To combine changing scenery with light exercise and immersion into the countryside of a foreign territory, there may be no better way to travel than on a two wheeler. Fortunately, the pastures and country roads and river byways are completely accessible to bikes. Think of anywhere in the world you want to ride a bike or take a bike trip, and you can likely find a tour provider to take you there. Even to the white sands and red nights of the Sahara Desert.
Experience Plus (tel. 800/685-4565; www.experienceplus.com) has been putting together bike and walking tours all over the world since 1972. The tour provider out of Colorado, leads trips to Europe, South America, through North America, and Russia. While traditional bike trips go through the wine regions of France and Italy, Experience Plus also provides a trip through the Czech Republic. Classified as "Easy riding over rolling terrain," the trip includes use of a bicycle, eleven days of riding, ten nights' accommodations, seven dinners with wine and beer (this is the Czech Republic), ten breakfasts, one wine tasting, and a guided visit to Znojmo. Trip highlights include the Hluboka Castle, several renaissance towns, UNECSO World Heritage Sites, and of course the Czech countryside, punctuated by small towns and industrial remnants from the Soviet age. The trip can start or end on Prague or Vienna. Expect to bike 35 to 60 miles per day covering a total of 300 plus miles. For those who missed their August vacations, fall departures include September 10 and September 23, 2006, costing $2,995 for the guided trips. This particular trip picks up again in the fall costing $3,195. Experience Plus has low-prices for single supplements, custom tours, family tours and women only trips.
GAP Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761; www.gapadventures.com), a consistent provider of top-rate bicycle trips and adventures to destinations from Catalonia to Canada, has a trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains that combines biking, hiking and rafting. The fourteen-day trip starting in Calgary costs $2,495 with a departure date of September 30, 2006. Seven spaces are still available on this trip that visits glaciers, remote sections of national parks, hikes through alpine areas of the Rockies, and eyes such wildlife as elk, caribou, moose, deer, mountain goats, and bears. This trip visits Banff, Jasper, Revelstoke, and the Kootenay Mountains. The trip includes rafting on the Kakwa River, two days of mountain biking in Revelstoke, and hiking and camping in the Kootenay National Park. The group size won't exceed twelve for this trip which is led by a GAP leader for the duration of the trip and local leaders in select locations for select activities such as rafting, biking and hiking. Accommodations are in hotels with one night camping with the optional stay in a real teepee. Some meals are included but a kitty of $315 is suggested for food and other items. This is a three on a scale of five in the "physical grading" department.
In the United States, Bike the Whites (tel. 800/421-1785; www.bikethewhites.com), a travel provider we've covered here before, has an updated web presence and fall tour program. Bike the White's specializes in trips around the White Mountains of New Hampshire with lodging in the area's many cozy inns. Most of the trips are three days in length with easy riding by day and fine living with gourmet dining by night. The trips are self-guided over easy to maneuver roads where bikers travel 20 to 50 leisurely miles per day. Fall packages from September 16 to October 31, 2006 start at approximately $429. In all, packages include lodging, hearty breakfasts, box lunches, full-course dinners, maps, luggage transfer, roadside assistance, bike storage and a complimentary water bottle. If necessary, bike rentals cost $70 per tour. Inns on the tour for sleeping and dinging include the Tamworth Inn, the 1785, and the Snowvillage Inn, a lodge recommended by the Food Network.
For the adventurous or the "Star Wars" fan, Bicycle Africa (tel. 206/767-0848; www.ibike.org/bikeafrica.htm) leads bike trips all over the continent of Africa. Created by David Mozer, an African Studies specialist who has been biking Africa since 1975, Bicycle Africa specializes in trips through African countries and villages with a bend on global education and cultural communication. If you're worried about safety, don't. Bicycle Africa is very selective, careful and up-to-date about its destinations. For a rundown of the upcoming Bicycle Africa schedules, go to www.ibike.org/bikeafrica/schedule.htm. A fourteen-day trip to Tunisia leaving in April 2007 costs approximately $1,290. Titled "Tunisian Odyssey: Eden to Oasis (aka the Star Wars Revisited Tour)," this trip visits many of the locations where Star Wars was filmed (think the three setting suns of Tatoinne) as well as skirts along the edge of the Sahara Desert. The trip includes all lodging, two meals per day, a professional group leader, and museum and sightseeing fees. Bring about $200 for out of pocket expenses. Suitable for beginning bikers, this relatively easy biking trip covers 30 to 60 miles per day over mostly flat paved roads. Of course you should expect some rolling hills and inclines. Accommodations are in small hotels and pensions. One of the fastest ways to get in touch with Bicycle Africa is by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have trips through Tanzania, Mali, Senegal, and South Africa.
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