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The Carretera Austral and the Bush Plane

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The Carretera Austral and the Bush Plane

The Carretera Austral is without a doubt South America’s bicycle touring capital. No place on this continent sees a higher influx of Ortlieb-clad folks from around the world looking to enjoy Patagonia’s natural wonders. With good reason too. There’s a more advanced tourist infrastructure, bringing more luxuries from back home more frequently along the way (toilets and hot showers are cool). The challenge-to-scenery ratio along the Austral is also extremely generous, and the road surface suits just about any bike you can strap a few bags to. You don’t have to suffer too much to have a good time in nature here.

Fording the Río Pico

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Fording the Río Pico

If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d be riding across a 7-foot deep river in Argentinian Patagonia on a horse with a bike hoisted on top, I would have probably said you’ve gone off the deep end, yet here we are.

Winter is Coming to Lanín of Neuquén

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Winter is Coming to Lanín of Neuquén

Winter is Coming to Lanín of Neuquén
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

The signs are all there. Only a couple of weeks ago the autumn nights were just “a bit chilly”. The rainstorms came and went over a matter of hours. Now they linger on for days as the snow line along the mountain top creeps slowly down the hill. Campsites aren’t picked by the most scenic view to wake up to, the most practical surface, or the most secluded location. Now I’m looking for the spot with the best line-of-site to where the sun will creep over the horizon the next day. Put the tent right next to a road? OK. In direct sight of houses? Sure. A few days of stuffing a still iced-over tent into your bags with numb hands has a way of shifting your priorities.

Autumn Amongst the Araucarias

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Autumn Amongst the Araucarias

Autumn Amongst the Araucarias
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After committing to spending another winter cruising around South America, I figured I might as well go all-in. With no focus on getting much further south where the weather would be turning toward ‘unpleasant for bike touring’ even sooner, I instead looked to embrace the short window of perfect Autumn riding that was dropped in front of me, and go over Chile’s mountainous Araucanía region with a fine-tooth comb.

This area is often overlooked by folks making a bee-line for Southern Patagonia, but it is a favorite amongst the local Chileans looking to escape the city during the summer, highlighted by a seemingly endless string of volcanoes, lakes, and forests filled with Araucaria trees. These tall and spiky evergreens, sometimes referred to as “monkey puzzle trees” give the region its name, and are often considered sacred to the natives of this area who are known as the Mapuche.

Sand Traps and Mishaps in the Argentine Puna

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Sand Traps and Mishaps in the Argentine Puna

Sand Traps and Mishaps in the Argentine Puna
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

There are few things in this world that excite me more than a faint checkered line on a map, meandering through wide open spaces.  As I’ve come to find out over the previous month, Northern Argentina has quite the collection of them.  While my completionist tendencies want to pull me in all directions, down every last trail, there are really more than one could ever explore in just one trip.  Often these tracks are meticulously sculpted into a bone-shattering washboard.  If not, they’re plunging you through pits of ankle-deep sand.  Either way, they’re always filling your eyes with sights unlike any other in the world.

La Ruta Del Diablo

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La Ruta Del Diablo

La Ruta Del Diablo
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

After coming away from my first Puna de Atacama experience with a renewed sense of excitement for the other-worldly landscape and solitude of the high Andean desert, I was really looking forward to what else this region of Northern Argentina had to offer. Once again, there were a few different route options on the menu. One being a rather well-worn affair (for the Atacama at least), with a few extra towns dotting the map to make re-supplying a bit easier, along with rumors of a better riding surface. The other, a rarely used track setting off through a string of Satan-themed canyons, salt flats, and remote mountain passes….

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Nuestras Casitas Amarillas

Justin sent over this video he made while on tour in the lakes district of Chile and through parts of Northern Argentine Patagonia. It’s a bit long of a watch but well worth it to kickstart your wanderlust.

The Forgotten Pass of the Atacama

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The Forgotten Pass of the Atacama

The Forgotten Pass of the Atacama
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

The Atacama Desert can be an intimidating place when you look at it on paper. There’s a certain mystique in the cycle-touring world that comes with being labeled the driest place on Earth. The lack of water also means that populated settlements are rare, which makes the vast 128,000 square kilometers of salty, sandy, and rocky terrain seem all the more inhospitable to someone looking to pedal their way through.

To be honest, the prospect of having to carry more than a week’s worth of food along with 3+ days worth of water at any given time didn’t just seem like a logistical challenge in trying to over-stuff bags and strap things to places where they shouldn’t be strapped… It seemed wholly unappealing. Just the thought of watching those liters disappear while you keep your fingers crossed that the next potential water source actually exists was enough to make me wonder if it would even be worth the stress. Still, I’d heard enough praise about the solitude and beauty of the Puna de Atacama that I just couldn’t pass up the chance to see what the hype was all about.