Oliven Reiser announces its Chilean cycling route

On March 9th, 2020, the first group of Norwegian cyclists will arrive in Santiago for their 2-week cycling holiday in Chile.

Oliven Reiser has now announced the first date for its Chilean route, developed by Cycly. The announcement was made on Oliven Reiser’s newsletter, in an article written by its founder, Helge Pedersen. Here is the translation from Norwegian:

Chile, our new cycling project in Latin America!

It will be to your liking.

Argentina and Uruguay were well received by Oliven Reiser customers in 2018-19. We believe that Chile, too, in every aspect, will be a success. Hector and I made the final adjustments to the route in March, when we drove or pedalled the track.

We would like to invite you to this exceptionally long country, to cycle through three mighty and scenic valleys. A lush landscape blessed by the fertile lowlands, which provide a wealth of products, while enabling visits to the vineyards and delicious lunches with enthusiastic local producers. We are very pleased with the accommodations we found. We will cycle through relatively easy terrain, which we have classified as a moderate route.

First night in Santiago

We will begin our journey in the Maipo Valley, south of Santiago, starting at Pirque and then moving southeast along the Maipo River. We will spend two nights in the area.

The Colchagua Valley, in the heart of the O’Higgins region, reveals itself 200 kilometers to the south. It is an iconic valley for Chilean winemaking. We will stay in the colonial city of Santa Cruz for two days, riding along peaceful rural roads on the wine route. The grape harvest, which takes place in March, is an attraction in itself.

Combination of cultural and natural landscape

We will then travel north to visit the cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. We will witness the legacy of Pablo Neruda and a myriad of artistic murals on the facades, and stay in a hotel by the sea. One night.

Then we will travel north to the region of Coquimbo and the Elqui Valley, on the southern edge of the Atacama Desert. Few have seen anything like it, I dare say. We will certainly need a few good days on the bike to process the impressions.

And what a sky! For those who want to observe the night firmament, there is practically no better place in the world. We will get an introduction to astronomical observation. Four nights in the area, in Vicuña and Alcohuaz, respectively.

Last night in Santiago.

Date of travel to Chile: March 8 to 21, 2020

By Helge Pedersen, founder, Oliven Reiser AS. “

I was delighted to read Helge’s description on the company newsletter. When we were travelling through the slope, as part of his inspection, he would sometimes stop to have a good look at spots of particular natural beauty and write a note. Somewhere in the Elqui Valley, after contemplating the colossal mountains against the blue skies, the green fields and clear rivers, he told me: “You know, I’ve been all around the world, but I have seen few places this beautiful”. I made this short video while cycling with Helge in Diaguitas, in the lower part of the Elqui Valley. And here is a 2-minute professional video production. You will get the idea!

March 8th 2020 will indeed be a fantastic day for me, when I welcome the Norwegian cyclists as tour leader for the group. Here you can see the full tour description. Looking forward to it!

Hector Pizarro

Screen captures of the newsletter:

Valparaíso – “The jewel of the Pacific”

Built on 43 hills, Valparaíso is a bohemian city, vibrant and colorful, with murals everywhere, that fascinate the foreign visitor.

Located between the sea and the mountains, 120 kilometers from Santiago, Valparaíso is a city whose houses climb the surrounding hills, covering the landscape of hills and cliffs on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It is Chile’s main port and the seat of its legislative power, Congress.

The lifts

The city can be described as a labyrinth of cobblestone and steep streets, which does not pose a major problem, given an adequate road infrastructure, with good public transportation services, in addition to its famous funiculars, also known as elevators.

In 2003, the historic center of the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, that decided to highlight several exceptional aspects of Valparaíso, in particular its living industrial heritage, the elevators, which are unique in the world.

The lifts and funiculars of Valparaíso make up a functioning transportation system. In 1883, it was decided to create a new means of transportation to facilitate the mobilization of the city’s inhabitants, who day by day had to climb dozens of steps to go down or up to their respective jobs and homes. Around 30 lifts were created in this way, and scattered throughout the city. A total of 16 elevators are still active today, all of them declared National Historic Monuments, but of this group only 7 are in operation.

Murals – all the streets, a museum

Valparaíso can also be described as an open-air museum where historic buildings and European architecture dwellings coexist with countless murals. Artists of all kinds meet in the city, in a festive atmosphere that captivates the visitor.

Murals are one of the distinguishing features of this harbour city. Everywhere; walls, facades and stairs, corners and alleys, the visitor will find works of street art. If you wish, you can paint one, although a municipal permit is required.

Such is the relevance and character of the street murals, that in fact there is the Open Sky Museum of Valparaíso, in Bellavista. One of the most unique attractions of the city, consisting of a route through the 20 most famous paintings.

Architectural heritage

It is worth visiting the lively Plaza de Sotomayor, also known as Plaza Cívica, which marks the geographical point where the Pacific entered on land until the pier was built. In the square come together different architectural styles and emblematic buildings such as the old Post Office or the one that housed the first Commercial Exchange of Chile. There is also the imposing monument to the Héroes of Iquique, a naval battle, and the Prat pier on the coastal edge.

Cerros with countless tales

The cerros (hills) Alegre and Concepción are the most visited, due to their visual appeal and the museums and cultural heritage they house. There are also art galleries, churches, plazas, shops and handcrafted jewellery stores where copper, silver and gold are the raw materials of original designs.

On the hills there are also stately mansions, such as the Astoreca Palace, now a luxury hotel, and the Baburizza Museum, an art deco mansion easily recognisable by its green roof and which today houses an important art collection.

Sitting on a side of Cerro Concepción is the peculiar Hotel Brighton, one of the oldest and most traditional of the city, recognizable by its colonial architecture with orange facade and its distinctive green roof.

On Cerro Bellavista you will find La Sebastiana, one of the houses of the poet Pablo Neruda, now a museum that offers magnificent views over the Pacific.


Valparaíso is also known for its great gastronomic variety. In its hills there are plenty of restaurants and cafes, some with live music.

Being a seaport, in Valparaíso the visitor will find a great variety of fish and seafood. The caldillo de congrio (cod soup, to which Pablo Neruda even dedicated an ode), machas a la parmesana (clams with melted cheese), empanadas de camarón (shrimp empanadas) and ostiones al pil pil (scallops with garlic and chilli), are some of the most characteristic dishes, not only of the city, but of the whole country.

So, why “Jewel of the Pacific”?

“La Joya del Pacífico” is a popular waltz composed by Chileans Víctor Acosta and Lázaro Salgado. It has become an antonomic expression for this city. It was recorded in 1966 by the local singer Jorge Farías, who later popularized it all over the hills of Valparaíso, making it an icon of its inhabitants.

I recommend this excellent article on Valparaíso published by The Guardian. “Think mini Berlin by the seaside“…. well, that says a lot.

We invite you to visit Valparaíso with Cycly. Certainly, the city’s shape and relief makes it advisable to park the bicycles this day and rather explore it on foot. You will get the exercise anyway, promise!

By Cycly staff

Santiago, a captivating city

Santiago is much more than the entry point to Chile for visitors on their way to the icons of Chilean tourism, such as the Torres del Paine, the Atacama Desert or Easter Island.

The Chilean capital is a cosmopolitan city that captivates. The old and the modern harmoniously converge in it. It is a vibrant city that encourages the use of its public spaces and green areas, inviting residents and visitors to explore it.

With the Andes Mountain Range as a backdrop, it is a city with large parks, such as the Bicentennial Park, where you can appreciate one of the best views of modern Santiago; Quinta Normal, with its artificial lagoon, pedal boats and two great museums, the Natural History Museum and the Railway Museum. There is also the Park O’Higgins and Cerro San Cristóbal, which can be accessed on foot, by car, bicycle, cable car or funicular; and Parque Padre Hurtado, to name but a few of the largest and most frequently visited by tourists; not to mention Cerro Santa Lucía – in fact an inactive volcano – situated in the city centre.

We cyclists have been pleased to note that bicycle lanes in the metropolitan region have increased by 74% in the last five years, with 200 kilometres of new lanes. In total, there are 346 kilometres of bicycle lanes in Santiago, linking 33 the city’s 34 communes. The popularity of the bicycle, as a means of transportation that promotes physical activity and helps decontaminate the environment, is increasing every day, not only in Santiago, but throughout the country.

Santiago de Chile is a city that was founded and grew at the foot of the longest and second highest mountain range on the planet, the Andes, and is located just over an hour’s drive from the best sport winter centres in South America. The beautiful coastline, with its excellent beaches and natural scenery, is also within an hour’s drive along modern motorways.

Santiago has changed considerably in recent years, readying itself to receive an ever-increasing number of foreign visitors. This growing popularity as a tourist destination is supported by some of the most important publications in the world. Today, Santiago is the third most popular tourist destination in South America, behind Rio de Janeiro and Machu Picchu, according to Imagen de Chile, a government agency that promotes the country’s positioning abroad.

Chile’s capital is also a modern international business hub with a wide and varied first-class hotel network – with more than 8,000 rooms in 70 four- or five-star hotels -, restaurants, and convention centres, with access to multiple visitor services.

The National Geographic Traveler magazine chose it as one of the 21 recommended destinations to visit in 2018 – placing it in 12th place in the rankings -, which were chosen under strict criteria that prioritize heritage preservation, cultural commitment, environmental conservation and the possibility of offering visitors exciting itineraries.

Meanwhile, the well-known reference guide for independent travelers, Lonely Planet, placed Santiago as the number one destination in its Best in Travel category for 2018.

Santiago de Chile is the smartest city in Latin America, according to an analysis conducted by IESE Business School’s Globalisation and Strategy Department. In the study, Santiago ranks 66th worldwide among the smartest cities. The study’s positions are assigned based on 96 indicators, distributed into nine main areas, among which the following stand out: human capital, social cohesion, economy, governance, environment, mobility and transportation, public management, international outreach and technology. In the sixth version of this ranking, the city catalogued as the most intelligent in Latin America is Santiago de Chile (66), followed by Buenos Aires (77), and completing Montevideo completing the podium (92).

In the field of the arts, Santiago’s offering is usually of international quality in museums, theatres and concert halls. Additionally, anyone who has walked the streets of Santiago has witnessed the street art performances that break the routine, to the delight of inhabitants and visitors.

The typical gastronomy is well represented in municipal markets, among which La Vega Central stands out. The gastronomy site The Daily Meal listed the 45 best markets in the world where La Vega Central ranked fourth behind La Boquería (Barcelona), Borough Market (London) and Noryangiin Fish Market (Seoul).

In sum, Santiago offers a great international gastronomic diversity that combined with the well-known Chilean wines result in unforgettable experiences for the palate. Wine, which is a chapter we will cover separately, has been present in Chile’s history since colonial times, and has earned a prominent place in the nation’s cultural and heritage environment. About fifty vineyards near Santiago or within the city are open to tourism. Some are very large and century-old, and their products are found in many parts of the world. Others are small boutique vineyards that produce very high quality wines.

Santiago is a captivating city indeed.

By Cycly staff