Chile & Bolivia High Altitude Cycling Tour

from $3690 NZD
(5/5) from 4 reviews

Great highs and great contrasts await in the Andes of Chile and Bolivia, from deserts to vibrant cities, hard climbs to possibly the world’s longest downhill.

Explore Arica, La Paz, and Copacabana, and remote colonial towns. Camp in a desert under a thousand stars, and in fields near grazing llamas. Stay on the Island of the Sun, a land of Incan legend, in Lake Titicaca. All the while, enjoy rugged and varied trails.

You’ll also enjoy what may be the world’s longest 1-day bike descent (4400 m), from snow capped peaks to the Amazon jungle.

15 Days
  • 2019
  • Best time to travel: June - August
  • Availability Guide:
  • Current date selected
  • Plenty
  • Limited
  • Closed or too close to departure (Call Us for options)

Reviews for Chile & Bolivia High Altitude Cycling Tour - Tour

An absolutely incredible journey and a huge, huge thank you to your team for making it possible. I really hope other people sign up for this trip and get to experience what we did. Whilst it was brutally tough at times, the scenery, the journey, and the kindness and organisation of the local guides and staff

Rebecca Wardell New Zealand Bolivia September 15, 2016

The entire experience of this journey is something I will be unlikely to forget. It was incredible. It was also tough. It was rewarding, challenging, adrenaline inducing, and jaw dropping. Full of so many moments that built on each other to make the entire experience unforgettable.

Kathryn Phillips New Zealand Bolivia September 15, 2016

Rebecca Wardell September 14, 2016

Chile & Argentina Mountain Biking - Global Cycling Adventures

A combination of hard cycling days and astonishing views of the Andes, culminating in an out-of-this-world single-track experience in the mountain biking heaven that is Sorata.

Juan-Antonio August 15, 2014

Arica to La Paz

Arica
  • High Altitude Cycling
  • Grade
  • 2018 prices subject to change
  • Tour price: for group size of 4-12
  • Group size 2-3: please enquire for price
  • USD410 single room surcharge
  • USD410 full suspension mountain bike
  • USD250 hard tail mountain bike
  • Single trail extensions available
  • This tour is invoiced in USD
  • We can arrange dates to suit (May to Sept)
Time for correct acclimatisation has been built into this tour. Our expert guides will make sure you have everything you need. Most meals are provided, plus snacks to keep you energised for big rides. The accommodation is sometimes basic due to the remoteness of some locations, but always comfortable and clean.

Full Itinerary

DAY 1

Arrival Day: Arica (Chile)

No biking

Welcome to Arica, located in the far north of Chile and to the east of the Bolivian border. Our friendly staff will meet you at the airport and drive you to your hotel. Later our guides will help assemble and fit your bike before a city tour of Arica, known as the 'City of the Eternal Spring'. Then wander through local craft markets or just relax at the beach. In the evening we'll have an orientation and briefing session.

Meals: Dinner

DAY 2

Arica to desert campsite

Biking: 55 km (to 1450m asl)

We leave Arica on our bikes, slowly ascending westwards along the Lluta river valley, as we ride past agrarian communities. En route we will see ancient rock-drawings on the steep valley walls. After 18 km we'll reach the turn-off to the old mining road towards the Pampa Chaca. Near the end of our ride we'll have our first panoramic view of the Andes: a wide expanse of glaciated volcanoes and giant cacti. With no light sources near us and the incredibly dry air, our desert campsite will afford us one of the most incredible skyscapes you will ever see.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3

Desert campsite to farm campsite

Biking: 54 km (to 3000m asl)

Today the road will become steeper as we progressively gain altitude. Along the way we can make a short detour to visit the Pukara de Copaquilla, a 12th century fort. Its stone walls are built near a 150 m deep canyon, covered in traditional agricultural terraces. We'll set up camp in a valley next to the ruins of an old farm, where there are usually hundreds of llamas grazing.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4

Farm campsite to valley campsite

Biking: 48 km (to 3105m asl)

As we continue to ascend along gravel roads, we'll pass through the beautiful Pre-Columbian village of Ticnamar (3100 m a.s.l.). This colonial village, with ancient stone paved streets and a beautiful central plaza with a fountain, has one of the oldest chapels in the Americas. We'll ride on through several other historic villages to our riverside valley campsite.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5

Valley campsite to Putre

Biking: 67 km (to 3556m asl)

From our valley camping site, we'll ride up and over a major pass, before a rapid descent to the main road. The challenge of the relentless ascent resumes as we ride up the main asphalt road (our first asphalt since turning into the desert on our first day of riding). We'll continue climbing into the National Park of Lauca. After 30 km we reach the pre-Columbian village of Putre ('murmuring waters'), which has interesting architecture, museums, a historic cathedral, and wildlife such as llamas and condors. Tonight you'll stay here in a lodge.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6

Putre to Parinacota

Biking: 40 km (to 4443m asl)

This morning we'll see the reserve of Las Cuevas (4300 m a.s.l.) where rare vicuña (alpine-dwelling South American camelids) are found. We'll ride alongside the river and swamps of Taipicahue, where a vast array of bird-life provides distraction from the onerous ascent. This section of the ride will bring us within close proximity to volcanoes, condors, and grazing camelids. A further 20 km of gentle ascent leads to the beautiful ancient village of Parinacota, on the shores of the giant lake Chungara, and beneath the astounding twin volcanoes of Pomerape and Parinacota.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7

Parinacota to Sajama, Bolivia

Biking: 68 km (to 4244m asl)

A final ascent will take us to the breath-taking border frontier with Bolivia at the Tambo Quemado mountain pass (4660m a.s.l). Here border formalities are conducted in a stunning cirque of volcanoes, lakes, condors and camelids. We are finally relieved from the tiring ascent by descending to the village of Sajama, where we will stay in basic accommodation a short bike ride from natural hot springs.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8

Sajama to 'rock palace' camping site

Biking: 49 km (to 3920m asl)

Our ride today is along the 'Roof of South America'. Our ancient off-track road will take us past agricultural villages with camelids grazing. We'll pass giant burial grounds (chullpas) dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. We'll also visit the village of Curahuara de Carangas with its colonial Adobe Church, and ride past labyrinths of volcanic rock. After briefly rejoining the main road, we'll sneak off to a secret campsite amongst a 'palace' of rocks. We are now in an extremely isolated area, where the way of life has changed little in centuries.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9

Rock palace campsite to La Paz

No biking (La Paz at 3600m asl)

Today we go from isolation to civilisation, and have a rest from cycling also. We'll drive from our rock palace through the highlands (Altiplano) of Bolivia to the incomparable administrative capital of La Paz, with close to 900,000 people. It's the world's highest capital city. Elevations within the city range from 3000m to 4100m. There'll be time in the afternoon to explore the city and go souvenir shopping. Tonight we have the luxury of staying in a comfortable hostel B&B.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 10

La Paz to Copacabana

No biking (to 3900m asl)

We start the day with a drive to vibrant and interesting Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titikaka, South America's largest lake. Locals believe this lake is the mythical birthplace of the Inca people, where the first man and woman were created. After lunch we will take a boat trip out to the Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol) and see extensive architectural treasures. Both the town of Copacabana and the Island of the Sun have much to offer, including historic sites, churches and ruins. We'll stay overnight in a hostel on the Isla del Sol.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11

Copacabana to La Paz

No biking (to 3600m asl)

In the morning we will take the boat back to Copacabana. After lunch and a short walk around town, we'll drive back to La Paz.

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 12

La Paz, Chacaltaya and Zongo Valley 1-day downhill ride

Biking: 50 km (to 1000m asl)

Early this morning we'll drive to the world's highest developed ski slope for the incredible Chacaltaya to Zongo downhill ride. You'll ride from 5345 m a.s.l. to the steaming Amazon Jungle (1000 m). Could this be the world's greatest altitude loss possible by bike in one day? At the Chacaltaya ski-field we'll have a snack and take in views of the Illimani, Mururata and Huayna Potosí mountains. A challenging and exciting ride follows, involving high altitude, snow, steep gravel roads, and eventually, humid jungle. We'll celebrate at Zongo village, and later return to La Paz.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 13

La Paz and 'Ghost Ride’

Biking: 55 km (to 1000m asl)

Today, Bolivia's new 'Ghost Ride', over rough, abandoned dirt road, and past some spooky sites. It starts at almost 5000 m, with an incredible view out over the Andes. You'll head down gnarly roads and walking paths with very challenging steep sections (with optional easier lines). You'll ride through typical Bolivian farms and visit several reputedly haunted sites before a dramatic fast dirt road alongside rivers and waterfalls to the reportedly haunted jungle castle built at the order of the former Bolivian president during the Chaco War (1932-35). After, we'll return to La Paz.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 14

La Paz sightseeing city tour

No biking

A day to explore La Paz by bike, starting with the downtown area. We'll continue to the residential areas of Obrajes, Calacoto and La Florida, and then the unique Valley of the Moon, with mountains forming an odd work of art. We'll walk around the city's valley and visit a ceramic workshop where we can watch a pottery demonstration. Tonight, we'll get together for a goodbye dinner and celebrate our fun times and achievements.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 15

Departure Day: La Paz

No biking

We'll say our goodbyes over a final breakfast. Transfers are available to El Alto Airport for flights back home. Alternatively, you may choose to extend your stay in Bolivia.

Meals: Breakfast

Tour Inclusions and Exclusions:

Tour Includes:

  • Accommodation: 14 nights being a mixture of camping, basic rooms, hostel and 3* hotel (twin share)
  • Airport transfers (days 1 and 15)
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Professional bilingual guide(s)
  • Support vehicle(s)
  • Camping equipment
  • Snacks during rides
  • Professional bilingual guides

Tour Excludes:

  • International and domestic flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal expenses and drinks
  • Entrance fees to National Parks or other activities according to the itinerary
  • Bike hire
  • Tips to guide(s) and support crew