Riding up towards Santiago is just great fun. You can stick to the main highway, The Pan-Americana, or you can use it to make the miles and then grab one of the small East-West roads to explore and enjoy Chile from coast to mountains.
The mountains almost always mean volcanoes- and classic looking ones at that.
And by riding up into towns dotted around them, you get some amazing camping. Waking up on a beach and being able to lay out your maps and plan your route for the day never gets old.
Riding in the off season, while a little cooler, also means that you don’t really have to worry about booking a site you want to stay in. If it’s open, it’ll have space… And if its closed, well odds are you just get to camp for free! There is a joy in camping where every night you get to pick the view out of your bedroom window- especially like this one where I had this view for free and just had to slip the off-season maintenance guy a couple of coins to have access to the hotels toilets and showers.
Mind you, camping also means living close to the ground and so various creepy crawlies will doubtlessly raise their carapaces from time to time. This time however, I wasn’t prepared for it at all.
A scorpion in one of panniers?! Okay, sure way up north in the jungle I was used to them, but I haven’t had a night above freezing for weeks! Where did this guy come from? Was he just hibernating in my bike and finally woke up with the warm afternoon sun? Wherever he came from, I was back on bug duty, checking my boots, sleeping bag, and anything that might hide a little friend before I used it!
Still, having a morning ride on good tar and then finishing the day with a ride into the mountains was pretty fantastic.