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Cycling Tours in Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Cycling Tours in Latin America and the Caribbean
 

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The southern half of the great American continent is split into three regions: the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Countries where Spanish, Portuguese and French are spoken are often referred to as ‘Latin America’. Whichever part of this continent entices you to visit, you are in for a cycling treat.

Many tourists that take a holiday in the Caribbean do so for the beautiful white sand beaches, inviting seas and water sports. The region has a reputation for cruise boats and luxurious resort hotels. Increasingly, a few of the islands are now also beginning to be known for what they can offer the cyclist. The islands are surprisingly diverse with stunning coastal and inland scenery, hills, mountains and forests. Interesting cycling destinations range from Barbados to Bonaire.

Certainly the most popular place in the Caribbean for cycle holidays is Cuba. This unique island has a diverse landscape, fascinating history and relatively little traffic, a great combination for cyclists. From the dramatic limestone scenery and the tobacco fields of Vinales, colonial towns such as Trinidad, to the high mountains of the Sierra Maestra in the east, there are some superb and diverse routes to explore on two wheels.

Moving further south, you come to Central America. Central America is the isthmus between North and South America, consisting of seven countries that form a narrow land bridge between Mexico and Colombia. From north to south the seven countries are Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Each country is unique and a cycling holiday in Central America offers a great diversity of environments, nature, culture and history within a relatively small area.

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North and South America existed long before geological movements created Central America, which was subsequently populated by flora and fauna trying to cross from one continent to the other, thus funnelling and concentrating life. Thanks to its tropical climate and rich volcanic soils many species flourish here. Central America is now recognised as a biodiversity hot spot, hosting 7% of the world’s biodiversity on 0.1% of its landmass. You can experience this amazing natural abundance in numerous well-preserved rain and cloud forest reserves.

It is not all about the wildlife; in Central America you can cycle past active volcanoes, laze on Caribbean and Pacific beaches, discover colourful local cultures, bike amid stunning scenery and learn about fascinating Pre-Columbian and colonial history.

There are too many attractions to list here but in each destination it is possible to cycle off road or on road along routes for all abilities from easy to tough. Belize (formerly British Honduras) is a sleepy little Caribbean country covered in rainforest and dotted with ancient Mayan temples. Guatemala also hosts important Mayan temples such as Tikal and is the only Central American country with a majority indigenous culture that adds great colour and history.

El Salvador is a rewarding but little-visited tiny volcanic country with a turbulent past. Honduras offers fine beaches on the Bay Islands, pristine jungles and the superb Mayan ruins of Copan. Nicaragua is a diamond in the rough with a fascinating history, active volcanoes, vast rainforests, charming Spanish colonial towns and chilled out Caribbean islands. Costa Rica has the best tourism infrastructure with a quarter of its land protected in national parks and reserves that showcase its incredible flora and fauna. Panama is famed for its canal and has the greatest diversity of all with numerous reserves and tropical islands and beaches to relax on.

Central America has a humid tropical climate, however within the region there are at least twelve local climates. Generally the average day temperature is warm (20-30⁰C) while humidity depends on the season and altitude. The rainy season is generally from mid-April to the beginning of November, although this varies from region to region. However even in the rainy season rain often only falls for a short time in the afternoon.

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