|Jon, I understand you've spent a lot of time in
Chile. You must go there for a reason. What is it? How
does the country compare to Argentina? I was kicking
around the idea of a north to south bike tour. But
would you recommend a different mode of travel? Bus?
Burro? (Something simple, where one could engage the
culture and land
). Care to squeal about a
favorite place there? Thanks amigo.
Liam, Washington, D.C.
I first went to Chile in 1990, just as the Pinochet years were
ending, and since then I've been back almost every
year. I've gone mostly for the adventureto raft
the big rivers, climb in the Andes, hike the deserts.
It's a great countryimagine the geography from
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Juneau, Alaska. That's
exactly what you'll find in the 3,000-mile [4,827-kilometer] long Chile.
There is a single road that leads from the Peruvian border all
the way to Tierra del Fuego. I'd suggest it in a car,
though, rather than bike or bus. Drivers in Chile are
notoriously badthe roadsides littered with memorial
animas testifying to crashesand I'm afraid they
might not look out for bicyclists.
That said, you might consider biking the 1,000-mile [1,600-kilometer] Camino
Austral, the mostly-dirt road leading south out of Puerto
Montt. The road links dozens of communities that, until its
completion in the 1980s, were totally isolated,
cut-off from the rest of the country and Argentina.
As for favorite places, that's simple: San Pedro de
Atacama, a great little desert town in the north, close to a
variety of natural wonders from geysers to salt lakes, and
Futaleufu, home-base for rafters and kayakers taking on one
of the world's great whitewater rivers