Bike & Boat — Another Way to Explore the Andes

November 6, 2018 - 4 minutes read

Although Cruce Andino is famous for its coach & boat tours through the Andes Lake District of Chile and Argentina, the legendary South American travel company also makes it possible to discover the same route via bicycle & boat.

Crossing the Andes by bike via the Ruta Los Lagos is a truly magical experience. There are actually 43 different ways to cycle from Chile to Argentina or vice versa. But only one route includes four biking legs and sailing across three lakes — the one offered by Cruce Andino — which runs between Puerto Varas (Chile) and Bariloche (Argentina).

Traveling this way allows you to explore some of the best nature in Chile and Argentina including Vicente Pérez Rosales and Nahuel Huapi national parks — wild, unspoiled places where the bike routes are flanked by coihues, ulmos, olivillos and myrtle trees.

There are also interesting urban areas at either end.

Puerto Varas was largely colonized by Germans and their influence can be seen and tasted in the city’s architecture and gastronomy. The city is surrounded by tall mountains and volcanoes including Tronador, Puntiagudo and Osorno. On the other side of the Andes, Bariloche is surrounded by forest, mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and pampas.

During your visit you should build in time to wander through both cities, visiting the local chocolatiers, artisanal breweries and everything else the two “bookends” of the route have to offer.

A one-way trip along the route can be completed in a single day. But you should plan on at least three days and two nights for a return trip. Or even longer — as much as a week — if you really want to get know the Lake District.

Bikers can easily extend their adventure by staying one or two nights in Puerto Blest or Peulla, where wilderness hotels located in the middle of the Andes offer a range of interesting, fun and adventurous tours.

This is not a trip for beginner cyclists or the unfit. The route is 111-miles in total, with 75 miles of that distance accomplished via your own pedal power. The journey from Argentina to Chile is easier than the reverse, because there are fewer uphill stretches to cycle.

Cruce Andino’s Bike & Boat includes:

  • Ferry across Lake Nahuel Huapi
  • Ferry across Lake Frías
  • Ferry across Lake Todos los Santos

Bike & Boat does not include:

  • Bicycle (though we can put you in touch with a local outfitter)
  • Helmet, first aid kit, bike bags, etc.
  • Boarding taxes
  • Food
  • Accommodation (unless booked with the transportation on the Cruce Andino website)
  • Emergency van between Peulla and Puerto Frías (available at extra cost)

Useful information

  • The difficulty level of this trip is medium to high
  • Passengers must supply your own mountain bike
  • Cyclists must wear a bicycle helmet at all times
  • We recommend that you travel with first aid kit and water bottle
  • Comfortable clothing and sports shoes, jacket, hat, sun block and sunglasses are also recommended
  • Bring all necessary travel documents for crossing between Argentina and Chile


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