Cycling

Chile is home to an enormous diversity of landscapes and routes, and it's that much more fun to discover them on a bike.

Mountain biking is a favorite activity of tourists visiting Santiago. Surrounded by the Andes, the Chilean capital offers some of the best circuits around for this sport.

The best areas for cycling are the country's valleys, which provide exciting obstacles amid lush vegetation. Two of the most popular destinations for cyclists are Río Clarillo National Reserve in Pirque (45 km from Santiago) and the Aculeo Lagoon (68 km from the capital), which offers more than 40 km of optimal biking terrain. If you're looking for a route in the city itself, Parque Metropolitano is a favorite among locals.

If you're visiting the country's northern regions, you can bike through Putre and Parinacota, which are about 150 km from Arica. Keep in mind that you need to be in good physical condition due to the high altitude and changing weather conditions of the altiplano.

In the northern pampas, 47 km from the sunny city of Iquique, you'll find the Humberstone Saltpeter Works. In addition to offering a fascinating look at the history of the 19th century saltpeter boom, it has a special path for cyclists.

You can also cross the Chile-Argentina border by bike. Some tourism agencies offer a package that allows you to explore the Elqui Valley and cross to Argentina via the Agua Negra border (at 4,700 m), before returning to Chile via the Los Libertadores pass, speeding through the mountains on two wheels. This option is only for the brave of heart.

In Chile's southern regions, you can ride around Lake Llanquihue from Puerto Varas to Puerto Octay or to the Petrohué Falls. The scenery is incredible, with the snow-capped Osorno Volcano looming in the background.

There's also the Carretera Austral, a secret paradise for biking enthusiasts. Note that this is a highly difficult route, and the challenge is a significant part of the appeal.

In Puerto Natales, near Torres del Paine National Park, you can pedal to the old cold storage warehouse in Puerto Bories (4 km away) and to the famed Mylodon Cave (26 km away)

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