CARRETERA AUSTRAL EROICA

IN BIKEPACKING

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03-21 December 2022

TRIP OVERVIEW

Finally, after several years, we are returning to Patagonia to cycle along the Carretera Austral through breathtaking Chile and Argentina. And once again, we will be bikepacking without any support vehicles but accompanied by the security of traveling with expert guides and their twenty years’ experience riding these trails.

Starting in Balmaceda, in Chile, we’ll set up our bikes, shop for food, then head south for about 800 km (including navigation) over the course of 11 stages, ending with a day off the bikes at the foot of the majestic Fitz Roy in El Chalten. We start cycling on 4 December to reach El Calafate on 16 December, visiting the unbelievable Perito Moreno glacier the next day.

Epic Patagonian gravel and magnificent trails await us. Let’s ride together!

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.”

— Leonardo da Vinci

Of course, for this expedition to be truly successful, it is absolutely necessary to create a strong team spirit amongst all our travelers. No rider will ever be left alone or find themselves individually facing difficulty for any reason. It will be the responsibility not only of the guides, but also of the individual participants to help problem solve throughout the duration of the trip, working together to make the most of our adventure as a team. It will be an unforgettable cycling experience and journey, but also a unique opportunity to educate ourselves on group consciousness and the ability to share—be it joy, fatigue, planning, organization, coordination, defeat or success.

And in this case, success will not be defined as arriving at the final destination but setting off and doing our best to arrive all together.

Why Patagonia via La Carretera Austral? Because Patagonia is not only Argentina—it starts much further north than anyone imagines. Moreover, La Carretera Austral remains a land full of great adventure and wonder.

This is why our team are always hungry to return for more!

The Carretera Austral is there to be lived. Let’s go together and live well!

Refund and cancellation

Where, for whatever reason, one person is obliged to withdraw, the person must give written notice to Project Adventure Cycling.

Refund will be calculated with this penalty:

– Within 45 days from date of departure the penalty fare is 10% of the total cost of the trip.
– Within 30 days from departure the penalty fare is 30% of the total cost of the trip.
– Within 21 days from departure the penalty fare is 50% of the total cost of the trip.
– Within 14 days from departure the penalty fare is 75 % of the total cost of the trip.
– After this date no refund will be given.

There will be no refunds for those who do not show up at the start of the trip or withdraw during the course of the tour.
There will be no refunds for those who are unable to start or complete the tour due to a lack or inaccuracy of personal travel documents (i.e Visa or Passport).

The traveller understands that some destinations pose more of a risk than other destinations due to weather conditions, socio-political situations and the geography of the region. The traveller acknowledges that factors such as, but not limited to, weather conditions, landslides, floods, flight cancellations or delays, strikes, labour issues, power failures, restrictive governmental laws or regulations, riots, insurrection, war or other (hereinafter called “Force Majeure Event”) are not the fault of Project Adventure Cycling and may hinder, delay or even prevent the Traveller’s ability to make or complete the trip. The traveller acknowledges that the Project Adventure Cycling shall not be liable to the traveller for any delay or cancellation of the trip due to a Force Majeure Event. The traveler is neither entitled to a refund nor any other payment for damages from the Project Adventure Cycling in the event that the trip is cancelled or delayed due to a Force Majeure Event. Please note that we are never responsible for any airfare ticket expenses.

 

COVID 19

In the event that you are unable to fly due to COVID 19 restrictions because of a declared state of emergency, PA Cycling, SL, guarantees:

RETURN OF QUOTE* (Except for expenses incurred up to the time of cancellation of the trip)

QUOTA FREEZE UNTIL NEXT DEPARTURE*.

FEE FREEZE UNTIL THE DEPARTURE OF ANY OTHER TRIP ORGANISED BY PA-CYCLING, SL*.

* The above conditions ARE NOT VALID in the case of a positive individual.

The price includes

  • Bike guides from PA Cycling (specific number of guides depends on the number of participants)
  • Transfer from Balmaceda airport to our Hotel in Coyhaique
  • 2 night’s stay in Hotel in Coyhaique (breakfast and welcome dinner included)
  • Camping stage 1 and asado al palo
  • Navigation: Chile-Chico/Los Antiguos
  • Camping and dinner in Chile-Chico
  • Hostel in Cochrane (breakfast and dinner included)
  • Camping in El Risquero
  • Navigation: Lake Yungay
  • Hostel in Villa O’Higgins (breakfast and dinner included)
  • Navigation: Villa O’Higgins/Candelario Mancilla, Glacier O’Higgins
  • Camping Candelario Mancilla
  • Navigation: Laguna del Desierto
  • Two nights in a hostel in El Chalten
  • Transfer El Chalten – El Calafate
  • Two nights in a Hostel in El Calafate
  • Visit to Perito Moreno
  • El Calafate airport transfer
  • Travel insurance coverage

The price does not include

  • Airfare and baggage fees, bike equipment
  • Lunches and dinners in Coyhaique, El Chalten, El Calafate or where not expressly specified
  • Food during bike days except where specified
  • Excursions, extra activities
  • Additional costs in case of logistic modification (transfers and extra nights, etc.)
  • Anything not listed in “The price includes” section
  • Dates
    03-21 December 2022
  • Duration
    19 days
  • Stages
    11
  • Length
    800 km
  • Elevation
    10.000 m
  • Difficulty
    Hard
  • Price
    2.150 €

THE TRACK

THE STAGES

DAY 01

Arrival in Balmaceda, Chile. Transfer to hotel. Bike preparation, briefing.

DAY 02

Set up the bikes Shop for food and other essential supplies.

DAY 03 – STAGE 01

Coyhaique – 1º Camping. – 111 km | 1.870 m

We start our bikepacking adventure by leaving behind Coyhaique and riding along the dirt roads of “Seis Lagos” until we reach El Blanco, where we will rejoin the asphalt road and follow it to our campsite.

The climb is an average of 7% to Portuezelo Ibañez pass (1,120m) at km 103 where we can visit a group of waterfalls before heading downhill to our campsite. Bathrooms and hot showers will be available.

DAY 04 – STAGE 02

1º Camping – Puerto Ibañez – 56 km | 936 m

This stage begins on a downhill asphalt road which we’ll follow for 8 km to Villa Cerro Castillo village, an excellent place for a cup coffee and a delicious slice of cake.

From there, we will travel 5 km, leaving the busy, paved Carretera Austral* until we return to it at the end of stage 5 in Cochrane. The scenic dirt road we’ll cycle extends along the Ruta de las Ardillas with stunning mountain views and Lake Tamango to our right. We will reach Pto. Ibañez where we will catch the 19:00 boat across Lago general Carrera. We will sleep in a campsite in Chile Chico after a 2 hours and 15 minute ferry ride.

*: Our decision to abandon the Carretera Austral is dictated by the high density of vehicles that now travel at high speeds up to Cochrane and the continuous open asphalt construction sites that tend to close transit to all vehicles every afternoon. On a positive note, it allows us to ride along dirt roads (about 200 km in total) with two border crossings, one of which is very symbolic for us at PA-Cycling. This is why the following three stages, 3, 4 and 5, will be the rustic paradise portion of our adventure.

DAY 05 – STAGE 03

Chile Chico – Wild Camping – 71 km | 1105 m

In the morning, we will wake up early to cross the border as it opens at 8:00 am. Once in Los Antiguos (Argentina) it’s time to shop for food for the next three stages: the 3rd, 4th and 5th, taking into account the border crossing during the 4th stage.

This brings us to the most remote part of our cycling journey and to where the scenery begins to be truly AMAZING.

Throughout this and the following stages until Cochrane, we will be autonomous in every way. Mobile phones and wi-fi will be unavailable, however you will still want to take photos, so keep your batteries charged and ready.

DAY 06 – STAGE 04

Wild Camping – Wild Camping in Chile – 83 km | 1000 m

This stage is extremely demanding with climb totaling 1,450 meters over just 24 km. Once we reach the pass, we will have a 22 km descent to the Paso Roballo border.

This has the potential to be a COLD stage. Take care to be PREPARED with proper clothing. Our efforts will be rewarded by one of the most beautiful landscapes you have ever seen. We will be able to experience the difference between the Argentinean and Chilean Patagonia in the same day!

During this stage, we will cross the border again, so have your passport handy and pay attention to the food you take with you: dairy products, vegetables, fruit and meat are not allowed to cross the border.

Note: Of these two borders, since our first crossing in 2008 Massimo Alfero has kept the official Argentine banner in his home while Willy Mulonìa has kept the Chilean.

DAY 07 – STAGE 05

Wild Camping – Cochrane – 53 km | 688 m

We continue our bike journey towards Cochrane. At this point, we will be back in Chile, riding through Parque Nacional Patagonia. It will be a long and gentle descent on a dirt road, which can be challenging at times, so keep your wits about you. We will still be able to find spots to refuel before reaching a 4 km climb.

The park is host to a variety of wildlife such as tigrillos, condors, armadillos, guanacos, vizcacha and the elusive puma.

On this stage, as previously mentioned, we will rejoin the Carretera Austral to experience the truly wild and scenic part of the park.

We’ll sleep in a “hotelito” in Cochrane, meaning that hot showers and wi-fi are available but even more importantly, cerveza and vino tinto chileno “del bueno”.

ATTENTION: In the afternoon, we have to take care of the expenses for the following days.

DAY 08 – STAGE 06

Cochrane – Camping El Risquero – 74 km | 900 m

A 13 km ride will bring us to the Rio Salto waterfalls—they are simply AMAZING! We continue our cycling adventure to our campsite which will have hot showers and toilets.

DAY 09 – STAGE 07

Camping El Risquero – Rustic Camping – 75 km | 714 m

We start the day by cycling along the Rio Baker before climbing a 416m pass to reach Caleta Yungay 48km away. From there, we will sail for 45 minutes across the harbor to where we will find a small bar in which it is possible to buy food. After Rio Bravo, traffic along the Carretera Austral decreases drastically.

Tonight: Rustic Camping.

DAY 10 – STAGE 08

Wild Camping – Villa O’Higgins – 81 km | 1150 m

Today’s stage takes us to Villa O’Higgins, the end of the Carretera Austral and the gateway to paradise on earth. We will sleep in a hostel with standard European hostel amenities.

DAY 11 – STAGE 09

Villa O’Higgins – Candelario Mancilla – 7 km | 120 m

We leave Villa O’Higgins to embark on a 3-hour cruise to Candelario Mancilla where we will spend the night in a campsite. We will also have the opportunity to visit the O’Higgins Glacier via the fjord. We are still in Chile for one last night, and we will have the opportunity to say a festive goodbye to this fantastic land and its people.

DAY 12 – STAGE 10

Camping Chileno – Camping in frontiera Argentina – 21 km | 560 m

Another splendid stage in the Tierra de Nadie. It may be only 21 km but it’s still demanding and with a poignant beauty that deserves a slow pace. Once we reach the Argentine border, we’ll settle entrance paperwork and camp at Gendarmerie.

Rest well because tomorrow is THE FINAL STAGE!

DAY 13 – STAGE 11

Frontiera Argentina – El Chalten – 35 km | 240 m

This is it, 35 km to El Chalten, and we’ll take our time again today to enjoy the spectacle. We start with a 45-minute boat ride along the Desierto Lake. Once on the other side, it’s mostly downhill and under the icy gaze of Fitz Roy until we reach El Chalten.

DAY 14

Day Off in El Chalten

A picturesque village and base camp of the Andean expeditions to Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy, it will be worth the one day stop to enjoy an approach trek towards these famous peaks.

DAY 15

Transfer by private bus to El Calafate.

During the day, we’ll transfer to El Calafate by private bus with stops along Ruta 40 for photos. Transit time is approximately 3 hours.

DAY 16

Visit to Perito Moreno and free afternoon for packing up the bikes and souvenir shopping.

DAY 17 

Transfer to the airport in El Calafate.
Return flight. End of services.

YOUR GUIDE

Willy Mulonia

Willy Mulonia

Founder & President

Willy Mulonia, expert lonely traveler and cyclist for more than 30 years. He made several solo expeditions, but the most important is without a doubt the 28,640 bike trip from Ushuaia (Patagonia) to Prudhoe Bay (Alaska). He raced in the Crocodile Trophy (Australia) in ’98 and the famous IditaBike (Alaska) in 1999, 2000, 2018, 2019 & 2020 as well as many other mountain bike stage races all over the world. In 2003 he founded the bike travel agency Progetto Avventura, now renamed Project Adventure Cycling. In 2010, with the help of all the team of PA-Cycling he created the Mongolia Bike Challenge, one of the most important MTB stage race in the world. Today you can find him guiding most the tour offered by Project Adventure Cycling.

YOUR GUIDE

Massimo Alfero

Massimo Alfero

Travel Logistic Coordinator & Guide

Massimo Alfero, bike lover in all of its forms, he‘s riding a bike since when he was born. From 1975 until the end of the 90s, he raced with road bike, cyclocross and mountain bike. In the early ’90s he discovered the mountain bike stage races and ultramarathon participating in the Iron Bike, Transalp, Rally du Kenya, Tunisia Marathon and the first Randonees like the Paris Brest Paris. Then was the cyclotourism time, with solo travel in Europe, South America, Central Amerca and Africa. In 2005 he joined with Willy Mulonia and has collaborated actively in the creation of the travel agency Progetto Avventura, which has now become Project Adventure Cycling. He is our "African heart." From his desire to show Africa to our client we create the Ethiopia Wild Bike.

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