Dying to escape the frosty frigid weather and enjoy a few days of winter exercise in the warm sunshine? We’ve organized a selection of exclusive private bike adventures in the Southern Hemisphere. A trifecta of superb options. Start off in Chile’s rugged Northern Patagonia, where you will bike near lakes, at the base of conical volcanoes and past rural farmland. Next up are two Chilean vineyard areas. Over the past few years, Chile has made significant strides developing its high-end tourism, including numerous new hotels, vineyards and newly paved roads. The fascinating city of Valparaiso is close to the small Casablanca vineyards, while further south lie the sprawling Colchagua vineyards and Pacific beaches. Olé!
Northern Patagonia, Chile Puerto Montt is the gateway to the beauty of Northern Patagonia—the land of lakes and snow-capped dormant volcanoes. Nearby Puerto Varras is a small touristy town that hugs the shoreline of the Llanquihue Lake, one of the largest in South America. Cafés and shops offer views of the perfectly conical Osorno volcano. Germans settled this area in the late 1800’s, as evidenced by the wood-shingled architecture, orderly planning and delicious cakes. The Cliffs Preserve is an hour outside town on a six-mile-long stretch of Pacific coastline that is home to sea lions, otters, and two species of penguins. There’s a small main lodge with restaurant, bar and spa, along with six very spacious and well-appointed villas, each with multiple bedrooms, fireplaces and wood-burning hot tubs overlooking the ocean. Bike rides pass through local farming villages, along the lakes, and towards the scenic Vicente Perez Rosales National Park.
Valparaíso & Casablanca Wine Valley, Chile Valparaíso’s golden era was in the late 1800’s, when it was a common stop for trips between the Atlantic and Pacific (before the Panama Canal was built in 1914). Immigration from Italy, Germany and England saw each group building up its own hillside district. In 2003, Valparaíso was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its history, fragile beauty and unique architecture. Built on cliffs, the city features a unique, functioning collection of 16 funicular elevators built in late 1800’s that link the port to the higher-up living area. It’s fun to walk the labyrinth of colorful streets from the base of Casa Higueres, a beautifully renovated 1920’s mansion with 20 rooms, pool, spa and stunning views of the old city and port. Just outside town lie the beautiful and scenic wine valleys. Enjoy the meandering vineyard roads of the small Casablanca wine region.
In Valpariso, and open to visitors, is La Sebastiana one of three homes of Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician.
Colchagua Wine Valley, Chile South of Santiago, the Colchagua Wine Valley has thrived in recent years. In fact, it’s virtually unrecognizable from five years ago. High-end wineries rival those of California—so much so that the region has been dubbed “the next Napa”, with newly paved roads to match the spiffy tasting rooms. The Colchagua Valley is not only the best-known wine valley in Chile; it’s also home to the Huaso Chilean cowboy culture, with estancias dotted throughout the area. Close to the wine country capital of Santa Cruz, lays the beautiful, and intimate 4 rooms Clos Apalta hotel on the grounds of the Lapostolle vineyard, all owned by the Grand Marnier dynasty. Soon to open will be the new Vina Vik lodge – another fabulous option.
THE BIKING – The biking will average 30 – 40 miles per day on paved roads. There will be transfers to the start and finish of rides on many of the days. Fully supported with mechanics, guides, bikes and sag wagon.
DAILY TEMPERATURES – The weather will range from approximately 44F to 80F.
OTHER GREAT SOUTH AMERICAN RIDES
Jose Ignacio, Uruguay Uruguay’s economy depends on the fertile pampas fields and their white sand beaches, the most famous being the world-renowned and stylish Punta del Este. Just north of Punta del Este lays the more low-key Jose Ignacio area, also famous for beaches and farming. Inland lies the new Estancia Vik, which sits on 4000 acres of rolling countryside. This expansive 12-room retreat appears as a traditional Spanish colonial-style building with multiple courtyards, gardens and patios. The Estancia is also an art gallery, displaying Uruguayan contemporary art commissioned and collected by the owner and bike enthusiast Alex Vik. Bike through farmland, around inland lakes, and along the beach-lined coast. In the afternoon, there’s time for the pool, beach or even a polo lesson.
This area is also a great ending to a vigorous bike trip, the beaches are marvelous, Playa Vik, the celebrated hotel hosts our clients on a regular basis. A remarkable private retreat on the beach in the village of José Ignacio, Playa Vik along with sister property, Estancia Vik, has secured José Ignacio’s reputation as Uruguay’s premier international destination. José Ignacio is renowned for its pristine beaches, rugged landscape, exceptional sunsets and relaxed, luxurious bohemian style. The hotel faces west with sweeping views across the Southern Atlantic Ocean and Playa Mansa, also known as the “calm beach” and features 19 suites all uniquely decorated with contemporary Uruguayan and international art.
Dining is magical at Marisimo at Jose Ignacio under a canopy of a black sky filled with millions of stars and candlelight. When you visit Playa Vik in Uruguay there are a few enchanting dining options. Drive down a long dirt and gravel road just past the town of Jose Ignacio to reach one of the trendiest dining spots in this area. Sit at the tiki bar for an icy cocktail and then mosey to your rustic table. Do note that January and February are standing room only on the deep sandy floor. Upscale with a rustic touch. Highly recommend the slow cooked meats, brilliantly grilled over glowing coals, the traditional method of flame cooking in this southern hemisphere.
Salta & Cafayate, Argentina Arrive at Salta International airport, elevation 3,780 feet. The House of Jasmines, in the outskirts of Salta, is a mere 10-minute drive from the airport. This former tobacco plantation and residence of Robert Duvall has been tastefully renovated and expanded by hotelier Stephanie Fenestraz, owner of El Colibrí (near Córdoba). There are 14 rooms spread across three buildings. Dinner at the new “La Table” restaurant, right in the hotel.
The next day, you will be driven one hour to the nearby cloud forest for a familiar 30-mile ride along a well-paved, quiet road. After lunch at Estancia Los Lapachos, head back to House of Jasmines. There will be time to drive the half-hour into Salta for a walk about the impressive “Ninth of July” town square. Salta has grown to a bustling and somewhat congested town of a half-million people. Visit the MAM, Museo de Alta Montana or High Mountain Museum, which houses the famed “Children of Llullaillaco”—three 500-year-old mummies sacrificed by the Inca. Stay in town for dinner and visit one of the excellent restaurants offering traditional empanadas composed of vegetables, or cheese and meat fillings. Argentina is renowned for their organic beef, cooked the traditional Asado method over high heat wood coals, and served atop crispy Pommes Souffles.
Packing up, we’ll drive 1¼ hour from Salta and start biking just past the Restaurant Posta de las Cabras. It’s a 40-mile mostly flat ride through the red rock Quebrada de las Conchas canyon on a newly paved road to Cafayate (elevation 5,522 feet). This formerly sleepy town is now a vibrant center of tourism and wine production. We’ll stay at the Patios de Cafayate Hotel and Spa, nestled among the vines of the El Esteco vineyard. This traditional 19th century hacienda is designed like a traditional Spanish villa, with shady courtyards, antiques, and art. The pool is divine.
Many of the roads are decorated with small shrines devoted to the Argentine gaucho, who still rides the paths today employed to herd wandering cattle. Look for the ubiquitous lone rider garbed in a traditional poncho, cowboy hat and high boots galloping on dusty roads on his Peruvian Paso Pony.
The deserted and wild terrain yields expansive broad horizons, the roads dotted with not much other than signs warning of Llama crossings. The next day, ride south of town through the vineyards and small villages, and then back to Cafayate for a total of 40 miles.
Golfers will enjoy the new Estancia de Cafayate Golf Course designed by Bob Cupp, a former course designer for Jack Nicklaus. Tonight, you can head into town for a walk around the square and dinner at Terruño restaurant. Save room for dessert at the Mirador, or Alien ice cream parlor.
The following morning, ride north of town to San Carlos and back for a total of 24 miles. Stop for lunch just outside Cafayate at the famous San Pedro de Yacochuya vineyard or at the charming Finca las Nubes. More ice cream, golf, spa, and pool time is on offer in the afternoon.
Leave the hotel on bikes to ride 45 miles along the Quebrada de las Conchas canyon in the other direction, before transferring the rest of the way to Salta. The deep canyon is framed by walls of impressive rocks in a multitude of striking colors, a surreal landscape of ocher and red, rivaling the Grand Canyon.