Cycle Chile & Argentina: Atacama to Salta

13 days
from
$5,699
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Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 5 reviews >
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:
1300 131 564
Call for tailor made trips:
1300 131 564
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 238.0km/24.0miles
Day 320.0km/12.0miles
Day 435.0km/22.0miles
Day 570.0km/43.0miles
Day 645.0km/30.0miles
Day 885.0km/53.0miles
Day 956.0km/35.0miles
Day 1047.0km/29.0miles
Day 1151.0km/32.0miles
Day 1268.0km/42.0miles

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: Atacama Budget 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: Atacama Budget 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: Atacama Budget 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; downhill ride to the Humahuaca Gorge and the Hill of Seven Colours.

    Departing Susques, we transfer (approx. 1 hour) to the small community of Cerro Negro. Here we will unload the bikes and start cycling towards the Salinas Grandes Salt Pans. Here you will have the opportunity to experience riding on salt before making a stop for our picnic lunch. Afterwards we will transfer to the viewpoint 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 until we arrive at the famous Hill of Seven Colours. From here we have a short ride 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

    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 7

    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 8

    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: Grace Cafayate Wine Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 9

    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: Grace Cafayate Wine Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    Ride to the Calchaqui Valley; transfer to Molinos passing the Valley of Arrows.

    After breakfast we set off on our bikes towards the Calchaqui Valley passing through the old town of San Carlos.  This is one of the oldest towns in Argentina. After lunch we will take a transfer (approx. 1.5 hours) to Molinos but will be stopping 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. 

    Accommodation: Hotel Hacienda de Molinos or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 11

    Cycle using the old National Route 40 to Cachi.

    After breakfast we will start cycling straight from our hotel and head on the old National Route 40 to Seclantas. This is a very scenic route as we will be cycling along the Calchaquí River. When we arrive to El Colte, we will stop and appreciate some of the art displayed by the side of the path produced by loom weavers. Afterwards we will carry on cycling until we arrive at our hotel for the night.

    AccommodationEl 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 have a short transfer (approx. 30 minutes) to our starting point in Los Cardones 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 a good level of fitness are recommended. Total distance covered: approx. 510km

Terrain and route: Approx. 70% tarmac, 30% 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:
1300 131 564
Call for tailor made trips:
1300 131 564
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:
1300 131 564
Call for tailor made trips:
1300 131 564
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.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2019
    Katy Smith

    Cycling in Chile & Argentina

    This was the one of the best cycling trips we’ve done and couldn’t recommend it more highly. There was so much contrast and diversity in the landscapes and terrain each day! No 2 days were the same! From high plateaus, salt flats, rainforest, rocky landscapes, river valleys, great tarmac roads and gravel tracks .... it was just breathtaking! Much of the trip was at significant altitude but the itinerary allows for appropriate acclimatisation. The whole team were great and the organisation from behind scenes was superb- especially the coffee stops and picnics!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day had its own inspirational moment - the Moon Valley in the high desert, the Tatio Geysers at sunrise followed by a dip in the thermal pool, cycling on the salt flats, the 2 incredible 35km descents, the breathtaking geological features and amazing colourful rock formations.... I could keep going on!! One really special moment was being entertained by local musicians in the incredible amphitheatre - a fallen cavern created by an ancient waterfall.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ale was first class! He was a great leader and went over and above the call of duty every day. He also had great knowledge of the political and local history - fascinating sensitive and charming. Also the support team were fantastic.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for altitude- much of the trip is at significant altitude but the trip allows for acclimatisation. Also bring clothing for all temperatures- above 4000m it is quite chilly and it’s well below freezing visiting the Geysers at dawn! Others on our trip have recommended a good saddle or padding for the rutted gravel and a good camera is a must!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I just couldn’t recommend this trip and the leader and more highly - both were exceptional (legend) Book it - you won’t be disappointed!!
  • Reviewed October 2019
    Alice Dain

    Fantastic scenery

    Great riding, fantastic scenery and superb support staff.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Salt plains, geysers and hill of 7 colours. Two awesome downhill rides.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ale was excellent- not only in role of trip leader, but also in imparting knowledge of local history and politics. Very organised and helpful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Walking boots or shoes recommended for sand dune and geyser walk. Trip rating of 4 feels right. None of us had significant altitude symptoms. The only climbing at altitude was on the last day of the trip, when we had acclimatised. The 30% non tarmac was on sandy/gravelly/corrugated roads which needed some care for the uninitiated. The birdwatching/ barbeque option for the day off in Salta was hugely enjoyed by the 10 of us who chose this.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The scenery was stunning - pack your best camera
  • Reviewed October 2019
    James Roscoe

    Brilliant variety of rides. Best trip ever!

    Such a variety of cycling through such a variety of landscapes. Some of the best days riding we’ve ever done.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The ride through the rain forest; riding on the pampas.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant - your tour leaders are always good, but Ale was exceptional and inspirational. The support staff were brilliant too!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t be fooled by seemingly short distances - most of the rides are at high altitude, so pace yourself.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We were astounded by the variety, the silence on the high planes. The best trip ever.
  • Reviewed October 2019
    L Fraser

    Smiling in Atacama

    This trip was absolutely fantastic, I really didn't want it to end. The scenery was jaw dropping with different views and a different cycling experience every day. It's hard to single out anything in particular that stands out because it was all stunning. I can't recommend it highly enough.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting on the bike every day and discovering that once again the scenery was superb and different.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Leader and crew were a brilliant team.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be sure to have your own comfortable saddle or a gel seat cover because the corrugated gravel roads can be hard on your tail end! You might also want to take a buff or something you can use to cover your mouth as some of the days can be quite dusty. The cycling looks like short distances, especially at the start but the roads/terrain and altitude mean it is still quite challenging.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Monica Princic

    A fantastic trip with incredible varied sceneries

    The trip is incredible. The scenery varies every day and you'll ride on all possible terrains: sand, rock, gravel, tarmac and every day offers a lot of fun. The landscape of the Moon Valley in Chile is surreal and the Tatio geyser excursion is a stunning experience. Chile and Argentina are lovely countries; the areas visited still haven't been reached by mass tourism and you barely see any other tourists while travelling.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Riding through the hill of seven colours in Purmamarca.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The guide we had on our trip has been working with Exodus for many many years and is very knowledgable of the area as well been born in Argentina. He went above and beyond to make sure everyone had the best time and gave us tips to ride on different terrain, as sand for instance and I felt I've learnt a lot by the end of the week.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just book and go!

Dates & Prices

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