When it comes to bike touring in Latin America, there are few people who have explored the area more extensively than Gareth Collingwood.
Salar de Uyuni, by elpedalero.
For over 20 years, he’s cycled independently and unsupported through every country in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
In this interview, Gareth shares his experiences and memories of travelling by bicycle in South America. You’ll find more bike touring tips and tricks on his website, El Pedalero.
1. You describe Latin America as “the world’s greatest adventure travel destination”. That’s a big claim. Why do you think it’s true?
Good question! It is a big claim, yes, and not one I make lightly.
Let’s start with the geography. Latin America has the planet’s longest mountain range, largest jungle, driest desert, biggest salt flat, widest street, highest waterfall, tallest volcano, and longest road. That’s quite a playground for an adventure cyclist.
And there’s the abundance of animal and plant life. On the list of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the world, Latin America has six in the top ten! Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, and Venezuela, with Brazil at number one (surprise, surprise).
Latin America is also a place of mystery and intrigue. Wherever you travel, you’re never far from the ruins of some lost, ancient culture. Tikal, Palenque, and Machu Picchu are all worth visiting, although I prefer the lesser-known, harder-to-reach sites such as Yaxchilán (Mexico), Kuélap (Peru), and my favourite, Ciudad Perdida (Colombia).
Then there’s everything else: the food, the music, the colonial architecture, the leafy plazas, the hidden beaches, the native traditions, the bustling markets, the crowded streets, and the lonely highways.
But most of all, what makes Latin America great is Latin Americans. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been invited to dinners, put up at people’s houses, given lifts when I’ve been stuck somewhere, and otherwise helped out by friendly, generous, warm-hearted Latinos from all corners of the continent.
I don’t think I’ll ever be finished exploring Latin America.
Making Friends, Oaxaca City, Mexico by elpedalero.
2. It’s such a huge area and not everyone has years to explore it. If you could recommend just one or two areas to focus on, what would they be?
This is a very difficult question to answer. On the one hand, whichever place you choose, it’s going to be fantastic. On the other hand, you’ll be missing out on a hundred places just as remarkable. Here’s a solution: Get a pad of Post-its. On each square of paper write one place from this list.
- Argentine Patagonia
- The Central Andean Altiplano
- The Chilean Lake District
- The Mexican Colonial Heartland
- Central America
- The Yucatán
- The Amazon
- The Gran Sabana
- Western Cuba
- The Chaco
- The River Plate
- Southern Brazil
Now stick the Post-its all over a wall and throw a dart at it. Whichever Post-it the dart lands on, that’s the area you’ll focus on. The entire continent is amazing and you have to start somewhere, so just start riding.
The Endless Climb, Chilean Andes by elpedalero.
3. How about a country that’s often overlooked (but shouldn’t be) by most bike tourists?
It’s a tie between Venezuela and Paraguay.
Cyclists skip El Salvador because they think it’s too small to be interesting (not true). And they skip Colombia because they think it’s too dangerous (also not true). But they skip Venezuela and Paraguay for no real reason at all, which is a shame because they contain landscapes unlike any other in the world.
Venezuela has the Gran Sabana, the Llanos, the Orinoco Delta, the world’s highest waterfall, and the Caribbean’s longest coastline. It claims the starting point of the Andes and the headwaters of both of the Orinoco and the Amazon rivers (the Casiquiare Bifurcation).
Paraguay has the Chaco Seco, the Chaco Húmedo, Cerro Memby, Saltos del Monday, Jesuit ruins, and friendly Mennonite communities who are incredibly generous toward travelling cyclists. And the wildlife here will amaze you – Paraguay is the only place I’ve ever seen a wild jaguar while cycling!
Both countries still have all the colonial charm, delicious coffee, unmonitored children, and subtlety-free television programming you’ve come to expect from any self-respecting Latin American nation.
Red Soils And Green Grass On The Gran Sabana by elpedalero.
4. Is there anything in particular that bike tourists should pack for a trip to Latin America that they might not normally have in their bags?
Yes, Spanish! It’s compact, it’s lightweight, and it won’t take up any room in your panniers.
Seriously, a good working knowledge of Spanish will get you out of more jams than your multi-tool, your first aid kit, and that notarized photocopy of your passport combined.
Until you start speaking and understanding Spanish, you’re missing out on the real Latin American experience. And you’re missing out on making lifelong friendships with some of the most generous and warm-hearted people on the planet.
And once you’ve got Spanish, it’s a lot easier to understand and start learning Portuguese for your trip through Brazil.
Bicycle Repairs, Santa Marta, Matanzas, Cuba by elpedalero.
5. Mental preparation is also important for a bike tour. What are some typical South American challenges that cyclists need to be prepared for?
Garbage! Garbage in the streets, garbage in the rivers, garbage in the forests, the deserts, the beaches. It’s not like this everywhere, obviously, but it’s certainly going to be something you’ll see plenty of on your travels in Latin America.
Noise! Screeching engines, screaming children, blaring loudspeakers mounted atop moving vehicles. And, of course, the music. I love music, but not 120 decibels of pumping reggaetón at 4:00 am from a car stereo parked outside the window of my hotel room!
Dogs! Not all dogs. Just the ones that roam the countryside looking for bikes to chase and ankles to bite.
Bugs! Not the big, ugly ones, but the small, swarming ones: the mosquitoes, the tábanos, the coliguachos, the jejénes, and of course all the microscopic, water-borne invaders.
Unexpected Companion, Bolivia by elpedalero.
6. Where will your next tour in Latin America be, or have you explored it all by now?
I don’t think I’ll ever be finished exploring Latin America. I may have toured through every country, but that doesn’t mean I’ve seen it all. There are so many hidden corners and mysterious landscapes still to see. My next tour will be several years long and will focus on discovering these places for myself. Right now, I’m researching areas within Northern Mexico, south-western Brazil, central Chile, and Colombia’s Pacific lowlands. But as usual, I’ll be winging it once I’m there, making it up as I go.
I’ll also be revisiting some old haunts. It’s been so long since I first travelled in some of these areas it’ll be like visiting them for the first time. For example, many of the horrendously-rough gravel roads I cycled in Patagonia back in the 1990s have now been paved. It’ll be a treat to ride these roads while enjoying the scenery instead of staring at the gravel in front of my wheel, trying to pick the best line!
To learn more about Gareth’s adventures, see his website: El Pedalero.
2nd June 2013 at 8:02 pm #
Great read… can’t wait to extensively cover the Americas!
2nd June 2013 at 8:11 pm #
This is fantastic timing for us. We are currently cycling from Mexico to Argentina (currently studying Spanish in Mazunte, Oaxaca). We are definitely making note of the recommendations for our itinerary!
5th August 2013 at 9:07 pm #
Guess we’ll see you on the road 😀
3rd June 2013 at 2:41 am #
I cannot wait to reach South America. Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. I am sure this will inspire more than one cycle tourist to plan there next trip to Latin America.
10th July 2022 at 2:49 am #
A lot of thanks for each of your hard work on this site. Debby takes pleasure in managing internet research and it’s really obvious why. We all notice all of the compelling method you deliver advantageous tips on the web blog and therefore improve contribution from other people on the concept and our child has been learning a lot of things. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the year. You are doing a dazzling job.
12th July 2022 at 10:02 pm #
I wanted to draft you a bit of note to help thank you so much again for your personal precious opinions you have provided here. It was really seriously generous of you to give without restraint exactly what many of us would’ve offered for sale for an e book to help make some money for themselves, mostly considering the fact that you might well have done it in the event you decided. These suggestions likewise acted as a good way to be sure that other people have similar keenness similar to my very own to see more and more in respect of this issue. I know there are many more enjoyable moments ahead for people who examine your website.
19th July 2022 at 3:34 pm #
I wanted to send a quick note so as to say thanks to you for some of the great tips and tricks you are giving out here. My particularly long internet look up has now been rewarded with brilliant points to share with my co-workers. I ‘d admit that we readers actually are unquestionably lucky to exist in a really good site with so many perfect individuals with useful principles. I feel quite blessed to have seen your webpages and look forward to many more pleasurable minutes reading here. Thanks a lot once more for all the details.
19th July 2022 at 3:35 pm #
Thank you a lot for providing individuals with remarkably superb opportunity to read in detail from here. It really is very good and stuffed with a lot of fun for me and my office peers to search your blog minimum 3 times in a week to read the fresh guides you will have. And definitely, I am always pleased with all the outstanding points you give. Certain 2 ideas in this article are in reality the most efficient we have had.
1st August 2022 at 4:08 am #
I wish to voice my respect for your kindness in support of people who really need assistance with that topic. Your personal commitment to passing the solution all through had been unbelievably interesting and has regularly permitted somebody much like me to attain their pursuits. Your warm and friendly key points implies much a person like me and a whole lot more to my fellow workers. Thanks a ton; from everyone of us.
7th August 2022 at 12:31 am #
I wanted to create you this bit of observation to finally give thanks the moment again over the remarkable secrets you have documented at this time. It is open-handed with people like you to allow easily what exactly a number of people would’ve supplied as an e-book to earn some bucks for their own end, specifically now that you could possibly have done it in the event you considered necessary. The concepts likewise worked as the easy way to fully grasp many people have the same fervor much like mine to figure out great deal more on the topic of this condition. I think there are numerous more pleasant opportunities up front for many who scan through your site.
7th August 2022 at 12:32 am #
I precisely wanted to appreciate you once more. I’m not certain what I could possibly have implemented without those pointers documented by you on such a subject. It has been a depressing setting for me, however , taking note of a new well-written approach you managed the issue forced me to cry with happiness. I’m just thankful for this work and wish you are aware of a powerful job you are undertaking training most people through the use of a site. I am certain you have never encountered any of us.
8th August 2022 at 7:36 am #
I simply wished to appreciate you once again. I’m not certain the things I might have created without the type of recommendations shown by you directly on such question. It seemed to be a daunting setting for me, however , encountering the very skilled avenue you managed that made me to leap with gladness. I’m happy for your support and then pray you know what an amazing job that you are accomplishing educating many people thru your site. I am certain you’ve never got to know all of us.
8th August 2022 at 7:36 am #
I am glad for commenting to let you know what a remarkable experience our girl undergone visiting the blog. She noticed plenty of issues, most notably what it’s like to have a marvelous coaching mindset to have the rest just grasp chosen tortuous issues. You undoubtedly did more than our expectations. Thank you for supplying those practical, healthy, revealing and also fun guidance on the topic to Lizeth.
13th August 2022 at 3:15 am #
I would like to show some thanks to the writer for rescuing me from this dilemma. Right after surfing around through the search engines and meeting notions that were not beneficial, I believed my life was well over. Existing without the approaches to the difficulties you’ve resolved as a result of your short article is a serious case, as well as those which might have negatively affected my entire career if I had not noticed your site. Your main mastery and kindness in touching all areas was invaluable. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not come across such a thing like this. It’s possible to at this time look forward to my future. Thanks very much for the impressive and amazing help. I will not hesitate to refer the sites to any individual who ought to have guidance about this subject.
23rd August 2022 at 1:56 am #
I must convey my admiration for your kind-heartedness in support of folks that should have help with in this niche. Your personal dedication to passing the message throughout was rather insightful and has really made somebody much like me to realize their objectives. This warm and friendly advice signifies much to me and additionally to my fellow workers. Thanks a ton; from everyone of us.
25th August 2022 at 9:27 pm #
I would like to express my appreciation for your kindness giving support to people who need help on this particular idea. Your very own dedication to getting the solution all over ended up being quite functional and have in most cases helped people just like me to get to their targets. Your own interesting publication means a great deal to me and a whole lot more to my colleagues. With thanks; from everyone of us.
24th October 2022 at 11:43 am #
I wanted to compose you a very small remark to be able to say thanks as before for your gorgeous strategies you’ve provided in this article. It’s quite remarkably open-handed with people like you to deliver publicly what exactly some people would’ve offered for sale for an ebook to end up making some profit for their own end, certainly seeing that you could have tried it if you ever considered necessary. These good ideas as well worked as the fantastic way to be sure that many people have a similar passion much like mine to know somewhat more regarding this problem. I’m certain there are thousands of more pleasurable periods in the future for many who discover your blog.
29th October 2022 at 2:43 am #
I am also writing to let you be aware of what a cool discovery my child experienced reading through your site. She realized plenty of things, which include what it’s like to have an incredible coaching nature to let the rest without problems thoroughly grasp certain grueling matters. You truly did more than our own expected results. I appreciate you for producing the good, healthy, educational and in addition cool tips on your topic to Janet.
4th November 2022 at 3:37 am #
I simply wished to appreciate you once more. I’m not certain what I would’ve sorted out in the absence of the actual points contributed by you on my subject. Entirely was the depressing matter in my circumstances, but being able to view the very well-written mode you managed it took me to jump over fulfillment. I am just happy for this service as well as hope that you realize what a great job you are always providing educating the rest by way of your site. I am certain you have never come across any of us.
4th November 2022 at 5:22 pm #
My husband and i ended up being now peaceful that Michael could conclude his preliminary research from your precious recommendations he acquired from your own web page. It’s not at all simplistic to just happen to be making a gift of hints which other people might have been selling. And we also figure out we now have you to give thanks to for that. All the illustrations you made, the easy web site navigation, the friendships you will help to promote – it’s got mostly wonderful, and it’s really making our son and us know that this theme is fun, and that is exceptionally fundamental. Many thanks for all!
6th November 2022 at 7:40 pm #
I have to show my affection for your generosity for those people that require help on this one question. Your very own dedication to getting the message up and down had become unbelievably invaluable and have truly permitted folks just like me to realize their targets. Your amazing insightful recommendations signifies a lot to me and further more to my colleagues. Many thanks; from all of us.
7th November 2022 at 6:53 am #
I really wanted to write a simple note to be able to appreciate you for all of the superb tips and hints you are placing here. My considerable internet investigation has finally been paid with beneficial strategies to write about with my family members. I would assume that many of us readers are very much blessed to dwell in a great website with very many perfect people with good ideas. I feel pretty lucky to have come across your entire site and look forward to really more awesome times reading here. Thanks once more for everything.
7th November 2022 at 6:54 am #
I wanted to write a message to express gratitude to you for some of the pleasant recommendations you are showing at this site. My rather long internet research has at the end been honored with pleasant facts and techniques to write about with my family members. I ‘d assume that most of us visitors actually are rather endowed to exist in a great network with very many perfect individuals with very beneficial points. I feel truly fortunate to have discovered the web page and look forward to tons of more fun moments reading here. Thanks a lot again for everything.
8th November 2022 at 8:06 am #
I have to convey my love for your generosity supporting all those that really want assistance with the idea. Your special dedication to getting the message all through had been certainly useful and have usually encouraged professionals just like me to achieve their aims. This important suggestions denotes so much to me and even further to my office colleagues. Best wishes; from each one of us.
22nd November 2022 at 4:52 am #
I would like to get across my respect for your kindness for all those that should have help on this topic. Your special commitment to getting the message around appears to be surprisingly effective and have in every case encouraged many people like me to attain their pursuits. This warm and friendly information signifies a whole lot a person like me and still more to my fellow workers. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.
24th November 2022 at 11:02 pm #
I precisely wished to thank you so much once more. I do not know what I could possibly have done in the absence of the type of aspects revealed by you over such concern. It had been an absolute intimidating problem in my view, but viewing the very specialised avenue you managed that made me to leap over joy. I’m just thankful for the service and then hope you comprehend what a powerful job you’re undertaking teaching the others through the use of your website. I am sure you’ve never come across any of us.
1st December 2022 at 1:32 am #
It’s hard to find knowledgeable folks on this subject, but you sound like you understand what you’re speaking about! Thanks
1st December 2022 at 5:32 am #
I precisely had to say thanks all over again. I do not know what I could possibly have made to happen without the entire advice shown by you concerning that industry. It had been an absolute horrifying dilemma in my position, however , discovering this well-written fashion you dealt with that took me to weep with delight. I am happy for the help and hope that you find out what a great job you happen to be accomplishing educating other individuals using your website. More than likely you have never come across any of us.
2nd December 2022 at 9:15 pm #
I simply wanted to say thanks once again. I do not know what I could possibly have gone through in the absence of the tips and hints provided by you over that concern. Entirely was an absolute difficult situation in my position, nevertheless noticing a new expert approach you solved it took me to weep over fulfillment. I’m grateful for your support and in addition pray you realize what a great job you are doing training most people through the use of your site. I know that you’ve never got to know any of us.
3rd December 2022 at 8:31 pm #
custom cut vinyl graphicsyour artwork. From style to installation.
6th December 2022 at 12:29 am #
I as well as my guys were actually checking out the excellent tips and hints from your site and at once I got a horrible feeling I had not expressed respect to you for those secrets. My guys became totally passionate to read through all of them and already have in actuality been tapping into these things. Many thanks for truly being quite thoughtful and for obtaining these kinds of great ideas most people are really wanting to know about. My personal sincere apologies for not expressing gratitude to earlier.
11th December 2022 at 10:40 pm #
comment5, commander ethambutol hydrochloride, 662,
12th December 2022 at 1:42 pm #
$4eyelids0.1hormonedownhydrochloride pharmacy generic
5th January 2023 at 5:40 pm #
This makes it uncomplicated to create some action on Sunday’s big gameor any other live sporting event.
30th March 2023 at 2:08 pm #
three months, or a year, and the there is the God of War.
3rd April 2023 at 5:53 pm #
ivermectin uk generic ivermectin for humans
5th April 2023 at 12:07 am #
essay helper online – help writing a research paper purchase essay online
5th April 2023 at 10:34 pm #
ivermectin drops for birds ivermectin injectable for humans
10th April 2023 at 8:41 pm #
You need to make this available for Windows 10 and Android systems. Please? Thank you in advance. Maible Giacopo Epifano
11th April 2023 at 11:12 pm #
I really liked your post. Fantastic.Loading…
12th April 2023 at 1:37 am #
I value the article. Really Cool.
19th April 2023 at 2:40 pm #
ivermectin sensitivity ivermectin dosage for humans
20th April 2023 at 4:16 pm #
amlodipine/valsartan amlodipine vs verapamil
22nd April 2023 at 3:20 pm #
I want to talk with you about mobile recharge
23rd April 2023 at 6:17 pm #
Google Participate in retail outlet, but In here case you are using apple iphone,you can obtain itFree Account – New Free Accounts And Password Listfree account
27th April 2023 at 4:59 pm #
where can i get hydroxychloroquine hydroxychloroquine ingredients
2nd May 2023 at 11:17 am #
I remained rooted to the bed, holding Mr. P in my holster. The black bra also came off, and then my aunt turned to face me.
4th May 2023 at 3:19 pm #
Corporate Livewire Prestige awards 2021 winner
6th May 2023 at 8:17 pm #
Singapore is really fascinating for its multilayered social tapestry! From Chinatown to Little India and every little thing in between, there’s a lot to experience and discover here – its dynamic colors as well as rich background makes every edge an interesting experience – foodies ought to definitely check out! If that is something that speaks to you too after that Singapore ought to not be missed out on as your next traveling destination! Hawker Centres in Singapore offer an amazing range of local recipes. Do not miss attempting Hainanese Chicken Rice or Chili Crab! Gardens by the Bay were impressive – I particularly appreciated Supertree Grove and Cloud Forest – they really took my breath away! The light show at night was absolutely enchanting as well as an absolute must-see! Singapore supplied such an unbelievable blend of futuristic design and rich plants – from Marina Bay Sands to Henderson Waves this city is absolutely fantastic to discover! Singapore’s mass transit is outstanding! From its effective metro train system and also easy travel with an EZ-Link card to Sentosa Island for relaxation – which flaunts Universal Studios, S.E.A Aquariums, and also a lot more tourist attractions! – their public transportation has established new requirements. Fish tank, stunning beaches, as well as other entertainment for the entire family make Singapore an exceptional means to invest a day. Do not miss Singapore’s ArtScience Museum which combines art, scientific research, and technology in an fantastic mix! Experiences at The Gardens By the Bay were absolutely enchanting; with interactive exhibitions and exciting displays creating an extraordinary journey – most definitely worth a see! I was absolutely startled at Singapore’s incredible buying scene! From high-end shopping centers such as ION Orchard to Bugis Road’s vibrant markets there truly is something below for any type of shopaholic to experience! See to it to leave some room in your travel suitcase! I discovered Singapore Zoo among the finest zoos I have actually checked out; it’s open-concept units and also immersive environments developed a true wild animals experience, not neglecting Evening Safari for added enjoyment! Singapore’s multiculturalism is another drawcard; Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Western impacts can be seen everywhere from style to cuisine; producing a interesting fusion!
9th May 2023 at 9:28 am #
Thanks a lot for the blog.Much thanks again. Much obliged.
11th May 2023 at 2:00 am #
I enjoy you because of every one of your efforts on this site. My mum really likes engaging in research and it’s really obvious why. A number of us know all concerning the compelling mode you provide powerful solutions on your website and attract response from other individuals on that area plus our girl is now being taught a great deal. Enjoy the remaining portion of the new year. You have been performing a wonderful job.
14th May 2023 at 7:45 am #
Twhljf – write an essay about your school Tkhgeh iaynjk
15th May 2023 at 1:59 pm #
ivermectin and dexamethasone ivermectin-pyrantel
16th May 2023 at 2:03 pm #
ivermectin sheep drench dosage ivermectin overdose in dogs
18th May 2023 at 4:13 pm #
Enjoyed looking at this, very good stuff, appreciate it. “It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.” by John Andrew Holmes.
19th May 2023 at 8:09 am #
I want to voice my love for your kind-heartedness giving support to all those that have the need for help on this study. Your special commitment to getting the message all over appeared to be definitely important and have truly allowed some individuals just like me to arrive at their desired goals. This invaluable facts means this much to me and far more to my mates. Thank you; from everyone of us.
22nd May 2023 at 3:24 am #
Son dakika haberleri, en güncel flaş haberler, gündem, siyaset, ekonomi, memurlar, televizyon, spor, magazin, yaşam ve dünya haberleri, video ve galerileri
25th May 2023 at 12:43 pm #
Is anyone here in a position to recommend Denim Dresses? Cheers xox
26th May 2023 at 9:45 am #
low income apartments for rent near me rentberry scam ico 30m$ raised sorrel apartments
28th May 2023 at 11:53 pm #
I have to get across my love for your kindness for men who have the need for guidance on the content. Your special commitment to passing the solution up and down was astonishingly practical and have regularly made most people just like me to attain their pursuits. Your new informative suggestions denotes a whole lot a person like me and still more to my colleagues. Best wishes; from all of us.
29th May 2023 at 2:19 am #
En yakın hurdacı http://hurdacifirmasi.com.tr/ Hem bireysel hem de kurumsal müşterilere hizmet veren firmamız, hurda malzemelerinizi sorunsuz bir şekilde alıp geri dönüşüm işlemlerine yönlendiriyor.
31st May 2023 at 10:38 pm #
Thank you for your hard work. I love sucking dick btw hmu