MOUNTAIN BIKING IN PATAGONIA
Varied grounds make of this area a stimulating place for mountain-biking. In fact, lots of tourists come with their own bicycles on the bus or plane, longing to feel the thrilling sensation of cycling these lands.
If you cannot bring yours, you will always find a place to hire one.
Follow directions, do not stray away from the marked path and make sure you protect the native forest at all times. The circuits in Bariloche, San Martín de los Andes, Los Alerces National Park and Ushuaia are only a few of the possibilities available.
San Martín de los Andes: Seven Lakes Circuit - Quila Quina
One of the favorite circuits in the area is the one which leads to the beautiful Quila Quina beach, by Lake Lácar. But there are numerous paths and tracks worth doing in the area.
Some of the many circuits in this place are Arroyo Chacay, "Arrayanes" Forest, Small Circuit, Great Circuit.
General Roca: "Valle de la Luna" ("Moon Valley")
A trip of almost 20 kilometers, which leaves from the city continues through apple-tree orchards, crosses the Negro river, skirts the "bardas" and arrives in one of the most attractive places in the Patagonian plateau: a valley with multiple streams and hills resembling the geography on the moon.
Esquel: Nant y Fall Cascades
The trip is long, but the landscape makes up for it. On the way you can visit a fish-breeding station.
Junín de los Andes: Mapuche Circuit
It offers the possibility of reaching the reservations of the native people in the area and learning about their daily life. On the way there, and for those who also want to fish, the confluence of the Malleo and Aluminé rivers offers ideal conditions.
Villa la Angostura: Verde Lagoon
The road to this lagoon with protected bird species is clearly sign-posted.
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN BARILOCHE
Bariloche Adventure Travel & Tours...
Each year hundreds of tourists arrive in San Carlos de Bariloche, unload their mountain bikes and plunge into the woods and over the mountain slopes to the peaks, not only in search of the adrenalin produced by an exciting sport, but also seeking contact with pure air and nature in all its glory.
The Cordillera offers low, medium, high and very high difficulty level trails for this sport.
The low difficulty trails can be tackled by fairly recent beginners who have enough experience and training to do the required distances.
The medium difficulty trails are for the intermediate level cyclists that can manage bicycle tracks, since they are sufficiently trained to face the sustained effort of long stretches of uphill road.
The high difficulty circuits must only be faced by expert cyclists, who are good at handling their bikes on all kinds of surfaces.
The very high difficulty circuits show major height differences: sustained upward grinds, very dangerous descents, orientation problems and timetable restrictions.
GUIDE TO THE BEST BICYCLE TRACKS
(Bariloche and its environs)
Old Road to Colonia Suiza
This is a little-used road that links Puerto Moreno with Colonia Suiza, skirting Lake Moreno.
Level of difficulty: Easy, 11 Km
Catedral - Frey Trail - Lake Gutierrez
Trails and paths in the Catedral area. Good scenic views.
Difficulty level: Easy to advanced, 5 to 20 Km
Catedral, Circuito Chico and Mt Otto
For those who wish to cycle around the west part of Bariloche. It offers a wide range of trails.
Difficulty level: Different difficulties and distances.
This place offers many options for the sport. Woodland tracks and paths.
Difficulty level: Intermediate, 15 to 35 Km
A traditional trail through the Llao Llao Municipal Reserve and other points of interest.
Difficulty level: Easy, 25 Km
Wide valley with lenga woods. There are many trails here, as well as the chance to cross to Ñirihuau.
Difficulty level: Intermediate, 40 Km
A trail through a beautiful coihue forest to Playa del León, on Mascardi, followed by a climb to the lake.
Difficulty level: Advanced, 18 Km
A trail following the peninsula to its tip, where you will find a venerable forest of Arrayanes.
Difficulty level: Easy to intermediate, 24 Km
San Pedro Peninsula
A quiet road that crosses the peninsula. There is a lookout point and a couple of beaches.
Difficulty level: Easy, 14 Km
Old Road to El Trébol
Little traffic. This road joins the El Trébol and Barrio Casa de Piedra districts.
Difficulty level: Easy, 6 Km
Challhuaco - Ñirihuau
Crossing from one valley to the other along a bicycle path going through a beautiful lenga and ñirantal wood.
Difficulty level: Advanced, 34 Km
This is a ravine track that is fairly steep, following the Casa de Piedra Stream up to the refuge.
Difficulty level: Advanced, 25 Km
This is a zigzagging upward path that goes on through a ravine up to the Tronador refuge. It offers an excellent scenic view.
Difficulty level: Advanced, 30 Km
The track climbs almost up to the refuge. There is a very good view.
Difficulty level: Intermediate, 22 Km
Villa Llanquín - Pichileufu River
Steppe crossing. Excellent scenery.
RULES THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED
If you want to practice mountain-biking, or if you already consider yourself to be an expert, there are certain rules that you cannot afford to ignore. The following are those that have been issued by the IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association).
Only use the authorized trails
Respect the closed trails and cycle paths (if in doubt, ask), avoid crossing private property, and if necessary, ask for permission. Some areas of the parks may be off-bounds to cyclists.
Leave no traces of your visit
Be environmentally aware. Even in open spaces you must not ride if you are going to leave tracks or other signs of your passage, such as after a rain, for example. Be aware of the different soil consistencies; practice low-impact cycling, and make sure you return with the whole load you brought with you.
Maintain control of your bicycle
A second's distraction can cause you serious problems. Respect the rules and ride at a prudent speed.
Always give right of way
Let people know you are coming. A friendly greeting is thoughtful and works well. Do not startle walkers or other cyclists. When you cross paths with other cyclists show your consideration by reducing speed or stopping altogether. Bear in mind that other users of the trail may have stopped on curves or other "blind spots".
Never scare animals
Any animal will be startled by an unannounced appearance, a sudden movement or a loud noise. This may be dangerous for you, for others or for the animals themselves. You must give them the physical space and the time to get used to your presence. Be specially careful about people on horseback. Scaring cattle or other livestock and disturbing wildlife is a serious offense. Close the fence gates, or leave them in the position indicated as correct.
Plan ahead of time
Know your machine, your own limitations, and the area you intend to visit. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Some indications may seem obvious, but none of them are useless when facing the steep mountain trails of Bariloche.
- Leaving with "time to spare" is a good idea to prepare for unforeseen circumstances like punctures, breakages, time lost in searching for trails and paths, etc.
- The times indicated for the circuits include stops to rest, take photos, hydrate and eat.
- Familiarizing yourself with the difficulty levels indicated is important, because of differences in individual perception levels.
- Do not light fires. Only do it if strictly necessary, and make sure it is a small fire near the water, and never on the humus of the forest undergrowth. When you leave, put it out by pouring water on it (Literally flood it).
- Ask permission to go through private property from its owners or caretakers, and from the park ranger in the case of the National Parks.
- Always close fence gates after you!
- If a dog acts aggressively it is better to stop in one's tracks (this may or may not work).
- Beverages and drinking water decontamination pills.
- Food, aspirin and a basic first-aid kit.
- Insect repellent and sunscreen (especially from December through March).
- Tools, a spare inner tube, oil, an air pump, puncture repair set, a compass and maps.
- Helmet, gloves, lights, goggles, and a small backpack or "belt purse", a windbreaker jacket and a change of clothing.
- Light camera.
- For the circuits with major stream or river crossings, take with you a pair of beach flip-flops with ankle straps or rubber-soled alpargatas (canvas footwear)
- these are light and will protect your cycling sneakers from getting wet.
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN CALAFATE
Calafate Adventure Travel & Tours...
El Calafate is a place where mountain-cycling gives you a wonderful opportunity to watch the fauna and landscapes. Moreover, it is a simple and healthy activity, which allows you to take numerous routes which are inaccessible by car.
In the city of El Calafate we can hire bicycles or "cuatriciclos" (four-wheel motorcycles) to move around the city and also to visit the surroundings.
You can also join in excursions organized by the specialized agencies in the area.
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN PUERTO MADRYN
Puerto Madryn Adventure Travel & Tours...
Puerto Madryn is the place where mountain biking will give you an unequaled opportunity to admire the majesty and diversity of the Chubut landscape.
From coast to Cordillera, along winding and steep trails that are only negotiable by bicycle, is born in the cyclist a passion which normally would be associated with more traditional kinds of sporting activity.
The operators of this service hire out bicycles and accessories and accompany them with advice. The different circuits are designed to provide challenges at different levels of expertise and for people at different levels of fitness.
The most attractive circuits combine steppe and seashore, both northwards and southwards from the city. Trail lengths vary from 15 to 40 kilometers. Some trips can last up to 4 hours (the circuit ending at Lobería de Punta Loma, for example).
It is wise to seek good advice beforehand and only take the recommended trails. In desert sectors that are far from the city, it is important to be accompanied by someone who knows the area to avoid the risk of getting lost.
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
San Martin de los Andes Adventure Travel & Tours...
For the cycling or mountain bike enthusiast, the most thrilling challenge is the mountain itself.
San Martín de los Andes and its surroundings, together with Lanín National Park offer you all the options in different trails and tracks, as well as all the difficulty options in gradients.
Each circuit opens up a new world of marvels, because in addition to the mountain, you have the native woods, the many bird species and innumerable lakes offering pure, crystalline meltwater to keep you company, turning the "drudgery of pedaling" into a real celebration of life, and an experience to be shared with family and friends.
The mountain bike expeditions are a healthy way of touring - traversing the scenic paths on our "own steam", while enjoying putting our sinews to the test and "bonding" with nature.
San Martín de los Andes is a world of options. For example, on the Seven Lakes Route you travel 110 km of incomparable beauty to get to Villa La Angostura. On the intermediate stages there are different options for camping; this route is becoming a classic also for mountain bike enthusiasts.
For the less experienced, there are smaller circuits nearer the city, to test their legs and enjoy as a family.
CATRITRE BEACH AND VILLA QUILA QUINA
Leaving the city along National Route Nº 234 towards the southwest
(Seven Lakes Route), after 4 km you access Playa Catritre (Catrite
Beach), down a zigzagging mountain track a few hundred meters long,
through a venerable forest, reaching a beach zone on Lake Lácar. You
will find a restaurant, restrooms, barbecues and a campsite.
Again on National Route Nº 234, and after one more kilometer, you will find the entry point to Quila Quina. However, you will still have to do another 12 km on a partially winding upward track (the first 6 km), with heavy vehicle traffic in summer, before getting to the village. At kilometer 7, the track begins to wind down a typical mountain slope. From this point you will have a view over Lake Lácar and the village.
Some meters before entering the village a short walk may be taken to the Arroyo Grande waterfall, beautifully framed between giant boulders, and accessible along a well signposted walkway.
The village's main road ends at the port. What is there in Quila Quina? Beautiful beaches, a well-organized campsite, a general store, a country school building, an interpreted trail called El Cipresal, rock paintings, a mineral water spring, a few restaurants and a great deal of nature.
SEVEN LAKES ON A BIKE
Before you leave make sure everything is in order (well inflated tires for the first half on the roadway, good balance between the two packs), and above all, make sure you don't forget anything: the very necessary cycle helmet, a small igloo tent, rain gear, a heater and a first-aid kit.
You must take food for every day of the trip. The tour starts at Lake Lácar. The first 15 km are ascending, and this is really tiring. However, it is just your initial effort, that will get you to the Partido stream, where fresh water awaits you.
From there on, you will find ups and downs, and after crossing Hermoso Stream (km 27) you will get to green-watered Lake Machónico.
By this time, you will have been pedaling for some hours, and you will be feeling increasingly tired. However, only 8 km past Machónico you will find the gravel track branching off to Lake Hermoso. That will be your first stop to spend the night camping in a wilderness area facing the lake.
The next day, you'll have to start early, because the ups and downs will continue up to km 45, where you will find two spectacular lakes: Falkner and Villarino. Here you have organized campsites with barbecues, restrooms and all the necessary facilities. You may stop here if you like. However, normally people choose to continue along, enjoying the views.
At this point Lanín National Park gives way to Nahuel Huapi National Park. That is where the paved road stops also. There are new landscapes here: the soil at your feet, the forest on either side, and the mountain above you. For the gravel tracks, it is a good idea to deflate the tires slightly so as not to bounce or skid.
Shortly thereafter you will come to Lake Escondido: Really spectacular, and surrounded by vegetation, it lies well below the trail. There is a steep downhill run that is definitely not bicycle-friendly.
This slope is a tremendous one, whose hairpin bends take you from El Escondido to Pichi Traful (the north arm of Lake Traful), where your next campsite is located.
Continuing along this roller-coaster gravel track, you will get to Lake Correntoso, a huge sheet of water. One branchoff leads to Lake Espejo Chico and the Rucamalén stream: a wonderful sight. Espejo Chico is an ideal place to have lunch. There is a campsite and a general store on the shores of the lake. The countryside invites one to take time off to digest a good meal. However, it is no time to delay, as there is still a stretch left to cover.
The exit from Correntoso is almost as difficult as that from Lácar. After an hour of hard pedaling, Lake Espejo appears. There is a campsite there also. You will no doubt still have enough energy left to go on a bit longer until you find what you have been looking forward to.
Few sensations can compare with the sight of a sign pointing right to Chile and left to La Angostura. The challenge has almost been successfully met. From there on, you will have Lake Nahuel Huapi on your right. Soon you will arrive at Villa La Angostura, a town that will be awaiting you with open arms.
When vacation time comes, for many it means going somewhere with family or friends and with that inseparable companion, one's bike. When you plan the trip you will have to think what you should take with you, making sure it is "only what is right and necessary".
Clothes: you should always take complete gear for practicing the sport in any kind of weather. The possibility of a sudden storm makes it necessary to take waterproof clothing. Remember also, that in the Cordillera, even in summer, temperatures go down sharply at night.
Repairs: you should take along the replacement parts you may need for solving any type of foreseeable problem. The cycle market offers very compact and light emergency kits. The simplest consist of the usual patches and glue for repairing punctures, whereas other more complete ones include "Allen-type" spanners (usually the best), a chain cutter and other tools you may need "in a pinch".
Head protection: make sure you take along and wear your helmet for the mountain tracks. They are available at all prices and in all sizes. The best are those that are made of compressed Styrofoam or poly-carbonate. The helmet will cushion a sudden and heavy blow, absorbing it and splitting, thus preventing reverberation. As well as preventing wounds, it will protect your neck, one of the body's most vulnerable areas.
Load: for the long stretches, it is a good idea to distribute the load 1/3 at the front and 2/3 at the back, locating the heaviest items at the bottom of the carrier, and against it, lowering the bicycle's center of gravity and making it more stable.
When traveling in groups it is a good idea to divide the general equipment (cooking utensils, food, spare parts) among the members, so that the load is evenly distributed and does not take up too much space or overload any single cyclist.
Night riding: this is dangerous, because it is difficult for car drivers to see us. That is why a front halogen light , one or two back flashing lights and several well placed cat's eyes (on pedals, for example) are mandatory. It is also a good idea to wear a reflecting strip on one's clothing.
GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALL THE CIRCUITS
- Wear a helmet on all excursions; wear gloves to avoid blistering or chafing.
- Wear sunglasses; for safety reasons it is advisable to wear the special (polycarbonate) type that does not splinter in an accident.
- Include a basic first-aid kit on long trips.
- Do not apply too much grease on your chain if you are going to ford rivers or streams.
- Cycle cautiously on busy roads, and make sure your bike is well-supplied with "cat's eyes" or safety lights when you travel at night.
- If you make a bonfire, do so only in places where it is allowed, and put it out when you leave.
- Do not venture alone in isolated areas.
- Be a "natural partner" of ours in our ecology effort by only using the well-marked trails and taking non-degradable garbage back with you.
First aid tips
The epidermis over a blister is an ideal natural protection. If the blister has burst, the best thing to do is wash the affected area with soap and water, and cover it with a clean piece of cloth to avoid infection.
Moving accident victims: We can worsen lesions if we handle a victim incorrectly. If we are not sure about the nature of his/her lesions, the best thing is not to move the victim. If it is necessary to move the victim to prevent a worsening of his/her condition, we have to use a rigid support system.
Wash the skin around the wound first, then wash the wound itself with soap and water. Cover it with gauze or a piece of clean cloth. Stick this down with medical or insulating tape.
Do not move the joint. You have to try and fix it in its position. Do not try to put a joint back in place by yourself.
Immobilize broken bones. If the victim has to be transported, the fracture should be splinted with straight branches, pieces of cardboard or sticks. To tie these in place, use strips of clothing or other cloth.
Lie the victim down so that he/she will not faint. To stop blood flow, press firmly down on the wound with cloth that is as clean as possible. If the cloth becomes blood soaked, place another one on top and continue to apply pressure until the hemorrhage ceases.
The victim will be weak, confused and nauseous. His/her skin will become warm and dry, and body temperature will increase. He/she may lose consciousness. Provide the victim with half to one liter of cold, slightly salty water if possible, which should be drunk at the rate of a quarter of a liter every fifteen minutes. Lemon or orange juice are also a good idea. We must cool the victim rapidly, so lie him/her down in a shady spot and lower body temperature by applying cold compresses.
Wash the whole wound if possible with abundant soap and water. Rinse it and cover it with a clean cloth. Although the wound may not be serious, you must take the victim immediately to an emergency clinic.
First aid kit
Cloth-based medicinal tape
Sunscreen and lip balm