New year, new…adventure? If you like the idea of that, you’ll love the idea of Intrepid Travel’s epic range of cycling trips.
Seriously, we can’t imagine a better way to explore the world than from a saddle. A way to really get to grips with a destination, biking is as fun as it is healthy, as memorable as it is a way of meeting locals and like-minded travellers. And with Intrepid’s range of small group tours, you have local leaders, a support vehicle (for, well, support), incredible itineraries, and so much more.
Read on for a selection of cycling trips we’re most excited about in 2018. New and old, near and far, short and long, the only thing they have in common is that they’ll leave you breathless (quite literally!)….
It’s hard to tire of Peru. We love the lesser-known north (home to ‘the new Machu Picchu’), we love the well-known cities of Lima and Cusco, and we simply can’t get enough of the innovative food scene. It’s a South American destination with so much more than hiking to ruins – and exploring it by bike is the perfect way to take in the stunning scenery and awe-inspiring heights.
The cycling highlight: Tough one, but it simply has to be the Sacred Valley. The 11-day Cycle Peru trip includes a three-day mountain-bike adventure through it, and let’s just say that the only thing better than the iconic towns you cycle through is the awe-inspiring Andean landscape.
The non-cycling highlight: Could it really be anything other than Machu Picchu? The tour lets you hike to it via either the Inca Trail or far-less-crowded Quarry Trail. And the Incan citadel is precisely as magical as you’d imagine, if not more. Trust us.
Hilly terrain, the warmest people, ancient temples and more make this up-and-coming Asian destination ripe for adventure. More specifically: a cycling adventure. Yes, Sri Lanka is sure to dazzle you, whether it’s the night markets of Colombo or the amazing views from Sigiriya’s iconic Lion Rock.
The cycling highlight: Wow, this 14-day bike tour has about a million cool inclusions. But the cycle from Bogawanthalawa to Balangoda is truly one of the most gorgeous stretches of road in the country. Imagine lush pine forest, tea plantations and even a stop at a home which helps rehabilitate elephants for re-entry to the wild.
The non-cycling highlight: As much as we love the picture-perfect beaches of the country’s southern coast and the epic train journeys, we’re going to go for Yala National Park. It’s home to home to elephants, crocodiles and the one of the world’s highest concentrations of leopards. In other words, the (included) Jeep safari there is sure to make for a spectacular time.
Jordan might not be a country you ordinarily think of cycling in, but let us tell you that the desert scenery, Bedouin locals and historic sites are sure to make your visit a memorable one. This is one of our new trips, and we’re so excited about it we’ve written a whole other blog post about it. But rest assured that visiting Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea are even more satisfying having biked to ’em.
The cycling highlight: There’s oh so many special cycle spots, but the Cycle Jordan trip’s journey from Shobak to Little Petra is one of our favourites. It takes you through mountains, overlooks the dramatic Jordan Valley, and even ends at the Seven Wonders Camp (where you have an overnight stay with the Bedouins waiting for you).
The non-cycling highlight: The scenic town of Dana is certainly underrated, as is the magnificent city of Jerash, but the full day of exploration at Petra really is once-in-a-lifetime. Whether you hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice for beautiful views or walk for hours around rock-cut tombs and Roman-style theatres, the site is sure to take your breath away.
The perfect island for both active adventurers and leisure lovers, Bali certainly has something for everyone. From the black-sand beaches of Lovina to the lush hills of Ubud to the chilled-out beach town of Sanur, it’s stunning, too. And in our humble opinion, one of the best ways to do it justice is by bike.
The cycling highlight: Our 8-day Cycle Bali trip really contains a phenomenal mix of great towns and pretty surrounds. But of all the cycle journeys, the Bedugul to Lovina stretch is pretty special. Mostly downhill, it passes traditional markets, local snacks and views you won’t be able to resist taking photo after photo of.
The non-cycling highlight: A sunrise trek up a volcano probably fits the bill. Waking up at 3am to hike Mount Batur might not be easy, but believe us when we say the monkey-filled experience is a magical one. Post hike there’s an optional hot spring visit before another bike ride begins.
There’s as many reasons to visit Southern Thailand as there are islands in the region itself. We’re talking pristine national parks, dreamy beaches, delicious cuisine and more. And if you’re looking for something a little different, this 9-day cycle trip might be perfect for you: hikes, snorkeling, riverside bungalow stays and, of course, gorgeous bike routes included.
The cycling highlight: The cycle through Khao Sok National Park is truly one for the books. Here, limestone karsts rise up to a height of almost a kilometre, whilst the Ratchaprapha Dam, which you reach a little later, is filled with hundreds of tiny islands and emerald-green waters. Oh, and not to mention that it’s home to the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world and has quite the animal population, too.
The non-cycling highlight: The laid-back beach town of Khao Lak is a definite contender. Quiet and relaxing, it contains the aptly-named White Sand Beach, in addition to lovely waterfalls, tasty cooking classes and close-by fishing trips. All in all, it’s a sensational little vacation spot.
The Dalmatian Coast is characterised by deep blue waters, charming harbour towns and quaint fishermen’s villages. Yes, it’s fair to say that Croatia is the definition of picturesque, and biking round it makes it all the more idyllic. Why? Well, because our 7-day Cycle Croatia trip has the dream itinerary: starting in Split and ending in Dubrovnik, you fit in island visits to Brac, Hvar AND Korcula as well!
The cycling highlight: It has to be the winding coastal road in Brac, from Supetar to Pučišća. Passing vineyards and olive groves, it includes a stopover in the charming village of Dol. With a population of 348, Dol is as peaceful as it is known for lamb and home-made olive oil.
The non-cycling highlight: Another small and sweet spot: Korcula’s Pupnat. This farming village is where you and your Intrepid group will have one of the most delicious dinners of the trip. It’s made from ingredients grown on the farm themselves, and you can enjoy the family wines as well!
Thought you knew Vietnam? Think again. It’s more than pho and motorbike-mad streets and lovely, lovely beaches. It’s perfect for biking enthusiasts and it’s brimming with some of Southeast Asia’s best hidden gems. Some of the can’t miss spots? Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam; Dalat, with its Swiss-French vibes; and Quy Nhon, for relaxed, coastal bliss.
The cycling highlight: The long-but-stunning cycle from Quy Nhon to Nha Trang is a magnificent one. The highway hugs huge granite cliffs and the journey itself passes islands, lagoons and sand dunes. The resort city of Nha Trang itself is lively and night-life filled, as well as being a great dive spot.
The non-cycling highlight: It’s gotta be Hoi An. Known for its well-preserved ancient town, this delightful city is one of our all-time favourite spots in the country. The trip itinerary spends two nights there, so you can head to the central market, hire a bike, sign up for a cooking class, get some clothes made or simply enjoy the canals and laze around.
Do we even need to describe why Tuscany is idyllic? Think rolling green hills, quality wine and anything else that’s utterly romantic – and you have a sense of what central Italy is. And there’s no better way of getting to grips with it than on our 8-day Cycle Tuscany trip. Starting in Florence and ending in Pisa, you’ll picnic in Lucca, explore the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, and see Italian life at its most authentic in the town of Garfagnana .
The cycling highlight: There’s some steep sections on the trip (looking at you, Apuan Alps), but one of the most wonderful stretches for bikers is from Lucca to Pisa. The journey is a fairly flat 35 kilometres, and follows the banks of the Serchio River. The reward for finishing the final cycle of the trip? Shopping, gelato and, of course, the enchanting Leaning Tower itself!
The non-cycling highlight: The 13th century town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana really is a stunner. Not only is it a great place for a leisurely stroll after a day of cycling, it’s home to Fronte della Rocca, a historic chocolate-maker and cake shop. After all, you can’t come to Italy and not indulge.
The cars and cigars are as good as you’ve always been led to think. But it’s the warmth of the Cuban people and the diverse, dazzling landscapes that’ll stay with you just as much. Our 7-day Cycle Cuba trip ensures you see the best of them: the lakeside eco-village of Comunidad Las Terrazas, the low-lying mountain town of Vinales and the beachy bliss of Cayo Jutias – and that’s only for starters.
The cycling highlight: It’s hard to narrow down, but the cycle to and around Soroa is certainly up there. The closest mountain resort to the capital, this area is known as the ‘rainbow of Cuba’ for its flora and fauna-filled landscapes. On the trip you stay in a Cuban guesthouse there (hello, Cuban cocktails!) and enjoy a guided tour around the spectacular Orchid Garden. This entails seeing some of the whopping 250 species of plants native to Cuba as well as numerous species of birds!
The non-cycling highlight: Havana has charm in abundance, but the UNESCO-listed town of Vinales has otherworldly nature. Here, you can visit a tobacco farm and purchase cigars directly from the maker. And if you’re on the trip then you’ll also visit a hillside farm restaurant with 100% organic food that’s all grown locally. So, get the mojitos in, kick back and relax.
This sentence in the 14-day Cycle Morocco trip itinerary sums it up: “Cycling allows you to get closer to the real Morocco – from bicycles to Berbers, bustling souks to the High Atlas Mountains, this classic adventure has it all.” It’s true. Starting and ending in Marrakech, this is a truly Intrepid itinerary. Sunset camel safari, Fes medina visit and Todra Gorge hike all included.
The cycling highlight: Tizi n’Tichka Pass, the highest major mountain pass in North Africa, is worth a Google at this juncture. You aren’t able to cycle up to it on the trip because it gets REALLY steep, but you do climb the long, winding road into the Atlas Mountains and the small town of Anmiter nearby. If you’re looking for a challenge, this is it.
The non-cycling highlight: Every destination in Morocco offers something unique, but the blue mountain city of Chefchaouen is notable for both its beauty and its sense of calm. Browse the medina, tuck into a tagine or even enjoy a hike through the scenic Rif Mountains.
Ready to embark on the cycling adventure of a lifetime? Check out Intrepid Travel’s range of bike tours.
(Jordan photo c/o iStock/Saro17. All other images c/o Intrepid Travel.)