Chile and Argentina cycling vacation
Description of Chile and Argentina cycling vacation
This Chile and Argentina cycling vacation seeks out the quiet routes through some of South America’s most unique landscapes.
You’ll ride through sprawling salt pans, flamingo lagoons and rock formations with evocative names like the Hill of Seven Colours, Devil’s Throat and Valley of the Moon. Along with those widescreen views, you’ll get the chance to zoom in on the smaller details: a bird watching trip on a family-run farm’s toucan-friendly nature reserve, visiting villages like Socaire to see how traditional small-scale farming lives on, and admiring the loom weavers’ art on the paths of El Colte.
Cycling to the sacred city of Quilmes gives you a glimpse into pre-Inca civilisations, while free time in the city of Salta is your chance to learn about why the Incas loved the Andes at the museums here.
Small group cycling is one of the most immersive ways to explore Chile and Argentina. Local guides can recommend which café serves the tastiest empanadas and show you how to avoid eroding the paths. Staying in small hotels is the cherry on top – including snoozing in a swish vineyard hotel in Cafayate. Salud!
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PlanetActivity & Environment:
Cycling trips have very little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents though we are aware that erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We work with a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, meaning we have respect for wildlife and the landscape, separate rubbish and take all waste back to a proper disposal place. We also encourage clients to pack a reusable water bottle and during coffee stops, disposable utensils are never used to mitigate the need for single-use plastics.
As a cycling trip, it allows easier access to the local communities and hence, facilitates interaction with the locals from the visits to local cafes and resturants as well as markets to purchase traditional gifts and craft and get a real impression of the country. We also suggest clients visit the MAAM in Salta and join the bird watching excursion ‘Ceilo Verde’ which is a family project inside a nature reserve, where over 100 bird species can be witnessed including the Saffron-billed Sparrow, Toco Tuoucan and Great Pampa-Finch.
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleAccommodation and Meals:
On this trip, we spend the nights in a variety of small hotels where as much as possible employs local staff and uses local produce for meals wherever possible. One of the hotels we stay in, El Cortijo hotel is a refurbished old colonial house built using regional materials such as stone, adobe, reed and wood. Additionally, our stay in the Cafayate wine resort, located in the middle of a vineyard plantation at the bottom of the San Isidro hill, is a good chance for clients to try some wine especially when Cafayate is well known for its wine production.
When meals are not provided, our local guides will encourage and recommend clients to visit local restaurants and cafes to try local specialties. Chilean cuisine focuses a lot on fish and sea produce, whereas Argentinean meals generally focus on meat dishes. Guests are advised to try seafoods and beef dishes in Chile and lamb dishes in Argentina to vary meals and have the best eating experiences in both countries. Some typical dishes may include Pastel de Choclo (corn casserole with meat stuffing), Empanadas and Cazuela (a homemade stew with meat, corn, rice and potatoes).
Local craft and culture:
On this trip, we will stop by the village of Socaire known for its peculiar architecture of rough stonework. The inhabitants there still use traditional methods of planting terraced fields of corn, wheat and potatoes, it is a great chance to see the traditional way of life. During the trip, we will cycle to the Sacred City of Quilmes which are ruins of the Calchaqui native, a tribe who once lived amongst the Calchaqui mountain range. It is considered as the largest pre-colombian settlement in Argentina. Over there, clients will learn about the Inca invasion and how the Quilmes Indians were eventually defeated by the Spaniards.
Another hugely interesting place we visit it El Colte, where loom weavers display their art on the side of the path, this is an ancient art transmitted by generations for guests to admire. In Salta, clients are given a free day where we recommend clients to go for an optional visit to the High Mountain Archaeological Museum (MAAM) where the three mummies of children from the Inca civilisation sacrificed at the Llullaillaco Volcano are displayed. A visit to the museum will allow clients to learn about the Inca Empire and the importance of the Andes mountains to them. Throughout the trip, there are several opportunities to support local craft, especially when we visit the different towns such as Salta and Purmanara where guests can enjoy a craft fair in the main square.
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