This is a short recap of my experience when cycling the famous Carraterra Austral road in Southern Chile. The Carraterra Austral is a road which was built in the 1970s by then dicator General Pinochet to link the towns of southern Chile with the more densly populated mainland. This road has linked thousands of people by bringing together isolated communities which were once left isolated due to the numerous mountains, lakes, rivers and glaciers which form Southern Chile. The Carraterra Austral has also become a famous cycling destination for the same very reason. As you cycle along what is mainly very rough ripio roads (ripio is spanish for gravel roads) you will pass beautiful waterfalls, lakes, rivers, glaicers and cycle up and down the mountains which make up this famous road. Sounds Idyillac, and it nearly was but as I rode from south to north looking for adventure what I discovered was a well beaten cycle tourist trail which extended for over a thousand kilometers.
Now do not get me wrong the reason this road has become a famous cycle touring destination is due to its remoteness and areas of natual beauty. It really is beautiful with flowing wateralls and rivers so clean I was able to fill my water bottles anywhere. The downside is everybody else is also on the same trail. I was late in the season and was passing around 8 other cycle tourists daily and whilst normally when I meet another cycle tourist I stop excitedly for a chat, on this road due to the number of cyclists it is often a simple wave if that. People are cycling fast and heading for the latest secret campsite on their secret camping apps, the locals are so used to seeing cyclists that you lose any wonder or interaction with the local community and every shop and campsite is therefore super expensive.
I think maybe I am spoiled. I have been on the road for nearly two years and have cycled many many roads. I myself may have fell for the hype, for the beauty was there but the isolation and local communities were missing. Also I am on a super long tour therefore money and budgeting is a big deal to me, if you were to just cycle the Carraterra Austral money would not be as much as a option and you could enjoy more of the local tastes in the small bars and restaurents.
I would often compare the Carraterra Austral to other roads I have cycled and I can honestly felt that here the adventure was missing. If you are really looking to get lost, to ride across beautiful scenery whilst not feeling like a tourist on a bike but a bike tourist then I recommend these top three roads to explore:
1.G213, China-The old nataional highway runing south from Chengdu to Kunming in China. Famous for mountain views, small remote chinese communitys and cobble mountain. (Cobble mountain is named so by Finola & I as it is a 2700m pass with cobbles for the road surface)
2.Bishkek to Osh, Krgyzstan-The most beautiful road I have ever ridden. Climb to 3600m to the Torugart Pass before desending for almost two days as you come down from the snow lined mountains to beautiful rivers and gorges.
3.Alba Lulia to Brasov, Romania-Cycle past authentic Romania villages where people still sell their wares from horse and cart. Climb over the Fagaras mountains and experience beautiful friendly people and the feel the ledgend of dracula around you. Black bears are also found along this road.
This is just my thoughts and you will find many other people looking to experience the beauty of the Carrera Austal and it is stunning just not adventure I was hoping for.
Buy me a beer!! Thank you
This blog follows my cycle ride from Reading, Berkshire to Reading, Pennsylvania.