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Topics - Stephane

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While on the Road / Bicycle Touring and Knee Pain
« on: December 13, 2010, 11:00:28 AM »
One of the most common problem encountered during a bicycle tour - especially an extended one - is knee pain. The most common cause is patellar tendonitis which causes anterior knee pain. If it is not taken seriously, this can lead to serious life-long damage and/or might require knee surgery.

You will find some useful information in this article:

Bicycle Touring and Knee Pain - Causes & Treatment

Getting Ready / How to choose the perfect bike touring tent?
« on: August 19, 2010, 06:56:01 PM »
This guide is a compilation of 7 articles to help you choose the right tent for bicycle-camping and giving. You will find a detailed list of all the different features and options available out there and a lot of tips and tricks on how to use the tent, maintain it, fix it and much more.

All 7 articles can be found here: Guide: How to choose the right tent?

And these are the different subcategories in this guide:

Please, feel free to leave any kind of comment.

While on the Road / Tips: Bicycle Touring and Camping in the Winter
« on: August 10, 2010, 05:54:15 AM »
This article gives you tips and tricks in order to be a little more comfortable while cycle touring in subfreezing temperature:

Bike Touring and Camping in Cold Conditions

Getting Ready / MOVED: Start touring winter
« on: August 09, 2010, 06:26:23 PM »

Asia / Central Asia / MOVED: Iran Visa
« on: July 13, 2010, 07:48:45 AM »

Your Travel Journal / 5-Year Bicycle World Tour by
« on: May 27, 2010, 03:53:05 PM »
5-Year Bicycle Journey around the World with the Founders of

World Bicycle Tour by

Getting Ready / "Bike Touring Basics" FREE guide / ebook
« on: May 16, 2010, 03:33:49 PM »

Link to "Bike Tour Basics" FREE ebook

A FREE manual / guide for bicycle touring is finally available! This inspirational ebook "Bike Touring Basics" is a great piece of work!

It's 60 pages of advice, tips and inspiration, drawn from Friedel's and Andrew's bike-touring experience and put together with photos, quotes and contributions from across the bike-touring community. It will encourage you to get out and travel by bicycle, as well as answering some of those questions everyone has when they get ready for a big tour.

In the book, you’ll learn about:

•Why bike touring is so much fun
•How to save money for a tour
•How to pick out a destination and a route
•Training before you leave
•What bike to buy
•The basic gear (sleeping mats, tents, bike accessories)
•Finding the pace that’s right for you
•Where to sleep
•Managing Money

And more!

Link to "Bike Tour Basics" FREE ebook

The Bicycle / MOVED: Punctures
« on: May 16, 2010, 06:12:02 AM »

Our friend Alvaro Neil, known as Biciclown, gives an exclusive interview to Bicilown left his hometown in Spain in November of 2004 with the goal of bicycling around the world over a period of ten years and spreading laughter along the way by performing as a clown in the different countries he visited. He aptly calls his journey “Miles of Smiles Around the World.”

As of March 2010, the Biciclown is 5 years into his journey and has biked 73,000 km. (44,000 mi.) through 56 countries. In this interview, he tells us about his philosophy of the “art of living” and bicycle travel and gives advice to others who may wish to follow in his footsteps. With great humor, he describes the joy of performing in Africa, the difficulties he faced in India, and challenges he faced along the way. He also talks about bike-touring gear and shares a few valuable tips, such as what to do when you’re spotted while camping in the wild, how to locate a puncture with very little water, and much more.

Link to the interview: Interview with Biciclown by

Getting Ready / Bicycle Route and Directions Now on Google Maps
« on: March 10, 2010, 02:26:17 PM »
In the US, Google Maps now offers step-by-step biking directions; bike trails and bicycle routes outlined directly on the map; and a new Bicycling layer that indicates bike trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly roads.

Bicycle Route on Google Maps

Bicycle Route on Google Maps - Tip from

Asia / Central Asia / Road conditions in India / Info on small roads?
« on: March 04, 2010, 02:16:19 PM »
I responded to this question recently and I thought you guys might find the answer useful. Hopefully some of you will be able to give some more info.

This link might be helpful: How to get free 1/250,000 and 1/1,000,000 maps covering the whole world?

Road conditions in India have improved dramatically in the last 5 - 7 years. Most of the main roads used to be 2-lane highways with no shoulders, and now they are well-paved 4-lane roads, making them much safer ("Safety on the road = Safe tea at home," as I read on one of their road signs!).

India is a land of extremes.  Like just about everything else in the country, there are extremes in road conditions.  I cycled on very busy roads, but I also cycled for long stretches of time, passing only a few cars a day (this was south of Mumbai trying to be as close to the coast as possible on the way to Karnataka). Heavy traffic can be chaotic, but vehicles aren't very fast overall, so I found it was not too bad. People traveling on the axis between Delhi and Benares often have a not-so-good experience. while people traveling south or up in the Himalayas seem to have a much more pleasant journey overall.

There are plenty of smaller roads that are very enjoyable to ride. As for maps, Nelles has a set of 4-5 maps to cover the whole country (1/1,250,000) and they are very good. Also, the Lonely Planet has a good Atlas that fits perfectly in the Ortlieb map holder (same scale).


Note from Feel free to add any updates you may have to add value to this article. Also, If you would like to publish your article or reviews please email YOUR OWN WORK to


Peter Van Glabbeek (Netherland)
7 years of bicycle touring experience including a 4-year long journey around the world
Cycled through 40 countries

Peter's website

Time of Visit 


June, August-October 2008


Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, don’t need a visa for a stay up to 30 days. South American and most European citizens don’t need a visa for a stay for up to 90 days, you get an entry stamp at the border or airport. US citizens have to pay 135 USD for a visa on arrival. At some border crossings, like the Laguna Verde one near San Pedro de Atacama, you are charged a small fee and they will give everyone 30 days. I am not sure if this is legal.


I entered once from La Quiaca, Argentina to Villazón and once from Lago Chungará, Chile to Tambo Quemado. I left from Laguna Verde and from Copacabana (Lago Titicaca)


Villazón-Tupiza-Uyuni: 325km
I remember that the distances on my map were generally too short for this stretch, the following numbers are estimations. The whole section can be done by train.
After the sleeping villages of Argentina’s north, Villazón is surprisingly busy with vendors selling all kinds of stuff for almost nothing in the street, welcome to Bolivia! To go to Tupiza you have to cycle north out of town and turn left after roughly 30km. Soon you reach the village of Mojo where you can get water. It is another 70 km to Tupiza on a bad dirt road. No big climbs, wild camping very easy, for water: you pass some small villages and cross a few creeks and a big river closer to Tupiza (I always drank the tap water in Bolivia and never got sick in 4 months).

The canyon lands surrounding Tupiza offer excellent hiking possibilities. Also cycling out in the direction of Uyuni you will pass some crazy rock formations. After Mojoncasa (or Salo?) (25km from Tupiza), when the road bends west, a huge climb follows. It is another extremely mountainous 80km to Atocha, a surprisingly pretty village clinging to a steep hillside above a river. You find a good market here. Don’t expect to make it in one day from Tupiza to Atocha, it is really hard. You will find some water on your way; there are some tricky forks in the road without signs, try to ask someone for directions. Atocha-Uyuni (120km) is a lot flatter, wind might be a problem and the road is bad. You are on the altiplano now with wide views, cold nights, great camping. Every now and then you pass a village where you can get water and buy some biscuits. Uyuni is just there for the tourists that want to visit the famous salt flats. If you like meeting fellow travelers this is your place.

Uyuni-San Pedro de Atacama: 550km
Visiting the salt flats and going back to Uyuni is one thing, continuing to San Pedro is another. Only very experienced cyclists that are 100% self-sufficient should attempt this crossing. It is not far, but roads are non-existent in the area and you will cycle on extremely bad tracks made by 4-wheel drives. One of the main problems is water. There is no drinkable water, only some of the hotels have water that has been trucked in. I cycled it in 9 days, but was very lucky with the wind. Take food and fuel for 10 days if you are extremely fit. Count on extra fuel, if you get snowed in you’ll need to melt snow. The most basic stuff, like galletas and pasta you will still find in San Juan, but the rest you have to take from Uyuni. I found water on the big island in the middle of the salt flats, Colcha K, Mañica, San Juan, Chiguana (army base), Laguna Hedionda, Laguna Colorado (entrance to the nature reserve), Termas de Chalviri, Laguna Blanca (exit national park) and at the border. I believe that the crossing is easier from north to south, as you will have probably have a tail wind in the Siloli desert to the Arbol de Piedra, the most difficult part.
The following two homepages have a sketch and route description in English and in German. I took a picture of it and used the camera as a map.
Drawing of the route Uyuni-San Pedro de Atacama
Description of the route Uyuni-San Pedro de Atacama

Tambo Quemado-Cochabamba-Santa Cruz: 1000km all paved!

Tambo Quemado-Patacamaya: 225km
For some notes about Arica to Lago Chungará, see my Chile article. If you enter Bolivia at Tambo Quemado you will stay high for a long time. The riding around Volcán Sajama (with 6542m the highest mountain in Bolivia) is fantastic. About 20km from the border you come to the village of Lagunas with a guesthouse. You can turn left to Sajama village, mountaineers climb the volcano from here.  You stay high on a beautiful new and quiet road with fantastic views, until Patacamaya (225km, 3800m). Free camping is easy, water and food can be found in some of the villages like Curahuara de Carangas (123km).

Patacamaya-Cochabamba: 280km
In the crazy busy town of Patacamaya you can turn left to La Paz, only about 110km from here (There are many busses, minivans and taxi’s to the capital from here.) I turned right to Oruro and Cochabamba. The road is a lot busier now, but not as bad as you would expect from Patacamaya. The villages become bigger and most of them have a nice market. In Caracollo (80km) you choose right for Oruro or left for Chochabamba. I went left. A very long uphill takes you to 4500m and then you go down to Cochabamba (2560m). The scenery is not as great as around Sajama, and the city is disappointing.

Cochabamba-Santa Cruz: 480km
From Cochabamba there are two main roads to Santa Cruz. The northern one, Ruta 7, is the newest, all paved and very quiet. It takes you first up a couple of long climbs, with the last high point (3500m) just after Colomi (50km), and then drops an incredible 3000m to Villa Tunari (160km, 330m) the Amazon Basin. This is a fairly touristy village, because it is mentioned in Lonely Planet. From there it is a sweaty, flat ride to Santa Cruz (480km). You can fill up water and buy food in Chimoré (195km), Rio Itschilo (288km), San Carlos (355km) and Montero (430km). Free camping is still easy, but you can also ask a farmer. The closer you get to Santa Cruz, the more cultivated the land. You will not see much of the original rainforest, except for the great downhill to Villa Tunari. Santa Cruz is the biggest and richest city of Bolivia. Be aware of thief’s.
The old road between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, Ruta 4, stays a lot higher and is longer. Due to my map it has a 130km stretch that is not paved yet. I expect it is harder for terrain, but easier for the climate.

Santa Cruz-Trinidad: 555km all paved
The only bridge over the Rio Grande is in Pailon, 50km east of Santa Cruz. Here you can go straight to Brazil or north to Los Troncos (126km) where you have to turn right for Trinidad. San Ramon (185km) is an important village, where you can turn right to all the famous Jesuit missions (and to Picacho, see below). Stay on Highway 9 to Trinidad. The land becomes less cultivated now, but still don’t expect too much nature.  You pass several villages, of which Ascencion de Guarayos and San Pablo (320km) are a bit bigger. Just follow the paved highway to Trinidad (555km). Days are very hot, nights almost equally hot. Take insect repellent, think about protection against malaria. Drink a lot! You will find lots of fantastic fresh fruits everywhere next to the highway. Free camping is possible, but uncomfortable. Trinidad is a small city.

Trinidad-Caranavi: 460km unpaved
West of Trinidad you cross the Rio Ichilo by boat and suddenly you are in the middle of nowhere. The dirt road is ok in dry conditions, but impossible when it rains. Traffic is almost non-existent and villages very small. San Ignacio de Moxos (100km) is a lovely place where you can buy food. San Borja (250km) is the biggest town between Trinidad and La Paz. In Yacumo (300km) you have to turn right for Rurrenabaque or continue straight for La Paz. After all the flat riding and terribly hot and humid climate it is refreshing to enter the foothills of the Andes. Out of Yacumo (250m) the scnery becomes better and better. You climb three times to about a 1000m before reaching Sapecho (390km). After Sapecho you cross the huge Rio Beni. After that a hard climb to 2200m and great downhill takes you to Caranavi (460km, 600m). From here you can continue to Coroico and La Paz. This would include climbing the ‘most dangerous road in the world’ that has become a real tourist attraction (the downhill of course). But I turned right to Guanay and Mapiri.

Caranavi-Mapiri-Sorata-Lago Titicaca: 550km
The section that follows here is very beautiful and very hard. There is an enormous amount of climbing involved, on sometimes very bad roads.  The scenery is fantastic and offers rain forests, deep valleys with wild rivers, some of Bolivia’s highest mountains, glaciers and finally lake Titicaca. Except for Sorata, you will meet no other tourists; local people are very friendly, especially in Mapiri. I used the notes on the route Caranavi-Mapiri-Sorata-Lago Titicaca from Iris and Tore. They took a boat from Guanay to Mapiri. I cycled that stretch. It took me two days to cover the 105km and I estimated a stunning 3500 altimeters.
I found the notes to be still very accurate. From Sorata to La Paz or Lago Titicaca is all paved now.

Uschi, a Swiss woman, runs an organic farm in the Beni, not far from Parque Nacional Noel Kempff Mercado. You can take a bus from Santa Cruz (at least 30 hours.) She is a member of couchsurfing and of WWOOFing. It is a fantastic experience to visit her and stay for some weeks to work on the farm. In the dry season you can also cycle to the farm. It is about 750km from Santa Cruz and 600km from Trinidad. Expect a lot of insects, sweaty days and nights, take food for the whole stretch and a water filter. The sand roads are surprisingly good in the dry season. See "useful links below".

From Santa Cruz you have to cycle to San Ramon (see the description to Trinidad). Here you take road 502 to San Javier and continue until Santa Rosa de la Roca (385km from Santa Cruz). From here it gets very remote and navigating tricky, you can only try this if you have very good directions, which I can’t give you because I took the bus. In Santa Rosa: buy food for 4 or 5 days, turn north and keep going to La Junta, El Infierno, Picaflor and San Simon. In San Simon you can ask for Picacho.

I cycled out of Picacho to Trinidad with a sketch made by locals. I took food for 4 days and just made it to Yuguayu, near Ascencion de Guarayos. It was amazing to be 400km long on a sand road in the wilderness. It was the only time I saw some real big old trees and so much wild life! Unfortunately the sketch got lost. But I know that without it would have been impossible to find my way.

The BEST route


Uyuni-San Pedro de Atacama is very adventurous and offers some of the best scenery in South America. Cycling around Sajama is also amazing. The Mapiri-Sorata loop shows a completely different Bolivia. Cycling through real jungle in the Reserva Nacional de Rio Blanco y Rio Negro, between Picacho and Trinidad.

The WORST Route


Cycling to Santa Cruz you would expect Amazon jungle, but it is only farmland. Not much jungle left. You have to cycle remoter roads to see some big old trees.

Bicycle Shops


I haven’t been to La Paz. The best shops I saw in Santa Cruz, but it was not much. You will find some Shimano parts.

Bicycle Touring Gear Shops


I haven’t seen any panniers, racks or touring rims and tires in Bolivia. Of course you can buy normal mountain bike tires.

Camping Gear Shops


I don’t know

Best Season


For the Uyuni to San Pedro de Atacama it is best to go in June or later. The later you go, the lower the chance on snow. The Amazon jungle is very wet from October to May, with a peak in December to February. All the dirt roads become impassable, but boat traffic is always possible.

Worst Season

The so-called Bolivian winter (January-March) is not a good time to be on the altiplano. Occasional snowstorms are very dangerous.



Reise Know How: useful for the main roads, useless in the jungle. Some distances are wrong (usually too short).


Spanish is useful

Average for Cheap Lodging



Locals' Average Salary

100USD per month

Transport your Bike

I transported my bike only in a bus. The driver put it on the roof for a small fee. Hitchhiking is not very common, as almost every car passing is a shared taxi, bus or truck. The last option is the cheapest. You will share the truck with many others. In extremely remote areas a passing car will probably take you.

Useful Link

Organic farm in the Beni


Note from Feel free to add any updates you may have to add value to this article. Also, If you would like to publish your article or reviews please email YOUR OWN WORK to

Time of Visit

Peter Van Glabbeek (Netherland)
7 years of bicycle touring experience including a 4-year long journey around the world
Cycled through 40 countries

Peter's website

Time of Visit

European, Australian, New Zealand, South American and North American citizens get a 90-day visa free of charge at the border or airport. You can always cross the border and come back the same hour to get another 90 days.


I entered Argentina once by airplane. I flew with Delta Airlines from Amsterdam, via Atlanta. My bike was in a bike box and they took it for free (2 pieces of check-in luggage of less then 24kg).
After that I crossed the border with Chile many times, every time receiving another 90-day visa.


Buenos Aires-Bahía Blanca-Comodoro Rivadavia, Ruta 3. Total distance: 1775km
I cycled out of Buenos Aires on the main highway to Ezeiza airport. Maybe it is illegal to do so, but I believe it is the safest and quickest way to get out of the city. There is a wide shoulder (with annoying bumps) and you stay away from dodgy neighborhoods. Expect at least 35km of suburbs and heavy traffic. After the airport it becomes a little quieter and from Cañuelas you can choose different ways to get to Bahía Blanca. The roughly 650km from Buenos Aires to Bahía Blanca is rather boring, unless you like cycling endless flat plains and talking to cows. The only way to enjoy this stretch is in a kind of meditative state or focusing on meeting the wonderful Argentineans. The Sierra de la Ventana, just before Bahía, is the only small range you will cross. It is great after all the straight flat roads.
After Bahía the roads get quieter, Ruta 3 still has trucks (I counted about 2 per minute). I choose Ruta 22 to the west and then Ruta 251 south. The last one has an amazing 100km without any feature, not even a slight curve. It is 675km from Bahía Blanca to Puerto Madryn. Be sure to take enough water and food, towns are about 120km apart here and because of the wind you might not make it in one day. Wild camping is always very easy. Hop over a fence, walk 200m more and pitch your tent between the thorny bushes. Sunset and the bright night will be amazing. The further south you go the drier the climate gets. You will see more and more wildlife. When you cross Río Negro you enter officially to Patagonia. Here you also find some houses with water and a small shop. Wind, mostly west, is forever a problem. Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdez are amazing places to watch marine wildlife.
From Puerto Madryn to Comodoro Rivadavia you will start to see some small hills. The wind gets worse the more south you go. It is always easy to hitchhike, but also a great challenge to cycle all the way. It is almost 450km, with very little human life between Trelew and Comodoro.

Comodoro Rivadavia-Río Mayo-Los Antiguos, Ruta 26, 40 and 43. Total distance: 440km
When I was in Comodoro Rivadavia I had to wait for the winds to slow down. One day it was blowing an unbelievable 110km/h. Rada Tilly, a bit south of the city is the best place to camp. It has a long beach and good camping. Later I decided to go inland on very quiet but paved Ruta 26 to Río Mayo an onward to Chile, hoping for less wind. Surprisingly the road climbs for a long time and crosses a mountain range. After 75km you will pass through an industrial village, fill up on water here. Sarmiento is an important and surprisingly green town 150km from Comodoro. Here you find food. The winter is still a very strong enemy. Start early when winds are less. 75km from west you find another good wild camp at Río Senguer.  Another 50km takes you to Río Mayo (free campsite) where you find food and water again.
Now you are on the infamous Ruta 40. It is all unpaved here and takes you 90km south to Perito Moreno (village). Ask or look for Raul here, a fantastic person to meet. The paved Ruta 43 takes you in 50km to Los Antiguos and on to Chile. It is your choice: no wind in Chile or no rain in Argentina

Ushuaia-Río Grande-San Sebastian (Tierra del Fuego). Total distance: 300km
This road is all paved. It starts very beautiful between mountains, some glaciers, wild rivers and lakes. Closer to Río Grande it becomes drier, windier and empty. You can find supplies and a camping at Tolhuin (106km) and Río Grande (200km). San Sebastian is very small. The Argentinean side has a waiting room where you are allowed to spend the night. Consider the option of going west from Río Grande to Río Bellavista and then on to Punta Arenas, see my Chile article.

El Chaltén-El Calafate-Río Turbio-Puerto Natales. Total distance: 505km
Nowadays, many people take the ferries from Villa O’Higgins to El Chaltén. Around El Chaltén the hiking is great. No entrance fee for the park, free camping and great scenery, including views of FitzRoy. From El Chaltén it is about 215km to El Calafate. The first 90 you will do in three hours, because of the tailwind, the next 100 slower with a cross wind and the last 30 in walking pace against the wind. El Calafate is the base for visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier. One of the most beautiful sights you will ever see in your life. You can do this by bicycle as well, it is a 150km round trip, so take food and camp wild. Before 7 or 8 in the morning you don’t pay the steep entrance fee.
The shortest way from El Calafate to Puerto Natales is via the Ruta 40. Keep right 47km from El Calafate and turn right at km95. End of pavement, the coming 50km can be very windy. A few km after this turnoff you find a police station with a place to camp in the garage. Continue on the 40 to Estancia Tapi Aike (159km). Here you get water and there is some shelter from the wind behind some poor trees. Turn right here. The Cerro Castillo border crossing is 206km from El Calafate. You can continue in Argentina to the Río Turbio border crossing (263km). From here it is only 15km to Puerto Natales.

Trevelin-Mendoza, Ruta 40 and variants. Total distance: 1600km
The scenery on this section is very variable, but always great. You will see rainforest, dry pampa, dozens of blue lakes, huge volcanoes, Araucaria trees and the highest mountains of the Amarica’s. The area around Bariloche is touristy, further north, in Neuquén province, you will meet no tourists at all. I guess that about half of it is paved, the rest is in fairly good condition. The winds are a lot less as further south, and the climate gets quickly warmer when you move north. Traffic is almost non-existent.

Trevelin-Bariloche: 300km
When you leave the Carretera Austral via Futaleufú you enter Argentina near Trevelin. From here it is great to cycle north through Parque Naciolal Los Alerces. You will not see many Alerce trees, but you will pass many beautiful lakes with the quietest wild campsites and great swimming, all the water is drinkable. The road through the park is unpaved but well maintained. Take a couple of days worth of food and enjoy the silence. In Cholila (105km) you will find a shop and pavement again. More north you pass through the hippy town of El Bolson (180km), another great place to stay a few days or go for a hike. Bariloche (300km) is ugly and touristy, but its setting is amazing. Hiking in the area is fantastic.

Bariloche-Malargüe: 960km
Cycle on pavement around the beautiful lake to Villa Angostura (88km). From here starts the famous, unpaved 7 lakes road that takes you San Martin the los Andes (190km). Between San Martin and Junín de los Andes (235km) the scenery changes dramatically. You leave the green lake-district and enter the pampas. After Junín, take Ruta 23 that will climb for about 100km next to a river with views of the perfect cone of Volcán Lanín and great camping and swimming. Most of it is unpaved, but not bad. Aluminé (345km) is the biggest town in this area, you can stock up here. There are a few roads here to go to Chile, or make a lap and come back to Argentina. It is a great empty area, with amazing cycling.
Near Paso Pino Hachado (435km) you reach pavement, you are very close to Chile. Turn right to Las Lajas (475km) and then left on Ruta 21, which is partly unpaved. Also here a few options to cross to Chile. In Chos Malál (690km) you find food, accommodation and Ruta 40. You can follow the 40 for a long time or choose a shortcut that takes you through some interesting volcanic scenery. For this shortcut turn left at La Salada. It is good to ask around, as there are some forks in the road where you can take the wrong way and get lost. Anyway, after about 80km from La Salada you reach Ruta 40 again. Follow it to Malargüe, the biggist town before Mendoza. I have heard of two occasions of people having their bicycles stolen here, once from the camping.

Malargüe-Mendoza: 335km
At El Sosneado (50km), there is yet another shortcut. Now called Ruta 101, it is actually the old Ruta 40. Take food for some days, as this road is now extremely quiet with just a few tiny villages. Water you can get in the villages, which are less than a days cycling apart.
When you reach Ruta 40, at Pareditas (205km), Mendoza is not far any more.

Mendoza-Salta, Ruta 40 and variants. Total distance: 1360km
In general you can say about this section that it is mostly paved now. Wild camping is always very easy. The scenery is of never ending beauty; the climate is great with sunny days and cold, bright nights. Villages are not too far apart; you will find water and a shop almost every day. Beware of the very long siestas, from about 13:00 to 17:00 everything is closed.

Mendoza-Rodeo: 405km
In my opinion the most beautiful way to cycle out of Mendoza is on Ruta 52 to Villavicencio and Uspallata (107km). You climb from Mendoza (700m) to 3100m and then descent to Uspallata (2000m). From Uspallata go straight north to the beautiful village of Barreal (216km). This road, that used to be an Inca trail, is mostly flat, unpaved and there is nothing but some Inca ruins, an empty national park with an observatory. A few km north of the Inca ruins, maybe 50km from Uspallata, you will find the only water in a little stream. The 2 times I was there it always had water. Views are great: to the left the mighty Andes, with many 6000+m peaks and on your right a lower, completely barren, but colorful ridge.
Barreal becomes the beginning of a more populated valley. You can cycle on the east and west side of the river. If you take the east side, you come close to the very striking rock formations of El Alcazar, worth the 1km side trip. Calingasta (254km) is another fairly big village. From here you have two options. First, the very remote, unpaved and very beautiful Ruta 412, that goes straight north to Las Flores (387km). You will find water in the police stations of Villa Nueva and Tocota, after Tocota the ripio becomes really bad. Second, the 60km longer but completely paved Ruta 149 that goes northeast and then northwest to Las Flores. I found water hear at a road workers camp that might not be there any more. You can make a little side trip to Talacasto on Ruta 40, if you really need water. Las Flores is the starting point of the Paso Agua Negra to La Serena in Chile (see my Chile article). A little further on is Rodeo, a much bigger village.
Rodeo-Chilecito: 300km
This stretch is mostly paved and offers great scenery. You find several bigger villages, like San José de Jachál (48km), Huaco (85km), Guandacól (150km), Villa Unión (192km), Nonogasta (278km) and Chilecito. The only hard climb is the Cuesta de la Miranda (1860m). This climb between red rocks can be very hot and was still not paved in 2008. But work was in progress. In the tiny village of Miranda you find water.

Chilecito-Cafayate: 470km
This part is also not difficult. Almost all paved, great scenery. About 20km north of Chilecito you can choose between the Ruta 40 and the road that goes via Famatina, straight to Tinogasta (150km from Chilecito). From Tinogasta you can cross the Paso San Francisco to Copiapó in Chile (see my Chile article), or take the officially closed Cuesta the Zapato (unpaved and sometimes very bad) back to the Ruta 40 and to Londres and Belén (233km). If you choose the Ruta 40 it is 16km shorter to Belen and you will find supplies in San Blas (116km) and Londres (200km). Near Londres there are some fantastic ruins and some lost hippies live nearby. Belén (215km) is an important town. Continue on Ruta 40 through a beautiful canyon. You will cycle slowly uphill for a long time. A little after San Fernando (262km, water, some food) is the turnoff to Antofagasta de la Sierra (see below for this road). Continue straight to Hualfín (278km, food, water, hot springs). From here to Cafayate at becomes more remote, carry more water and food. You will still find something in Santa María (392km). Cafayate (470km) is a big town.

Cafayate-Salta: 190km
Ruta 68 from Cafayate to Salta runs through a magnificent, but touristy canyon. You follow a river downstream. The first part is quite empty; you find water and maybe food in Alemania (86km) and Viña (105km). Closer to Salta you pass some bigger towns, like El Carríl (150km) and La Merced (165km).
All paved.

Cafayate-Salta: (303km)
A very beautiful and interesting alternative is to keep following the Ruta 40 north to the Cachi valley. Soon the road becomes a badly corrugated dirt track. But the scenery is fantastic and the villages as well. Santa Rosa (56km), Molinos (111km) and Cachi (156km) have old adobe churches. In Cachi you need to buy supplies for 2 days. Turn right on Ruta 33 (165km) and climb to 3300m through a cactus forest. This is a national park; there is nothing but one park ranger near the top of the pass. A very long downhill will take you to Ruta 68 near Salta. There are some tiny villages where you can get water.
(You can also keep going north on the Ruta 40 to the village of La Poma and then climb the Abra de Acay, with 4795m the highest pass in Argentina, it claims to be 4895m. After that you turn right for a very long downhill to Salta.)

Paso San Francisco, Paso Agua Negra and Paso de los Libertadores
These three magnificent passes I have described in the Chile article.

Salta-La Quiaca. Total distance: 375km
For some reason almost no cars take the fantastic Ruta 9 from Salta to San Salvador de Jujuy (92km), basically one long climb and one long downhill with beautiful forests and a big lake. From Jujuy you can enter the Quebrada de Humahuaca on your way to Bolivia. You will climb gently to about 4000m. Every mile the valley becomes more beautiful. Take your time to visit the beautiful villages Purmamarca (152km), Tilcara (172km), Humahuaca (217km) and others. Read about the history, enjoy the sunshine and find the best campsites between huge cacti. After Humahuaca the climb becomes a little steeper for a while. You are cycling to the altiplano now, nights can be cold, days can be windy. At km 242 is the turnoff to Iruya, a remote and beautiful village. Abra Pampa (303km) is a place to get some water and food. This stretch is all paved, wild camping easy, food and water ready available, weather stable.

Paso de Jama (4600m), from Jujuy to San Pedro de Atacama. Total distance: 490km
It is a difficult choice: cycle the Quebrada de Humahuaca to Bolivia or the Paso de Jama to Chile, they are both very beautiful. The last one is definitely the hardest option, especially if you ride it from east to west. From Ruta 9 you have to turn west (km16) to the village Purmamarca (65km) and start climbing. It is a very long climb to the first pass, Cuesta de Lipán at 4170m! You descent a little to the Salinas Grande, a big salt lake at 3300m (120km). Here you might have the first headwind, but I had a quiet day. Another climb and downhill take you to Susques (193km), where you have to stock up on food and fuel for at least 5 days and water for 2 days. Now the road makes a huge curve around a vast and windy plain. It is a long way to the migration office in Jama village (316km). Get water and maybe some biscuits here. After that you have some up and downs, but the main problem is the wind and maybe the cold nights, expect -25C! Keep your water inside the tent, and maybe under your sleeping bag. You stay high for another 150km after the border. Just before the incredible downhill to San Pedro de Atacama you reach the highest point (around 4600m). Here is also the turnoff to Sur de Lipez and Bolivia, the border is only 5km away. You get your entry stamp for Chile in San Pedro de Atacama. Paso de Jama is all paved now and open year around.

Belén-Antofagasta de la Sierra (-Paso Sico and Paso Socompa) -Salta (779km)
Some people have probably noticed on their maps the very remote looking road to Antofagasta de la Sierra and then a very thin line that continues north. Not many have cycled it, but I tell you it is possible and very beautiful. I made notes and put them in an Excel sheet. Take at least 10 days for this very hard crossing, with a rest day in Antofagasta de la Sierra. The hardest part comes after that.
In the excel sheet I mention the turnoffs to Socompa and Sico passes. Do some research before you take Paso Socompa. It is open and there is immigration, as I know from a motorcyclist who took it. But it is very remote and a long, long way to civilization. Some stretches are very sandy; you might have to push. Take food, fuel and water for many days. Paso Sico is easier, but should also not being underestimated. I know cyclists that passed it. Expect bad road conditions (corrugations) and strong winds, take sufficient food and water.

The BEST route


In general I like the northwest of Argentina more than famous Patagonia. The great scenery of the altiplano and the high Andes, that is so different from Himalaya or Alps, keeps me going back there.

The Antofagasta de la Sierra route offers the most remote cycling and very beautiful scenery. Quebrada de Humahuaca and all the high passes are also fantastic.

The WORST Route


Buenos Aires to Bahía Blanca: flat, boring, windy.

Bicycle Shops


Buenos Aires has by far the most bike shops and the biggest choice. Other big towns have bike shops and the basic Shimano stuff. Miguel Nitzsche in Bariloche can fix almost everything. He used to build steel bikes himself and has traveled by bike himself. Ask for him in a bike store. He would love your visit.

Bicycle Touring Gear Shops


I never saw Ortlieb panniers for sale in Argentina (the closest I know is Andes Gear in Santiago de Chile). Sometimes you can find 28 inch rims and tires, but not of good quality. For 26 inch wheels more choice.

Mr. Nitzsche can build a rack for you and might have a lost 28 inch rim or tire.

Camping Gear Shops


Again, best place to buy is Buenos Aires, but tourist towns like El Calafate, El Chaltén, Mendoza, Salta and Ushuaia also have good stuff for quite high prices.

Best Season


For Patagonia, summer (December-February), but this is also the busy high season (only busy in the most famous areas). For the northern half of Argentina December-February is the hot and humid season, with some flooding. The rest of the year offers clear blue skies and it is never too cold. Nights can be very cold in the Altiplano (-20C)

Worst Season

November to April is the raining season in the northern half of the country.



I used the Firestone Road Atlas of Argentina. For sale in bigger bookstores and some patrol stations. I thought it an amazingly good map that shows most roads, also dirt roads, and even has most distances right. I costs only about 20 dollar for the whole country.


Spanish is useful

Average for Cheap Lodging


Camping’s are often free or cost only 1 or 2 dollar. Lodging can cost up to 7 USD in tourist areas.

Locals' Average Salary

200USD per month

Transport your Bike

By air: I flew to Ezeiza international airport in Buenos Aires and took a taxi to the downtown for 20 dollar. It is possible to cycle, as I realized later when I cycle out of the city passing the same airport.
By boat: The ferries to Tierra del Fuego take your bike. I don’t remember prices.
By bus: Argentina has an amazing long distance bus system. I took my bike for free, just put it in the luggage space without any packing.
Hitchhiking is very easy all over the country, the remoter the easier (if any car passes).

You can have a free (and legal!), very detailed map for every corner of almost every country on the planet...indefinitely, right on your computer!

It will take only a couple minutes, just follow these three simple steps:
  • First you need to download Google Earth and install it on your computer (every computer should have Google Earth anyway.)  ;).  
  • Then download this US Army maps file on your computer. This virus-free file is offered freely by the online library of the University of Texas.
  • Now just double click on the maps file you just downloaded, it will automatically open with Google Earth. In the top-left window of your Google Earth, under "places", you will need to check the "US Army maps" box. Once it is checked, a grid will appear over each continent. Just click on the desired section and it will open the map. Voilà!  It's that simple!

Note that the maps file, by default,  will be opened in the temporary section of "my places" so it will disappear when you close Google Earth. If you want it to stay there, once opened, just drag it to "my places". Then check or uncheck it to view it or hide it. Also, keep in mind that some of these maps may be outdated.

If you love maps like I do, you will ABSOLUTELY love this application!

Of course, once on the road, there is nothing like a paper map. Remember, is constantly expanding its inventory of maps in order to provide the best selection of Maps suited for Bicycle Touring

This is a snapshot of the Goolge Earth screen you will get after you check the "US Army maps" box:


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