Published on January 26th, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut
Cycling Tours in Latin America — Seeing the World on Two Wheels
Sometimes, feeling the wind in your hair and the physical challenge of powering yourself along the countryside is a more rewarding experience than sitting on a tour bus. That’s why cycling tours have become a popular option for travelers around the world. Latin America is no exception — so if you’re interested in seeing Mexico, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean from a whole new angle, here are some examples of interesting cycling tours that hit some of the hemisphere’s most beautiful vacation spots.
Questions to Ask:
• What’s included in the tour? (Meals, hotels, bicycle, cycling gear, other transportation?)
• What’s the level of experience/physical skills needed?
• Are there recommended ages for the tour?
• How large is the tour group?
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In Mexico, cycling tours are available from !El Tour, which offers what’s billed as a “no-frills, guided, self-supported bike tours” of the Pacific coast, the western Sierra Madre mountains, the Yucatan peninsula and the southern states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca. These guided Mexico cycling tours last for one, two and three weeks, and run between October and March (and sometimes in July), with difficulty levels ranging from light to challenging.
If you’re interested in exploring the region around San Miguel de Allende, consider Mexico Biking Tours, which offers mountain biking tours in that destination, with groups limited to six people and bed-and-breakfast accommodations included in the tour prices. The use of 21-speed bicycles is also included on these Mexico tours.
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World Expeditions offers cycling tours in both Central and South America. Its “Costa Rica Traverse” itinerary is a multi-activity tour of Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast, with trekking, cycling, kayaking and rafting. The 12-day itinerary includes cycling across the continental divide to Orosi, cycling and trekking to the Reventazon Valley and to the Pacuare River where you can go white-water rafting. In the Caribbean, World Expeditions offers a “Cuba by Bike” itinerary that includes cycling to Pinar del Río, through the Vinales Valley and in Soroa.
In South America, World Expeditions offers a 10-day “Cycle the Andes” tour in Peru that includes cycling across the great Chinchero Plateau to Ollantaytambo and cycling down to the Sacred Valley. Further south, the company has a “Chile – Bike, Hike and Raft” tour that includes a bike and wine tour of the Maipo Valley and a cycling expedition in the Valley of the Moon.
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Andean Trails, based in the United Kingdom, fields a wide variety of cycling tours in Latin America. Its 13-day “Emerald Mountains Road Cycling” tour of Colombia runs from Bogota to the Caribbean coast, including a visit to the famed coffee-growing region and a ride up Alto de Letras, which at 52 miles is billed as the longest climb in the cycling world. In Ecuador, you can explore one of the world’s most famous wildlife destinations during the “Galapagos Islands Biking Adventure,” which is designed for experienced cyclists and visits four islands, with a mix of challenging cross-island mountain bike rides and leisurely downhill rides.
Intrepid Travel offers an eight-day “Cycle Cuba” tour, with cycling through the lush valley of Soroa, stops at various scenic spots and a guided walking tour of historic Havana.
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A company called ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours, which has a U.S. head office in Colorado, offers itineraries in South America. Upcoming options include “Bicycling Northern Argentina,” scheduled for September 9-16 and priced at $3,495, which includes cycling through Argentina‘s Rio Grande Valley, part of the famous Inca Trail. The “grand finale” is a ride through the geological formations of Quebrada de las Conchas. A longer, 12-day itinerary called “Bicycling Northern Argentina Plus! Ruins of Quilmes” is available September 9-20, 2016. Priced at $4,445, the tour also includes cycling through the Rio Grande Valley as well as two hiking opportunities and a visit to the ruins at Quilmes.