Useful information

Whereas there are very few published travelogues covering cycling in South America there are a huge and growing number of web sites to mine for information. I won't list them all, just the ones I've found most useful. Links to external sites open in new windows.


Lonely Planet's Thorntree - On Your Bike forum. I sometimes post here as "manonbike".

Cycling Forums

South America Bicycle Touring Links
A huge collection of links to online South America Travelogues in many languages.

A rapidly growing collection of Do It Yourself travelogues (some in South America) that can be updated while you're on the road. It's a free service if you're thinking about it. Also lots of links and general information.

In late 2005 and early 2006 iik followed much of the same route as I did from the Careterra Austral, Futaleufu and then along the eastern side of the Andes to Mendoza and then crossing the mountains to Santiago. Have a look at his site for another (and more recent) view.

La Torre Suiza - Villarrica, Chile
Run by a pair of Swiss Round the World cyclists. A great place to meet other cyclists and swap info.

Casa Perla - Puerto Montt, Chile
Lovely hosts and excellent Spanish lessons.

All of these organisations cover their own turf first and foremost but their services are well worth a look and their magazines occasionally run South America stories.
Adventure Cycling Association
An American organisation who publish cycling maps for the USA as well as the touring magazine "Adventure Cycling".

Cyclists Touring Club
A UK organisation dedicated to improving the lot of all cyclists but, as the name suggests, with a central theme of touring. They publish the bi-monthly Cycle magazine. Members also have access to touring notes written by other members.

Bicycle New South Wales
Sydney, Australia based campaigning organisation who publish "Australian Cyclist" magazine. This is a general cycling mag with a strong touring emphasis.

Mr Pumpy
Cycling the amusing roads of Asia with Felix and Mr Pumpy.

Bikeabout Beimers
Around Australia, Big Pineapple to Big Pineapple on a pair of linked recumbent trikes. Amusing, colourful, Canadian, illustrated. See what my pet Canadians had to say about me in week 44. I'm not really a sociopath.

Discovering Germany by Bike
The absolute model of how a government tourist office can go about promoting cycle tourism.

When my 21 year old Clamont 1000 (a triple butted 700c cro-mo tourer) finally wore out (2008) it was replaced by one of the Thorn expedition bikes - a Raven Nomad. Fell in love with them when I met a cyclist on a prototype Nomad on the Carretera Austral..... Long wheelbase, rugged components, 26 inch wheels & touring geometry. Basically the bikes are designed to handle and go well when fully loaded.

Koga Miyata
So, you've never heard of a Clamont 1000?. That's because it was a rebadged Japanese framed Miyata 1000..... which in turn had design and scecification input in Holland by the Koga bike company. Oddly enough the Dutch know a lot about bike touring and Koga have designed some damn fine and durable tourers over the years. And Miyata made me an indestructable frame.... over 50,000 loaded touring kilometres and countless commutes (over 110,000km worth).

2009 update:
Andes Gear in Santiago Chile now stock Ortlieb bike panniers.

St John Street Cycles (sister company to Thorn) have a massive range of gear online and ship worldwide.

Wayne at The Touring Store in the US is great to deal with and will ship panniers and racks worldwide.

The following recommendation are based on my trip. This was quite a while ago now so maybe better maps are available....
Chile - Turistel's Mapa Rutero
I looked at lots of maps in Chile but it was the slim Turistel Mapa Rutero atlas that was the most accurate and up to date. It is updated every year or two and although a relatively small scale was more accurate than anything else I found. It was available at many newsstands, book shops and, oddly, telephone offices. It indicates most roads, both sealed and unsealed. Fortunately for you road building has been continuing apace so more roads will be sealed than most maps show. The military published a more detailed atlas of topographic maps but many of them dated back to the sixties and so were so far out of date as to be useless. Expensive too!. Lonely Planet published an appalling Chile Atlas of cartographic doodles that thankfully appears to be out of print. Other maps were published by the major petrol station chains. I remember seeing a very nice 1:200,000 scale cartographic map of the lakes district published by one of the telephone companies. Some very fancy looking maps were also published of the Carretera Austral but in reality were less accurate than the Turistel map.

Best news is that the entire Turistel Mapa Rutero is available online in high resolution now! Grab it and print it out before they realise that they're just giving it away.

Argentina - YPF Atlas Vial
In a similar format to the Turistel guide but much harder to find and not as frequently updated. Scale approx 1:2,300,000 (4.3cm = 100km). YPF petrol stations never stocked it (although guide books always say they do) but a few book shops did. YPF stations often had free but inferior maps for their province or surrounds. The Automovil Club Argentina also published maps but they were expensive if you weren't a member and I thought them pretty poxy anyway. Tourist offices often had maps of their own province but given that tourist offices tended to be in the provinces (central) main town it usually meant that you'd be half way across the province before you'd be able to get the map. This situation went for the ACA maps too. The YPF guide also had some nice province by province tourist info (that I ultimately ripped out to save weight) and basic city maps showing main roads in and out as well as a few landmarks. Apparently the national tourist office in Buenos Aires have similar but free guidebook called Rutas de la Argentina.

2008 update: the YPF Atlas Vial appears to be out of print but YPF's Guia YPF may include the atlas.

I used the SNC Bolivia Red Vial 1989 map - a landsat image with some out of date and not hugely accurate roads overlaid. 1:2,000,000 scale. It was the least out of date map I could find in Bolivia and at least showed where I could expect to find a town. On the back of the map were town plans for all the major centres. The military cartography centres had a fantastic series of huge maps that covered the country in four or so sheets. Hopelessly out of date but so beautiful to look at that I wish I had bought a set when I had the chance in La Paz - it looked like the wall sized map an explorer would have on their drawing room wall in an old movie. Hopefully the map situation has improved in the mean time. I did see a new and very swish looking German published map recently (2008) but was disappointed to see that it didn't even show the sealed road from the Chilean border towards La Paz so although it was a new map and looked good it was already inaccurate (especially given that the missing road was open in 1998!).

All text and images copyright Syd Winer 2004 - 2009