Bike The Andes
28 Nights / 29 Days
Day 1 Mendoza
For those travelling from NZ you can travel on LAN Airlines direct to Santiago with a connection to Mendoza. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel.
Mendoza, nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountain Range,famous for nearby Mount Aconcagua, for its Malbec wines and for being the cradle of the heroic deeds of Liberator General San Martín, Father of this nation, it is one of the most beautiful and neat cities in the country. The climate in Mendoza is moderate-temperate, though its mountains provide a certain degree of aridity. Argentina is the fifth largest wine producing country in the world and the city of Mendoza itself is the hub of the Argentinean wine industry. The city life and busy plazas are surrounded by thousands of bodegas (wineries) that lie on the outskirts of town with over 350,000 acres of vines.
Day 2 Mendoza (B, L)
This is a full day excursion into the mountainous landscape of Mendoza Province. The journey begins along route Nº7 going by Potrerillos Dam, Uspallata, las Bovedas, Mt Tunduqueral and the Ghost City of Paramillos. After arrival at Cruz de Paramillos and after our guide gives technical and security explanations, mount your bike for some uphill then a 29 km descent through the historical 365 curved road down to the Villavicencio Hotel, which opened its gates in 1940 and closed again in 1978. Affluent families from all round the country and from abroad would stay at the hotel to spend an entire season and enjoy the hot springs and their healing properties. Board our vehicle to begin the way back to Mendoza. 33 km of dirt & paved roads.
Day 3 Mendoza - Salta (B, L) Overnight Bus
A late morning start to tour around some of the bodegas (wineries) by bike. First stop the Nietoy Senetiner Winery which produces superb Malbecs. Then by bike to the Chacueta area, enjoying the scenery of the Andes riding along the Mendoza River Canyon. Enjoy a late leisurely lunch of Argentinian specialities then bike back to our lodge .Time to freshen up before travelling by overnight bus (fully reclining aircraft type seats, bus equipped with video & toilet on board). 53 km of dirt & paved roads (Should you prefer to fly to Salta we can arrange a flight for you at a surcharge of aprox NZ$350 ).
Day 4 Salta (B)
Our bus journey continues north this morning through vast olive, lemon and grape plantations to Salta. Transfer to our comfortable B&B. Afternoon at leisure.
The Hispanic architecture of the city makes it stand out from the other cities in the country. The colonial spirit from its inception is evident in its houses, streets, hundred-year-old monuments and narrow sidewalks surrounded by the mountains nearby.
Winter is warm and dry, with records of an annual average temperature of 22ºC.
Day 5 Salta (B)
Half day bike excursion to the Quebrada El Toro. For thousands of years, this ‘corridor’ was used by groups of people to move from place to place; hence, there are many archaeological sites. This circuit begins in the village of Campo Quijano known as The Andes Portal, the starting point of the excursion. The circuit runs the first part of the gorge, an area with deep canyons and lush vegetation in summer.
We cross a bridge, part of the route of the famous Train to the Clouds and marvel at the engineering work. Explore the the now abandoned stations, Rio Blanco and El Alisal. Arrive at a beautiful waterfall called "Chorro Blanco” then continue downhill for 6 km to meet the vehicle for our return to Salta.
35km of paved and dirt roads
This afternoon explore Salta at your leisure. The Museum in the main plaza is excellent!
Option – Train to the Clouds
It leaves from the train station in Salta and ends its route at La Polvorilla Viaduct. The railway reaches a height of 4,200 meters above sea level, making this train journey, one of the highest in the world. The train offers meals on board, translator services, and medical assistant for any passenger that may be affected by the lack of oxygen caused by the altitude. The trip lasts approximately sixteen hours, from 7am until midnight(or later). The train runs 217 km and passes through 29 bridges, 21 tunnels, 13 viaducts, 2 spirals, and 2 zigzags.There are two stops throughout the trip, one at San Antonio de los Cobres station and the other one at La Polvorilla viaduct.It leaves from the city of Salta, the lowest point, and from there it begins the upward journey until it reaches the highest and final point, at La Polvorilla Viaduct. At each station, local villagers, at picturesque stands, sell craftwork, clothes and regional products as interesting souvenirs of the trip. The train services include dining car, medical assistance, audio, video, and bilingual guides.
Day 6 Salta - Cachi (B, L)
Travel to the south of the city to the village that produces Virginia tobacco, El Carril. From there, we enter the Escoipe Gorge. After climbing the Cuesta del Obispo (Bishop Slope), we reach the Piedra Del Molino (3,348 m).
After admiring the views at the top, we mount our bikes and descend through the wonderful Camino de los Colorados (the Red Road), the name indicative slopes surrounding us, a painter’s palette of all the shades of red, a fantastic sight! We cycle through the Cardones National Park, the name given to the huge cacti that grow in the region. The cardones are protected. We arrive in Cachi, sleeping in a cozy hosteria.
50 km of dirt roads. Elevation gain: 230m Uphill 1390m downhill.
Day 7 Cachi - Molinos (B, L)
After breakfast, we ride 2 circuits in the environs of Cachi.
1. The Pailas Inside: We head towards the highest mountain in the area, the Nevado de Cachi (6380 mts), we reach “Cachi Adentro”, then cross to the archeological site of Las Pailas.
2) Airport and Cemetery Circuit, where the short excursions end. We prepare for the 55 km ride to Molinos.
We transit the right side of the Calchaqui River, visiting places such as La Paya and El Colte, to the birthplace of the handcraft of Salta, called The Way of the Artisans.
In Seclantas, we stop to gather the troops and tackle the hill to Molinos together, where we spend another night in the magical Calchaqui Valley, in a beautifully restored hacienda .
55 km of dirt roads.Elevation gain: 970m Uphill, 1448 m Downhill.
Day 8 Molinos - Cafayate (B, L)
After breakfast, we make a city tour of Molinos by bike, then travel by bus, 40 km to the village of Angastaco, along the legendary Route 40 which stretches the length of Argentina along the spine of the Andes, from the border with Bolivia down to Ushuaia, on the southern edge of the continent. This part of the journey gives us the opportunity to see the best examples of agricultural production in the Calchaqui Valley. The silence in the Valley and the spectacular scenery will captivate.
In Angastaco we start pedaling through the narrow Gorge of the Arrows (Quebrada de Las Flechas),one of the most amazing sites in the Argentine Northwest. The eroded cliffs and slopes, with the high Andes off in the distance; create an almost surreal landscape, dazzling all that come through here.
We arrived in San Carlos and continue by bus to the desert oasis of Cafayate, famous for its high altitude vineyards. The town of Cafayate is another highlight, the friendly inhabitants will make you welcome, as is the tradition of the Northwestern culture. Accomodation is a comfortable B&B
53 km of dirt & paved roads. Elevation gain: 550m Uphill, 560 m Downhill.
Day 9 Cafayate (B, L)
This morning an optional ride to the ruins of Quilmes. The ruins were inhabited by the Calchaquí natives who settled on the hillsides and on the mountain range called Calchaquí, from which the tribes got their name: Quilmes and Calchaquí.
This indigenous fortress is surprising, as the Quilmes Indians resisted the Inca and Spanish invaders for many years, from this location.
This afternoon we explore the town and visit some of the wineries by bike. 50 km of dirt & paved road. Elevation gain: 2000m Uphill, 1695 m Downhill
Day 10 Cafayate - Purmamarca (B, L)
Cycle through the Quebrada de las Conchas, another magical canyon offering enchanting landscapes of strange rock formations and eroded slopes exposing innumerable bands of colors. Similar to the US Western deserts, there are many rock formations to discover and the colours will change as the sun arches over and behind the canyon. We then continue by bus through the Lermas Valley and bypass Salta north, experiencing many changes in vegetation, to ascend into the Humahuaca Gorge region . Overnight in the picturesque small town of Purmamarca in a nice hosteria. 50 km of paved roads. Elevation gain: 550m Uphill, 560m Downhill.
Day 11 Purmamarca - Tilcara (B, L)
Another stunning day – we take an early morning ride around the 7 Colours Gorge with its amazing rock formations and explore the town by bike. Then by bus to Tilcara for another ride and a visit to the archaeological museum and Indian fortess .Tilcara lies at 2,465 ml on the banks of the Grande River. Its main square, pays homage to Colonel Manuel Álvarez Prado, is the meeting point for all the inhabitants of town. It is also the venue for a permanent market of local craftsmen from the entire Humahuaca Ravine, who offer visitors a wide variety of products and souvenirs. Surrounded by small restaurants, coffee-shops and handicrafts workshops, the square is the congregation point where concerts and peñas are often held. Accommodation in comfortable hosteria. 25km of dirt roadsL 12km circuit Purmamarca easy,13km Tilcara medium uphill.
Day 12 Tilcara - Bolivia Salt Flats (B, D)
A big travelling day, firstly by bus north through the Humahuaca Gorge with the colourful formations that continue in the mountains of the Humahuaca Ravine itself to La Quiaca. We cross the border into Bolivia and connect by train to Uyuni on the edge of the salt flats. Dinner included on board the train Transfer to our UNIQUE hotel. This hotel is one of the most extraordinary in the world, constructed out of blocks of salt. The Uyuni Salt lakes are an area of impressive beauty.
Day 13 Salt Flats (B, L)
Start the journey visiting the Train Cemetery and continue toward Colchani where you will visit the salt processing and distribution centers. Drive through the Uyuni Salt Flats and en route visit the “Eyes of Water” and see how people extract blocks of salt. Visit the first Hotel made of pure salt. After a 1 ½ hour drive, reach Coquesa township which is located at the base of the Thunupa Volcano, make a short hike visiting the mommies’ tomb, at least 900 years old. Continue the trip toward the Fish Island (Inkawasi) where you will find the tallest cactus in the world, walk up to the top of the island and enjoy the views of the Salt Flats of Uyuni.
Day 14 Salt Flats - La Paz (B)
Fly from Uyuni to La Paz Transfer to our centrally located hotel.
This afternoon a tour of the city including the area of the street markets, rich in handicrafts, weavings and witchcraft artifacts which represent the traditional beliefs of the Challa (ritual of offerings) and Pachamama (mother earth and symbol of fertility ).The tour goes through the colonial part of the city, San Francisco Church, Gold Museum, Murillo Square and the outdoor replica of Tiahuanaco temple. Leaving La Paz, you pass the southern residential areas until you enter into the Valley of the Moon with all of its natural geological formations.
Day 15 La Paz –World’s Most Spectacular Downhill Ride! (B, L)
A 1 day DOWNHILL ride of up to 65 km in length and with as much as 4,700m of vertical DESCENT to the jungle, with a few easy uphill sections and some flat parts! This ride starts at the highest point, through mountain grasslands, past grazing llamas and alpacas, through the mist of the cloud forest and into the jungle (1200m). After the ride relax at La Senda Verde Cabins and Animal Refuge, the home of rescued monkeys, parrots, a snake, and other wild life.The ride is characterised by incredible scenic and ecological variety, it’s a challenge, as well as being a lot of fun! This trip is run by a Kiwi who is based in La Paz, great bikes and most important, fantastic safety briefing and guides. This trip has become one of “the must do” excursions in South America.
Day 16 La Paz -Copacabana (B)
Day at leisure - time for optional tours to the pre Inca site of Tiwanacu .
Or Mountain Bike Mt Chacaltaya (once the world’s highest ski resort) quite possibly, is the trail
Later this afternoon by bus over the altiplano with views of snow-capped peaks to
Day 17 Topacabana - Puno (B, L)
Morning to explore Copacabana or an optional visit by boat to the Island of the Sun, cradle of the Andean civilization, believed to be where the sun rose out of the lake. A bit of a climb but the views are worth it. Return to Copacabana in time tor the bus to cross the border into Peru to our next destination, Puno. Overnight hotel.
Day 18 Puno - Cuzco (B, L)
Bus ride to Cuzco along the dramatic landscapes of the high plateau, with occasional views of tiny Andean villages and herds of llamas and vicunas. We will stop at the archaeological museum of Pukara (200BC-AD300) then at Raqchi, where there is an Inca temple built to worship Wiracocha, one of the most important Inca gods. Our last stop is at Andahuaylillas, where there is a beautiful baroque church built at the beginning of the XVIIth century. It is renowned for its beautiful mural paintings. Arrive in Cuzco late afternoon and transfer to our centrally located hotel.
Day 19 Cuzco (B)
Take a walking tour of this lovely city. Cuzco is an incredible experience. The countryside is exceptionally beautiful, 3300m above sea level, here you will encounter a fine blend of Spanish and Inca cultures, colourful Quechua Indian markets, Inca temples and massive stone walls which form the foundations of the city, originally from Sacsayhuaman. Explore the Koricancha, a major Inca Temple and some of the streets, which are lined with intricate stonework, impressive workmanship, which is sure to impress. Afternoon free.
Day 20 Cuzco - Sacred Valley (B, L)
Our bus will take you to the Laguna Huaypo near the village of Chinchero. This is the starting point of our ride today. On old Inca trails you will cross the altiplano of Chinchero until reaching the ruins of Moray (3,450 m). The circular terraces of Moray had been an agricultural “research laboratory” of the Inca. The Inca took advantage of the difference in temperature from one terrace to the other one (approx 1.5 C) and created an irrigation system by water channels for the cultivation of different crop strains. On the other side of the Urubamba Valley you will see dramatic the snowcaps of the cordilleras Vilcabamba and Urubamba. After visiting the terraces of Moray nearly 20 km Andean downhill are waiting for you! In the afternoon you will reach the salt mines of Pichingote, which have been used since pre-Hispanic times. Enjoy this extraordinary sight as well as the single trails leading you down to the Sacred Valley of the Inca. You will stay in a charming hotel which is a restored monastery in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. 35km of dirt road.
Day 21 Sacred Valley (B, L)
Leaving the Sacred Valley you will bike on a small road and reach the Lares Pass above the village of Calca on 4,400 m. Surrounded by the snow capped mountains of the Cordillera Urubamba, you will start your mountain bike downhill on an old Inca trail back to the Sacred Valley of the Inca. This Inca trail leads you through secluded Andean communities, over Inca steps and narrow bridges, off the beaten track. Return to our hotel. 40 km of dirt road.
Day 22 Sacred Valley – Agua Calientes – Optional Hike Inca Trail (B)
You will be transferred to the railway station to travel by train to Agua Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. Explore the town, have a soak in the nearby thermal pools .Overnight hotel.
For those wanting to experience the Inca Trail take the train to KM104 where you disembark to begin the full day hike to Machu Picchu . The one-day hike from Chachabamba to Machu Picchu is an excellent alternative to the full Inca Trail trek .Enjoy a beautiful day of moderate hiking en route to Machu Picchu. On the 9.6km hike from the trailhead at the Vilcanota River footbridge, ascend a total of 800m. Just prior to reaching Winya Wayna ruins you will reach a spectacular waterfall in a delightful cloud forest glade which offers the possibility of a refreshing shower on a hot day. This merges with the regular Inca Trail at Winya Wayna ruins. From Winya Wayna, most hikers take 1.5 hours for the mainly level walk along the spectacular Inca Trail to the final overlook at Inti Punku, the Gate of the Sun (2,700 m). With typical stops for lunch (included) and photography, overall walking time is 6-7 hours. After arrival at Machu Picchu descend by bus to Agua Calientes.
Day 23 Machu Pichu - Sacred Valley (B, L)
Another early morning start by bus up the Hiram Bingham zig zag road to Machu Picchu, suddenly before you, like a gigantic postcard, the Lost City of the Incas. Later this afternoon return by rail to Ollantaytambo and transfer to your hotel.
Day 24 Sacred Valley - Tres Cruces (B, L, D)
Travel from the Sacred Valley of the Incas through to the Andean Highlands with its traditional communities. From the highest pass (4170 m) of this mountain bike tour you will enjoy the first downhill, passing wide landscapes and small Andean villages until reaching the colonial village of Paucartambo (2900 m). After climbing up to the Acjanaco-pass (3550 m), the last pass and entrance to the Manu National Park, you will reach the viewpoint Tres Cruces de Oro (3700 m). This place offers a great view over the eastern slopes of the Andes and the green canopy of the Amazon Jungle. Camp at the viewpoint. 50 km of dirt road.
Day 25 Tres Cruces - Manu National Park (B, L, D)
Early risers will be able to observe a spectacular sunrise, being surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Vilcanota and Cordillera Urubamba. You will look over the Andes to the Amazon Rainforest that extends to the horizon. After breakfast you can enjoy a 65 km downhill, leaving about 2000 m of difference in elevation behind you! You will observe the fascinating change from the altiplano to the Cloud Forest of the Manu National Park with its rich fauna and flora. In the early afternoon you will reach the San Pedro River. A short jungle walk will take you to the Manu Eco Lodge Tambo Paititi. 65 km of dirt road.
Day 26 Manu National Park (B, L, D)
The early morning is the best time for bird-watching and observation of other animals of the Cloud Forest. From the observation tower or the different platforms of TAMBO PAITITI itself and right above the San Pedro River you may see the Andean Cock of the Rock (national bird of Peru), Toucan, Quetzal, Tanager and Motmot as well as Woolly Monkeys, Brown Capuchin Monkeys, Tayra, Agouti, Southern Tamandua and South American Coati. The Manu Cloud Forest is also habitat of the Night Monkey, the rare Spectacled Bear, the Jaguarondi, Ocelot, Puma, Weasel, Otter, squirrels and a big family of rodents and bats. After a delicious breakfast in TAMBO PAITITI your guide will invite you to leave the Manu Eco Lodge for a hike through the Manu Cloud Forest, another observation walk will be offered in the afternoon. Of course, you may also just relax observing nature from the terrace of the lodge and other viewpoints, or you can have a refreshing bath in the San Pedro River. After dinner you may experience nature after dark and learn more about the fauna and flora of the Manu Cloud Forest.
Day 27 Manu - Cuzco (B, L)
This morning offers another opportunity for the observation of the Cloud Forest’s wildlife. After breakfast you will take the bus back to the Acjanaco Pass and you have the opportunity to the ride the downhill sector to Paucartambo. After lunch, the bus will take you to the Huachuqasa Pass (4170 m) where you can enjoy the last bike ride back to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You will arrive in Cuzco by bus in the afternoon and transfer to your hotel. 40 km of dirt road.
Day 28 Cuzco (B, D)
Day at leisure to explore Cuzco. Tonight enjoy a special dinner to farewell the Andes.
Day 29 Depart Cuzco (B)
You will be transferred to the airport.
For those returning to NZ , depart on LATAM Airlines to Lima with a connection via Santiago to Auckland where you would arrive 2 days later. Alternatively you can fly to Lima for a connection to Buenos Aires for a stopover before returning to NZ.
Options available to continue on from Cuzco to explore more of Peru or extend your stay in South America.
Dates & Prices:
Departures: 19May , 15 Sep 2018
Double / Twin Single Supplement
19May,15 Sep $9995 $1550
Inca Trail option NZD$250, Train to the Clouds Option NZ$250
Cost is subject to currency fluctuations & based on a minimum of 10 people travelling – there are no hidden costs. 2018 costs subject to change.
ALL transport (boats, buses, taxis, trains etc) ALL accommodation 3 star hotels/lodges (twin/double share)
ALL entrance fees as per itinerary ALL mountain bike hire, support vehicles
ALL national park entrance fees ALL Bike hire & helmets
ALL sightseeing as per itinerary ALL transfers as per itinerary
Services of experienced local guides Inca Trail Breakfasts daily, 19 lunches, 4 dinners
Services of experienced Tour Leader Services of English speaking local guides
Airport Taxes & Tips (allow USD150), Insurance, Laundry, Personal Spending, Medical Expenses.
Our experienced bi –lingual Tour Leaders travel with the group departures ( subject to a minimum of 6 people travelling )
We use comfortable 3 star hotels throughout . All rooms have your own private bathroom . Hotels are chosen for their location and service and most would have free WIFI
It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected - though not compulsory - component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. At the start of the tour your Tour Manager will explain the tipping system and will coordinate all tipping on behalf of the group to cover the local guides, drivers and porters
We suggest allow for US$35-45 per day to cover incidentals, laundry, meals not included
Groups are limited to a maximum of 15 people.