Off road cycling holidays can be hard to find as maps and route notes are less available. The terrain may be undeveloped or the weather conditions may make the tracks less (if not at all) accessible at certain times of the year. That’s exactly why we’d like to share these 7 off the beaten track cycling destinations with you. With the latest addition of mountain biking in Mustang, these below destinations have just become more accessible for you!
Mustang, on the border of Nepal and Tibet, is open to only a few select groups each season. Normally travelled by trekkers, you can be one of the very few to delve into Mustang on a mountain bike! Follow 4WD, single and double track along a once-thriving trade route between Nepal and Tibet. The trail leads you to whitewashed settlements set amid fields of barley and while cycling you’ll encounter impressive chortens and simple monasteries. The Kingdom of Mustang preserves some of the last vestiges of traditional Tibetan-Buddhist culture and while there you definitely should visit Lo Manthang. A small village where the King of Mustang reigns over his tiny kingdom and surveys a world still culturally closer to the heartland of Tibet than to the markets and temples of Kathmandu.
Just two hours north of Quebec City, you will find Saint-Jean Lake. There is a circuit around the lake that offers a gentle ride through peaceful farmland, green forests, quaint towns and secluded beaches. Most other travellers will come to this area by other means of transportation so you will find the track is often for yourselves. Along the way, you will encounter many small tourist attractions. Truly discover the region and indulge in the route’s namesake – blueberries, of course! They grow wild and are farmed extensively throughout the area. You will find them sold by the basket, in pies, chocolates and, for a real local delicacy, combined with local game meat.
Route 62, South Africa
Winding its way from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, Route 62 is famed in South Africa for the magnificent landscapes through which it passes. It’s also being looked upon as the counterpart of the famous coastal garden route and goes through an area that is less developed. The most spectacular section of the route includes Montague – with its patchwork of fruit farms, Barrydale – on the edge of the semi-arid Karoo desert, and the coastal town of Hermanus where Southern Right Whales can be seen playing offshore. Vineyards, mountain passes, Franschhoek valley, mountain cliffs, and the coastline towards Cape Town make this western part of the Cape a fantastic off road cycling holiday destination.
Mandalay Region, Myanmar
Explore upper Myanmar by bike, following trails that are mostly off the beaten track. Start in Mandalay, the last royal capital of Myanmar and where the Royal Palace can still be visited, and cycle to Bagan. This city is home to one of Southeast Asia’s finest collections of ancient pagodas and temples of a bygone era with intricate carvings, murals and astonishing architecture. In between both destinations you’ll find timeless villages where you can observe the traditional way of life. For stunning panoramic views, climb the 700 steps from the golden temple at the summit of sacred Mount Popa. For bustling local markets, handicrafts and stilted villages, go off-road cycling on the shores of Inle Lake.
Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
Are you looking for exhilarating mountain biking adventures with a twist? Ever thought about going on an off-road cycling holiday to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan? The countries were once part of the Silk Road and their grasslands are dotted with nomads and yurts. Perhaps unexpectedly, in this area it’s possible to have a helicopter drop you (including bike) off at altitudes of 3,500m from where you can take an unforgettable yet daunting descent (1,300m!) on switchback trails and forest dirt roads. If you also like some pampering, in the remote Karkara Valley we stay at a property with a traditional sauna and a bar.
The stunning snow-capped peaks of the Andes mountain range provide a dramatic backdrop for thrilling cycling adventures. As most flights arrive in Cusco, this is a great start for an off the beaten track cycle holiday in Peru. Besides, Cusco is on a higher altitude so it offers plenty of downhill opportunities, both on-road and off-road, through classical Andean scenery. Obviously you should take in the world famous wonder of Machu Picchu – visit in the morning for a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise!
Southern Alps to Pacific Ocean, New Zealand
In a country where most visitors go on a self drive holiday, why not consider a self guided cycling holiday that takes you away from the popular trails? For example, cycle downhill from the mighty Southern Alps towards the Pacific Ocean. On your way down, encounter the majesty of New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook, and the amazing turquoise blue lakes at Tekapo. While cycling, make sure to soak in hot pools, talk with conservation staff about the Black Stilt Recovery Programme, and watch the nightly parade of the Blue Penguins (the world’s smallest!). This region of New Zealand is great for an off-road cycling adventure that includes ancient Maori rock art and dramatic limestone landscapes.
Feel like exploring one of these destinations on an off road cycle adventure? At World Expeditions we’ve been operating active adventure holidays since 1975 and while some of these trips have been running for a longer time already, others have a more exploratory character. For more information and booking details, please contact our team of travel experts around the world.