Bikepacking Paso Sico – Argentina to Chile

  • Distance

    216 Mi.

    (348 KM)
  • Days

    6

  • % Unpaved

    65%

  • % Singletrack

    0%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    7

  • Total Ascent

    9,891'

    (3,015 M)
  • High Point

    14,955'

    (4,558 M)
The inhospitable and wild Puna plateau in the central Andes can be a scary place, but it captivates and continually draws us back. There are six routes between northern Argentina and Chile on the Puna and this is a definite highlight and great choice for lovers of dirt roads.
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Vast swathes of high altitude plateau, large volcanoes, colourful lakes and white salt flats provide a cycling treat, and if you’re lucky it won’t be blowing a gale.

From San Antonio de los Cobres, the last Argentinian town of any size, the dirt road rolls over four passes before reaching paving well before the Chilean tourist town of San Pedro de Atacama. Expect little traffic, cold night-time temperatures, and at certain times of year be prepared for crazy electrical storms and snow.

P.S. Thanks to Cass Gilbert for the photos…

  • Highlights

    camera

  • Must Know

    alert

  • Camping

    home

  • Food/H2O

    drop

  • The scenery for virtually the whole route is fantastic.
  • Try not to miss the turn-off to the beautiful Lagunas Miscanti and Miñiques if coming from the east (if you are going in the opposite direction, the park wardens try and stop you taking this pretty detour for some reason).
  • Puna cycling experiences are often dominated by the weather – if things are calm and sunny, the crossing is taxing, but the climbs to each pass aren’t that long. If the winds are roaring however, it’s a different matter: it can be like cycling (or more likely pushing) into a wall whilst being sandblasted. Prevailing winds are from the west, so it’s usually easier heading from Chile into Argentina, even though this means more climbing.
  • At all times of year you need to ensure you have good equipment, to survive the often extreme elements. In particular be prepared for electric storms in February; and snow storms in winter (May-August).
  • See Andes by Bike for more detailed information.
  • The Puna is a wild place and you need to be prepared for bonkers weather, so take camping gear including a strong tent and warm sleeping bag.
  • There are a few settlements along the way but if the wind decides you ain’t gonna get there that day, then you ain’t gonna get there.
  • It’s best to carry all supplies from the start,
  • There are many sections where water needs to be carried too so make sure you have capacity for about 10litres.

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.