OTHELLO - MARRAKESH TO PORTO CYCLING TOUR OVERVIEW
From the exotic to the exceptional through Morocco, Spain and Portugal. This unique Odyssey is a cultural exploration from history's East to West.
Cycling out of the souks of Marrakesh we head through the Oasis of Ouirgane Valley before climbing over the Atlas Mountains to the Tizi-n-Test pass. Then towards spectacular UNESCO listed Ait Benhaddou, the spectacular setting for many blockbusters including this Odyssey! We then hit the old caravan route between Marrakesh and the unforgettable Draa Valley and roll over with amazing views back towards the snow covered Atlas mountains before descending to Agdz. On to Zagora and then Merzouga where we swap bikes for pacing camels (camels don't trot) and head into the Sahara! We spend a night out in the desert, in a luxurious camp befitting this journey. Then we pedal north through the Dades Valley and the Todra Gorge and riding which is hard to beat - palm groves, rocky villages and spectacular settings. Our Moroccan Stage finishes with a road not less travelled but never travelled as we take a unique pass out of the Atlas and head to the 1000 year old palmaraie - an oasis of a several hundred thousand palm trees on the outskirts of Marrakesh.
To continue our Odyssey into Spain on Stage 2 we cross (by plane for comfort!) over the Mediterranean, just as the Moorish invaders did just over 1300 years ago into - then - Iberia. We land in Andalucia - the very best region in Spain for history, atmosphere and passion! From Almeria we ride the Sierra Nevada - visiting Las Alpujarras - the white washed villages which dot the lower southern slopes, before taking on (optional of course!) the Pico Veleta - Europe’s highest road! After hitting the hills we roll to Granada then Cordoba for exceptional history and Moorish architecture in the Alhambra and La Mezquita. Then we head North West into Extremadura, the Spaniard's Spain where we roll through olive and orange groves into quiet beautiful ancient villages - ideal cycling! The Portuguese border comes all too soon but more fantastic terrain is still to come...
Our Portuguese journey starts in Alentejo, a region full of castles, monasteries, palaces, Roman and medieval ruins. With its rolling topography and views, every rise is a cyclist's delight. Our first destination in Portugal was one of its first defenses against Spain in medieval times - Monsaraz, a charming hilltop fortress now surrounded by vines which make some of Portugal's best wine! Then we roll to UNESCO listed Evora, the capital of the region with a wealth of history from the stunning Roman Temple of Diana to the Igreja de São Francisco, its splendid Gothic cathedral. Heading north into the Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede where the beauty of medieval Marvao greets us, and where one of the challenges of the tour awaits - Torre, Portugal's highest road and a beautiful 19km climb (@ 6%). Our finale is the Duoro Valley and we roll all the way down it marveling at the views, wineries and climbs! It is refined beauty at its best which contrasts perfectly with the Atlas Mountains and desert where we started our Odyssey 4 weeks ago!
Othello makes Outside Magazine's Epic Trips of 2021
We are hugely proud to feature not 1 but 2 of our Odysseys in Outside Magazines Epic Trips of 2021. Othello - Marrakesh to Porto and Allies made it into this very exclusive list a year early!
MARRAKESH TO PORTO
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One of our most popular guides, Frenchman Bruno is a veteran of the cycle touring industry. He has created and run tours in Morocco and Europe for the last 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge and love with all things cycling, food and wine. Touring with Bruno, guests know they will be well taken care of, both on and off the bike. His attention to detail and appreciation of wines (not only a guide but sommelier too) makes the tours he leads adventures both on the road and culinary!
- Mesmerising Marrakesh! A royal city of Morocco with so much to experience
- Spectacular UNESCO gem Ait Benhaddou which rises out of the desert!
- The Berber villages and stunning Atlas Mountains - perfect riding and exploration
- Unspoilt Ouirgane Valley, a plateau surrounded by striking red earth foothills, planted with olive, almond and fruit trees - a true Oasis
- The Tizi-n-Test (2092m) - an awe-inspiring switchback-filled pass into the High Atlas
- Erg Chebbi in the Sahara desert, a luxury desert camp in the unforgettable dunes of Merzouga
- The souks (markets) in every town and village including Jemaa el-Fnaa - the heart of Marrakesh
- The amazing architecture from the arches of the 12th century Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh to the Great Mosque of Tinmal
- Both the Dades Valley and the Todra Gorge. Very few are lucky enough to ride one of these - we ride both in two genuinely unforgettable days on the bike. This is adventure road riding at its very best.
- The exceptional cuisine! Subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations make Moroccan food one of the best cuisines in the world
- The exceptional Riads we stay in throughout our Moroccan journey - exotic, luxurious and historic!
- The best of Andalusia - from Granada to Cordoba and the Sierra Nevada, as well as one of the regions most intriguing attractions is the notion of duende, the elusive spirit that douses much of Spanish art, especially Flamenco. It translates as a moment of heightened emotion that takes you out of yourself, and we will find this on and off the bike in this special region
- Moorish Heritage in Spain - including the spectacular hilltop fortress of the Alhambra in Granada with its beautiful backdrop of the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Great Mosque of Córdoba - built in 784! We will also experience the heritage at the Andalusian Arab Baths in Granada, where you will have earned and will enjoy the Water Journey with massages and historical rituals - a fantastic experience especially after riding in the Sierra Nevada
- Spectacular cycling in the Sierra Nevada (also Cadel Evan's training grounds) and its monster the Pico Veleta! At 3,398m (11,148 ft), it is Europe's highest paved road combined with the beautiful white washed villages of the Alpujarras - Capileira, Bubión, Pampaneira and more.
- As we head east, breathtaking castle topped villages as we cruise the rolling olive groves - Montefrio, Moclin, Zuheros, Almodovar....
- Spain’s best kept secret - Extramadura - mysterious medieval villages, beautiful mountains, orange groves, lakes and cork forests - ideal cycling
- Tapas Bars and live Flamenco...after all Andalusia's is where Flamenco was born!
- The Alentejo region - rolling vine clad hills, white washed villages, magnificent medieval and Roman villages. The best cycling territory in the country
- Beautiful Evora, a UNESCO Heritage site and one of Portugal’s best preserved medieval towns which also contains some of the country's best Roman ruins, notably the spectacular Temple of Diana
- The magnificent M's! Monsaraz, Marvao and Marialva - stunning medieval hilltop villages - some of the most beautiful in Europe
- UNESCO listed Douro Valley for Wine tasting and beautiful vistas over the "socalcos" terraced vineyards, olive and orange groves
- Climbing 'Torre' - The Serra da Estrela is a beautiful region and the 1993m climb aptly named 'tower' is magnificent
- The food and wine of Alentejo! It produces half the countries wine and serves its most renowned dishes. We will visit its most authentic restaurants – places which celebrate age-old recipes
- The Pousadas of Portugal - the term ‘Pousada’ has become synonymous with luxury hotel accommodation in beautifully restored historical buildings - perfect for our tours!
- Porto - A magic place to finish the odyssey, this historic city has beautiful friendly people, amazing food and that x-factor which makes its visitors fall in love with it
Fittingly on this exotic and historic Odyssey, we stay in riads, castles, paradores, pousadas and historic abodes. Here are some places you will stay at on the tour:
From the intensely rich and exquisite tagines of Morocco to the hearty paellas and seafood of Spain and onto the world renowned custard tarts of Portugal, this trip offers your taste buds a trip of a lifetime. There is no limit to the gastronomical pleasures you will encounter along the way.
Read more about the Food and Wine of the regions we ride through
They say that the longer a meal takes to prepare, the better it tastes. If this is true, Moroccan food is the best in the world. Each meal takes hours to prepare and it's worth it, giving so many flavours and layers to each dish. The end result are tagines, the famous slow-cooked Moroccan stew which takes its name from the traditional clay or ceramic dish it's traditionally cooked in. Whether it be meat - usually beef or chicken - or vegetable, the tastes are exquisite. Often sweetened with prunes or apricots and always spices, they are a treat every time. There is no limit to their tagines and will just dissolve in your mouth in utter gastronomical bliss! One of the great cuisines of the world, Moroccan cooking abounds with subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations. Think tart green olives paired with chopped preserved lemon rind stirred into a tagine of tender chicken, the surprise of rich pigeon meat pie dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar, or sardines coated with a flavourful combination of coriander, parsley, cumin and a hint of chilli. You don't have to sit down at a restaurant to get this though - some of the cheapest eats on the streets are still delightful, so be sure to go to the market or enjoy a kebab or a freshly smashed sugar cane drink at a street-side stall. Moroccan cuisine is considered one of the best in the world and you won't be disappointed. Remember to start your day with a mint tea - you will be growing herb gardens full of it when back home!
Spain's Andalusian region has dishes which include pescaito frito (fried fish), gazpacho, Cordoban salmorejo, pringá, oxtail, jamón ibérico (Iberian ham), prepared olives, alboronía, poleá and anise. Gastronomy in Andalusia is very location specific. Locals know that the best strawberries and jamon come from Huelva; sardines from Malaga; tuna from Barbate; mangoes from Granada; cucumbers and tomatoes from Almeria. Wine is produced all over Andalusia, though the most famous tipples are sherry from Jerez and Malaga sweet wine. The poverty of the great majority of people is also a significant element of Andalusian cuisine. The rich soups, stews and paellas found all over Spain today began as the staple diet of peasant communities, surviving on homegrown vegetables and meat bones stewed for hours to eke out every ounce of flavour. The distinctiveness of its cuisine is the result of a combination of the superb quality of its raw materials and great economy, resourcefulness and inventiveness in their use. The Moors designed and built the irrigation systems – the ‘huertas’ of Andalucía, creating great irrigated farms and cash crop systems that are still evident today. They introduced an array of foodstuffs and spices, making a huge impact on the Spanish diet. For example, they successfully introduced and cultivated rice and durum wheat (the basis of pasta) later exported to Italy. Oranges, lemons, aubergine, almonds, dates, peaches, apricots, quinces and, of huge significance, coffee, were all introduced by the Moors. Their impact on the culinary traditions of the region can also be seen in the number of Spanish dishes flavoured with black pepper, cumin, saffron and other exotic spices.
Extremadura is known for its different ways of preparing the Iberian pork and mutton. The main characteristics of the traditional dishes are its simplicity, but beautifully reflecting a generous spirit, for many of its preparations used to be cooked in large pots to share with visitors, friends and neighbours. The resulting dishes are eaten with lovely local bread. Their cuisine is an exotic blend of Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions that are famed for producing a certain rustic style of cooking full of authentic Spanish flavours.
The cooking of the Alentejo isn’t fussy, nor is it particularly lowbrow. It’s simply a showcase of the rich ingredients from a region with centuries-old culinary traditions. Freshly baked bread, olives, wild mushrooms, asparagus, salted cod, wild boar and olive oil are the building blocks of timeless recipes.
Bread here is yummy and accompanies every single meal, but you will not get tired of it I guarantee! As for desserts, many towns and villages in the Alentejo prepare delightful pastries and desserts, including versions you won’t find elsewhere. According to tradition, nuns in convents were the first to make desserts, beginning in the 15th century. Recipes were passed down from generation to generation, kept as closely guarded secrets in each nunnery. Today some of the best pastries are still made by nuns – and known far and wide as doces conventuais (convent sweets). A must try! And if you stay on in Porto afterward, please try their famous sandwich, the Francesinha. It means little French woman or simply Frenchie in Portuguese. You may ask why their most iconic sandwich is named after another country.....this dish was created by Portuguese emigrants to France who encountered the French snack, the croque monsieur, and decided to take it to a whole new level, making it bigger, better and seriously more delicious! It is often served with an egg on top, chips and a sauce to dip in that takes this "sandwich" to another level!
The histories of Morocco, Spain and Portugal have been intertwined for as long as modern man has occupied these fascinating countries. The Hannibalic wars of the 3rd century BCE launched our relatively modern historical knowledge of these regions. The Barca family from modern day Tunisia with their North African allies (from modern day Morocco) battled Rome, using Spain as a lauchpad (just like our Hannibal Odyssey!) to the consequent Roman occupation of all of Hispania (roughly Spain and Portugal). Two of ancient Rome's greatest emperors, Hadrian and Trajan (1st and 2nd century AD) were actually born in Andalusia!
As the Roman Empire declined and the Visigoths of Eastern Europe conquered, so much of Europe Islam rose in North Africa. In 711, King Roderick of the Visigoths was defeated by the advancing Moor army. Islamic caliphates were established through most of Spain. Consequently Islamic Moorish culture blossomed across Iberia for the next 800 years (200 years longer than the Roman's lasted). Christians from the north battled to slowly but surely push back the Moors in a process known as the "Reconquest" and in 1492 the Moors were driven out of Granada, their last European stronghold.
Medieval Spain rooted in Islamic and Christian culture is fascinating, and so different from the rest of Europe.
From here Spain quickly unified, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Spanish Empire was at its height and the dominant force of Europe. However the rise of the Ottoman Empire and Protestant powers in Northern Europe started Spain's decline, and in the early 19th century Napoleon occupied France and Spain struggled to recover for the rest of the century. The early 20th century brought war... WWI and WWII but Spain's focus was it's own Civil War which Nationalist General Francisco Franco, leads to victory. More than 350,000 Spaniards died in the fighting, and Franco purges all remaining Republicans. Spain is left behind by the rest of Europe but in 1975 Franco dies and Spain joins Europe as we know it today.
Meanwhile in Morocco, almost at the same time as Granada falling, the Arab dynasties begin after centuries of Berber rule. Morocco was a strong centralised Arab state for 300 years but in 1912 it became a French protectorate and 22 years of internal war followed.. Post WWII Moroccan independence was gained and since then a monarchy has ruled.
Roughly (very roughly!) Portugal followed Spain's historical journey but by the 15th century it was independent and fast becoming a dominant maritime power conquering much of the African coastline (including parts of Morocco) and beyond. Portugal then focused on the spice trade and a horrible claim to fame is that The Inquisition was formed in Portugal in 1536. For a quick century Spain ran Portugal under a single monarch - independence was regained in 1640. From here a typical Euro maritime history path - trade, plunder wherever possible from Africa to South America, internal conflict between Monarch and Liberals and the poor generally being downtrodden and manipulated! For the last 50 years Portugal has been relatively stable but it was as recent as the 1960s that they were fighting guerilla warfare in their African colonies..
the protagonist of the Shakespearean play of the same name is a general in the army of Venice. He is a Moor, a dark-skinned man born in Africa, and has risen through the ranks of the Venetian army through hard work and success in battle. A respected general, but less respected as a person because of his dark skin and foreign roots. Honest and passionate he deeply loves Desdemona, even when he kills her. Iago uses Othello's trust in him to manipulate him, and Othello stops trusting in Desdemona, and begins to rely exclusively on Iago's advice. Desdemona was Othello's passion, and when she dies, he must die soon after, especially after he learns that she was innocent.
A desperate story and a magnificent tale of the best known Moor in western history. This tour will give you an insight into so much more!
This was my third trip with Bike Odyssey and I would give it a perfect score. The guides (Max, Francesca, Christiana and Henrick) were absolutely superb. They worked seamlessly as a team and as individuals. The riding was completely lovely and if you like to ride extra (like I do) the guides were very flexible in working with you so you could do as much or as little as you wanted. The combination of lovely riding and amazing history is unique in my experience to Bike Odyssey. Finally even though the group was fairly large (24 people) somehow the trip was done in such a way that you felt taken care of as an individual and entirely looked after. I liked every single participant on the trip, I can’t think of a single negative thing to say. PS the picnic lunches every day were a completely unexpected highlight.
A personal challenge with 5 star back up. Meeting people who (I think) share a similar approach to cycling, travel and life. Your routes were fantastic, Sam. Every day slightly different. Scenery, roads and gradients constantly varied. Great riding always. Food was beyond expectations. Glutinous breakfasts, healthy lunches and stunning dinners…even for veggos! The accommodation was luxurious. Beds regenerated tired bodies overnight. Impressive swimming pools were always a bonus too. Last, but certainly not least , were the guides. Enrico’s knowledge of the countries we rode through was enlightening. It was almost embarrassing to have such a person do room service for us when we were locked down. Dario couldn’t do enough for us and what can you say about Marjolein? She is so capable and genuine. She made every one of us feel special and gave the best massages ever. I would do future tours for the guides alone! It was great having you there Sam. Loved the history and your calm approach to the day to day, no matter what.
Experiences that leave a lasting impression for me are generally ones that are aligned with my values and create an authentic connection. Bike Odyssey NZ 2022 led by Isabel and supported by Sarah and Sean in NZ and Nicky and Sam in Australia was an absolute standout. Isabel is an outstanding leader combining Intelligence, empathy and great organisational skills. To share this experience with my son Hugh has been an absolute privilege. I can’t wait to begin my next Bike odyssey adventure with Jane and your team in 2023.
Great support, great organisation, great fun, great Sam, great everything!!!
Fantastic personalised service & continuous attention to the needs of a diverse group of clients.
Great ride with great company and the best of meals. Bike Odyssey really look after me on these rides.
Very well organised, good route, excellent communication throughout and fabulous accommodation. Highly recommend Sam, Isabel and their support
Super professional as always, the route was stunning and challenging, loved the food all round especially the on road lunches provided by Issy!
We rode on the Bike Odyssey Under Downunder Tasmanian tour in February/March 2021. The tour was essentially a push-bike circumnavigation (more or less) of Tasmania over 3 weeks. It was fully supported with accommodation at some of Tasmania’s top hotels and a smattering of more modest accommodation at some more remote locations. Restaurants ranged from excellent fine dining to pubs with great food, again depending on the location.
The guides Sam and Issy and the masseuse, Sarah couldn’t do enough for us to help make our experience a fabulous one.
They were always encouraging when it came to the big hills. Always honest when they felt the weather or conditions were against us. And Sarah was always there to make sure the sore hard-working bodies stayed in good order.
Whilst by no means the cheapest bike riding experience holiday I believe that you get what you pay for and this is a perfect example of that.
I will continue to choose Bike Odyssey.
This was a great ride. It rained on the first morning, so we waited that out. And it rained on the departure day, which was irrelevant. Apart from that, it was cold generally and windy, but those discomforts were more than made up for by the scenery, food and wine. This was a hard ride — consistently, days had 1000 or more metres of climbing [with the option of more!] and an average of 100 km of rolling terrain — but thoroughly enjoyable.
Sam was an attentive and skilful jack-of-all trades and Isabel was an energetic and enthusiastic presence at all times. Between them, they served up a varied and wonderful smorgasbord of hotels, meals and drinks. They consistently accommodated the varied and idiosyncratic requests of the touring group. The riding group consisted of people with varied life experiences and opinions, which made for interesting conversations over dinner.
I’ve been on several supported tours over the last few years and Sam is heads and shoulders above when it comes to attention to details and impeccable support for the rides.
A really relaxing well organised and enjoyable trip. Sam and Isi were enthusiastic, supportive and very personable tour leaders. Would heartily recommend Bike Odyssey trips.
Bike Tour was very well organised. Accommodation and meals were excellent. Riders were able to ride at own pace without hassles. Staff were very helpful, great fun and great people.
Sam Wood put together a most professional and fun custom tour of the NSW Snowies at short notice. We were treated to nourishing breakfasts, gourmet roadside lunches, and selected dinners, interspersed with a wonderful variety snacks and drinks during the rest breaks. On road support was amazing, with cue-laden GPS routes, and equal support and encouragement handed out to the fast riders, the relaxed riders, and everyone in between.
And, there was still time to set up and prepare lunch, clean up after the hungry horde, and be at the end-of-day accommodation with keys and any important information.
I would not hesitate to join one of the Bike Odyssey trips – either domestic or overseas. Nor would I hesitate have ask them to put together a custom trip for us again.
Surpassed all expectations (and they were already high!). Sam seemed to be everywhere, conjuring up fabulous meals, shopping, repairing bikes, filling water bottles and all with a cheerful smile. Highly recommended.
Our recent Bike Odyssey tour of Tasmania from Hobart to Launceston was a magical experience. The organization by Isabella and Sam was impeccable and the expertise in cycling – Chris an inspiration! – and tour co-ordination evident and so professional. The routes chosen were ideal to challenge and offer wonderful views of the countryside at the same time. As a couple we were able to enjoy a cycling holiday together for the first time. Liz on an e-bike and Bill on his own roadbike brought from Brisbane. The accommodation venues arranged were all of a high quality and we certainly appreciated the remedial massages with Sarah!
We look forward to joining many future adventures with the amazing Bike Odyssey team!!
First Class Cycling
Bike Odyssey just continues to deliver. Fully supported, flexible riding options that cater for all. Feel like knocking off early or missing that section – no worries. Want to ride further or detour a challenging climb – they just make it happen so seamlessly. Outstanding catering along the way, then overnight in luxurious accommodation with top class meals.
The l’Etape Escape weekend away was another great adventure delivered by Sam and Isabel.
Once you join the Bike Odyssey family you will realise this is the only way to cycle.
Great week of riding and guide support. Well structured itinerary with some great stops along the way (winery, cheese factory, fish shop, famous pub etc). Suitable focus on “where is the next coffee” and great picnics.
Sam and Isabel do a great job of making the journey a pleasure.
THE way to see Tasmania!
We were blessed with two weeks of wonderful weather, but this must be the best way to see Tasmania! Riding pace to get around and fabulous food and accommodation to keep you fresh. I absolutely loved it, including the challenges like climbing kunyani/Mt Wellington and Jacob’s Ladder at Ben Lomond. Isabel and Sam were fantastic guides/hosts and the routes were well researched. Can’t wait to do another Bike Odyssey!
Sam and Isi set up short breaks in Australia to relieve the tedium of the Corona virus restrictions and the Berry break we joined on our tandem proved that Bike Odyssey was able to match the quality of their customary European trips here at home. The riding was unexpectedly challenging, utilising mostly quiet roads, the weather was satisfyingly pleasant and the company, support, food and accommodation were outstanding. Just as we have come to expect from Bike Odyssey!
Outstanding support & customer service
Tassie Down Under was my first Bike Odyssey and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with how it all went! Sam and Isabel leave nothing to chance, they are super organized and extremely accommodating to the varying needs of each person on tour. The support they gave us both on and off the bike was absolutely outstanding. The accommodation was high end and the meals were incredible. I’m already planning my next Bike Odyssey and it won’t be my last!
Sam provided support for our 7 day Snowy Mountains bike tour… day 1 I thought this was pretty good having morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea all sorted without thinking about it. As the days and k’s rolled on I reset my thinking to “how far to Sam” such was the fabulous support and treats each stop provided.
Choosing a supported bike tour is easy now, just select which Bike Odyssey trip to go on, simple!
A trip of a lifetime cycling through Spain, France & Italy – Pyrenees, Mediterranean, French Alps, iconic climbs, renowned wine regions, medieval villages and most importantly new friends from the Hannibal Odyssey.
A great trip all around; beautiful Tasmania countryside, well organized, excellent communication, helpful leaders (Cam for President), outstanding restaurants and mostly top-quality hotels. I especially appreciate Sam driving us two hours to the airport due to our leaving the trip early. Very kind of him.
I would eliminate Hawley House next time. Our room was in the back, smelled like dogs and the mattress was so soft and uncomfortable that I opted to sleep on the floor. The food there was excellent though.
Otherwise, a challenging, gratifying and memorable trip.
Amazing way to see the world with a fantastic company. I would recommend this trip to everyone
Had the best guides on the best roads, the accommodation was second to none, navigation was spot on and the food was exceptional
I just did the Lionheart tour. The Bike Odyssey routes, accommodation, food and history talks – all amazing. But what made the trip outstanding was that Sam and his team went the extra mile (often literally!) to keep us safe, healthy and happy.
Fantastic trip and fantastic attention to detail from the team. Bike Odyssey sweats the details so you can just enjoy the riding, eating and the views.
The best in the business – sensational, organised and professional sums up the Bike Odyssey Team. The route planning is impeccable taking in the quiet roads and stunning scenery. Every day ends in another top class and unique accommodation with tasty regional food and wine. Nothing to think about once on the trip except the all important riding your bike.
Outstanding scenery, accommodation and food. Everything is taken care of for you, just get on your bike and enjoy the amazing scenery and excellent roads with very little traffic.
Thanks Sam and everyone at Bike Odyssey for a truly memorable holiday.
Extremely happy. Awesome route and on-road support, fantastic accommodation and food. As good as Hannibal which was my best overseas experience to date.
I booked this trip in late 2018 and even before we left in July 2019 I felt in professional hands. Bike Odyssey were heavily involved from that point right through to the trip itself in helping me get organised and answering any and all questions. Nothing was too much trouble and it made for a very smooth experience. The trip itself was simply brilliant. The team were outstanding in their organisation and care for us as riders and people and we had a lot of fun together. I always felt respected and cared for and very safe on the road with the support we had. Furthermore, our bikes and gear was well cared for, the food and accomodation was amazing and the riding routes extremely well scouted and thought through. Finally, we could always take some time out if required, which was vital on a long point to point journey. Overall, I would highly recommend Bike Odyssey and look forward to hopefully enjoying another adventure with them in future years.
Hands down the best holiday I have had. Great food and accommodation, unbelievable levels of support from the Bike Odyssey team and the ability to completely unplug for large stints each day made this an epic break.
I’ll definitely be back.
If there was an option to rate 6 star, I would!
What an experience- there is nothing I would change. From start to finish, the location, the rides, the seamless transfers of my gear each day, the fantastic group of people riding, and the brilliant guides supporting us daily.
I cannot wait to book another tour. Yes it is the only bike tour I have done, however would be pretty certain it rates as one of the best.
I did this trip on an ebike as I am not a cyclist. It was a tough ask but the organisation by Bike Odessey made life a lot easier. Everything was done for us other than having to pedal every day. Our route was plotted, our coffee was planned and the picnic lunches set us up perfectly for the afternoon. The guides were professional and motivating. The lead guide Max has a real gift with people and inspired us every day to do more. We had our bikes expertly maintained and our bodies too with a professional massage every few days. The entire team were fantastic.
We had amazing food, saw places we would never have known about, made new and special friendships and had experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Would I travel with Bike Odessey again? I’m already planning it.
I enjoyed my 10 days as a non-riding partner for the stage 2 on Hannibal 2019. Whilst my husband was riding through the Alps following Hannibal’s footsteps, I was hiking to a lake, enjoying a wine tasting or two and taking part in an Italian cooking lesson. We also had time to wander through local markets and enjoy the fabulous grounds of our accommodation in Castles and Villa’s in vineyards with magnificent views! The Bike Odyssey crew are welcoming, informative and friendly, they are quite flexible with the day to day plans. I have no hesitation in recommending Bike Odyssey for the non rider, although I will definitely be riding next time on an e-bike! My husband was thrilled with his ride and is already planning the next one!
THE trip for serious cyclists who also appreciate life après-ride.
Bike Odyssey’s Hannibal trip has it all: challenging cycling (including the most noted climbs of France and some very spiky ascents in Italy); outstanding support; fine dining; quality accommodations.
This was a very challenging cycling trip, riding in the Pyrenees of Spain and France, the French Alps and Apennines of Italy. If you want the best cycling Europe has to offer, this is the trip to take. Bike Odyssey provided expert support and knowledge, found super accommodations and excellent cuisine(both with their picnic lunches and tremendous restaurant choices) and new friendships created made this trip an epic experience. Look forward to my next Bike Odyssey trip!
First tour was Tassie. Had a great time. Looking forward to doing Morocco in 2021
As inexperienced cyclists we were very capably supported throughout the wonderful Che tour, an exotic, challenging and exciting experience. Wonderful arrangements, great guides and support staff, and the ability to adapt to the different needs of the riders and local situations. They were also great at helping the group gel and work well together.
Having toured with Sam and team on Hannibal in 2017 we signed up again for 2019 for another custom tour. The quality of the whole experience was impressive, from the route choice on the most scenic and quiet roads to the exceptional accommodation and regional food. All being done in a relaxed way made us feel we were in safe hands.
I did the “Che” tour from Lonquimqy to Bariloche. There is no better way to see these countries and especially the Andes. The cycling routes were sufficiently challenging and the time off the bike was also spectacular. Accommodation was frequently a destination in itself. Sam, Max, Manuel and Shane were excellent guides/hosts. They set up some awesome rides so we could have the experiences. How could I forget the last grossing on mountain bikes? It was tough but the rewards of the scenery made every pedal stroke worthwhile. The 80km lakeside route culminating in the climb of Volcan Osorno was awesome and as always was rewarded with a pisco sour. Every day exposed us to the beauties and cultures of Chile and Argentina. Great people, great challenges and countries that took me to places I’d never imagined! I’ll be lining up for another tour next year.
Everything was done exceptionally well – from the amazing route and scenery, the scrumptious picnic lunches, the fantastic accommodation and first class evening meals.The relaxed, yet organized atmosphere that Sam and Cam created among all the riders was the cherry on the cake. This was my first tour with Bike Odyssey and I give them the highest of recommendations.
An excellent experience from the first enquiry to the last day of the holiday. The routes, accommodations, picnics and the support on the road were all excellent throughout the trip. The routes well thought out and the bike I hired from them was excellent.
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.