Spring break happenings in South America

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 15-21, 1998
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American cycling trips in early March
Spring break happenings in South America
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Preparing to hike the demanding Inca Trail

Spring break happenings in South America
Question: I am trying to plan an "adventure" spring break trip for 20 to 30 MBAs in late February/early March. I am trying to include both outdoor activities suitable for intermediate travelers (whitewater rafting, surfing, mountain biking, hiking) as well as a few good accommodations and nightlife for those with a lower tolerance for travel.

Given the short time period (eight days), I am looking at South America (the northern half), Central America (although we did a Costa Rica trip last year), and southwest Africa (likely Morocco or Senegal).

Mike Doyle
Boston, MA

Adventure Adviser: I hope you get a free trip for arranging such an unwieldy adventure! As you only have eight days and are interested in a variety of activities, I'd skip a trip to Northern Africa. It's a bit far and the only kinds of trips I'm familiar with in Morocco are either a week's worth of trekking or a week of mountain biking. That said, there are some great options in Central and South America.

Moab-based Slickrock Adventures's Belize Adventure Week sounds right up your alley. The nine-day (which could probably be negotiated to an eight-day) trip starts with biking through Belize's rainforest to the top of Vaca Plateau, a 600-foot climb in a half-mile.

From there you'll take the Class IV rapids of the Macal River Gorge and drift through underground caves in the Caves Branch River — all of this with authentic Mayan cooking.

The last five days of the trip consist of hanging out (literally — in a hammock) on the lush island of Lang Caye. You can sea kayak, dive, snorkel, or boardsail if you desire, but if you want to laze on the beach for five days, that is entirely your prerogative.

The only downfall with this excursion is the nightlife is pretty close to non-existent. The trip costs $1,795 per person. Call 800-390-5715 for more details.

If you're looking for something less structured, you may want to consider a trip to Ecuador. Though I'm not aware of a company that offers a multi-sport adventure to Ecuador, you could base your trip out of Quito and make arrangements through various companies.

Though Quito nightlife is nothing compared to, say, Bogota nightlife, you will at least have a half-dozen bar-hopping options that will help to create a little nightlife of your own.

From Quito, you can arrange to scramble up nearby Pichincha, or bite off a larger chunk climbing the round-topped, 20,561-foot volcano Chimborazo (experience is necessary).

These and many other climbs can be arranged through Andisimo Outdoor Shop in Quito (011-593-2-223-030). From Quito you can also arrange to run the Río Blanco and the Río Toachi, Class III-IV rivers that pass rainforest and deep canyons.

Thrill-seekers in the group will want to raft the Río Upano, largely considered one of the wildest rivers in the world (this has to be done with experienced outfitters). For more Ecuador rafting information call Idaho-based ROW (800-451-6034).

Last but not least there are some amazing bike trails for the gearheads in the group. The small problem is good mountain bikes are few and far between, which means you may have to bring your own.

For biking information call Andisimo. One general warning about an adventure in Ecuador: There's very little beach nearby and there's also very little American-style luxury. If your group consists of people whose idea of adventure travel is pool-side spa treatments, you may want to skip Ecuador.

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