The Andes is the longest mountain range in the world, and passes from Venezuela in the north, through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, where these magnificent mountains have impacted the culture as well as its geography. During our Andes holidays, you’ll visit the Atacama Desert in the north, which is the driest desert in the world sitting high on a plain and surrounded by lakes; snow-capped peaks; and the rumbling volcanos of Laguna Meñique and Miscante.
Our Andes tours not only present you with jaw-dropping scenery, but they also introduce you to the history and culture of this mountainous region. Marvel at native Indian ruins, watch gauchos herd their sheep and visit authentic Mapuche houses and farms.
Separating Chile and Argentina, the Andes Mountains forms part of Patagonia, which is one of the most diverse and beautiful regions to visit on holidays in South America. Its landscape is made up volcanoes, mountains, ancient forests and lakes and can be explored on foot or by bike. As well as exploring the magnificent scenery, you’ll also have the opportunity to see some of the native wildlife. From the cordillera foothills of the mountains, Andean condors swoop down to catch their prey, and you might even spot a cougar or Patagonian mara.
Our cycling Andes tours of Chile and Argentina are led by an experienced guide that takes you along scenic tracks, including the Seven Lakes Road to San Martin, and through the Conguillio National Park, where you’ll ride beneath ancient monkey puzzle trees.
Patagonian Lake District: Comprising ancient forests, rugged peaks, simmering volcanoes and emerald lakes, the Patagonian Lake District is a sparkling jewel in the Andean crown. You’ll be captivated by the diversity of the landscape which stretches from the eastern cordillera of the Andes and along the Chilean border. The monumental peaks of the Andes hug the shores of glacial lakes, forming the most beautiful reflections on the water’s surface. The region is made up of several national parks and winding tracks lead you through wildflower meadows, forests and mountains, where occasionally you’ll arrive at a pretty alpine village.
Torres del Pain National Park: On the southern tip of the Andes, Torres del Paine National Park boasts a rich biodiversity where glacial valleys play host to a wealth of flora and fauna. The Torres del Paine is a series of granite pillars that dominate the landscape above the Patagonian Steppe and the hike up to its foothills guides you through sprawling forest to amazing views over the national park. Here you’ll find a sapphire blue lake that completes this almost fantastical scene which lies below the peaks. As well as hiking through Torres del Paine National Park, it’s great to explore by canoe, bike or horseback, adding another dimension to your experience.
Camino de los Siete Lagos: More commonly known as the Seven Lakes Road, the Camino de los Siete Lagos is one of the most picturesque driving routes in the world, which runs for 114 miles from Villa La Angostura and San Martin de los Andes. The road snakes past alpine lakes and forests and you’re treated to epic panoramas that stretch uninterrupted over the Chilean landscape. While the name of the road suggests there are seven lakes en route, there are actually many more than this, each as beautiful as the next. The entire road takes approximately 3.5 hours to drive along but owing to the spellbinding scenery, it feels much shorter.
Buenos Aires: The capital of Argentina and famed for its seductive tango rhythms, Buenos Aires has a powerful energy that you can’t ignore. Throughout the city, the Latin passion of the people is evident in the colourful street art and the lively cafes and bars. Combine the modern-day culture with the colonial architecture and historical sites and you’ve got one of the most vibrant cities in South America. Sampling the street food is a must, from the traditional bondipan sandwich to panchuker waffled sausages, Buenos Aires knows how to make the best comfort food.
Conguillio National Park: Spanning an incredible 150,000 acres in the Chilean Lake District, Conguillio National Park plays host to ancient beech and araucaria forests, river canyons, alpine lakes and volcanic landscapes. It’s this diversity that makes the park so popular on Andes tours and is great for exploring on foot or by bike. Th most notable landmark is the active Llaima Volcano which soars over 3,000 metres high. Other sights of interest include Laguna Arco Iris, Conguillio Lake, Laguna Verde and, of course, the famous monkey puzzle trees (araucaria).
There is some stunning scenery on this trip, and a good mix of tarmac and gravel riding. Some of the gravel is harder going than others but the team really looked after us – no pressure on pace, and lots of options to hop on the bus or walk a little. Coffee stops and lunch were well paced. I highly recommend this trip which also included a nice amount of chill time in the evenings, and a couple of free days.