Take a hundred-kilometer inland detour to explore the foothills of the Andes
Dist: 187 km; Date: Mar 2014
Leave the costa city of La Serena riding inland on Ruta 41. After 63 km you’ll reach Vicuña. Here head south on unpaved D-445. For a couple kilometers you’ll pass along fields of what I believe are for olive and grape cultivation and then quite suddenly you’ll find yourself quite alone in the arid foothills. The D-445 is mostly wide and well-maintained dirt road that gently follows the terrain. In fact, this is a fantastic route for the less-experienced (or skilled) off-road rider as we were at the time.
After about 45 lovely kilometers, you’ll reach the town of Río Hurtado. From here you continue on the D-595 for another 6 km where you can follow a short path to the Hacienda Los Andes. If it’s not the only accommodations around then it’s certainly far from the cheapest but it offers an extremely pleasant environment with a private observatory for nighttime use and, I believe, horseback riding. Also, this route is too lovely to blow through it in a day so make the right decision and stop here for the night.
At Hacienda Los Andes you’ve returned to settlements and civilizations. From here on south you’ll encounter one town after another with the first of these being Las Perdices after only about 3 km. it’s another 18 km to Fundina and somewhere around here the D-595 discovered asphalt. From here on it’s a pleasant, meandering ride along the Río Hurtado until, passing the Recoleta Reservoir, you reach Ruta 43 and the city of Ovalle.