Inn-to-Inn Mountain Biking

Mar 25, 2008
Outside Magazine

Thanks to its spectacular American-Southwest-meets-California-wine-country scenery, colorful Inca-rooted culture, improving infrastructure, and good value, northwest Argentina is on American tourists' radar. On this nine-day loop from Salta, the country's best-preserved colonial city, you'll pedal about 25 to 40 miles a day (hardcores can opt for rides as long as 63 miles) on dirt and paved roads through the terra-cotta-colored Andean foothills and adobe villages of the Quebrada de Humahuaca canyon, then south into the lush subtropical Las Yungas Biosphere Reserve and across the stark, giant-cactus-punctuated altiplano of Los Cardones National Park. You'll spend the last two days in the tranquil wine lands of the sunny Cafayate Valley, where acres of vines hang heavy with black malbec grapes. Among the highlights: a screaming descent from an 11,000-foot mountain pass, overnights in restored haciendas, and the chance to feast on empanadas, chorizo, and roast llama. OUTFITTER: Backroads; PRICE: $4,500 DIFFICULTY: Challenging WHEN TO GO: May, September–October