ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours, the first North American tour company to offer bike adventures in Europe, has announced that it is offering cycling adventures through the wine regions of Chile. On offer is an eight-day tour with an optional three-day extension that embraces vineyards, wine spa treatments, and colonial estates.
“Bicycling Chile's Wine Country” begins in Santiago before venturing into Chile’s Central Valley, one of the country’s “new world” winemaking regions, which also include the Colchagua and Apalta Valleys. Some of the area has been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first stop is at a family-run winery for a tasting and lunch at Casa Silva, one of the oldest in the valley and also renowned for horses and polo. That evening guests overnight at Hacienda Santa Clara, a rural bed and breakfast frequented by Chileans as a summer get-away in the village of Zuñiga. After a 42-mile ride the next day, guests arrive at one of the oldest haciendas in the Colchagua Valley, Las Majadas, related to the Bisquertt Wineries and with a stay inclusive of wine spa treatments, tours and tastings.
Day four brings cyclists through the Valle de Apalta, home to several of Chile’s most important wines: Montes, Casa Lapostolle and Ventisquero, as well as the up-and-coming wine from Viña Neyen. This winery uses only natural adobe in its buildings that receive grapes from some of the oldest vineyards in the region. The destination is Santa Cruz boasting a cultural history museum and the private art collection of Carlos Cardoen. Guests lodge at Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza, a central hotel with a garden and pool. En route to the Pacific, guests ride through the historic village of Lolol before reaching Hotel Marina Vichuquén on the shores of Lake Vichuquén. Beach views come the next day with a cycle south to Duao, an isolated fishing town on the Pacific Coast where accommodations are at Hosteria Donde Gilberto.
For guests on the 11-day program that continues along the coast, a bonus is a visit to the historic vineyard and manor house Viña Guilmore (Tabonko Guesthouse) part of the Wine Hotels Collection and a family-run vineyard operated by the daughter of one of the original owners. Here there is also a small animal rescue operation.
The eight-day tours are scheduled from March 9 to 16 and October 12 to 19, 2013. Meanwhile, the 11-day program is from March 9 to 19 and October 12 to 22, 2013.
ExperiencePlus! is a 2011 and a 2010 recipient of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s 50 "Tours of a Lifetime".