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The guide reviews are in: What you love most about our guides

We love our guides. So, we’re thrilled to hear that you do too! Here are a few guide review highlights from our notebook at the office. We love hearing from our travellers, and this post is a mere sampling of the great reviews we’ve been hearing from you lately. We just couldn’t keep these to ourselves!

PERU

Our Peru trip has always been such a hit with our travellers lately. And our guide there, Miguel, is a large reason for this. We absolutely adore Miguel, but you don’t have to listen to us. Here’s what one of our recent travellers had to say about Miguel.

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“Miguel was an outstanding guide, very passionate about his country and his role with BikeHike. He was extremely considerate regarding the clients, always helpful and accommodating. He took great length to explain all aspects of the trip, history, local lore, etc…he was by FAR the best guide (and I listened to others with other companies). Excellent demeanor, pleasant, unflappable, can’t say enough. High personal and professional integrity, fun-loving and understood the individual clients.”

GALAPAGOS / ECUADOR

We cannot stop singing the praises of our Ecuador (mainland) and Galapagos guide, Jorgen…and apparently neither can you. Nearly all of the our messages from travellers sound like this one that recently landed in our inbox.

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“Jorgen. What a guy. That guy is just so nice, personable…and knowledgeable! He is also a master of logistics, I have to say.  We would not have been able to accomplish nearly as much on our trip had it not been for his expert knowledge of the islands and the people there… man does that guy have connections. He moved us around the islands seemingly effortlessly (but I know it was really that he just makes it look easy!). Thank you BikeHike for having such a super Galapagos guide!”

VIETNAM

Virtually every picture we have of our Vietnam guide is a smiley one. And, little surprise, our travellers are usually in the same photo frame beaming with joy too. Here’s a snippet from a recent traveller raving about our star Vietnam guide, Hoa. He is really the key ingredient that makes our Vietnam trips special.

“We just finished our trip but I had to write to you right away to tell you how much we enjoyed having Hoa as our guide. Hoa is fantastic.  He was so good at anticipating our every need. He is so good at reading people that he knew what we were thinking and needing before we even told him! Top that with the fact that he is a fun, upbeat guy. He also taught us so much about his culture and Vietnam’s people, places, and history  Outstanding trip and guide.”

SLOVENIA

Slovenia may be off of some people’s Europe radar, but this destination is truly a rising star and provides the European charm you’re seeking without the massive tourist crowds. And, as with all BikeHike destinations, we have a guide there who is incredibly focused on providing the best experience there possible. Here’s what a traveller wrote to us earlier this summer.

“The guides made our trip… I felt they really went above and beyond… The guides welcomed us both with open arms and really made this trip special… Jure’s passion for Slovenia is 2nd to none…”

A Foodie Guide to Peru

Reflecting Peru’s mixed history and its fusion of cultures, Peru’s cuisine is equally eclectic. Peruvian cuisine’s influences include local ingredients as well as recipes from Europe, Asia and West Africa. Some would say that Peru sets the standard for world class fusion cuisine.     

So, let us offer you this guide to Peruvian cuisine. It doubles as a great checklist of recommendations to try while visiting Peru!

First, let’s tease you with these delicious Peruvian food photos…

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Traditional staples in Peru:

Corn, quinoa, chili peppers, beans, potatoes and other root vegetables

Here’s a handy Peru cuisine dictionary:

Lomo Saltado – stir-fried beef dish with onions, vinegar, ginger, chili, tomatoes & fried potatoes

Ceviche – Shrimp / sea bass marinated in lemon, chili & onion

Papas Rellenas – Stuffed baked potatoes

Palta Rellena – avocado stuffed with chicken salad

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Picarones – deep fried flour fritters made with eggs and served with honey

And while we’re at it, here’s what to drink in Peru: 

Inca Cola – lime green soda pop that tastes like fizzy bubble gum

Pisco Sour – alcoholic beverage made with white grape brandy

Mate de Coca – tea made from coca leaves

From Our Journal: Hiking Torres del Paine National Park

If you decide to complete one of the world’s most impressive trekking routes, the W Trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, you may want to have a rough idea of what is ahead. To give you an idea of what you’ll experience, here are some journal snippets from one of our recent travellers in Chile’s Patagonia (provided to us with permission, of course).

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Day 1: Santiago – Punta Arenas – Torres del Paine

“Our group consisted of 9 individuals, predominately from United States and Canada. We started the journey from Punta Arenas early morning. After 3 hours of flat landscapes we broke our journey in Puerto Natales, the “entrance door” to this mountainous area of Southern Chile. Here we were introduced to our guide, passionate about the outdoors, with over 20 years of experience in Patagonia. We had no doubt that we would learn a lot from him! As the day progressed, we were stunned by the natural beauty, the immensity of the mountain range… That night, we reached our sustainable hotel – EcoCamp Patagonia, where we were in awe of the surroundings and had forgotten about our tiredness. The evening ended with a delicious Patagonian Fusion meal and we returned to our domes for a good night sleep, gazing at the stars through the window and dreaming about our long-awaited Torres del Paine W Trek.”

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Day 2: Torres del Paine – Paso Los Cuernos – The Horns (Hike)

“After a hearty buffet breakfast and an astonishing pink sunrise, we left the camp to start our trek along the beautiful snowcapped Almirante Nieto Mountain. It was the middle of spring, and a mix of red and yellow flowers were in bloom and covered the beginning of the trail. We stopped to admire the Horns (Los Cuernos) – dark horns towering the skyline – and Paine Grande, the highest mountain of the national park… After lunch we trekked through the beautiful red Firebush flowers. At the end of the day, we compared thoughts about the day’s hike and although we came from different backgrounds, we all seemed to feel an equal admiration for our achievements and the surrounding landscapes. Later, we devoured a hearty dinner while chatting I realized what a great group of us was gathered here to complete this amazing trek.”

Day 3: Torres del Paine National Park – French Valley (Hike)

“After an overnight rain, and a light rain in the morning, the surrounding forest felt mystical as the morning fog hung in the air. We started trekking despite the rain and soon forgot about the weather. Instead, most of us were mesmerized by the surroundings. Later, we reached the famous French Valley, which stretches between The Horns and Paine Grande. After climbing a steep one hour uphill, we reached the Paine Grande Lookout. The view was worth the climb! That night, we were ready for a well-deserved rest at the Paine Grande refugio but first the group met for dinner, discussing the day’s events, and through our experience we were quickly becoming close, forming friendships that would likely last beyond this week in Chile.”

Day 4: Torres del Paine National Park – Grey Glacier (Hike)

“We left Paine Grande early in the morning and began making our way through a quiet valley covered with extraordinary rock formations. After a short hike uphill, we reached the western area of the W Trek, where the feet of the western side of Paine Grande meets Grey Lake and there are huge icebergs, that have broken off the glacier, floating in this famous lake. From there, we were transferred back to EcoCamp which felt deliciously welcoming and cozy. Dinner that night was a wonderful treat, and I felt I would be well rested for the next day’s hike, the W Trek’s most challenging hiking day.”

Day 5: Torres del Paine National Park – Valle Ascencio (Hike)

Today, we trekked out from the camp at 8:30am. The first few kilometers were quite easy as we trekked over flat land. Then, we crossed a few bridges and started the long, ascent along the roaring Ascensio River. We enjoyed a well-earned break at El Chileno refugio. After this welcome rest, we continued through the lush green forest to start another uphill climb. We were surrounded by an indescribable energy in the forest, and the adrenaline of our hiking achievement made us feel like we were hiking on clouds. That kind of happiness is actually difficult to describe with words. That evening at EcoCamp, we gathered in the famous community dome and reflected on an incredible day, one we would likely never forget.”

Day 6: Torres del Paine National Park – Eastern Lakes (Hike)

“Our last trekking day was along a relatively easy natural trail that would take us to a great view of the Paine mountain range. While trekking we came across a herd of guanacos and a few ñandus – a kind of Patagonian ostrich. We also saw the beautiful condor, one of the biggest birds in the world, flying in the distance! After another short ascent, we were also delighted to discover ancient rock paintings, left by tribes that inhabited the area 6500 years ago. We weren’t expecting to see that and it was amazing. Next, a short drive brought us to the picture perfect Laguna Azul (“blue lagoon”). This was a perfect picnic spot and we enjoyed a great picnic lunch while admiring the breathtaking views. On our drive way back to EcoCamp, we stopped at the Paine Waterfalls (Cascada Paine), a magnificent cascade of magical waterfalls. It was a great night back at the EcoCamp afterwards, where we quenched our thirst with a beer at Ecobar and celebrated the end of our trek! The group exchanged details to that we could stay in touch and we enjoyed our last evening together over great food and drinks.”

Day 7: Torres del Paine – Punta Arenas

“Alas, the trek was over and it was time to head back to our normal lives again. But we would never forget these majestic mountains and our trek across these valleys. My muscles were a bit tired, but they had adjusted to the routine and my endurance had built up. And we were all now members of the W Trek Alumni Club, having taken about 92,000 steps together — burning at least 7000 calories during that week hiking! We said a sad goodbye to our guides. Without their skills, dedication and passion, it is sure that  we would not have been able to complete this trek. We boarded the van back to Punta Arenas to catch our flights, and all seemed to look back out the windows dreamily as we drove off…”

BikeHike Adventures runs this Hiking the W Route in Chile’s Patagonia weekly from October through February.

Cycling Cuba: The Terrain, Bikes, Roads — What to Expect

What are the roads like in Cuba? Are the roads good in Cuba? Is there much traffic in Cuba? What can a rider expect for the cycling terrain in Cuba? Is Cuba hilly? Are there many cycling climbs or is Cuba mostly flat?

We get many questions about Cuba, and these are some of the top questions we keep hearing for interested travellers. Trish Sare, Owner of BikeHike Adventures, answers these biking Cuba questions in this brief video. The footage used was captured by of one of BikeHike’s travellers earlier in 2016.

 

5 Trending New Summer 2016 Destinations

Istria, Croatia

Why is this THE exciting place to go now?

Because Istria boasts all the best of the famed Dalmatian Coast combined with the charm of Italy. The Dalmation Coast has been an ‘it’ destination for a while already and with that status comes crowds. Lots of them. Likewise, in Italy, it’s increasingly difficult to avoid the crowds of tourists.

Wander over to Istria though, and you’ll discover rolling vineyards, Roman architecture, and Italian-inspired cuisine that happens to blend the best of Croatia and Italy. Some people might even mistake a photograph from the region as one from Provence, France…Travellers who are in the know, from London to New York, have started to take notice of northern Croatia, a spectacular up-and-coming destination. If you hadn’t heard of Istria yet, you soon will…

Gourmet foodies will also love Istria for its truffles, the best in Europe some would say.

Istria, Croatia has surprising similarities to Italy, feels a bit like Tuscany

Istria, Croatia has surprising similarities to Italy, even feels a bit like riding through Tuscan villages…

Kotor, Montenegro

Some would argue Montengro is Europe’s underdog destination, about to break-through and become Europe’s next big destination. Until recently, the nation was part of Serbia (after the former Yugoslavia dissolved).

There is an allure about Montenegro that is almost magical, and it is hard to fathom that people haven’t always been drawn here en masse. The Bay of Kotor’s gorgeous fjord-like appearance along the sparkling blue Adriatic. Greek and Roman-influenced architecture dotting the steep hillsides. So far, the beaches are quiet, with few tourists. However, wealthy Europeans have already begun purchasing seaside real estate along this underdeveloped stretch of the Dalmation Coast. So, the area’s complete sense of calm won’t remain for long. Inland from the coast, the rural farmscapes are attracting expats in search of sprawling land estates in a traditional setting. Montenegro’s lack of development is attracting those who love the fact that Montenegro remains relatively untouched for decades, unlike neighbouring Croatia.

Viscri, Romania

Because of its traditional farming practices, Transylvania is another place travellers can easily feel they have escaped the passing of time.

Four hours northwest of bustling Bucharest, the Saxon village of Viscri has become a go-to escape in Romania after being recognized as a UNESCO World heritage destination. Viscri’s church and cemetery date back to the 12th century and now comprise a UNESCO World Heritage site.

However, what really makes the world take notice is this destination’s royal stamp of approval. The Mihai Eminescu Trust, a nonprofit overseen by Prince Charles, has devoted itself to protecting the heritage of Transylvania’s country towns such as Viscri. In addition, Prince Charles has an expansive country estate here that is open to the public, where tourists can stay when rooms are available. So, while staying there, enjoying horseback rides and more, you can truly enjoy a royal experience in and around Viscri.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Drive a little east from Venice, and Ljubljana offers an incredible alternative to Venetian crowds. In fact, most days, it might seem that Ljubljana appears entirely devoid of tourists, the streets filled rather with locals.

The lack of tourism is not for lack of beauty. Ljubljana just happens to be one of Europe’s best kept secrets. A stroll around and you’ll quickly wonder why you hadn’t visited sooner. Decorative footbridges. Hilltop castles. Cobble-stoned piazzas. Cafés with tables spilling out into the street. One might even say the city has a fairytale-like quality to it, one magnified by the Dragon Bridge spanning the Ljubljana River. The bridge is a tribute to the legend of the beast slain there by Jason and the Argonauts.

Perhaps the lack of tourism can be attributed to lack of awareness of Slovenia as a country, the nation being so young, a territory that was for so long a muted buffer zone of sorts between louder, neighbouring territories. The mixing of regional interests in Slovenia remains evident today though in the city’s outstanding culinary blend. You’ll experience menus fusing influences from Italy, Austria, Hungary, and even Russia.

Cork, Ireland

Ask Corconians about Ireland’s history and they’ll proudly proclaim Cork as Ireland’s true capital. However, as a port city of 250 000 inhabitants, the vibe in Cork is a more laid-back, coastal one compared to Dublin’s city pace.  The language here is also a bit different. Cork has many foreign influences and Cork’s slang, known as ‘gammin’, is derived from a fascinating mix of Irish, French, Dutch and Indian.

At the moment, Cork is experiencing a revival as the entire city devotes itself to polishing its image while preserving its unique heritage. Old buildings and waterfront properties are swiftly being restored. And the city is attracting a thriving music, theatre and film festival scene.

And if you need even more reason to visit this intriguing city, Cork is also a gateway city to the Ireland’s remote and stunning southwest. The Wild Atlantic Way recently opened, which is breathtaking 2,500 km collection of roadways along a dramatic rocky coastline and includes a 216 km cycle route.

BikeHike Adventures offers tours in Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Romania, Ireland and many more places…