1. Sulawesi, Indonesia
Unlike its Indonesian counterparts the island of Sulawesi is relatively off the tourist map. I spent close to a full month cycling this crescent shaped island and only encounters tourists on one occasion. The island is extremely fertile and has a lot to offer from coffee to fresh tropical fruits, to palm sap liquor. The culture is a mix of native jungle tribes with with Hindu, Christian and Islamic roots.
Nearest major city: Makassar Terrain: Hills, mountains and long flat stretches through rice fields
Total distance: About 200-300 km Difficulty: 6/10 Highlights: The village of Tana Toraja is famous for its burial rituals and ceremonies. It also has some of the best coffee in Indonesia. Read More
2. Rallarvegen, Norway
This popular route follows a scenic trail, over a glacial mountain pass and down to a beautiful harbor. It is mostly ridden in the direction of the harbor which is easier, with riders returning to by train. The return route starts with a very steep climb, and is uphill most of the way back.
Nearest major city: Bergen Terrain: Mountainous, forested Route: Popular for cycling
Total distance: 80 km each way Difficulty: 4/10, 6/10 return Highlights: Goats, rivers, streams, fjords, glaciers…Read More
3. Wadi Rum, Jordan
This is an desert route into and through Jordan’s most famous national park. It is difficult and at many times requires the rider to push. Bring lots of water and food supplies as once entering the park there are only small groups of nomadic Bedouin scattered throughout.
Nearest major city: Aqaba Terrain:Desert
Total distance: varies Difficulty: 6/10 Highlights: Slot canyons, dunes, Bedouin nomadic culture, natural rock formations, and bouldering. Wadi Rum is an extremely popular setting in science fiction films. The desert landscape with its tall, rocky cliffs is often used to portray an extraterrestrial planet and was recently filmed in the Martian. Read More
4. Song Kol lake, Kyrgyzstan
At an elevation of over 3,000 meters this lake is Kyrgyzstan’s highest lake. It is remote and surrounded my snowy mountains. The route getting to the lake is difficult, but worthwhile in that it takes your through some of the most beautiful country in Kyrgyzstan; passing small villages and local herdsmen in yurts.
Nearest major city: Bishkek Terrain: Mountainous, high desert
Total distance: varies Difficulty: 8/10 (go in the summer or early fall) Highlights: Remote Kyrgyzstan culture, beautiful mountain passes, secluded quiet lake, physical struggle. Read More5. Theth, Albania
This route starts at the lakeside city of Shkoder and climbs through the Albanian alps. The route is closed during the winter months and Theth is considered by many to be the most remote village in of Europe.
Nearest major city: Shkoder Terrain: Mountainous forest Route: After reaching Theth there is a challenging return route that goes back into the Alps following a very beautiful river. Total distance: Varies Difficulty: 7/10 Highlights: Remote villages, crystal clear streams, Albanian culture, homemade cheese, butter, bread, and yogurt…..Read More
6. Daintree Rainforest, Australia
This route takes your through a lush rainforest filled with mangroves, lakes, streams and crocodiles! The route is located on Australia’s north eastern coast, and travels past pristine beaches. I cycled over 2,000 miles in Australia and this by far was my favorite route!
Nearest major city: Cairns Terrain: Mostly flat, paved roads through thick jungles.
Total distance: Around 200 kilometers Difficulty: 4/10 Highlights: A tropical rain forest that meets the Pacific ocean. Read More
7. Lhuentse, East Bhutan
I was very lucky in getting an Official Guest invitation when visiting Bhutan. Because of my fortune I was able to cycle much of Bhutan guide-free. Although cycling Bhutan with a guide would probably not be that bad, if you can afford the $250 a day visa fee. The route was beautiful and full of the browns, yellows and orange colors found during the fall season in the eastern Himalayas. The road was in relatively good condition and there were many guest houses along the way. The route climbs and descends the entire time, some of the passes are over 4,000 meters.
Nearest major city: Thimpu Terrain: Mountainous
Total distance: 400-500 km Difficulty: 7/10 Highlights: Splendid views from mountain summits, Buddhist stupas and monasteries, Dzongs, local cheese, wine, and Bhutanese culture. Read More
8. Mestia, Georgia
This route crosses a large mountain pass with a glacial lake before descending into a beautiful valley near the border of Russia. Mestia is a small village with a panoramic view of snow capped mountains. It has friendly people, comfortable guest houses and several historic Orthodox monasteries.
Nearest major city: Kutaisi Terrain: Mountainous
Total distance: 200-300 km Difficulty: 7/10 Highlights: Remote Georgian culture, vineyards, glaciers, trekking, and Christian monasteries. Read More
9. The Tibetan Plateau, Sichuan, China
The Tibetan plateau is a large area in China, extending into several provinces. Although we all think of Tibet when we hear the word Tibetan, there is lots of Tibetan people in the remote provinces outside of Tibet. In the last 10 years China has tightened its grip on Tibet making independent travel impossible for foreigners, and supressing their culture. As a result learning and getting a feel of Tibetan culture is best done outside of Tibet in the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan, where you can still find small villages full of Tibetans tucked away from major roads.This route travels through several of those areas and is my recommendation to anyone interested in learning more about Tibetan culture.
Nearest major city: Chengdu Terrain: Mountainous, High desert
Total distance: From Litang to Lijiang about 800 km Difficulty: 7/10 Highlights: Buddhist stupas, green pastures, fresh milk and cheese, snowy mountains, and Tibetan culture
10. Nepal Himalayan Circuit
This is probably the most difficult route from the list! The route consists of mostly rocky, muddy, rough roads take take you through high passes and beautiful landscape. Bottled water will be very difficult to find so bring a filter or tablets. There are many places to camp or you can stay with locals in the villages.
Nearest major city: Pokhara Terrain: Mountainous, sometimes jungle
Total distance: If you start in Pokhara and do a loop about 300 km Difficulty: 8/10 (Depending on road conditions you may have a bit of pushing, when I did it there was a large section of road that was closed due to a landslide, requiring excessive carrying of bike and gear over large boulders).
Highlights: Beautiful remote Himalayan villages, views of Mt. Annapurna, Nepali culture.