Our exciting, epic journey traversing the Americas on the power of two wheels pedaled by two legs begins in three days!
Our journey has four main parts: from Vancouver to southern Mexico, checking out volcanoes and beaches in Central America, following the footsteps of the Incan civilization in the northern Andes in South America and then the wild spaces and sparkling cities of Chile and Argentina. With each subsequent part, our plans are more flexible and speculative, like a wavy mirage in the distance. However, the following is a ROUGH trip plan as we ride for social justice and gender equality in Western Kenya, to explore this beautiful, magical world we live in, to experience the adventure of life on the road and to meet new friends, get to know old ones better and learn more about ourselves and what we are truly capable of. For the most part, we will be riding the seasons, chasing the sunshine southward.
As August turns to September, the Vancouverite starts to think of the dark days ahead and *gasp* of Novemageddon, of looming grey clouds and perpetual showers where the damp cold permeates everything. Us, Vancouverites, live each September sunshine day as if it was our last. Bryan and I, along with friends Erin, Rigel and Kirsten, our adventuring party of five, take this to the next level.
Follow us on our epic journey on our tracking map and blog: http://theworldcan.org/biketrip.html
(note – the map will start up once we start!)
Our loose schedule is:
1. From Vancouver to southern Mexico –
This is the most planned portion of our trip since we actually have a cycling guide book from Vancouver to Mexico, with detail from mile to mile, from State Campsite to State Campsite. We start by a scenic journey from Vancouver to Victoria and then through the San Juan islands (the American counterparts to the Gulf Islands) and then onto Hwy 101 on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington. We will continue on Hwy 101 through Washington, Oregon and California as it travels along the Pacific coast until San Diego. We cross into Baja Mexico where it becomes Hwy 1. At La Paz in southern Baja, we will attempt to crew on a sailboat to cross the Sea of Cortez to the mainland of Mexico. Failing that, we’ll take the ferry. Then we will work our way south through delicious Oaxaca, birthplace of mole, the tasty savory chocolate based sauce, then into Chiapas. We will probably spend a week in San Cristobal de la Casas learning Spanish, a language we would be speaking for the rest of our journey.
Timeline: Finish Washington State by around Sept 20th, Finish Oregon by around Oct 10th, Finish California by around end of October/beginning of November, Finish Baja Mexico by end of November, Bike through mainland Mexico in the month of December aiming to be at the Guatemalan border by end of December/beginning of January 2014.
2. Central America – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
We cross from Chiapas in Mexico to the highlands of Guatemala, touring through little Mayan villages nestled in jungle covered old volcanoes. We cross Guatemala from Huehuetenango to beautiful limestone caves and pools around Coban then to El Estor and the nearby paradise of Finca El Paradisio, a hotspring waterfall and then to the Caribbean coast at Livingston. From Livingston, we will make our way by boat and/or road to the Bay Islands in Honduras, a scuba-diving heaven. One of the great risks of our trip is finding a beautiful beach and getting lost there for awhile; the Bay Islands may be that spot for us. From the Bay Islands, we head west to El Salvador, making a side trip to the intricate ruins of Copan on the way. From El Salvador, we head south again, cycling the length of this small country before zipping a couple days through south-west Honduras and then into Nicaragua. We’ll explore the colonial towns of Granada and Leon and chill out on a twin volcano island in the middle of the country, Isla de Ometepe before crossing into Costa Rica then through Panama.
Timeline: We get to Central America in early January as rainy season ends and the delightful dry season begins. Dry season in Central America lasts until mid April/May and we will try to soak up all of this sunshine. Also, dry season in the Andes of South America starts in May. Perfect for us! Basically we’re planning for flexibility in this portion, planning to have no plan other than starting Central America around January and staying until about May. Where we spend our time exactly will be as the wind takes us.
3. Northern Andes – Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia
We trace the legacy of the ancient Incan civilization and experience the depth of the indigenous cultures today in this historical, rugged land. Columbia is a bit of an unsolved mystery for us right now and we believe that clues will be picked up along the way. Columbia, in part, has the climate very similar to Central America so it will be wet and miserable around May/June. What exactly we will do in Columbia is going to depend greatly on when we finish Central America. Also, there is the dilemma of the Darien Gap, where roads end into dense, drug cartel infested jungle between Panama and Columbia. Our solutions include taking a delightful 3-4 day sailing trip out to the scenic San Blas Islands, which will drop us off in Cartagena, Columbia, making a wide scenic trip around the troublesome Darien Gap. Our other solution is to pack up our bikes and fly into Columbia somewhere. In Columbia, we may do a 6 day trek through the jungle to mysterious Ciudad Perida , the famed lost city of the Tayronas. We then cross into Ecuador, where we may pick up a last minute deal out to the Galapagos Islands to explore the famous wildlife and check out Otavalo, one of South America’s biggest open-air markets. Of course, being on bikes, we can’t buy too much but some of our wardrobe may experience a shift. From Ecuador, we go to the heart of the Inca in Peru and awe-inspiring ruined city of Machu Picchu, nestled high on a mountain surrounded by a cloud forest. From Cusco and Machu Picchu, we go to the world’s largest high-altitude Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia. In Bolivia, we check out Salar de Uyuni, the surreal and largest salt flats in the world with spurting geysers, volcanoes and colored lagoons.
Timeline: The dry season for the Andes of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia is from May to September. Sounds good to us 🙂
4. Chile and Argentina
Chile and Argentina will be a bit of a shift from the northern Andes in part 3. It has a more European feel and also higher cost of travel too. The mysterious Patagonia is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. The plans become extremely tentatively here as we will make our route as we go. The distances are long over mysterious and windswept countryside, dotted with vineyard filled valleys and cosmopolitian, colonial cities. In this portion, we have a couple options. From Bolivia, we can cross into Chile and stargaze in the driest desert in the world, the Atacama or we can cross into Argentina to the desert and red-earth canyon along Ruta Quaranta (Hwy 40). Our main routes in this portion include the famous Hwy 40 that runs the entire length of Argentina through vast, barren desert and the Caretta Austral, a 1,200 km unpaved highway through rural Chilean Patagonia, voted one of the top 10 cycling routes in the world by National Geographic. Our final destination is Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire, the southernmost tip of South America, the Timbuktu of the Americas.
Timeline: Well rainy season is not as applicable since the beginning of the journey is through deserts. However, what is important for us is that November to March is the season for Patagonia, their summer. This portion will probably involve cycling from October to January 2015.
After reaching Ushuaia, what next? Who knows, maybe we’ll try to find a way to Antarctica, maybe we’ll head to Buenos Aires and then up to Brazil for Carnaval in February, with or without our bikes…. When you get this far south, it’s cheaper to travel east and west than north and south so maybe we’ll find a cheap re-positioning cruise from Argentina or Brazil to Europe and continue our adventure there.