TOUR CODE: EPA04 ANDES MOUNTAIN BIKE EPIC Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile (17 days/16 nights) HIGHLIGHTS: Andean forests • Lakes & volcanoes • Thermal baths • Snow-capped mountains • Amazing mountain biking • Historical & cultural experience There are parts of the world that are simply ideal for travelling on mountain bikes. The Northern Patagonian Andes is one of them. Our journey takes you through fascinating contrasts between the magical landscapes of the Patagonian Steppe in Argentina, the mountains and lakes of the Andean Forests, to the volcanoes and sub-Antarctic rainforest beyond the Andes Range in Chile. You will cross the Andes Range on your bike, as we ride over a backroad deep within the Lanin Volcano National Park, over the shores of impressive lakes, whose turquoise and emerald waters deep inside magical forests will create lasting memories! We will also experience the best of the Chilean volcanoes, crossing native forests of monkey-puzzle tree and southern beech. Spend a magical evening in exclusive thermal baths, a true delight after days of so much adventure. Take pleasure in the region’s excellent culinary delights: always abundant, healthy, and of course delicious. This is not only a great holiday, but the journey of a lifetime. DAY 1 Arrival Mendoza. Then transfer on arrival to our comfortable lodge. DAY 2 We will drive south today to Malargüe. Lodging in a hotel (included) for dinner (not included). DAY 3 After a safety and organisation speech, we start biking from the town central square. We leave the last city (Malargüe) slowly heading south, over the famous Road 40, that goes from Jujuy at the North of the country to Usuhahia in the very South of the country. In total we will have travelled over 5000 km. With the Andes Range on our right, we go over a paved road to the Chihuído Slope all uphill, 550 metres in the first 42 km until we arrive to enjoy lunch. Our support team prepares lunch every day and receives us in the middle of the Andes at midday and does the same for our nights’ dinners and camps. Then we finish our stage at our camp by the Rio Grande at Bardas Blancas. Here we´ll spend our last civilized night at this border place. From now we won’t have anymore paved roads until the end of the trip. Temperature will be around 30°c during the day and it can be 0°c at night, so bikers must expect a wide range of temperatures and strong facing winds. 67.5 km (42 miles) - 774 meters (2530 Feet) uphill/740 meters (2420 Feet) downhill DAY 4 From the camp we bike from Bardas Blancas to Las Loicas, the last Argentinian border control. The path is wide and always has a wonderfully blue, yet cold river running alongside. Customers can choose between cycling ahead, seeking a sportive performance, or following behind, for a more relaxing ride. We usually use two support vehicles. The big minibus will escort us with our equipment, and the other will go ahead to prepare the meals and the camp. We will spend the night at a local ‘Puesto’ where we’ll dinne on ‘Chivito’ the typical local goat. 37.5km (23 miles) - 330 meters (1080 Feet) uphill/160 meters (523 Feet) downhill DAY 5 After passing the local Argentinean border control, we cross the Chico River. We will start to bike on the Grande river’s left, which runs by the Grande Valley, surrounded by incredible landscapes, amazing views and strange rock formations. You will notice how the river becomes clearer as we bike towards the Andes. We’ll cross the big sand fields, bike along straight paths and maybe if we are lucky we’ll watch a Condor flying by the mountains near its nests. The breathtaking landscape at this moment is arid and lonely. Peaks are still covered by snow, and we’ll camp by the Montañes river. That night temperatures can reach 0°C. 49 km (31 miles) - 620 meters (2027 Feet) uphill/410 meters (1340 Feet) downhill DAY 6 We start early for this short but strong stage, that will take us to the incredible sulfur hot baths leaning under the Peteroa Volcano. The volcano was alive during the '90s and still smokes all day. On this stage bikers will face the strong wind and hard uphill riding. Throughout the journey seeing tinny melting rivers, while experiencing no shade throughout the entire day. At the same this time will allow you to get into the heart and the spirit of the mountains. Our diehard cycling spirit will keep us going! We’ll find volcanic black stones and volcanic ashes by the road, and while getting closer to the camp, we’ll see the remaining snowed peaks from the winter. Under a glacier and by the hot baths our support team will receive us with the already set camp, to enable us to enjoy the Andes gift and have a hot relaxing soak in the pools! 48 km (31 miles) - 1145 meters (3745 Feet) uphill/455 meters (1488 Feet) downhill DAY 7 We can define this day with emotion and excitement, as we are about to finish the uphill struggle and leave Argentina. After crossing the border into Chile, we now start the amazing downhill part of this trip. After 14 km we’ll find the border military control and the maximum height at 2465 meters above sea level. Now prepare yourself for one of the most exciting downhill rides you’ll ever do on a mountain bike! The zigzag curved downhill path will allow us to see a spectacular view. We’ll arrive at the camp placed by the Teno River, which is usually used by Olympic Canoe teams for its great conditions. 39.5 km (25 miles) - 420 meters (1374 Feet) uphill/1620 meters (5298 Feet) downhill DAY 8 Last stage of the Andes Challenge that keeps us biking downhill, though it’s a hard day due to rocks over the path. We start early so that we will have time to enjoy the swimming pool at our hotel that night. The landscape has completely changed; we have already left the dry and barren mountain landscape, to arrive at this humid, green forest with white water rivers. After crossing Los Queñes town we reach the paved road with some relief, and cycle the last 26 km until arrive at the city. Our support team will be waiting for us at the hotel where we’ll be lodged to have lunch and celebrate our trip with champagne! After that we load the bikes on the trailer and enjoy a relaxing hot shower and a free afternoon. There is also a swimming pool and we have dinner at the hotel. 68 km (42.5 miles) - 420 meters (1374 Feet) uphill/1420 meters (4644 Feet) downhill DAY 9 We leave Curicó in our Minibus towards Santiago de Chile. Fly South to Puerto Montt and transfer to your hotel in Puerto Varas in Chile’s Southern Lake District. DAY 10 We will depart taking the Lakes Crossing service to Peulla. We will drive along the edge of Lake Llanquihue, near the Calbuco volcano, and then enter the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park. From here we will be able to see the majesty of the Osorno volcano, the waterfalls of Petrohué river and Lake Todos los Santos. We will sail the beautiful emerald-coloured waters of this lake where you will be able to appreciate the shore bordered by native forests, mountains, volcanoes, hills and waterfalls. We will depart to cross the Vicente Pérez Rosales border point, and then by bus up to Lake Frías, from where we will sail to Puerto Blest. After a short bus ride, we will continue sailing, crossing Lake Nahuel Huapi until we reach Puerto Pañuelo. We will then continue onto Bariloche by bus. This afternoon we will receive the group with a welcome cocktail, followed by a detailed presentation of the trip, as well as a mini-clinic on mountain biking. We will fit bikes and have a brief test ride, making sure everything is in perfect order. In the evening, we will host a traditional Argentine dinner at the famous Parrilla de Alberto – an authentic asado (grilled steak) accompanied by great Argentine wine. You’ll rest tonight at the Hosteria Santa Rita - set on the shores of the Lake Nahuel Huapi, the views from every room are fantastic. A small, family-run inn, the Santa Rita offers a comfortable, homely feel. And the location is perfect, set just outside central Bariloche, below the foothills of Mount Otto. This first day is the perfect Patagonian introduction. DAY 11 Our journey begins with a short shuttle out of Bariloche, to the mouth of the Limay River. Fed by the snow melting into the waters of the Nahuel Huapi Lake, the river is a beauty – its turquoise waters wind their way under eroded rocks and jagged peaks, poplar and other native trees hugging its banks throughout. We begin pedaling here, over a dirt road leading us through local farms and ranches - there will be plenty of opportunities for seeing and meeting local farmers. The dirt road becomes an off-road trail at times, taking us to amazing views of the distant Andes range. With a little luck, we might see impressive local wildlife, such as the mythical Andean Condor, soaring in the skies, or the guanaco a cousin of the llama, with its elegant silhouette off in the distance; or even the wild rhea, or choique, as they are called locally. Upon arrival at Villa Llanquin, a small ranching town over the river’s edge, we will enjoy an outdoor picnic, on the shore of the Limay. For those wanting more biking, the Limay trail continues further. We can also remain at our picnic spot, relaxing while taking in the light sounds of the river, as well as the incredible colours surrounding us here. Our day’s journey continues in our van, en route to the unique Valle Encantado (Enchanted Valley). Its name comes from the countless volcanic rock formations and hills eroded by thousands of years of Patagonian wind and rain. This afternoon, you can view the sunset over this magnificent setting from the terrace of our Hosteria, or take a walk down over the Traful River nearby. We will have a group dinner at the Hosteria tonight. Hostería Gruta de las Vírgenes is set in a magical location, in the heart of the Enchanted Valley, the views from the Hosteria are superb, inviting you to relax near its cozy fireplace, while watching the sun set behind the nearby mountains. DAY 12 Today we will take on another great cross-country journey, going into the Lanin Volcano National Park, through truly marvelous landscapes. The challenge begins from the heights of the Cordoba Pass (Paso del Córdoba), which we will comfortably reach in our van. The descent is incredible, snaking over magical vistas towards the Andes, crossing the transition zone between Patagonian Steppe and the Andean forests, very similar to the Far West landscapes of the USA. After having a picnic lunch on the Meliquina River, in a pretty little corner of the forest, we’ll have the option of continuing in the vehicle or on bike. The arrival into San Martin de los Andes couldn’t be better - 10 km of descent over a paved road, with incredible views over Lake Lacar. San Martin is an enchanting and very exclusive mountain town, and it is the port of entry to the Lakes Region. We recommend getting to know the town, strolling its pretty streets and exquisite shops, and of course visiting one of its many renowned restaurants or cafés. DAY 13 The day you have been waiting for! Crossing the Andes is an experience of a lifetime, and an unparalleled sensation will abound you. We have chosen this mountain pass not only as a great mountain biking backroad, but also for its beautiful natural setting. We begin pedaling at our hotel in San Martin de los Andes, quickly entering the dirt road to Chile, where we will take on a very tough, but short, climb. The view from above towards San Martin is superb. Here we begin a journey through magical forests, under countless mountains, deep within the Lanin Volcano National Park. Soon after entering Chile, we are awaited by a special excursion – we will get on a ship that crosses Lake Pirihueico, a remote and lovely lake, set deep within green towering mountains in the Chilean Andes. In the afternoon, we will arrive in Port Fuy, a small town over the Lake’s shore, and continue our journey in our van, getting deeper into the lush rainforests of this region of Chile. We will explore the Huilo-Huilo Reserve, and hike to the impressive Huilo-Huilo Falls, under the shadows of the Choshuenco Volcano. We will arrive early at Conaripe Thermal Baths and Hotel, where we are awaited by its pools fed by natural hot springs – the ideal place to relax and recuperate energies. Tonight we will have a group dinner. DAY 14 This morning, you can wake up early for another soak in the thermal baths. Or why not sleep in a bit? After an abundant breakfast, we’ll leave Conaripe in our vehicle, crossing thick green forests, eventually coming under the shadow of the Villarica Volcano. Free time in Pucon, you can choose from various activities for you rest day. The famous Trancura River rafting - plenty of adrenaline and incredible views of the Villarica, a canopy tour in nearby forests, or even a tour of the exclusive thermal baths surrounding Pucon. In the afternoon, you will want to get to know the lively town of Pucon. On the edge of Lake Villarica, this small city has become the adventure capital of the Chilean Lakes Region. Pucon is a great base for our last days of adventure together. Dinner is on your own tonight - you will have three nights in Pucon to try the great regional cuisine, including the famous Chilean Salmon. DAY 15 Today’s ride takes us to a sector of the Villarica National Park that few tourists venture into. In our vehicle, we will take a dirt road up to the pass between the Villarica and Quetrupillan Volcanoes, approaching the edge of the park. Here, we’ll begin pedaling uphill, over a dirt road that eventually becomes an off-road track. Once over 1000 metres (3300 ft), we enter an incredible forest of monkey-puzzle trees and southern beech. We will leave our bikes for a while, commencing a hike to the Pichillancahue Glacier. The path eventually takes us over the tree line, crossing high-mountain prairies, ravines and beds of volcanic rock, with incredible views of the volcanoes and the Andes Range all around us. The descent on our mountain bikes seems to go on forever! Dinner is on your own in Pucon tonight. DAY 16 Undoubtedly, today’s program is the best way to close the trip! Our van will take us to the Volcanos ski base, right under the cone of the Villarica, with majestic views of the region. Our local mountain bike guides, who are very experienced downhill riders, will give us a detailed talk on descent technique. From here, we will take little used singletrack trails. The ride is one of a kind, with some technical stretches that can be walked. There are plenty of long windy stretches, crossing over amazing lava beds and through thick forests. Everyone is free to ride down at their own pace, with the support from our guides, who will always be nearby. After a ride down a dirt backroad, we’ll reach Lake Villarica where we’ll have a picnic lunch together. Another day that you will surely remember for years to come! Tonight we will have a farewell group dinner in Pucon, celebrating this fantastic journey. DAY 17 Adiós to Pucon as you transfer to Temuco airport for your onward flights. TRIP DETAILS LOCATION Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile DATES 06-22 February 2010 DURATION 17 days, 16 nights COST AUD$8175 DEPARTURE POINT Mendoza, Argentina ACCOMMODATION Camping, twin-share hotel MEALS 16 x Breakfasts, 11 x Lunches, 10 x Dinners INCLUDED • Local support vehicle with Mountain bike transportation. • 5 nights camping includes Camp, tents (2 and 3 people), dining tents, latrine tent, cooking equipment, tables, dishes, mechanical assistance and spare bikes. • All accommodation in twin share hotel rooms except Malargue which is triple share. • Tour Leaders (bilingual English-Spanish), with local Mountain Bike Guides on some days of our tour. • Large, comfortable support van equipped with VHF communication radio (everyday, with on-board full service, including fruit, power bars and other snacks and drinks). • Entry fees for all parks. • Rest day in Pucon - choose from among three activities: Rafting trip with professional rafting outfit, Canopy tour or Thermal Baths tour. • Bicycle care and cleaning, as well as a spare mountain bikes and on- board tool box at all times. • Private transfer to Temuco airport on the morning of tours last day. • Daily Trip Information Notes, with maps, routes and details of the region. • Tips at all hotels and restaurants that are part of the mountain bike tour. • Pre-trip information package with details on how to prepare, what to bring, and more detailed information. • Additional airfares Santiago – Puerto Montt and Temuco – Santiago. • Accommodation in Puerto Varas, transfer and lake crossing in Bariloche. • Airport transfers. ADDITIONAL COSTS Please note that not all meals are provided for on this tour, however the tour will always stop at a convenient place for you to purchase a meal not listed as part of the tour’s cost. Bikes can be hired from us. Please refer to booking form for costs and details.