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Some of the most beautiful, remote and culturally rich destinations in Central and South America are best accessed by bicycle. The combination of thrill, challenge and camaraderie found on the following bicycling tours makes each one an unforgettable experience for the adventurous traveler.
Mayan Highlands Ranked as one of the best adventure travel companies by National Geographic, Sacred Rides offers single-track rides for experienced bikers, multisport rides for beginners and 2-8-day skill camps for anyone looking to improve their biking technique. Out of Sacred Rides’ countless destinations, Guatemala’s Mayan Highlands ride is the most intense. With 5,000-foot vertical climbs and thrilling downhill stretches, Sacred Rides warns that this trip is strictly for riders with “legs of steel and lungs of iron.” Aside from riding through Central America’s highest mountain range, Sierra de Los Cuchumatanes, bikers get the chance to see remote Mayan villages where the traditional culture is still thriving. The 10-day trip starts at $2,208 and is scheduled for Nov. 16- 25 and Dec. 1-10.
Andes to the AmazonFeatured in National Geographic Traveler’s 50 Tours of a Lifetime in 2008, the Andes to Amazon BikeHike Adventures trip takes a multisport approach to travelling through Ecuador’s wilderness and Quechua villages. From the trip’s starting point, the Altiplano Plateau in the Andes, to the rainforest of the Amazon Basin, adventurers bike, hike, whitewater raft, inner tube and horseback ride through some of Ecuador’s most beautiful terrain. Some highlights of the trip include hiking the rim of the crater lake Cuicocha, downhill biking through indigenous villages, rafting the waves of the Jatunyacu River, mountain biking the lakeshore of San Pablo and horseback riding through the foothills of Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. The trip lasts 10 days and prices start at $ 2,599. Upcoming dates are Oct. 10-19 and Nov. 1-10.
Unexplored ChileWith a dedication to travelling in “The Wild Style,” Wildland Adventures gives travelers the opportunity to explore Chile in a way that is fun, active and, above all, authentic, a component the company promotes by including a cultural visit with a local family on its trips. On this multisport adventure, bikers will not lack the opportunity to do what they love most. Among the rafting, hiking and horseback riding, the itinerary includes mountain biking in Vincente Perez Rosales National Park around the Osorno volcano and through Torres del Paine National Park. The 13-day trip starts at $4,500 and is scheduled to depart about two times per month.
Andes CrossOne former biker on MTB Tours’ Andes Cross trip likened the experience to “riding on the moon surrounded by great people, food and memorable views.” Cycling through the Andes Mountain Range, The Andes Cross trip follows the little-traveled Vergara Pass, starts in the Mendoza province of Argentina and ends in Curico, Chile. The trail’s challenging uphill climb throughout Argentina –– which reaches a maximum elevation of 8,070 feet above sea level –– is rewarded by exhilarating downhill riding once into Chile. Due to weather and path conditions, the trip only departs in January and February. The dates scheduled for 2014 are Jan 31-Feb 9, Feb 14- 23 and Feb 28-March 9. The trip starts at $1, 460.
MTB Tours www.mtbtours.com
Uruguay Coasts & VineyardsAnother award winner, this National Geographic Trip of a Lifetime is for those occasional bikers whose idea of a good time is staying in luxury hotels and drinking wine — a lot of it. Duvine guides take riders from winery to winery on this seven-day bike tour through Uruguay. In the midst of all the drinking and biking are a few additional activities including a cooking class, a visit to the museum of Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro and exclusive access to one of Uruguay’s private national parks, Parque Anchorena, where you can cycle amidst a herd of thousands of deer in their natural habitat. The next departure date for Uruguay Coasts & Vineyards is Oct. 27. The tour starts at $4,995.