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Mountains and Natural Wonders

Mountains and Natural Wonders

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 22 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 8 people
Destination(s): Mexico  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring  
Season: November - March
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 700 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 700 US Dollar (USD)

We offers no-frills guided, self supported TOURS of the Pacific coast, the Sierra Madre mountains, the Yucatan peninsula, and the southern states of Chiapas, Tabasco and Oaxaca.Eating and sleeping where the locals do, we go inn-to-inn and sometimes have the option of camping on the beach or in the mountains. Our small groups are limited to 8 to 10 cyclists, plus your 2 friendly, fun and knowledgeable Mexican and Canadian guides.Tours last for 1 to 4 weeks, run between November and July and range in difficulty from lite to regular to challenge.This is a VERY challenging bicycle tour entirely in the western Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. We will see volcanos, geothermal vents, the migration of the monarch butterfly, pine forests, colonial towns and more. We'll even visit the marble-paved streets of the birth village of the last Aztec emperor. After meeting in Zihuatanejo, we take the bus to Uruapan and then cycle back along a very scenic 3 week route.Dates: -Distances: Average/day: 80km, Maximum/day: 122km, Total Approx: 1120km, Total climbing: 18000m

Your Itinerary

Day 1:
Meet in ZihuatanejoSmall resort, beaches, night life, seafood. ------------------------------------------------Zihuatanejo is Ixtapa's easy-going sibling. Only 8km away it still gets a lot of tourism but has a very different ambiance. Small-scale fishing is still important to the town's ecomony so seafood here is great. There are many good beaches, restaurants, bars and a very busy and colourful market.

Day 2:
Zihua to Uruapan by busTake the bus to the start of our bike tour - Uruapan ------------------------------------------------Uruapan is the distribution center for much of the fruit produced in the state of Michoacan. To get an idea of what this means, consider that the most popular name for juice and refreshment stores in Mexico is 'Michoacan'. The name Uruapan means 'Eternal Spring' referring to the Río Cupatitzio which emerges in a gorge out of the 'Rodilla del Diablo' pool and runs through the city. At the Parque Nacional Eduardo Ruiz, we'll enjoy the lush vegetation, waterfalls and fountains where the river is born.

Day 3:
Uruapan to Pátzcuaro (70km of cycling)Highland colonial town. Museums, churches, markets. ------------------------------------------------Cycling from Uruapan at 1620m elevation, we climb up over 2000m where we'll be staying for much of the tour. Pátzcuaro, at 2175m is a lovely colonial town, with several plazas, museums, churches and markets. In 1536, the Catholic Church of Mexico City sent Bishop Vasco Quiroga to Patzcuaro to clean up the chaos that the cruelty of conquistador Nuño de Guzmán had created. He created village cooperatives, encouraging education and agricultural self-sufficiency in the villages surrounding Lago de Pátzcuaro. He also helped each village develop its own craft specialty, traditions that continue today. The indigenous people in this area are Purépecha; direct descendants of the Tarascos, who developed western Mexico's most advanced pre-Hispanic civilization.

Day 4:
Pátzcuaro to Morelia (66km of cycling)Tarascan ruins, colonial city. ------------------------------------------------Our ride takes us along the shores of the Lago de Patzcuaro through several towns and villages before climbing over the mountain pass and dropping down into beautiful colonial Morelia, Michoacan state's capital. In Tzintzuntzan we'll see the Tarascan ruins of Las Yácatas.

Day 5:
MoreliaRest day. Colonial city, churches, museums, markets. ------------------------------------------------We'll take a rest day before heading for more mountains. Here in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state, you can spend the entire day wondering the streets in awe of the colonial architecture, exploring markets and musuems. Check out the cathedral in the main square that took more than a century, from 1640 to 1744 to build. Architecturally, it's a combination of Herreresque, baroque and neoclassical.

Day 6:
Morelia to Mirador Atzimba (59km of cycling)Pine forests, springs, waterfalls, mountain views, camping. ------------------------------------------------On the way out of Morelia, we'll see the 2km long, 253 arch impressive aqueduct that was built in 1785-1788 to meet the city's growing water needs. We will climb high through thick pine forests, past freshwater springs, waterfalls (you can actually drink the water!), and small friendly towns. The views along the way, while quite awesome, will pale in comparison to our destination, Mirador Atzimba. We will camp here, alone in the woods at almost 3000m elevation, perched on a lookout from where we can see several mountain peaks and valleys. You have never seen stars like this, not to mention the fabulous sunset and sunrise.

Day 7:
Mirador Atzimba to San Pedro via Los Azufres (83km of cycling)More views and forests. Geothermal vents, hot-springs, camping possible. ------------------------------------------------What goes up must come down... and then up again. Yesterday's climbing yields a long descent to start the day today. Again the mountain views are mind boggling. After we descend from the pine-clad heights, we're faced with a long 21km ascent to Los Azufres. This is a place of exceptional geothermal activity. Steam billows into the air from vents in the ground - many of the vents have been tapped to generate electricity for Morelia and the surrounding area. The roar of steam is deafening. There are also hot-springs and sulpher and mud baths and pools. People come from all over to enjoy their curative properties.

Day 8:
San Pedro to Angangueo (51km of cycling)Small towns, beautiful countryside. ------------------------------------------------Once again, what goes up must come down. And WHAT a downhill! After crossing some beautiful countryside over rolling hills (well, shorter climbs than yesterday, anyway), we are met with a final steep climb into Angangueo. You will fall in love with this gorgeous old mining town, jammed into the folds of the high mountains - that is if you remember to bring a warm sweater. It's chilly up here.

Day 9:
AngangueoMonarch Butterfly Sanctuary ------------------------------------------------Well, you can cycle, but can you walk? Today we'll walk up into the mountains to El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. It's a three hour walk up to over 3000m elevation, so if you like you can also choose to take a van. These butterflies arrive from late October until December, migrating from Canada and the USA. We will see pine trees flaming orange with so many butterflies on them that their branches actually sag under the weight. It's an incredible sight. The butterflies reach their sexual maturity and mate in spring, lay their eggs, then die. The eggs hatch as caterpillars, make cocoons and then emerge as butterlies. These young butterflies fly north and repeat the cycle. Amazingly, no butterfly makes the entire round trip!

Day 10:
Angangueo to Valle de Bravo (100km of cycling)Exhilarating views and climbing. First views of Volcán Nevado. Colonial town, lake. ------------------------------------------------The climb out of Angangueo is the steepest of the tour. Climbing almost 750m in 8km, at times the grade is greater than 10%, so you may want to stop a few times on the way up. You could just say that you're just enjoying the view or checking out one of the variety of splendid wild mountain flowers on the way - it won't be hard to believe. Oh, did we mention that your bike should have a TRIPLE CHAINRING? After peaking at well over 3000m, the rolling descent will present our first view of the Volcán Nevado de Toluca. Valle is on the shores of an artificial lake that contributes to Mexico City's water supply. Conversly, Mexico City supplies most of the town's tourism as weekenders come to sail, waterskii, hangglide, and mountain bike. Being a weekday, the town will be quiet for us to explore at our liesure. Hilly cobblestone streets, an excellent market and charming square are reminiscent of a typical southern Mediterranean village.

Day 11:
Valle de BravoColonial lakeside town ------------------------------------------------We'll take a well deserved rest here before heading to the volcano. Valle is on the shores of an artificial lake that contributes to Mexico City's water supply. Conversly, Mexico City supplies most of the town's tourism as weekenders come to sail, waterskii, hangglide, and mountain bike. Being a weekday, the town will be quiet for us to explore at our liesure. Hilly cobblestone streets, an excellent market and charming square are reminiscent of a typical southern Mediterranean village.

Day 12:
Valle de Bravo to Volcán Nevado de Toluca (69km of cycling)Pine forests, climb to Volcano 'base-camp'. ------------------------------------------------To celebrate Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe), we'll climb to our 'base-camp' of the Volcán Nevado de Toluca (snowy volcano of Toluca). At 3500m we'll rest in our posada (inn) to prepare for tomorrow. You will need to have a sleeping bag as the posada does not supply blankets, and they don't call it 'nevado' (snowy) for nothing - there may be some snow on the ground!

Day 13:
Volcán Nevado de Toluca (35km of cycling)Climb to volcano crater. ------------------------------------------------A dirt road will take us up to the crater's two lakes; El Sol and La Luna (sun and moon) at 4000m elevation. If you have any breath left, try scrambling to the 4690m high peak of the extinct volcano. Xinantécatl as it was know in pre-hispanic times is very high and very cold - you will need warm clothes. There may be some snow on the ground, and there is a possibility that we will not allowed up the volcano if conditions are bad.

Day 14:
Volcán Nevado de Toluca to Tonatico (88km of cycling)Mostly downhill! Mineral baths ------------------------------------------------Tonatico houses a mineral bath/fun park complex as well as a spectacular waterfall.

Day 15:
Tonatico to Taxco (64km of cycling)Canyon, MASSIVE cave, another great colonial town. ------------------------------------------------Don't let the distance fool you - this is a long day. Leaving Tonatico we will ride past the Barranca Grande canyon before we descend into the valley where the Grutas de Cacahuamilma (cave) is. This cave is like nothing you've ever seen before. We'll walk 2km into the cave along a lit path - the cave goes an estimated 4km further! The almost 100m (320ft) high chambres and almost 50m (160ft) high stalagmites are mind-boggling. After the cave, well, what goes down must come up again - there's a long spectacular climb to Taxco. It's well worth the effort.

Day 16:
TaxcoOld silver mining town - a wonderful colonial antique ------------------------------------------------This is our last rest day before the push to the coast. It'll be hard to rest though because you'll want to spend every minute exploring this gem of a town. This place is truly three-dimensional! It's built on the side of a mountain and there are narrow alley-ways and stairways meandering this way and that, up and down. Go ahead, wonder around and get lost, it's not that big a town, you'll find your way back to the hotel before tomorrow. Also be sure to check out the markets - you may want to pick up some jumil beatles to snack on, or shop for some beautifully worked silver, a variety of stone and crystals, or any of the other fine crafts.

Day 17:
Taxco to Teloloapan (76km cycling)Mountain scenery, small towns, marble street town - birthplace of Cuauhtémoc ------------------------------------------------As we climb out of Taxco, we veer off from the main road and head towards higher ground. Finally we descend into Ixcateopan de Cuauhtémoc, the birthplace of Cuauhtémoc, the final Aztec emperor who was defeated and executed by Cortés. Due to the nearby quarries, the streets here are paved with marble! We will spend the night in the very inviting town of Teloloapan.

Day 18:
Teloloapan to Ciudad Altamirano (122km of cycling)Plenty of downhill. Changing scenery. ------------------------------------------------As we get closer to the ocean and closer to sea level, the days are warmer and nights not as cool. The vegetation changes completely in this area, we'll see a little more pine forest when we cross the last mountain range on our last day of riding, but from now on the vegetation is more arid and shrubby. The mountains take on a different character too looking older and more weathered here.

Day 19:
Ciudad AltamiranoRest day. Bustling city. Market, good food. ------------------------------------------------Today we enter some very remote country. We'll see very few cars today, and very few people. Climbing over the last range of mountains before the coast, we're in for some challenging mountains. As we will be camping, we'll simply cycle until dusk and then look for a place to camp. Along the way we'll stop to eat, rest and marvel at the majestic scenery.

Day 20:
Cd. Altamirano to Camp (90km of cycling)Mostly downhill, breathtaking scenery in very remote country. ------------------------------------------------Today we enter some very remote country. We'll see very few cars today, and very few people. Climbing over the last range of mountains before the coast, we're in for some challenging mountains. As we will be camping, we'll simply cycle until dusk and then look for a place to camp. Along the way we'll stop to eat, rest and marvel at the majestic scenery.

Day 21:
Camp to Zihuatanejo (114km of cycling)Mostly downhill, breathtaking scenery in very remote country. ------------------------------------------------We'll finish climbing into the last pine forest that we'll see on this tour, and then drop down a fast beautiful descent into Vallecitos then onto Zihua.

Day 22:
ZihuatanejoBeaches, handcrafts, market - Stay a bit longer or fly back home------------------------------------------------Zihuatanejo is Ixtapa's easy-going sibling. Only 8km away it still gets a lot of tourism but has a very different ambiance. Small-scale fishing is still important to the town's ecomony so seafood here is great. There are many good beaches, restaurants, bars and a very busy and colourful market.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price is only for guiding fee. It does NOT include accommodation (approx. $220) or meals (approx. $250).

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