On this REGULAR difficulty tour we cycle around the highlands of Michoacan state during the famous Day of the Dead celebrations. We range in altitude from 1500m to 2500m so the weather is cool. We'll explore colonial cities, indigenous Purepecha towns, the newest volcano in the world, the avocado capital of the world and some spectacular mountain country-side. There are lakes, colourful markets, and interesting history and culture. This is a loop tour starting and ending in Quiroga. We suggest that you fly into Morelia international airport.
Day 1: Fly to Morelia, meet in Quiroga
Small town, Lake Pátzcuaro, baroque church.
We suggest that you fly into Morelia's international airport and take a taxi to our hotel in Quiroga which is where we'll all meet, get to know each other and make sure we're all ready for a great bicycle tour. Quiroga's original Tarascan name, Cocupato, means 'The Reception Place', and so it will serve for our tour. The modern name is in honour of Don Vasco de Quiroga. In the 16th century, he created communities in the vicinity of Lake Pátzcuaro, the heart of the Tarascan country, where Indians would not only receive religious instruction, but also in arts and crafts and in the fundamentals of self-government. This was the land that had been so brutally ravaged by Nuño de Guzmán. Bit by bit, the Indians came to realize that the kindly Bishop was as much a representative of the European race as the sadistic conquistador. Like many utopian communities, the settlements created by Quiroga had elements of a primitive socialism. Each person worked six hours a day and contributed on an equal basis to the common welfare. Quiroga died in 1565 but the skills he implanted among Tarascans of this region have been passed down to their descendants, who are considered among the most skilled crafts-persons in Mexico.
Day 2: Quiroga to Erongaricuaro (31 km)
Easy start, quiet roads and small towns around the lake.
We start the tour off easy. The road that rolls along peeking at the lake every so often and poking in and out of little towns has very little traffic on it. It is a pleasure to ride here. Erongaricuaro, or more conveniently known as 'Eronga' is a quiet and beautiful little town overlooking lake Patzcuaro. The town boasts a Fransiscan monasery and colonial architecture. The name of the town is derived from the original Tarascan name, Eránharhikuarheni meaning the place of reflections.
Day 3: Eronga to Zacapu (41 km)
Quiet roads, great views.
We cycle away from the lake and up our first challenging climb. At the top are some very spectacular views of lake Patzcuaro, then we gently descend and roll along the rest of the way to Zacapu.
Day 4: Zacapu to Cheran (60 km)
Beautiful mountain scenery.
We start our day with another challenging climb to get up and out of Zacapu. After a long downhill, we have a couple of good climbs and rolling hills through pine forests, and fields of white poppies. Mountains and volcanic cones watch over our advance.
Day 5: Cheran to Angahuán (57 km)
Quiet mountain roads, Paracho market.
We cycle on more quiet mountain roads today as we make our way to the small Purepecha high mountain village of Angahuan. On the way we'll go through Paracho which is world-famous for the guitars hand-crafted by local artisans, and Sunday is its big market day!
Day 6: Angahuán
Volcán Paricutín, lava field, buried village, indigenous village.
Volcán Paricutín the world's newest volcano errupted out of a cornfield in 1943 and continued to grow until 1952. The lava gradually flowed out to cover 20-sq-km including 2 villages. No one was hurt by the slow advance. The only remaining visible trace of San Juan Parangaricutiro and San Salvador Paricutín, two villages engulfed by solidified black lava, is the top of San Juan's church. You can take a tour by foot or by horse to San Juan, the lava field and also to the volcano itself. Climbing up the steep slippery sides of the volcano we gain a view of the crater where you can still see gentle wisps of steam rising out of fissures around the inside. To get back down, run full tilt down the soft ash side of the volcano. Angahuan itself is an interesting attraction, being an indigenous Purepecha village.
Day 7: Angahuan to Tingüindín (61 km)
Nice downhill, agricultural center, fruit orchards, small colonial town.
We cycle through more mountains then past lime, avocado, berry, and sugar cane crops. Tingüindín is a pleasant little town with a baroque church. This town is know for its bread.
Day 8: Tingüindín to Zamora (48 km)
Unfinished gothic cathedral, sweeping views.
We cycle up over another pass today and descend past sweeping views of the countryside into the city of Zamora. There are many churches in Zamora, including the gothic Catedral Inconclusa (unfinished cathedral). Started in 1898, it suffered a major setback with the Mexican revolution of 1910. Work has now started to finish it.
Day 9: Zamora
Diverse market, traditional sweets, the unfinished cathedral.
In Zamora, there are many, many interesting churches you can visit, but the one not to miss is the humongous Catedral Inconclusa, the unfinished cathedral. This is a stunning neo-gothic cathedral whose construction began in 1898, then due to the Mexican revolution of 1910, was suspended in 1914, and then restarted in 1985. It is reported to be the 14th largest in the world, and the 4th largest in the Americas.
Day 10: Zamora to Paracho (67 km)
Challenging climbing, quiet mountain backroads, guitar capitol.
We cycle on yet more quiet mountain roads today as we make our way to the small Purepecha high mountain town of Paracho, world-famous for the guitars hand-crafted by local artisans.
Day 11: Paracho to Zirahuen (54 km)
Very quiet roads, great views, Nahuatzen market, small towns and villages, small lakes-side resort.
We cycle across the heart of the Purepecha meseta, over rolling hills and a couple of good climbs which present ever more spectacular views. Zirahuen is a small colonial lake-side resort.
Day 12: Zirahuen to Patzcuaro (34 km)
Brick road, copper town, view of lake Patzcuaro.
We start on a 14km brick road to Santa Clara del Cobre where they make all manner of copper artistry and crafts, from doors to pots and kitchenware to jewelry. After a break to explore the workshops and a bite to eat, we will continue. Climbing over a pass offers us our first view of Patzcuaro. We will enjoy a fast descent into this town where we will spend our final rest day.
Day 13: Patzcuaro
rest day, fantastic Purepecha/Mexican market, colonial architecture, handicrafts.
You can spend the day exploring this colonial gem, and getting to know the great variety of regional handicrafts. Visit the vibrant market to sample some local culinary treats and fuel up for our rides to come. You may take a trip to Janitzio, the largest island in lake Patzcuaro where you can climb up a 40m high statue of Morelos for a view of the lake and its surrounding villages. Back in Patzcuaro, there are also a variety of museums, squares and churches to visit. This is also the main center of the day of the dead celebrations.
Day 14: Patzcuaro to Quiroga (via Eronga) (52 km)
Tocuaro masks, market day in Eronga, quiet lakeside roads.
We take the quiet road out of Patzcuaro along the lake to Tocuaro, the mask making capital of Mexico. If we're lucky, we can visit the workshop of Juan Horta Castillo, one of the best mask-makers in Mexico. We continue cycling along the lake returning to Erongaricuaro, this time on market day, and then we retrace the beautiful 31km back to Quiroga.
Day 15: Quiroga
Fly back home or stay a while longer.
At this point you may choose to go back to Morelia and fly back home, or stay a while and explore the area a little more. Morelia is certainly worth spending a couple of days in for example. It has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
Price only includes guiding fee, it does not include accommodations (approx. $240) nor meals (approx. $180).
Also see tour packages in:
North America Mexico Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey