SOUTH AMERICA CYCLING TOUR OVERVIEW
From Patagonia’s purest pleasures to Isla Negra’s haunting Nerudaian poetry, our Che tour will envelope you in a unique and spiritual mystery, found only in the unspoilt, enchanted hinterlands of South America. Join us for this epic adventure as we soar into the dizzy heights of ‘Los Andes’ and their untamed beauty and explore Che Guevara’s dusty trails set some sixty years before our tentative and excited scouting.
This volcanic wonderland shaped and fueled the revolutionary thoughts of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, born in 1928. ‘The Man’ himself cuts a fascinating figure—equally revered and reviled around the world. Starting in Bariloche, Argentina, we follow in his footsteps, criss-crossing over the Andes into the breathtaking lake districts and volcanoes of Patagonia, then north along the exceptional Pacific Coast and wine regions of Chile—the Casablanca, Maipu, and Colchagua valleys—before finishing just south of Santiago, Chile. As always, exceptional cuisine and unique accommodation is a treat you can’t imagine. Think a five-star treehouse or a glass lodge with the view out of your window of a smoking volcano!
Come and join Max, your tour leader and creator of this epic adventure on it's 2020 departure!
South America Cycling Tour Highlights
- Triple crossing the World’s second highest mountain range - The Andes!
- Gaze up at Volcan Villarrica, one of Chile's most awesome sights
- The 7 Lakes Road in Argentina - without doubt, one of the best cycling roads in the world
- Indulge in Argentina's world famous beef, deliciously prepared on their Parilla del Asado (bbq grill)
- Looking over the breathtaking snowy behemoths of La Cordillera
- Cycle up Volcan Osorno, walk up Volcan Lonquimay, you will not go away without surmounting a volcano or 2!
- Ferrying across the spectacular lake district of Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina
- Rejuvenating at the end of the stage at Corralco Mountain under Volcan Lonquimay
- Take a leisurely stroll on a beach to visit the incredible Piedra de la Iglesia (the church rock), or the equally impressive Arco de los Amorados (lover’s arc)
- Roll along the stunningly rugged Pacific coast with its beautiful architectural hotels which we regularly take advantage of
- Experiencing the famous Maule region's mouth-watering oceanic food culture
- Visit and swim if you dare in the chilling waterfall of Salto Los Indios!
- Roll through spectacular wine regions of Chile - The Casablanca, Maipu and Colchagua Valleys, tasting for yourself why their wines have such worldwide acclaim
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Max is Australian born but has spent much of the last 15 years in Chile. He speaks fluent Spanish and has covered most of South America by bike. He is a highly experienced bike guide and is the heart and soul of any tour he leads. His amazing attention to guests makes him much loved and valued by every rider who joins us on tour.
On Che - Bariloche to Santiago, the beautiful lodges in the National Parks, designer hotels on the Pacific coast and hip wineries make for some exceptional stays. Here are some places you will stay at on the tour:
Food in Argentina and Chile will excite your taste buds in ways you haven't experienced before. Some of the places we eat on the Che tour are amazing! Here are 3 of our favourites:
Read more about the Food and Wine of the regions we ride through
Argentina's cuisine is highly influenced by Europe, including many Mediterranean cooking traits. Along with a large emphasis on locally fresh products, it makes for some scrumptious meals. The country is famous for its grass fed cattle, and the gauchos who work the open range raising these animals. All parts of the cow are eaten, so nothing goes to waste. The most traditional way to eat meat in Argentina is the asado, or barbecue. And a bbq is not a bbq in Argentina without its spicy sausage chorizo to begin it with, a great starter to any meal.
Chilean cuisine varies depending where you are, because of its ecological and climatic diversity. Right down its long coast, the ocean provides seafood as the main ingredient of its many dishes. Local crops are the staple of each regional cuisine, which have been prepared for thousands of years by native Indians before the Spanish arrived. Among the most important agricultural crops are maize, also known as choclo, quinoa and potatoes which have been cultivated since pre-Inca times providing nourishment in the high altitudes of the Andes.
Empanadas: Fabulous at any time of the day and found across Argentina and Chile are these small pies filled with all types of filling, although ham, cheese and meat are the most popular. During the week before Easter, special empanadas are filled with tuna or cod. A great snack to keep up energy for peddling!
Pebre: This is probably the most ubiquitous condiment in Chile. The spicy mixture of chili peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro comes in many variations in different regions of the country. The red color of most pebres comes from red chile pepper paste, not tomatoes, so it does not taste like most North American salsas. You will find it served with virtually anything - a sandwich, as a dip for bread, or served over grilled meats. You cannot and will not want to escape this addictive Chilean dish.
Chile has a long viticultural history for a New World wine region dating to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought Vitis vinifera vines with them as they colonized the region.
Chile has 2,700 miles of coastline along the frigid Pacific Ocean and a climate that is described as midway between that of California and France. These factors allow perfect growing conditions for a number of wines that have recently been getting international acclaim.
Chile produces wines that are both fruity and herbaceous, similar to French wine, making it no wonder that French wine producers from Bordeaux have invested heavily in the region, making it their home away from home. The increase of wineries in Chile over the last 30 years relates partly to the large amount of French families immigrating to Chile during the late 20th century. Not only the French, but Germans, Spanish and Swiss also have invested in Chilean vineyards to share their fine tastes, experience and knowledge of the wine world.
We will be tasting internationally acclaimed New World wines throughout our tour, leaving you in no doubt why Chile is winning awards and competitions throughout, even over Old World wines. Chilean winemakers have been developing a distinct style for their Cabernet Sauvignon, producing an easy drinking wine with soft tannins and flavours of mint, blackcurrant, olives and smoke.
Two of the most refined wineries we will take you to during Che Tour are in The Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys of the Aconcagua Wine Region. In Casablanca Valley, vines were first planted in the mid-1980s during the revitalization of the Chilean wine industry and the area quickly became known for its white wines, most notably Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot noir, which thrive in its cooler climate.
Just below, the San Antonio Valley is known for producing Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay. Like the Casablanca Valley, San Antonio is highly influenced by the cooling effect of the Pacific Ocean, but whose soils are granitic, poor and well drained with a topsoil of clay, providing a good substrate for vines. It is seen as the best up and coming wine area of Chile.
Che Guevara has become a legendary political figure. Often equated heroically with rebellion, revolution, and socialism, many also remember that he was ruthless and ordered executions without trial in Cuba. However, Guevara’s image remains a prevalent icon of leftist radicalism and anti-imperialism.
Che Guevara was born Ernesto de la Serna on 14 June 1928 in Rosario, Argentina. As a student he traveled widely and his worldview was changed by a nine-month journey he began in December 1951, with his friend Alberto Granado. That trip took them from Argentina through Chile, Peru, Colombia, and on to Venezuela, from which Guevara traveled alone on to Miami, returning to Argentina by plane (we only ride the Argentina - Chile Section!). During the trip, Guevara kept a journal that was posthumously published under his family’s guidance as The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey (2003) and adapted to film as The Motorcycle Diaries (2004).
During these travels he observed the great poverty of the masses and the state of the Latin American countries. His eventual conclusion was that the only solution lay in violent revolution. In 1954 he went to Mexico and in the following year he met Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. Guevara joined Castro's '26th July Movement' and played a key role in the eventual success of its guerrilla war against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Castro overthrew Batista in 1959 and took power in Cuba. From 1959-1961, Guevara was president of the National Bank of Cuba, and then Minister of Industry. In this position, he travelled the world as an ambassador for Cuba. At home, he carried out plans for land redistribution and the nationalisation of industry.
A strong opponent of the United States, he guided the Castro regime towards alignment with the Soviet Union. The Cuban economy faltered as a result of American trade sanctions and unsuccessful reforms. During this difficult time, Guevara began to fall out with the other Cuban leaders. He later expressed his desire to spread revolution in other parts of the developing world, and in 1965 Castro announced that Guevara had left Cuba.
Guevara then spent several months in Africa, particularly the Congo, attempting to train rebel forces in guerrilla warfare. His efforts failed and in 1966 he secretly returned to Cuba. From Cuba he travelled to Bolivia to lead forces rebelling against the government of René Barrientos Ortuño. With US assistance, the Bolivian army captured Guevara and his remaining fighters. He was executed on 9 October 1967 in the Bolivian village of La Higuera and his body was buried in a secret location. In 1997 his remains were discovered, exhumed and returned to Cuba, where he was reburied.
'Che' is a form of colloquial slang commonly used in Argentina and Uruguay in a vocative sense as "friend" and thus loosely corresponds to expressions like "mate," "pal," "man," "bro," or "dude."
Ernesto "Che" Guevara earned his nickname from his frequent use of the expression, which to his Cuban comrades in the Cuban Revolution was a curious feature of his idiolect. As a result, Guevara is popularly known simply as el Che (the Che) in many Latin American countries.
Sam and the Bike Odyssey team exceeded our expectations on every level. Each and every day of our first European cycle adventure delivered memories of people and places that will last a lifetime. A test of mind and body, but a rich and rewarding experience that has whet the appetite for more of the same. We’ll be back.
Without a doubt your guides (and Sam is included), are the best I’ve had on any tour, and I’ve ridden more tours than I can count across the US, Europe and South America. Great personalities and extremely helpful. Also very accommodating to personal preferences (bananas and Cokes!). This is what will keep me coming back to Odyssey tours. Also extremely important – your willingness to let riders leave whenever they want in the morning and have the bikes out and ready to ride early — before breakfast. Much appreciated.
Organising a custom tour in a foreign country where you are not fluent in the language can be intimidating as you are always trying to consider your groups individual needs and abilities, Getting to know Sam and then working with Bike Odyssey is so refreshing in that they were able to provide a very high end experience, while feeling like it was effortless on our end. The team was always working hard in the background to make sure our customised Hannibal adventure unfolded seamlessly and going by the feedback from our group and the sign up for Lionheart it’s clear they were effective.
Sam’s approach is calm and confident and the route choice as well as accommodation was memorable. I would highly recommend engaging Bike Odyssey as your choice.
Eastern Explorer Excellence!! We had such a fantastic two week custom tour with Bike Odyssey. 9 friends from Adelaide, of varying abilities, embarked on an epic 1,400kms from Görlitz on the German/Polish border, all through Poland, with a rest day in Gdańsk, ending in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The organisation of the trip was perfect, Max and Francesca our tour leaders could not have done more for us. Great hotels, wonderful food, and great technical help from Frannie who made us all into Hammerhead converts and experts within no time at all! No more dodgy paper maps and getting lost, Hammerheads are the way forward! Literally!
Thanks Bike Odyssey for a brilliant tour, we look forward to the next one!
Well, what can I say other than brilliant! Hannibal 2017 was 16 days of brilliant riding, excellent accommodation and the guides were just second to none. Sam, Max and the team are committed to ensuring that you have the trip of a lifetime, to which I did. I would recommend bike odyssey as the best cycling company to take you on an adventure through Europe and beyond! Do it!!!…..you won’t regret a single minute. Thanks Sam and team for a wonderful trip!
The cycling routes, guides, food, wine and accommodation were all great. Such a memorable trip. I highly recommend bike odyssey
Awesome Guides, fantastic accommodation, best riding ever. If you ride a bike book a holiday with these guys, you won’t regret it.
Thank you Max for being such an excellent guide during our Hannibal Tour. Your infectious enthusiasm was invaluable and the way you supported the whole group throughout each day was fabulous. I felt very safe with you as our tour leader during the first few days and appreciate your motivating and fun loving personality from the beginning to the end of the trip. And last but not least, your Spanish mints (with accompanying jingle) each morning were vital to a good start to the day.
I felt that all the guides and their contributions were extraordinary all went over and above to ensure that we were in the right place, their individual and team contributions were excellent as was their personal skill sets all were able to walk the talk with no trouble.
The guides were amazing…..excellent in fact. Particular mention has to go to Mark. He is as solid and reliable and friendly as you could ever wish for. Nothing was too much for him – even with a stinking cold towards the end, he was ever present and friendly. The image of him at the top of Col Agnel in gale force words and horizontal rain, packing bikes into the trailer will stay with me for a long time.
The other guides were all excellent and genuinely could not do enough. They made the trip very easy and all we had to do was concentrate on riding our bikes.
I was captivated from the first by the notion of historically themed epic cycling journeys, but I had no idea about the level of real support that Sam and his team was going to provide. Our journey was certainly epic in every way; the daily distances stretched me physically and we were unlucky to cop some really wet weather during the first weeks of the tour. The support really amazed me. There were days when we arrived at our destination soaked and nearly done in, but our bikes were whisked away for clean up and we were met with enthusiastic congratulations from the team and snacks and drinks for an immediate pick-me-up. This was always followed by utter relaxation in wonderful accommodation and great food. On the ride itself, the bike guides were a revelation to me. The last part of the climb to the Gotthardt was looking a bit grim until a smiling face appeared at my side and suggested a pause for a photo opportunity might just let me catch my breath. Despite being the last rider at the col who wanted to make the cold descent in the mist, companion riders and guides all encouraged me to go for it.
Despite having had a “one in a century event” as far as the amount of rainfall is concerned (there have been record floods in this part of the world), and precipitation for 5 out of the past 6 days, everyone is still in good spirits and, if anything, the sense of a group identity is stronger than ever. This in itself is a fine testament to both Sam’s organisation and the great team he has put together to support us. And the service in making sure all our bikes are cleaned up, re-lubed, and with gears tuned each morning – often in the rain – through these days of inclement weather has been magnificent. Through it all, Sam has remained totally unfazed and this has helped us all through. With the fantastically conceived historical nature of this trip, the brilliant route and wonderful accommodation as well – not to mention Sam’s excellent historical interpretations – it’s hard to imagine a more interesting, rewarding and challenging tour.
As a 65 yr old with 2 metal hips, I joined Sam’s very first Hannibal tour, with some appreciable trepidation. But any misgivings I might have entertained dissipated quickly. Stunning views, friendly and ever helpful guides, scrumptious local fare and excellent accommodation more than compensated for the fading grumblings of an initially reluctant body. By the 3rd day all fatigue was forgotten as I made friends with riders from very different backgrounds, learnt some useful lingo and soaked up sights, smells and history of a most interesting part of the World.
Sam did a faultless job running the tour from the hotels to the food, the support, the hire bikes and the incredible history of Hannibal along the way, I cannot imagine how it could have been executed any better. The guides were professional, dedicated, friendly and supportive. Their experience shone through and is their greatest asset.
I already have my next epic tour planned, and it wont be the last.
The Hannibal Expedition has been the major riding highlight of my 20-year riding career. The scenery, food wine and accommodation were something I have no hesitation in recommending. For me, the greatest plus was achieving the challenge the Hannibal Expedition’s thoughtfully crafted route provides. Plenty of personal challenge, in beautiful and historic countries, with almost no traffic. What more could you ask for.
The guides? What a team! On and off the bike the guys could not have been better. Their focus was on ensuring that everyone was safe and enjoying themselves. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble. They handled sometimes difficult situations , with grace, and good humour. And as an added bonus Mark and Dirk’s photography is simply stunning. So I’ve done 2 epic trips now, thoroughly indulged and enjoyed myself both times.
Max, Sam and Mark, what a trip! The finest food and wine from France, the best roads of Germany, Polish castles, new age Baltic states, and behind the romance of Russia. We did more than follow Napoleon’s footsteps, we opened up a new world. My life is enriched because of the 2015 Napoleon tour.
Sam, a fantastic tour for the adventurous with the usual epic adventure standards – well researched, great accommodation and meals and the best of guides and support. This tour has a variety of landscapes, terrain, cultures and is filled with history both ancient and modern. There wasn’t a day when I thought I’d prefer to be somewhere else.
Sam, Max, and Mark, thanks guys, in your role as tour operators and guides your professionalism, work rate, attention to detail and commitment was second to none.
Sam, your team did a magnificent job in the planning & executing of this tour – the castles, chateaux, monasteries & mansions we stayed in were amazing ( who could forget Ziggy?)!
What an amazing holiday! You can eat and drink as much as you like and you still go home fitter and trimmer than when you left! Wait till Woman’s Weekly or Cosmo hear about this holiday! You guys’ll be booked solid till early retirement. This was undoubtedly the best long weekend of my life so far. I’ll be back next year for at the very least a full stage, if not more! My legs look forward to cashing this cheque which my hand is currently writing!
The guides on the Hannibal Expedition were excellent. They are excellent organisers, who think ahead, and are always looking to make the best possible experience for the riders, whether this be making sure the bikes are in top condition, or the picnics lunch is in “the spot”, or the evening meal is an experience to remember. The guides are happy to answer to questions on the route, and change things as weather or circumstance require. Sam’s historical knowledge and has willingness to share this knowledge really added to the trip.
I am very much looking forward to riding with them again.
This was by far the most fun I have had on a bike. It was a pretty stern physical test for me, and thus perfect. I eyed off the van once or twice but never had to get in it. Lovely places and lovely routes that you would never find by yourself, and all fully supported.
Hannibal Barca, the wily Carthaginian General, was a fine strategist and leader. His attempt to conquer Rome by taking war elephants across the Alps was a real feat. If you wish to ride across the Alps, in fine style, without the support of war elephants, then you should sign up for this tour. They are great operators and their tour is first class.
It is a rare thing to experience something that changes your perspective on life permanently, even more rare when that something is a choice, and not a challenge that life has forced upon you.
The Hannibal Tour did just that, it changed my perspective on life. I started the tour with very high expectations, to see the best of Europe, to make friends, to challenge myself physically. What it achieved was well beyond this. The Hannibal Tour covered some of the most extraordinary landscape I will ever see, including times when I truly was on top of the world. Meeting the physical challenge of 26 days of cycling when I have never in my life before been a cyclist has left me with an incredible belief that anything is possible in life. I have made lifelong friends from across the globe. On this tour, I felt more alive than I had since I was a kid. We all laughed hard, ate and drank like kings, and at the top of the Alps I cried with joy. And all this, from the seat of a bicycle.
Sam had obviously put a lot of time and effort into researching and organising the Hannibal Epic. The detail in the planning is obvious from the start and resulted in a magnificent experience every day. The hotels, restaurants, routes, lunch stops including several picnics, coffee breaks and extras such as wine tastings and farmhouse meals were superb. An added feature of their tours is the historical aspect which was regularly explained to us in regard to our location. I feel very lucky to have found this tour and to have been able to participate as it was challenging, unforgettable and a great opportunity to meet other like minded cyclists and create new friendships. It was hard coming home after such a unique experience. Thank you Sam.
To go on a trip that has congruency with the challenge of the ride -the epic and the history, gastronomy, the culture, the landscapes and to provide such intelligent support is amazing . I loved it, felt challenged, gave myself to the whole experience and have no criticisms, just grateful for a marvellous trip.
The 25 days I spent on the road with Sam was the best month I have had in my life. To be able to travel through Spain, France and Italy, and to see, do, eat and enjoy so much, was a real privilege. Sam eliminates any stress that may come with such a huge undertaking. Really, all you have to do is keep pedalling and not lose control of your bike when you pinch yourself to check you are not actually dreaming.