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TourSur – Info – Paso Sico

30. May 2014


This page gives rough and short information for other cyclists about the route we took in May 2014 from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile to Salta in Argentina. Crossing Reservas Nacional Los Flamencos, entering Argentina at Paso Sico and going to Salta via San Antonio de los Cobres. 550 kilometers in total, about half of it on gravel road. The information focus on supply points - orientation is easy, the gravel road is in general not that bad, climbing not that much (except going up to "plateau level").


  • be fully acclimatized. do not underestimate the altitude. within the core section you will always be between 4.000 and 4.600 meters.
  • carry always enough water and food. do not rely on a single supply point!
  • there have been just a few cars a day, in the border area for 2 days no car at all! so be self sufficient. do not rely on quick help from other people.
  • although the weather seems to be often clear and sunny, do not underestimate bad weather conditions. we unfortunately had to experience extremely strong wind (general from west to east), low temperature, icy-cold wind, snow and snow storm. one afternoon we nearly failed in putting up our tent (which could have been fatal as there have been no cars passing!) because of tornado-like storm. going in the other direction during these weather conditions is impossible.

We got information from the following website. Thank you very much for your effort!

On this website, additional information about this route can be found here:


Route description

Please note that i have taken all information carefully. But nevertheless i will take no responsibilities for any wrong information or mistakes. The situation can also change during the time. Check carefully with locals before heading off.

Situation from May 2014

point no. point km km total road condition remarks
1 San Pedro de Atacama – Immigración 0 0 paved road shops, hotels, restaurants, gasoline. touristy, but it is not a big place though.
NOTE: you have to get your exit stamp here, there is no immigration office on chile side behind San Pedro!
head straight after immigration (sign says: „Paso Sico“and „Toconao“, left to Paso Jama and Bolivia)
2 Toconao 39 39 paved road shops (one is on the main road), most likely Hostal(s), but we did not check
the main climb up to the plateau starts about 33 km behind Toconao and ends about 10 km behind Socaire
3 Socaire 53 92 paved road shops, restaurant, hostal
4 end of asfalt 39 131 paved road 5 km further you reach the top of a ridge
5 Aguas Calientes 25 156 gravel road after a short climb and descend you reach Lago Tuyaito. from there gradual climbing
6 El Laco 34 190 gravel road a few houses to the left. 2 very nice people live here, they will most likely offer you water and even a bed. but do not rely on it, and please do not take advantage of them.
climbing proceeds for further 3 km, then down to the carabineros
7 carabineros 7 197 gravel road check of your passport, but there is no immigration (see point no. 1). maybe you get water, but they have to save the water for themselves.
after 3 kms down, 7 km climbing to pass. then just down to immigración Argentina
8 Paso Sico 23 220 gravel road border Chile/Argentina. nothing there except a few signs
9 Immigración Argentina 11 231 gravel road immigration and custom of Argentina. because of the weather we asked to camp there, and they offered us 2 beds! but water is more or less for the border crew.
you can turn left to Catua and then further on to Cauchari. we kept straigth on the main road (RN 51) directly to Cauchari – this route is a few km longer, but the road eventually(?) better.
after 40 km you reach top of a pass
10 Cauchari 57 288 gravel road abandoned village. nothing except wind protection for your tent
11 Olacapato 10 298 gravel road (bad washboard) shop, hostal. afterwards gradually climbing for 34 km to pass, then just down for 29 km
12 San Antonion de los Cobres 63 361 gravel road shops, hotels, restaurants, gas station, ATM.
afterwards an awfully long climb of 29 km starts, but you are gaining just a few hundred meters until you reach Abra Blanca. from there a big downhill to Salta
13 begin of asfalt 23 384 gravel road  
14 end of asfalt 94 478 paved road  
15 begin of asfalt 25 503 gravel road  
16 Salta 34 537 paved road center of Salta. big city with „everything“
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