In July 2009, I began cycling from Alaska to Argentina along the Pan-American Highway. This bicycle touring journey which would take me 18 months to complete, finishing in the February of 2011. It was a cycling adventure which would cover two continents. Climates ranged from frozen tundras to humid rain forests. Terrain varied from salt pans to cactus strewn sands. Punctures would be balanced by acts of kindness, cracked rims by generosity. It was a true journey in every sense of the word.
Cycling from Alaska to Argentina
I kept a travel blog when I was cycling from Alaska to Argentina along the Pan-American Highway. By posting every day, I hoped to document my bicycle touring journey in a way which would be useful for others. It also acts as a nice little reminder to myself of where I have been, and what I have done!
Below, I have summarised each month and included links which will take you straight there. Note – Each month runs in reverse order, with the last day of the month being listed first. I have also recently written a blog post answering a some FAQ on cycling from Alaska to Argentina. Please have a look around, and if you would like to get in touch, leave a comment below. Enjoy!
Cycling the Pan-American Highway
July 2009 – After arriving in Fairbanks, Alaska, there was a small delay as the airline had lost my luggage. When it finally turned up, I caught a bus up to Deadhorse which is on Prudhoe Bay. This was the start of my cycling from Alaska to Argentina trip, and also the start of the pan-American Highway. The first section from Deadhorse back to Fairbanks is known as the Haul Road, and is a notoriously difficult section. (Click here to read about >> Cycling the Haul Road in Alaska)
August 2009 – After resting up in Fairbanks for a few days in order to give my knee a chance to recover, I hit the road once more. There were some cold, wet days ahead before I crossed into Canada. Then there were some more, cold, wet days! Along the way I met some other people cycling the Pan-American Highway, some going the whole way, and others doing sections of it.
September 2009 – I carried on cycling through Canada, where I stayed with some wonderfully hospitable people. I found a couple of days work on an organic farm sorting out potatoes. Towards the end of the month, I crossed over into the USA, and then started cycling through Washington State and into Oregon.
October 2009 – The Golden Gate Bridge, 5 dollar campsites, 2 dollar wine, and plenty of friendly cyclists all made this month of cycling from Alaska to Argentina a pleasure. Special mention to Anne of Guadelupe who was a great Warmshowers host. We kept in touch, and we met up a few years later on a sailing trip.
November 2009 – I carried on cycling along the Pan-American Highway through the USA, and then crossed into Mexico. I took the Baja route, which meant plenty of dust, sand and cactus, and ended the month in Mulege with Bill, another Warmshowers and Couchsurfing host.
December 2009 – After taking two weeks off in Mulege where i stayed at Bill’s place and worked on my websites including www.hostalworld.co.uk, it was time to carry on my journey of cycling from Alaska to Argentina. I had a few days in Mazatlan where I then caught a ferry over to the mainland of Mexico, and carried on down it’s west coast.
January 2010 – After an extended stay in San Blas, Mexico over Christmas and the New Year where I was also recovering from flu, the journey continued ever southwards. I had ongoing problems changing gear on the bike due to a mechanical fault, and stayed in a mix of campsites, hotels and even brothels (yes, really).
February 2010 – There were some hot days involved in cycling through Mexico, so it was always nice to have a cold coconut or two along the way! Heading away from the coast, I stayed in San Cristobal de las Casas for a while, and then cycled to Palenque where I met Oliver along the way.
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras
March 2010 – Leaving Mexico behind, I cycled with Oliver for a few days into Guatemala where we visited Tikal. Parting company, I then rode through El Salvador and into Honduras in this central American stage of my trip. Corrupt officials? – I didn’t see a single one!
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
April 2010 – Central America is quite a compact region, and during this month I managed to cycle through Honduras and carried on through Nicaragua, Costa Rica and into Panama. No, I did not buy a Panama hat!
May 2010 – After sailing from Panama to Colombia, I cycled through this amazing country which I wish I had spent more time in. The people were incredibly friendly and welcoming, and I would go back there in an instant!
June 2010 – After cycling through Colombia, it was on to Ecuador. Think hills, mountains, big plates of food, irritating heel snapping dogs, and stunning scenery.
July 2010 – Ecuador gave a taste of things to come when I crossed the border into Peru. I have to say, that Peru is one of my favourite countries for bicycle touring. Views and vistas defy imagination, there is a sense of true freedom and remoteness and the landscape is dotted with the ruins of lost civilisations. The cycling itself is tough but hugely rewarding. Again, I would go back to Peru in a heartbeat.
August 2010 – Day after day, Peru never failed to impress me. Of all the countries I passed through when cycling from Alaska to Argentina, this was by far the best. Rough roads and tough climbs were rewarded by great views and huge plates of food. When wild camping I saw some amazing sunsets. Have a look at some Travel Tips on Cycling in Peru
September 2010 – I teamed up with Spanish cyclist Augusti for a while when I was cycling in Peru, and we shared many memorable experiences. Leaving Peru behind, it was on to Bolivia, which gives Peru a close run for its money in terms of being a favourite country to cycle through.
October 2010 – My money had started to quite drastically run out at this point, and I took several extended stays in places in order to do a little freelance writing work. I also met President Evo Morales (well, he walked by whilst his bodyguards kept a close eye on me!)
I also cycled across a salt pan – Check the YouTube video!
November 2010 – Not a lot happened in November in terms of cycling from Alaska to Argentina, as I took some weeks off in Tupiza in order to do some writing and improve my bank balance. I won’t leave it so late next time!
December 2010 – I finally left Bolivia, and cycled into Argentina. It was at the stage I realised that it was unlikely that I would reach my final goal of Tierra del Fuego as I was completely broke. Still, I had a good time In Salta fro Christmas and the New Year!
January 2011 – After finishing off some freelance writing work, I began my cycle ride through Argentina. Wild camping along the way, I realised that I had to end my trip the following month. As an incentive, I had a job waiting for me back in the UK though.
February 2011 – My trip of cycling from Alaska to Argentina ended in Mendoza with a mix of feelings. I never made my goal of the Tierra del Fuego some 3000 more kilometres away, but I took away with me experiences and memories I will never forget.