Our friends, Mike and Kathi, broached the subject once again. “You guys really should think about coming with us on this Tuscany biking trip.” As I lowered my head and peered at them over my sunglasses, I remember musing: “Are you insane?” “We’ll think about it,” is what came out of my lips.
Everyone’s heard of the Galápagos Islands, with their blue-footed boobies and natural phenomena. But many are surprised to find that they’re a part of Ecuador, a country the size of Colorado replete with its own incredible natural and cultural diversity. Ecuador is a place where you can begin your day with breakfast by the ocean, drive a few hours for lunch in the Andes and finish with dinner in the rain forest.
I’m often asked how I found my job leading Backroads trips… Fate. Magic. Luck… Well, perhaps a combination of those things. It’s a unique story that involves a photography exposition, a small community in northern Chile and two random backpackers high in the Chilean mountains. And it’s a story that put me on a path to helping develop a brand new Backroads trip for this coming December in a corner of South American that is easily one of my favorite places in the world.
We’re Leading a new revolution in Cuba! Backroads is the first active travel company with an official license to operate tours legally in Cuba – and we’re the only US company to offer biking as part of our in-depth exploration of this fascinating and often misunderstood island nation. Our Trip Expert, an avid hiker and biker, has spent most of the past three decades living and working in Cuba. The inside knowledge she’s gained while crisscrossing the island has allowed us to create a truly one-of-a-kind trip.
Taking in one of the greatest wonders of the world can really work up an appetite. Eat up these tips on where to dine in the lost city of the Incas–or enjoy a few favorites down below in the town of Aguas Calientes.
Among the Mayan gems hidden in the jungles of Central America, the crown jewel is Tikal, a must-see archaeological site that lives up to all those Hollywood stereotypes of the Lost City. (It actually had a cameo in the first Star Wars movie.) Many active travel itineraries in Belize opt for less dramatic sites or squeeze in a rushed one-day visit. We spend two nights at Francis Ford Coppola’s nearby rainforest retreat, giving you and your family plenty of time to explore Tikal properly.
Most companies’ trips in Galápagos and the Andes are run by local operators. At Backroads we manage our own trips; we would never subcontract your precious family vacation to a third party. So as you enjoy the support of your seasoned Trip Leaders and Kids Activity Expert, along with our expert local guides and drivers, you have the confidence of knowing we’re with you and your family every step of the way.
The Incas weren’t keen on crowds and neither are we. In nearly two decades of exploring Peru, we’ve seen more and more people making the pilgrimage to Cusco and Machu Picchu. We get it – but we also need a little space to take in this otherworldly place among the peaks and contemplate its spiritual past. Fortunately, with our local connections we can get you clear of the tourist trek, hiking off the beaten path and immersing you in the culture of remote communities in the Sacred Valley.
Panadería La Uníon in Tolhuin, Tierra del Fuego. A magical oasis in the midst of a vast, windswept, sparsely populated landscape. Part tourist center. Part museum. Part bakery. Part zoo. Panadería La Uníon is quirky, to say the least, and the constant stream of hungry travelers who frequent this establishment is a testament not only to its notoriety as the premiere bakery in Patagonia, but also to its prime location between the tourist destinations of El Calafate and Ushuaia, a barren stretch of road with limited options for dining.
Last week our Cuba Trip Expert Lara and I returned from our annual Cuba “dry run,” where we prepared for our upcoming Backroads Cuba trips starting in November. We were once again reminded that the vibrant personalities, artists and friends we encounter on this trip make an impact that lasts a lifetime. Cuba is changing so rapidly that the time to visit is now, and our Cuba Insider Trip is the best way to experience it!
Whether you’re on Backroads’ Belize and Guatemala Multisport trip or traveling on your own, head to Belize for stunning beaches, abundant wildlife, lush forests and Maya ruins. You can also get some fantastic rice-and-beans or beans-and-rice (yes there is a difference). As someone who’s lived in the country, I can assure you that Belize is a fantastic place to visit!
Imagine a fruit so creamy it might be considered a part of the custard family. And so key to survival that it might be grouped with the apple. And there you have my favorite fruit, the cherimoya. I’ve loved cherimoya since I first laid taste buds on it in Costa Rica in November of 2005 (yes, I remember the date-this fruit is that impactful). I drank it in batidos (delicious Costa Rican fruit smoothies), I ate it fresh from the market and I made sure that it took part in every picnic I prepared. You might say I was obsessed.
Here’s the first thing you should know: how you perform at high altitude can have very little to do with your fitness level. So let yourself off the hook for that one. Of course, being fit and healthy always increases your resilience and helps you recover more quickly from challenges. So it doesn’t hurt. Get fit. But don’t beat yourself up if you’ve done all your stair training and still find yourself breathless in Iquitos.
Stepping outside your comfort zone is an extraordinary opportunity although it’s something we often shy away from as we tend to find solace in the routine of our lives. Our group of 22 women just returned from a private Backroads mountain biking trip in Argentina’s Lake District. From the moment we met our Backroads leaders, our group of accomplished, take-charge women began to let go of our insecurities and ease into the rhythm of our adventure.