Bike the Andes, a Latin Link Annual Scheduled Departure
March 07, 2019 at 2:31 PM
Bike the Andes
Fran Tate, one of two Directors of Latin Link Adventure the South American specialists is based in Wanaka New Zealand
I've biked the Andes a few times and the number of touristy biking t shirts I own, is testimony to that fact! Here's a little precis of what to expect if you sign up.
The ride starts in Mendoza, Argentina and finishes in Cusco, Peru and takes 29 days. It's very much a personalised trip and as Tour Leader, I stay in touch with all the riders before departure and throughout the whole trip, of course (por supuesto)! It's a good way to get a feel for the group dynamics. I'm usually tagged as 'Camp Mother'!
The trip includes the wonderful vineyards of Mendoza, the Salt Flats of Bolivia, La Paz, a mountain biking mecca, Lake Titicaca, Macchu Pichu and riding in and around the Sacred Valley of the Incas. There are many other great experiences and last but not least the Manu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes part of the high Andes, cloud forest and lowland jungle.
There are always lots of questions a week or two from departure and consequentially the excitement starts to build. The most asked questions are 'what about the altitude, 'what can I expect, how will it affect me? 'how fit do I have to be?'. Answer: take it easy (walk slowly), eat lightly, hydrate regularly, if all else fails, take diamox (by prescription and with advice from your doctor) or drink coca tea, do some riding!
A good fitness level is required as we ride 50-60 kilometres a day. There's always the back up support vehicle if it get's too tough or you're having a bad day. But that's a last resort as we're all keen to make the most of this adventure. Bear in mind that there are certain health conditions that may preclude your participation in the riding due to the altitude. There is more detail available when you book.
Biking starts in Mendoza, on flat tarmac from vineyard to vineyard, then a 21km zig zag mountain descent on a gravel road from 3300m. It's moderate riding, a mix of terrain, a few steep ups and downs and there is always the possibility of snow. This is a good way to acclimatise. Start low at 1800m then ascend.
One of the big character building moments is the overnight bus ride to Salta in the north (Argentina is enormous) BUT you forget all that when you start the ride through the spectacular sculptural landscape of the Calchacqui Valley.
Next there's a whistle stop through the blindingly white Salt Pans of Bolivia, what a place! Then onto La Paz the mountain bike capital, home of The World's Most Dangerous Road, Chacaltaya then Sorata at 4000 – 5000m. If you survive that, then it's off to Peru following Lake Titicaca by bus, visiting Incan Ruins en route to Cusco the gateway to Machu Picchu and riding in the Sacred Valley, climbing (by bike) to the Lares Pass and of course the Manu National Park's Cloud and Rain Forest.
If you're up for a physical, mind changing and cultural experience then this trip could be for you.
Nos Vemos, Fran