Gravel has been almost on every cyclist gathering over the past couple of years, with everybody talking about wheel sizes, flared drop bars, tyre width and tread pattern, but for the most of the people, the road bike vs gravel bike question might seem strange at first, as they may not look all that different on the surface.
But riding a bike designed for multi-terrain excursions means you can link together gravel routes in new ways, taking in sections of gravel roads, forest tracks, trails, byways and bridlepaths. Or you can load up your gravel bike with camping kit for multi-day bikepacking adventures, what means more miles to get lost and enjoy.
Road bike vs gravel bike: What are they supposed to do?
As you can probably work out from the name, road bikes are designed to be ridden on routes with a tarmac bias, while gravel bikes can be taken off-road, on gravel paths, dirt roads, fire trails, and even singletrack (if you are brave enough).
Road bikes ultimately fall into two camps, race bikes, and endurance bikes. Race bikes are what you see the pros pushing to the absolute limit, or your wealthy friend trying to look like these pros but clearly with more body fat, or those friends that come with Amity Tours to the Lake & Volcano district and we need to assign the strongest guide (probably Ruben or David) so he can follow them and not get lost!
Instead, endurance bikes are a bit more upright, feature more stable handling, put a premium on comfort, and most probably the profile of the rider that will use this bike with us will take more than 1000 pictures…per ride!
You can definitely use a gravel bike as a road bike. However, there are a few small limitations you might run into if you do this. Depending on how you like to ride, it could be important, or not important at all.
If you are a road bike racer, or your wealthy friend dressed in Rapha outfit with a Colnago C64 with Campy components, then a gravel bike probably won’t work as your primary bike. Many gravel bikes these days have a single chainring set up in the front. You’ll still get plenty of gears for most road riding, but you won’t have quite enough high gears for when the speeds get very fast, over 25 mph. You’ll probably spin out because you can’t pedal fast enough, and what is for sure, nothing can be worst to see than how the rest of the peloton leaves you behind, alone and talking to yourself for the rest of the ride.
But if you’re mostly riding by yourself, or with friends who keep a more reasonable pace during our bike tours here in the Lake & Volcano district, then a gravel bike works just fine. In many ways it’s a lot more comfortable than a road bike, because you can use wider tires at lower pressure to give yourself some nice cushioning. You’ll also get better stopping and turning power from more rubber on the road.
Gravel bike tours in the Lake & Volcano district
Amity Tours, as a national leader in the development of road bike and MTB tours, we are sure that being able to include our new gravel tours in our offer ensures that we can satisfy the needs of these new customer segments seeking to get out of the paved route and look for more inaccessible attractions difficult to reach either by other kind of bike.
Coming soon in 2021: Gravel bike tour in one of the most outstanding parks of Chile
The Conguillio National Park is without a doubt one of the most appreciated parks in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District. It covers a surface of 150.319 acres, and ranges from 2.296 to 10.253 feet above sea level. It must be said that the landscape are spectacular:
Llaima volcano (3.125 meters)
Arco Iris Lagoon
Truful Truful Canyon
Stay tuned for our next cycling adventures in Chile’s Lake and Volcano District, and get ready to discover the best of the Chilean territory on a gravel bike!
An exclusive and carefully crafted adventure led by three of the most iconic adventure companies of Chile: Amity Tours, BirdsChile and Chile Nativo Travel. A lifetime experience exploring on foot, bike, raft and kayak the most spectacular landscapes of northern and southern Patagonia. This exclusive program covers and connects the wild and diverse landscapes of two Scenic Routes: The Lake and Volcano Route + Route of Parks of Patagonia.
In this tour you will discover Conguillío National Park, starting at the foot of active volcanoes covered by unique forests of giant Araucaria trees, explore the lush and exuberant temperate rainforest of Pumalin Park (Douglas Tompkins legacy), and finish with a stunning finale in Torres del Paine National Park
Nature, diversity, local communities, and interaction with the culture of Patagonia, while giving back and supporting rewilding experiences led by our local experts. This is a featured program in some of the best parks that make up the Route of Parks of Patagonia and The Lake and Volcano District. An unforgettable multi-sport adventure where you can be sure to discover new paths in Patagonia!
Different sustainable concepts in one tour
We have been strategizing on how to develop a product which benefits are given back to local communities, supports conservation, and that the trip integrates the REWILDING concept. All of which posed to be the biggest challenge incorporating these exact concepts into a multisport program.
Cristián, Raffaele and Gonzalo – the CEOs of the three adventure companies – went together on a creative retreat, laying out the first draft itinerary and agreeing in the key factors to success with an epic and transformational multisport tour in Patagonia.
As a result, they came back with a unique itinerary connecting the Lake & Volcano Route and the Route of Parks of Patagonia, covering 1.400 miles (2.300 km) between Conguillío National Park and Torres del Paine.
The trip was ready to launch for the 2020/2021 season but it was postponed due to Covid international travel restrictions. However, this amazing trip was officially launched during the AdventureELEVATE virtual event and now 2021-22 dates are already confirmed.
Before we dive deeper into the highlights of the trip, we want to introduce these two iconic scenic routes with a short video:
Lake & Volcano Scenic Route
Route of Parks of Patagonia
The efforts of conservations in these lands were skeptically accepted at the beginning, provoking a controversy among Chileans, politicians, and part of the population.
Here another video to show the controversy:
Now, an especially important detail of this topic of conservation is Rewilding and the adaptive form of Rewilding in Tourism, which is a new way to power the art of traveling, transforming it from a high consumption product of tourism to a real and genuine act of empathy. Let’s talk a little more in depth about REWILDING.
What is rewilding?
We like to separate the two concepts: Ecological Rewilding and Tourism Rewilding. While ecological rewilding means “to return an ecosystem to its original state”, we have to understand that Tourism Rewilding is “adapted to tourism because we cannot erase the human impact completely”.
The Patagonia National Park has a rewilding concept with one of the highest global standards. If you want to know more about the rewilding process in the Patagonia National Park, you can take a look at this video. The story of Douglas Tompkins is intimately related to this park that became part of the largest donation of private lands ever made, and the first step for the creation of the Route of Parks of Patagonia.
During our multisport trip we are part of a Tourism Rewilding concept. This is not the only reason why we talk about a sustainable project. Moreover, we operate the tour only in small groups (8 guests max.), trying to focus on low-impact activities. That allows us to have a traceable and measurable trip. So, between the three companies we can collect data and publish exact numbers about the real social, economic and environmental impact. Furthermore we support local NGO’s for educational and conservation programs such as Fundación Legado Chile, and Torres del Paine Legacy Fund.
More about our Zero Waste concept
In all of our self-operated group departure tours we do focus on our Zero Waste Concept. First of all, we reinvented our picnic tables and box lunches. Wherever possible we changed to local suppliers and focused on organic processes. We eliminated single use plastic products and separated all unavoidable waste for recycling. During the last season we visited our most important local partners such as hotels and restaurants to involucrate them into the Zero Waste program. At the moment we are working on our Climate Emergency Plan. And we are part of the Climate Action Leaders Community.
How do we incorporate the local community?
Our brand-new Multisport Tour focuses also on the local communities, their culture, habits and history. We want to give our international guests the opportunity to learn more about the ancestral heritage of the Mapuche People. This proud nation has a huge influence in the Lake and Volcano District. We are able to get to know a friendly family, who shares with us their way of life between the actual progress and the ancestral heritage.
In our rewilding work on day 6 of the tour, in the city of Llanquihue, we will combine this regeneration effort to work with local communities, creating a virtuous circle where nature gets restored and communities get benefits.
Furthermore we meet the friendly Kawésqar women. They started and initiative to rescue their culture. Valuing the ancestral heritage that they inherited from their canoe ancestors of Kawésqar. The vision of this project is to generate, in a collaborative way and through the dialogue between indigenous communities and interested people, the best strategy to value the culture and ancestral Kawésqar heritage. Through initiatives that benefit the original people, its members, culture, and the ancestral territory.
We will learn about the traditional basket weaving. This local art of mainly Kawésqar women has been transmitted by their grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and sisters. They kept alive the beautiful handwork with a thin vegetal fiber known as jonquil.
Multisport activities on the Route of Parks Tour
We love the adventure and want to share this feeling with you. We kick-off the trip hiking among volcanoes and ancient Araucaria trees. Then we jump on our bikes and travel southbound Pedalling the Lake and Volcano scenic route is a great way to appreciate the stunning nature with the perfectly cone-shaped volcanoes, pristine lakes, and beautiful national parks.
Afterwards we leave the bikes behind and continue by water, rafting the turquoise rapids of Petrohué river. Then we follow Carretera Austral by foot. Exploring active volcanoes, hidden waterfalls, and the Northern Fjords of Patagonia. Finally, one of the highlights of the trip is definitely the day kayaking in Torres del Paine. Paddling in between floating icebergs and descending the Grey River is something you will remember forever!
A trip of your lifetime
The Route of Parks, a Patagonia Collection Program, is a lifetime experience for the traveler seeking the awe and wonder that Patagonia provokes in all of us. This multisport journey exploring on foot, bike, and kayak connects some of the most spectacular landscapes of northern and southern Patagonia.
This exclusive program takes travelers to the base of active volcanoes covered by unique forests of giant Araucarias of Conguillío National Park. To the lush and exuberant temperate rainforest of the Pumalin Park. Last but not least, a stunning finale at the wild and diverse landscapes of the Torres del Paine National Park.
Travel must be an act of empathy
During the last ATTA Elevate event we had a wonderful, and educational session filled with great conversations from participants from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina.
The result? Conservation is not enough anymore. Travel must be an act of empathy. Travel must regenerate communities and ecosystems, and as a leader in our trade, and as travelers ourselves, we must make conscious decisions to transform. Transform our programs, our products, and ourselves into something greater – even if that means making certain sacrifices such as smaller group departures and lower-impact travels. The effects of travel must be measurable and traceable.
We are convinced that travel MUST regenerate our public and private lands, environments, ecosystems, and communities.
The Christmas Crater is a pyroclastic cone of the Lonquimay Volcano located in the Malalcahuello National Reserve. It was formed during the volcanic eruption on December 25 of 1988, and reaches a height of 190 meters from its base.
The hike to the crater is not technical; but you’ll do require mountain gear to climb it in winter as it is covered in snow. However, in summer (from November to Early April), the trekking doesn’t require any gear.
Regarding difficulty, it is relatively short, and takes approx. 2 to 4 hours back and forth depending on your walking pace. It is ideal for families with young children, or people with not a lot of hiking experience.
From the top, you can enjoy a panoramic view over the foothills of the Lonquimay Volcano. In addition to the lava field, extended araucarias tree forests, along with view over the Tolhuaca and the Callaqui Volcanoes.
Coloradito trail hike – Malalcahuello National Reserve
The Coloradito trail, located at the Malalcahuello National Reserve, is a place shaped by tectonic and volcanic processes with an interesting and endemic fauna and flora.
This trail is a good alternative featuring typical landscapes of the Andes mountain range under the watchful eye of the Lonquimay Volcano.
All along the way, you’ll pass through forests of endemic trees such as the araucaria and the lenga tree surrounded by the ground vegetation with a predominance of michay, quila and viola trees.
Called “El Coloradito”, it is unique access to the Lonquimay Volcano that ending near the Coloradito River. The landscape is dominated by the presence of the Lonquimay Volcano and the Sierra del Colorado. During the hike, you can observe the Llaima Volcano and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
Sierra Nevada hike – National Park Conguillio
The Conguillio National Park is one of the most outstandings places Chile has to offer. With the stunning Llaima Volcano, Sierra Nevada, lagoons everywhere, araucarias tree forests, endemic fauna and flora, it is a must-see for everyone who wants to visit Southern Chile.
The national park has a wide variety of trails, but without a doubt, the Sierra Nevada hike is the most accessible and offers a wider range of landscape, enough to get a good idea of the natural richness existing in the region.
The Sierra Nevada trail begins from one of the most beautiful beaches of the Conguillio Lake, passes through a spectacular endemic forest with several viewpoints facing the lake along the way. After 3 hours, the trail reaches a clear and an out-of-the woods viewpoint facing the Llaima Volcano and the Conguillío Lake.
The hike is not technical, but does require a minimum of good health as the path can sometimes be steep. In winter, the trail is covered in snow, requiring mountain gear and good hiking experience.
This 10-kilometer long hike is recommended for active people.
Andean Lagoons hike – Villarrica National Park
Close to the Argentinean Border, and located at the foothills of the Lanín Volcano, this trail called “Lagos Andinos” is a must-see of the Villarrica National Park. During this amazing hike, suited for families, you’ll visit 3 lagoons in a large endemic forest with Coihues and Araucarias trees and end up in a volcanic landscape dominated by the majestic Lanín Volcano.
The hike begins at the shores of the Quillelhue Lagoon at 1200 meters above sea level. After 40 minutes of hiking on a flat terrain, you’ll arrive at the Huinfiuca Lagoon, the perfect spot for picnic.
While you visit the park you will witness how the Lanin volcano has permanently shaped the landscape of the area with its eruptions and you’ll have the fantastic opportunity to see and walk on the lava flows that once came from the heart of the earth. You’ll also visit the pristine lakes Quillelhue, Escondido (Hidden) and Huinfiuca with its clear waters that reflect stunning colors.
That is to say, the hike is not technical and only requires a minimum of good health.
Huerquehue National Park
The Huerquehue National Park is located at the foothills of the Andes, 35 km (22 miles) from Pucón. The park covers 12.500 hectares (30.890 acres) with various lagoons, dense vegetation and gigantic trees that are the habitat of several endemic birds.
The hike, called “Sendero Los Lagos” starts easy but after a short distance the trail becomes rougher and sometimes steeper, but is still considered a relatively easy hiking level.
On your way to the lakes, you’ll get to see the Nido de Aguilas (nest of eagles) waterfall before the terrain gets steeper, surrounded by gigantic coigües (Nothofagus dombeyi) and mañíos (Podocarpus nubigena).
The first lookout point is where you’ll get to appreciate the views of Villarrica Volcano (2.847 m / 9.349 feet) and Tinquilco Lake which are absolutely stunning; here you’ll find great photo opportunities as well as chance to reenergize with a snack.
If you’re lucky, you can spot some birds that live in the forests of Nothofagus, such as chucao tapaculo (Selorchilis rubecula), black-throated huet-huet (Pteroptochos tarnii) and the magellan woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) among others.
Once you pass the Trufulco falls, the hike gets a little more demanding. Once you’re over 1000 meters above sea level, you’ll see the first araucarias trees. You’ll then walk through a mixed forest before arriving at the first lake called Lago Chico. It is characterized by its clear waters reflecting the image of hundreds of araucarias, and the snow-capped peaks around.
After visiting the different lakes, you can then start to turn around and walk back to the entrance of the park.
El Cañi Reserve
El Cañi Reserve is located approximately 21 kilometers from Pucón. This 500-acre private reserve committed to the preservation of the Araucaria Araucania tree species.
This hike, although not technical, does require an overall good physical condition since you’d be constantly walking on a steep terrain until arrival to the final viewpoint. It starts with approx. 1,5 kilometer of flat terrain, and from there you’ll start the stiff climb for 3 more kilometers.
You’ll then arrive at Aserradero Refuge (1000 meters above sea level). It is the entrance of the reserve, with the first panoramic views over the valley and flora. You’ll pass through the Las Totoras Lagoon, Negra Lagoon surrounded by the thousands-year-old Araucaria, Lengua and Coihue trees.
The final path climbs until you arrive at the final viewpoint, your reward. You’ll have a 360° panoramic view over 4 volcanoes, two lakes and the valleys around the Reserve.
Moreover, you can walk around a small path that starts at Laguna negra and takes you to 6 mores lagoons.
Villarrica Volcano Ascent
Without a doubt, the Villarrica Volcano (2800 meters) ascent is a must-do activities if you plan to visit Pucón. As of today, it is one of the most active volcanoes in South America. The climb to its open crater is definitely a one of a lifetime experience.
The adventure starts at approx. 6 am, when the van takes you to the ski center located at 1.300 meters. After putting on your mountain gear, the hike begins with 2 options: use the chairlift, or start walking immediately.
Depending on your walking pace, it will take you approx. 4-5 hours to reach the open crater. From there, you’ll get to have an incredible 360° panoramic view over volcanoes, lakes, mountains and valleys around.
The descent consists in sliding down until the base of the Volcano (approx. 2 hours) where the van awaits you before taking you back to Pucón for a well-deserved rest.
Pichillancahue Glacier hike – Villarrica National Park
The hike to Pichillancahue is not very famous but will surely take your breath away for its landscape. This is a hike suitable for everyone who seeks connection with nature, from children to elder adults.
This Glacier is located at the Villarrica National Park, Coñaripe side. Youll get to see several majestic snow-capped volcanoes such as Quetrupillan and Rucapillan. The vegetation changes from raulí and hualle forests to araucarias as you ascend to Chinay. The highest point of the day at 1.250 meters / 4.101 feet altitude.
After approximately 1.5 hour of hiking, you’ll arrive at the Pichillancahue Glacier trail. A good spot to relax and eat a good snack to refill energy if needed. The rest of the trail (3.5 hours round trip) leads to a phenomenal glacier covered by black volcanic ashes. Once again, you’ll be able to enjoy the stunning views of four volcanoes.
This hike is not technical and does not require any mountain gear. The best hiking time is during summer season.
Visiting Chile’s Lake and Volcano District is definitely a must-do for every hiker & nature lovers.
The Lake and Volcano District is located in Southern Chile covering the area from Temuco to Puerto Varas. Considered a true paradise on earth for every hiking lover. you will fall in love with the incredible national parks. If you are a true lover, you will fall in love with the hiking surrounded by endemic loval & flaura.
As a result, we made you a list of the best national parks to add on your travel bucket list.
Nahuelbuta National Park
Founded in 1941, the Nahuelbuta national park is located on the highest zone of the Nahuelbuta Cordillera, in the Araucanía Region. One of the last strongholds where lives the Araucaría Araucana, it has beautiful hiking trails and natural lookout points.
The park covers an area of 6832 hectares, characterized by big forests of araucaria trees, most of them are thousands-year-old. Actually, it was founded in order to protect the Araucaria tree that is native of the Andes mountain range.
You can hike 2 main walking trails in the Nahuelbuta national park. The first one is Piedra El Águila located 1.460 meters above sea level. There, you can find a lookout point with a spectacular view over the Andes mountain range, the valley, the Pacific coast and ocean. Second, the Cerro Anay (1.450 m.s.n.m) offers a 5-kilometer hiking trail with stunning panoramic views over Los Nevados de Chillán, and the Villarrica volcano.
Conguillío National Park
The Conguillío national park is located 148 kilometers north-east of the city of Temuco. It covers a total area of 60.832 hectares. In Mapundungun, it’s “ko-nquillio” which means “pine nuts in the water”. The name is based upon the abundance of the araucaria trees and the surrounding lakes shaping the landscape of the park.
With an average of 100.000 visitors per year, the Conguillio national park receives an average of 100.000 visitors a year, making it one of the most visited parks of Chile. Recently, it was designated by the BBC as one of the last places on earth protecting the landscape where once lived the dinosaurs.
The famous hiking trail is the Sierra Nevada with amazing views over the Conguillío Lake, Blanco River and the Llaima Volcano. With an area covering approximately 60.883 hectares, the park is also part of the Araucaria Biosphere Reserve.
Villarrica National Reserve
Located in The Andes mountain range, the Villarrica national park is a protected wildlife area. The impressive volcanoes, stunning endemic tree forests, rivers and lake are the top components of the landscape. The Villarrica Volcano (2.847 m.) is the main touristic attraction.
In addition, you can also appreciate the Quetrupillan (2.382 m.) and Lanín (3.776 m.) volcanoes. During winter, it is possible to ski the Villarrica volcano. The ascent to the top is also available all year long, depending on the weather conditions. At the foothills, there are various hiking trails leading to amazing lookout points.
Finally, The park boasts a total of 63.000 hectares of endemic tree forests such as araucaria, raulí, lenga, etc. The forested areas allow the existence of a diverse fauna like puma, chilla fox, pudu deer, and the small native marsupial monito del monte, among others.
Huerquehue National Park
The huerquehue national park is located in the foothills of the Andes mountain range, in the Araucanía Region of Chile. It has a an area of 12.500 hectares composed of hills and moutains surrounding small lakes and lagoons of cristaline water.
In Mapundungun, the Mapuche’s native language, it means “place of messengers”. This park was created in 1967 with terrains unoccupied by the colons.
There are 2 main hiking trails available in the Huerquehue. First, los Lagos Trail, is an easy 12-kilometer long in which you can visit waterfalls, lagoons along with stunning views over the Caburgua Lake and the Villarrica volcano. The second, is the San Sebastian Trail, of an intermediate level of difficulty. The hiking trail is approximately 13-kilometer long. The final reward of the hike is the panoramic views over the surrounding volcanoes (Lanín, Villarrica, Quetrupillan, Llaima) and the Tinquilco and Caburgua Lakes.
If you consider visiting this amazing district during your trip in Chile, we highly suggest you to come in spring/summer. The main reason is the weather. During winter (June to September), it rains and snows in the region, covering all of the hiking trails with snow, making the use of raquets mandatory. In Spring and summer (october to March), it is the ideal time as the weather offers the perfect hiking conditions, and the trails are all cleared.
In fall (April to May), it is a true spectacle of colors. The leaves of the endemic trees lose their green color and slowly switches to yellow and red colors.
If you loved this article and are interested in visiting one of the best parts of Chile, contact us and we will give all the information regarding our hiking tours available