by Marisa Chicarelli
It’s the beginning of another new year, and it’s time to ponder and plan what to do over the upcoming holidays. And I’m sure I’m not the only person who says “I’m going to travel more and check out new places this year.” So for amazing cycling adventures, here are a few spots that should be on every to-go list!
Japan – Kyushu Island
Japan’s third largest and southernmost island offers a breath-taking diversity of landscapes. Manicured gardens and Shinto shrines are complemented by cherry blossoms and colourful forests. And, as home to a number of active volcanoes, including Japan’s most active, Mt Aso, there are many hot springs to refresh a weary cyclist.
Tour example: Cycling Colourful Kyushu Island : Guaranteed departure in March 20, 2016
Taiwan – Taroko Gorge
Named Ihla Formosa, or ‘beautiful island’, by Portuguese sailors, Taiwan boasts this awesome marble gorge, an impressive 19 km long canyon, often described as the ‘Jewel of Taiwan’. Wonder at the magnificent metamorphic formations while biking across and along the roaring Li-Wu River.
Tour example: Taiwan Traverse by Road Bike: Guaranteed departure in March 20, 2016
Thailand – Doi Suthep
Located 15 km from the northern city of Chiang Mai, this granite mountain is part of the Shan Highlands and a national park that features forests of oaks, magnolias, and evergreens as well as a number of waterfalls. The climb to the top of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is rewarded with an unforgettable mountain view.
Tour example: North Thailand by Bike: Available in March 6, May 8, June 12, October 9, November 20, December 11.
Madagascar – Andringitra National Park
Part of the Rainforests of the Atsinanana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the granite peaks, rough terrain, and deep valleys and ridges is one of the most diverse places in Madagascar with over 100 different species of birds, over 50 species of mammals, and 55 species of frogs. And let’s not forget about the lemurs! Over ten different species are known to inhabit the park, including the ever popular ring-tailed variety.
Tour example: Bike and Hike Wild Madagascar: Guaranteed departure in May 8, September 25 and October 16.
Sri Lanka – Sigiriya
Meaning “Lion Rock”, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was built as a fortressed palace for a 1st century AD capital and was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 13th century AD. A unique example of ancient urban planning, some of the oldest landscape gardens in the world can be found here.
Sri Lanka Heritage by Bicycle: Guaranteed departure in January 25 and September 26.
Sri Lanka Spice Trails: Guaranteed departure in January 24 and February 21.
Sri Lanka Tip to Tip by Road Bike: Guaranteed departure in January 17 and July 17.
Malaysia – Sarawak
A few sentences isn’t enough to describe all the exploration and discoveries that await in this part of Borneo. There’s Kuching, the culturally diverse capital; Semenggoh Nature Reserve, an orangutan rehabilitation centre; the UNESCO World Heritage Gunung Mulu National Park, location of some of the world’s largest caves among expansive rainforests; and so much more.
Tour example: Wilds of Sarawak by Bicycle: Guaranteed departure in February 21 and July 31.
Philippines – Camiguin Island
This second smallest province is full of spectacular sites. Picturesque Spanish Colonial homes and churches dating back a number of centuries are overlooked by four volcanoes and surrounded by a hot springs. Offshore, a cross commemorates the site where the birth of a volcano sunk the town cemetery of Bonbon. And there are the white sand beaches of White Island and Mantigue Island.
Tour example: Island Hopping the Philippines: Guaranteed departure in April 10.
Myanmar (Burma) – Bagan
Over 2,000 structures still remain of the more than 10,000 that comprised this capital city of the Kingdom of Pagan. As a centre of Buddhist and secular studies from the 9th to 13th centuries, the temples, pagodas, and monuments scattered across the plains along the Irrawaddy River continues to fascinate and educate even as historic ruins.
Burma Adventures: Guaranteed departure in January 17 and February 14.
Burma Heritage by Bicycle: Guaranteed departure in February 8.
Bulgaria – Plovdiv
“The City of Seven Hills” has been inhabited since around 6,000 BC and is one of the world’s oldest cities. Diverse cultures from the Persians and the Turks to the Celts and Goths and almost every group in between have made their mark on the local culture, history, and architecture. Ancient Roman theatres can be found with medieval sites, Orthodox churches and monasteries, and Ottoman mosques.
Tour example: Highlights of Bulgaria by Bicycle: Guaranteed departure in May 22.
Turkey – Cappadocia
Deep in the heart of Turkey, ancient volcanic eruptions dispersed thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock tens of metres thick. Wind and water then created a fairy tale landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys. Then in the 8th century BC, the indigenous people carved tunnels to create an underground city for about 20,000 people.
Tour example: Cappadocia Mountain Bike Adventure: Guaranteed departure in May 15.