On a rare cloudy Friday afternoon in Santiago, Vicky and I went on an E-bike tour of Santiago, taking in the sites with minimal effort - but still getting the rewarding feeling of powering your own adventure (sort of). E-Bikes are a great way to travel around a city like Santiago, especially if you are thinking of getting the best view from the top of Cerro San Cristobal without drenching yourself in sweat!
Fuenta Aleman (German Fountain) in Parque Forestal
The E-Bikes from Easy-Bici work in such a way that you are able to turn the small electric motor on at your leisure, to give you a helping hand up a hill or if you just want to keep a higher speed with less effort. The bikes we used had 3 options - the lowest is perfect for cruising around the city parks such as Parque Forestal - the motor also helps everyone to be at a similar speed so that when you are on a tour you can chat with your guide and learn about the history of Santiago. When you pedal the motor gives you a boost - or alternately you can use the throttle on the handlebars and then you don’t even need to pedal! However, we were not lazy enough for this option.
Easy-Bici themselves are an interesting company themselves and follow a very strict environmentally friendly way of doing business, with very small office spaces and their new idea of Green Stations - recycled shipping containers for storage of the bikes - they are really trying to promote a more sustainable way of doing tourism
Our tour began by cycling along the Mapocho river into the beautiful Parque Forestal. The park, full of towering Chilean trees as well as some gifted to Chile by other nations, also contains Santiago’s museum of modern art - Bellas Artes - which you can enter for free on your bike trip around the city. Before entering the park, we paused at the historic Plaza Baquedano, a focal point for celebration in the protest in the city. If you are lucky enough to visit the Museo del Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights) - during your stay in Santiago - then you can witness footage of what sort protests went on in this space during the reign of General Augusto Pinochet.
Bellas Artes Museum
From here you may explore Barrio Lastarria and it’s hip bars and cafes before checking out the famous fish market at Mercado Central. The highlight of the trip, and these awesome bikes - however - was the journey to the top of Cerro San Cristobal. Located in Parque Metropolitano (the 4th largest park in the world we discovered thanks to your guide), Cerro San Cristobal is a beautiful forested hill where you can escape from the noise of Santiago. Making your way to the top is quite tough work though, especially if you want to cycle. I personally often run up the hill after work which is a real challenge, and one which makes getting to the summit a real reward - but one which is difficult to appreciate because I am trying to hard just to breathe and stand up straight! The road loops around for 5km until you reach the summit, and riding the E-bikes was a real pleasure, you still get some exercise but it is not so demanding that you are too breathless to speak or appreciate the views. The views from San Cristobal are quite special - you witness the vastness of Santiago and then the surreal way in which the Andes just shoot out of the ground to tower over everything.
Cruising up Cerro San Cristobal
A part of the Parque Metropolitano which I had not discovered was the Pablo Neruda lookout. Up an adjacent hill to San Cristobal, the highest gear of the E-Bike’s motor dragged us up the steepest of the slopes we were to encounter - to a lookout and amphitheatre named after the Chilean poet. We were informed that there are often musical and theatrical performances up here, which must be an amazing experience in the evening considering the view from the top of the hill.
The best part of the tour was cruising down the hill back into Santiago after having soaked up the later afternoon vibes on top of the hill. The bikes are really solid and stable with very good disk brakes, so there are no worries about letting yourself gather a load of speed to get the wind blowing through your hair!