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Old 24 Dec 2008
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Santiago to Chiloe Island, Route Suggestions?

Hi All,

A friend and I will be leaving mid-January to do a motorbike trip from Santiago to Chiloe Island, with the return part of the loop being in Argentina. We will have solid dual purpose bikes with good offroad capabilities, but we hope to avoid all major highways.

Does anyone have any recommendations for routes to follow. Specifically, if you found any really nice roads, scenery, or towns to stop in these would be appreciated. Also, cheap accomadations and good campsites (ideally for free) that you know of would be useful.

Thanks for your help
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Old 24 Dec 2008
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We did not actively look for off-road when we travelled down, but we found that you could meander South following the smaller roads, but essentially, being such a narrow country, it all sort of follows the Pan American Highway. Even if you branch away, you end up being funnelled back toward it sooner or later, unless you really try to find alternative routes

To be honest, the best part of Chile for us was the Carretera Austral, South of Chiloe, back on the mainland: fantastic, but don't know what its like since the eruption of Cerro Chalten earlier in the year. So if its cleared up, and you have the time, I say boost down to there for some breath taking, less touristy views. That said, North of Puerto Montt, places such as Puerto Varas, and Villarica, and the coast South of Valdivia (although the town itself was a let down) are nice too. For camping, again, we found it harder to camp wild in Chile due to the higher pop density, but if you want a really nice place to camp, up a gnarly road, then head for Parque Nacional Radal , also known as Las Siete Tazas, East of Molina, and Curico. A lovely spot that we spent 3 nights at, purely because we had the campsite to ourselves. Can't say what its like when its crowded.

Take you time in Argentina if you can: a lovely place! Plenty of wild camping there, although the scenery is more bleak on the Pampa plains (we eventually really loved that emptiness). As cities go, Bariloche and of course, Mendoza to the northern part of your return are nice places to chill for a bit.

Rule of thumb, the National reserves in either country are worth seeing, only be sure to check what camping is allowed.

HTH and enjoy the trip.
Adventure: it's an experience, not a style!
(so ride what you like, but ride it somewhere new!)
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Old 25 Dec 2008
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An important guide is the local "Turistel" road atlas in Chile with lots of information. If you're lucky you'll even find an English edition.

When near Villarica don't miss riding up the Osorno vulcano.

I agree with Warthog re the Carretera Austral. But that will probably not suit your plans. At least there you shouldn't have any probs re wild camping.
Only when we pause to wonder
do we go beyond the limits of our little lives.
(Rod McKuen)
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Old 27 Dec 2008
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Thanks a lot guys, some really great looking suggestions here. I'll plan what I can before I arrive in Chile, but this Turistel sounds like a good idea before finalizing any plans.

One quick question, I'm not sure if you may know this Warthog. Is there some sort of a road that connects Siete Tazas directly to Altos del Lircay?

Thanks again for your help, and I will now plan to Carretera Austral. Any specific suggestions of places to see in the area?

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Old 28 Dec 2008
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Don't know for sure about connecting raods, but I'm sure there are. There is a Forestry Commission Office in Talca, off the Pan Am as well as in the Siete tazas reserve that should be able to tell you, but as they are only one valley or so and about 10-15km apart I expect they can be reaqched, one from the other: just don't expect a smooth ride!!

As for Carretera Austral: Chaiten was a nicie place to stop (Casa Hexagon was a lovely stop, but fear it fell foul of the eruption floods) and there were local hot springs, but now, not sure due to the eruption. Ditto the Parque Pumalin rainforest: we didn't see it, but its said to be nice, if you can reach it. Chaiten volcano is in its midst.

we blasted through the dirt section North of Cohaique in a day. Shame: take you time: its lovely. Especially the hanging glacier South of La Junta. Just enjoy and soak it up...

The long way round the lake to Chile Chico is also supposed to be great, except we cut across to Argentina from Balmaceda as we would have crossed to Chile Chico by Ferry that was not running that day...
Adventure: it's an experience, not a style!
(so ride what you like, but ride it somewhere new!)
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Old 8 Jan 2009
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Now the sea-side road is close to be completed, in theory you can travel from Valparaiso to Puerto Montt. Sure is very much better than the highway (Ruta 5)

See the maps in Mapas Ruteros de Chile - Mapas de Ciudades de Chile - Cuadros de Distancias
Ya verĂ¡s como quieren en Chile al amigo cuando es forastero (traditional song)

Jose Pedro Espinosa
Santiago, Chile
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Old 9 Jan 2009
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Thanks again Warthog, I guess I'll figure out if the parks connect once I actually get down there. This Turistel site is great for maps, I'll definitely make lots of use of it.
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