Photo Gallery: Cycling The Carretera Austral Highway

MOUNTAINS. GLACIERS. DUST. CORRUGATIONS. I take on the famous Carretera Austral Highway to find out if it deserves its legendary status.

Carretera Austral

The moment when you realise you’ve really f**k’d up… and you and your bike go tumbling down a steep hiking trail. I WISH this was staged! (My bike and I are fine)

Carretera Austral

I almost bit off more than I could chew yesterday. There’s a hiking trail around a lake that most cross by boat. People told me it’s “hard, but doable” to push a bike on it for 13km. They made me assume that as a strong, fit and resilient individual that I could do it, without hesitation. But after crossing dozens of rivers, after taking my panniers off 100 times, after falling into thorn bushes, after many knee-deep muddy bogs, after 11 gruelling hours — this hiking trail would be HARD without a 50kg+ bike on your back. My advice: take the bloody boat, whatever you do.

Carretera Austral

It’s pretty easy to feel the enormity of the steep mountain valleys when you can almost touch them as you cycle along…

Carretera Austral

The Carretera Austral Highway connects up that skinny stretch of Chile down in Patagonia. It was built by 10,000 military soldiers between the 1970s and 1990s in order to strengthen the Chilean presence in these isolated territories. Beforehand, everything had to arrive in overland via the vast, windy plains of Argentina.

Carretera Austral

When the day is really nice, I find it hard to pack up. I sit in the sun, make coffee, then lay back down with my book. Repeat this a few times and you’ll find it’s the afternoon!!

Carretera Austral

Who said you can’t mono a fully-loaded bike up a hill with crystal blue water below!?

Carretera Austral

AREN’T YOU LONELY? This is such a common question for me, and I think people forget that ‘being alone’ and ‘being lonely’ are two different concepts. Remember that you can still feel lonely with a big family and lots of work colleagues all while living in a city of millions. I’m happy floating in my own thoughts, breathing fresh air, reading books and listening to podcasts. I have conversations with new people every single day, many of whom I will see again. I wouldn’t want to be in this state forever, but for now, it feels like such a luxury. If the idea of ‘being alone’ stops you from travelling, I suggest a re-think. Take a week off, pack some stuff to keep your mind active (books, paintbrushes, movies, podcasts, a diary, a camera) and experience the world in a wonderful way!

Carretera Austral

As one machine starts a life of service, the other enters retirement.

Carretera Austral

After 300km (200mi) of corrugations, dust and close-passing traffic — it was an absolute delight to ride up (and down!) the silky smooth Cuesta del Diablo. Can you find me?!

Compare your thoughts, quash any fears and perhaps get some ideas for your next bike trip – these are the 22 questions that I answer every single day.

Carretera Austral

Praise the mountains! Every time I think the stunning backdrops will end, Patagonia keeps delivering. Cerro Castillo is one of the best day hike loops I’ve ever done…

Carretera Austral

Just imagine having to suffer through these views every day. Now you know what it’s like to travel with me through Chile.

Carretera Austral

Hold on to your sense of wonder. It will take you to places like this.

Carretera Austral

ARE YOU EVER SCARED? It’s my experience that the world is overwhelmingly safe. People often provide warnings about many of the far-flung places I end up, but I’ve found that 99 times out of 100 these are unfounded hearsay – it’s best to keep an open mind. You’ll find that one-in-a-thousand people actually have bad intentions and that the chance of rubbing shoulders with them is slim at best.

Carretera Austral

Pretty happy with the long series of life decisions that got me to this point!

Carretera Austral

I test gear, not for a day or a week, but often for YEARS before I form a strong opinion on it. I also make sure to constantly re-evaluate both the gear I use and my methods of travel. By keeping an open mind I can keep progressing, and so can you!

Best friends are like stars; you don’t always see them but they’re always there. Jokes, we’re inseparable. Happy Valentine’s Day, my trusty bicycle. You know all my secrets.

Best time to be on the pedals: GOLDEN HOUR.

Patagonia…. so wildly dramatic, every day!! (Put coming here on your ‘to-do’ list, right after your laundry)

Carretera Austral

Fun ways to get from A to B: Volume 1. (Sorry KOGA, but it’s part of my testing protocol)

Carretera Austral

My favourite place to camp is inside a pine forest. I love the sound of the wind whistling through the treetops, yet the perfect stillness at the ground. I love that they’re dark in the mornings, that pine-fresh scent and that pine needles are super squishy to lay on.

Carretera Austral

“If you’re cycling all the way to Alaska, why did you choose such a bad bike?” – Stranger at a bus stop. I was now sporting my biggest grin. That’s because my Koga is essentially a Rolls Royce with a Toyota body kit. This stranger was referring to the fact that my bike has no suspension, no fancy graphics or glossy finishes. Koga gave me the option to go ‘bling’ with my custom build, but it was my request that the bike looked like any other. For those not ‘in the know’, this tends to be a great theft deterrent. The Rohloff hub even makes it look like the Koga doesn’t have gears…

Carretera Austral

WHY DO I USE PANNIERS? A common question for me in a world of limitless bag options. I want to start by saying there’s no ‘best’ setup; that depends entirely on a combination of your travel style and what you’re doing. I chose panniers over using my bikepacking/trailer kit for a number of reasons: 1. I can load and unload my bike in 30 seconds flat. 2. I have a laptop and camera gear that is very protected in panniers. 3. I can carry 30+ litres of food if I need, including odd-shaped food like broccoli. 4. My bags can be organised by use, for example, I have a ‘kitchen’ bag that I can whip out in hostels.

Carretera Austral

I take on the famous Carretera Austral Highway to find out if it deserves its legendary status. Video HERE.

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BIKE: Koga WorldTraveller Signature
GEAR LIST: My 25kg of stuff
ROUTE: Carretera Austral Section and Argentina Section

Watch My Film From The Carretera Austral HERE

Alee is a bike and travel addict who has cycled through 80+ countries and doesn't really have any plans of stopping. Along the way, he creates technical resources, in-depth reviews, inspirational videos, how-to guides and more. If you've learned something from him, you can support his mission to create the best bike travel content HERE.

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