local empanadas, bought en route.