This extreme CHALLENGE difficulty and extremely popular tour in the state of Oaxaca starts and ends in Oaxaca city. The route to the coast will take us through a major Mexican pilgrimage destination, Juquila. People come from all over Mexico by foot, bicycle and motorized vehicle. After a brief stay on the coast in the surfer town of Pto. Escondido we head back into the hills and mountains to loop back to Oaxaca. The mountain scenery here is absolutely spectacular. This area is rich in indigenous culture, mainly Mixtec, Triqui and Amuzgos. We end the ride along an ancient trading route winding it's way along the top of a high ridge.
Day 1: Meet in Oaxaca city.
Mountain colonial city. Markets, museums, shady plazas, nearby Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban. We meet in the capital of Oaxaca state, Oaxaca city, commonly known as just Oaxaca. At about 1500m elevation, It'ss fairly cool and dry. The center is colonial with straight narrow cobbled streets, stone buildings and many pedestrian walkways. This is the perfect place to sample some of Oaxaca's famous culinary delights, including several varieties of mole, hot chocolate (did you know that chocolate originated in Mexico?), quesillo (Oaxacan stringy cheese, much like good mozzarella), tlayudas, chapulines (grasshoppers!) and much, much more. There are many interesting markets, pleasant shaded plazas, restaurants and cafes, museums, galleries and churches. The nearby Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban are a must. Besides the archeological wonders, they offer a stupendous view of the surrounding countryside and mountains.
Day 2: Transfer to Zimatlan and cycle to Sola de Vega (66km).
Big market. Starts flat, end in the mountains.
This is the pilgrimage route for many people. We will very likely come across many pilgrims walking and cycling towards the town of Juquila just like us. We will be transferred by car or van to Zimatlan, check out the big weekly market, have breakfast, and then get on our bikes and ride! The day starts out quite flat, the flat becomes rolling and the rolling becomes mountainous. We go over our first mountain pass before dropping down to Sola de Vega.
Day 3: Sola de Vega to Juchatengo (51km).
Challenging climb, spectacular descent. We're just starting off, so we'll keep the distances in the mountains short. Today is our first challenging pass as we climb up from about 1400m to 2200m. The view opens up to a wondrous collage of mountains and valleys and we start on a beautiful 34km descent down to 900m elevation and the cute little town of San pedro Juchatengo.
Day 4: Juchatengo to Juquila (53km).
Amazing views, challenging climbing.
Well, in the mountains, what goes down must come up again... We climb our way out of this warm valley back up into the pine clad mountains to about 1800m. The side road to Juquila rolls along before dropping at an impossible grade. Santa Catarina Juquila is known all over Mexico as one of the many famous pilgrimage sites. People come to Juquila from far away, and once you're here you'll realize what a feat that really is. They come with prayers and a promise that they will keep coming every year for a certain number of years. In exchange the virgin of Juquila is to grant them a miracle; perhaps their sick relative will get well again. In the church there are no pews because some of the pilgrims will get down on hands and knees to crawl the remaining distance into the church and up to the tiny statue of the Virgin.
Day 5: Juquila to Puerto Escondido (117km).
Up, and down the Pacific Ocean.
We finally make it to the ocean and are welcomed by Puerto Escondido after a long hard day of cycling. This small sea-side resort offers miles and miles of great beaches, body surfing and of course boogie-boarding and proper surfing if you're up for it. The nightlife is exciting yet intimate mixing an international surfer and backpacker crowd with Mexican tourists.
Day 6: Puerto Escondido.
Rest Day. Small Resort Town. Surfer Beach, Mexican Resort Beach, Seafood, Nightlife.
Take a well deserved rest in this small sea-side resort offers miles and miles of great beaches, body surfing and of course boogie-boarding and proper surfing if you're up for it. The nightlife is exciting yet intimate mixing an international surfer and backpacker croud with Mexican tourists.
Day 7: Puerto Escondido.
A second rest day. You've rested, now check out the local attractions.
Things you might like to do today include surfing or surfing lessons, scuba diving, exploring nearby sheltered beaches such as Bahía Puerto Angelito or Playa Carrizalillo, exploring the splendid market, deep sea fishing or turtle and dolphin spotting. You can also take a bird watching tour to the Laguna Manialtepec or the Parque Nacional Lagunas de Chacahua.
Day 8: Puerto Escondido to Santiago Jamiltepec (110km). Beautiful foothills and distant mountains. Colonial mountain town. Today we meander up along the coast with the occasional view of the ocean, then veer inland a little behind a massive series of lagoons. Finally we make a decisive turn inland over gently rolling land and a final challenging climb delivers us to Santiago Jamiltepec.
Day 9: Santiago Jamiltepec to Cacahuatepec (80km). Gentle climbs, foothills. We head more towards the mountains today, but the real climbing doesn't start again yet. We'll still be in the foothills with gentle climbs meandering around and between hills.
Day 10: Cacahuatepec to Putla (87km). More climbing, small towns, gentle mountains. Further inland we go. Putla while still not too high at 810m is definitely in the mountains now and at the base of our biggest climb, coming tomorrow.
Day 11: Putla to Tlaxiaco (88km). Serious climbing, breath-taking views, little Paris. We have a 50km climb from 810m up to 2500m, the highest point on this tour. This is a big one and it delivers us into indigenous Triqui country. After the big climb we still have a series of shorter climbs and descents that eventually deliver us down to Tlaxiaco at 2050m.
Day 12: Tlaxiaco. Rest day. Little Paris. After yesterday's climb, we'll need a good rest! Tlaxiaco is a beautiful little colonial town known as little Paris. Around the 1850's Europeans would frequently travel through and to Tlaxiaco, a theater was erected in French architectural style, the town's wealthy began to dress in French fashions and pretty soon the town became known as little Paris. Little remains of this trend now, but the name has stuck.
Day 13: Tlaxiaco to Nochixtlan (83km). Small towns, rolling countryside, huge church. Today will take us through some rolling countryside reminiscent of Castille in Spain, then up into bigger climbs and down to Yanhuitlan. In Yanhuitlan is the largest Dominican church in all of Mexico. It was started in 1548 during a time of terrible disease. Between the years 1520 and 1620, the population of this area of the Mixcteca Alta dropped from 350,000 to 35,00. Now the church stands as an almost abandoned monument to the labor of many of those people. Years of neglect have caused severe damage and erosion and today they are trying to slowly preserve and rebuild.
Day 14: Nochixtlan to Oaxaca city (103km). Hard day, 50km along a high ridge, great views on both sides. We end this tour with a kick. There's nothing easy about today's ride, while we will end up at lower elevation than where we started, there is still plenty of climbing in between. The main big climb takes us up to a high ridge, and ancient trading route. The road meanders for almost 50km along this ridge, rising and dropping but always coming back to ride the top of the ridge. There are spectacular views of the mountains and valleys on both sides. Finally we are treated to a 20km long descent and the final section, now in the central valleys of Oaxaca is much flatter.
Day 15: Oaxaca city. Stay a bit longer or fly back home. The capital of Oaxaca state, Oaxaca city, is commonly known as just Oaxaca. At about 1500m elevation, it’s fairly cool and dry. The center is colonial with straight narrow cobbled streets, stone buildings and many pedestrian walkways. This is the perfect place to sample some of Oaxaca's famous culinary delights, including several varieties of mole, hot chocolate (did you know that chocolate originated in Mexico?), quesillo (Oaxacan stringy cheese, much like good mozzarella), tlayudas, chapulines (grasshoppers!) and much, much more. There are many interesting markets, pleasant shaded plazas, restaurants and cafes, museums, galleries and churches. The nearby Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban are a must. Besides the archeological wonders, they offer a stupendous view of the surrounding countryside and mountains.
Note: Price only includes guiding fee, it does not include accommodations (approx. $215) nor meals (approx. $180).
Also see tour packages in:
North America Mexico Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
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