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Provisional Itinerary Version 2
as at 5 July 2006
This replaces the text circulated with the brochure


Sunday 5 November (or before). You must sign on at the start tomorrow, ready to roll, so our suggestion for this day is to make your own way to San Diego, California (which has the nearest international airport to the start). For this night, you can book yourself into a hotel near San Diego airport or just across the border in Tijuana. But why not come a few days early to soak up southern California’s culture and sunshine, or take advantage of our special rates for a couple of extra days at the start hotel at Ensenada, a sophisticated and affluent coastal resort 100km/70mi S of Tijuana, booked through us?

Monday 6 November If your vehicle is being shipped to Tijuana, take a taxi early to the bonded depot to collect it. If not done already, take car and crew through Mexican immigration and customs formalities, and drive to our hotel just north of Ensenada. Join the event proper by signing on at event registration, and collect road book and other documentation; have vehicle inspected. Evening: welcome party and dinner, on Mexican theme. Hotel Coral and Marina*****

DAY ONE: Tuesday 7 November: Ensenada - San Quentin (Classic Route 452km/282mi, Adventure Route 427km/267mi) After the ceremonial send-off, the first four days of the event are spent exploring the austerely beautiful desert peninsula of Baja California. Today the Classic Route takes a desert run on asphalt highways and a visit to the blowhole at La Bufadora before climbing on asphalt and gravel roads to an observatory at 2,800m (9,180ft - views to both oceans, if clear). The Adventure Route takes rough and challenging mountain gravel roads and jeep tracks before also visiting the observatory. Overnight in a hacienda-style three-star hotel on the Pacific coast. La Pinta Hotel***

DAY TWO: Wednesday 8 November: San Quentin - Loreto (Classic Route 853km/533mi, Adventure Route 914km/571mi) The Classic Route is a long but easy day’s run, mostly on the asphalt Highway 1, through superb desert and coastal scenery. We pause at a lovely old mission village, and overnight at a five-star hotel in Baja’s oldest town. For the Adventure Route, there’s an optional scenic loop (88km/55mi extra), much of it on gravel, to an undiscovered but beautiful stretch of the Gulf of California coast. Inn at Loreto Bay*****

DAY THREE: Thursday 9 November: Loreto - San José del Cabo (Classic Route 544km/340mi, Adventure Route 562km/349mi) The Classic Route starts off along the scenic coast highway, while the Adventure Route takes a 106km (67mi) run on gravel roads through the mountains to see a lovely old mission. Both then go on easy roads into the southernmost, and most scenic, part of Baja, where we stay a couple of nights at a luxury beachside resort hotel. Marquis Los Cabos*****

DAY FOUR: Friday 10 November: Rest day in San José del Cabo Plenty of activities, or just chill out by the pool. Marquis Los Cabos*****

DAY FIVE: Saturday 11 November: San José del Cabo - Los Mochis (268km/167mi) In the morning, a 244km (152mi) drive around the lovely Cabo coast, and then across the peninsula to Pichelingue and the ferry to the “mainland”, which sails at 15:00 (although we have to arrive early). We land in the evening, then it’s a half-hour expressway drive to the city of Los Mochis and our five-star hotel. Hotel Santa Anita*****

DAY SIX: Sunday 12 November: Adventure Route: Los Mochis - Copper Canyon (393km/245mi) The core of today’s route is on unmade mountain roads through the magnificent Sierra Madre, with some spectacular scenery. Our Route Survey team, led by Arne Hertz, are confident that a carefully driven and properly prepared classic rally car can cope without problem. For those who prefer to avoid this stretch, we hope to be able to arrange a day’s excursion by the world famous Chepe train to the Copper Canyon and back to Los Mochis. Divisadero: Hotel Posada Barrancas Mirador*****/Hotel Divisadero Barrancas*****; Los Mochis: Hotel Santa Anita****

DAY SEVEN: Monday 13 November: Adventure Route: Copper Canyon - Hidalgo del Parrál (532km/331mi). A day’s driving on asphalt or reasonable gravel roads through the fantastic canyon country of the Sierra Madre, including an optional visit to the lovely remote little town of Batópilas - Arne Hertz thought that the gravel road to and from here was one of the most amazing he had ever seen. Parral is an old mining town with characterful narrow streets; we stay at a four-star hotel. Howard Johnson Hacienda de Villa Parral****

Classic Route: Los Mochis - Mazatlan (426km/266mi). Those staying in Los Mochis today run down the coast, passing through old towns en route to a fine hotel in the attractive resort of Mazatlan. Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay*****

DAY EIGHT: Tuesday 14 November: Adventure Route: Hidalgo del Parrál - Zacatecas (724km/450mi) A straightforward run on good asphalt main roads. You will visit the famous movie sets at Durango and the strange Sierra los Órganos, before getting to Zacatecas in time to explore this picturesque up-and-down silver mining city of pink stone houses - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at a wonderful five-star hotel that was once a bull fighting arena. Quinta Real*****

Classic Route: Mazatlan - Zacatecas (678km/424mi) The Classic Route takes a very scenic asphalt highway across the Sierra Madre to rejoin the Adventure Route at Durango’s movie sets. Quinta Real*****

DAY NINE: Wednesday 15 November: Zacatecas - Guanajuato (366km/227mi) There’s time to explore a little more of Zacatecas before setting off on this short day’s run. We are now in the rich heartland of colonial Mexico, and pass through two or three other attractive old towns and villages, such as Lagos de Moreno and León, on our way to Guanajuato. Overnight at a fine five-star hotel. Quinta las Alondras*****

DAY TEN: Thursday 16 November: Rest day, Guanajuato Stroll at leisure among the old streets, historic buildings, markets and shops of this, one of the finest historic cities in the Americas (and another World Heritage Site). Quinta las Alondras*****

DAY ELEVEN: Friday 17 November: Guanajuato - Mexico City (566km/352mi) We pass through the towns of Celaya and Zitacuaro before paying a visit to the small but attractive Salto de Chihuahua waterfall. There is an optional excursion to view millions of Monarch butterflies in their natural environment before driving the mountain road up into the crater of the Nevado de Toluca volcano, at a height of 4,200m (13,780 ft) the highest point of the event. We overnight in a top hotel in Mexico City, within easy reach of the centre. Sheraton Centro Historico*****

DAYS TWELVE AND THIRTEEN: Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 November: Rest days, Mexico City Two days to discover just some of the superb sights, great food and fabulous shopping of this world-class city. Why not take the opportunity to visit the great Aztec site of Teotihuacán? Sheraton Centro Historico*****

DAY FOURTEEN: Monday 20 November: Mexico City - Oaxaca (561km/349mi) We leave Mexico City, taking the unpaved (but well surfaced) mountain pass between the great volcanoes of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. We do a tour of some of Mexico’s finest colonial churches, then pause for lunch in the wonderful old city of Puebla. Later, we leave the highway to visit the interesting La Reserva de la Biosfera Tehuacán Cuicatlán, home to many species of cacti and wildlife, before continuing along the expressway to our overnight halt at a five-star hotel in the lively historic city of Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-ha-ca). Camino Real*****

DAY FIFTEEN: Tuesday 21 November: Oaxaca - Huatulco (284km/177mi) We start with a visit to the sprawling, magnificent hilltop Zapotec site of Monte Alban (or the almost as famous and stunning Mitla if you prefer), then drive south through the mountains, pausing at a couple of renowned markets for craft goods. We overnight at a luxury resort hotel in one of the Pacific coast’s most beautiful settings. Camino Real*****

DAY SIXTEEN: Wednesday 22 November: Huatulco - San Cristóbal de las Casas (575km/357mi) We drive along the coast, then head into the mountains of Chiapas province, to visit the magnificent Sumidero Canyon (with an option to take a speedboat ride and see the crocodiles), and the little old town of Chiapa de Corzo, all on asphalt roads. There is an optional loop of a few kilometres to visit an unusual dual-religion church in Chamula. Overnight is in a hotel of traditional character in another of Mexico’s finest colonial cities. Hotel Catedral*****

DAY SEVENTEEN: Thursday 23 November: San Cristóbal de las Casas - Palenque (237km/147mi) The climate, the vegetation and the cultural emphasis are all changing now, as we officially cross into Central America and enter the lusher and warmer south-east, the area of Mayan and related cultures. This short day’s run, on asphalt main roads, gives plenty of time for walking around San Cristóbal, the waterfalls of Agua Azul and Misol-Há and the superb Mayan remains at Palenque, where we overnight at a four-star resort. Chan-Kah Resort Village****

DAY EIGHTEEN: Friday 24 November: Palenque - Campeche (510km/317mi) We drop down to the coastal plain of Tabasco province, and cross the great Centla pantanos or wetland, a Reserva de la Biósfera rich in bird and water life. We run along the Gulf coast highway through the nature reserve of the Lagunas de Términos to the historic port of Ciudad del Carmen, where you can lunch in a super fish restaurant, and on to the old fortress town of Campeche, where we overnight in a five-star seafront hotel. Hotel Del Mar*****

DAY NINETEEN: Saturday 25 November: Campeche - Chichén Itzá (433km/269mi) We are now in the Yucatan peninsula, the heartland of the Maya civilisation. Today’s run starts with a visit to Becal, a centre of Panama hat weaving, before a visit to the important site of Uxmal. We then take the Ruta Puuc, country roads linking a number of smaller and less well explored remains, and the Ruta de los Conventos, past interesting colonial churches and monastic remains, ending at the five-star hotel at perhaps the most impressive Maya site of all, where tonight we can see an excellent son et lumière. Hotel Mayaland*****

DAY TWENTY: Sunday 26 November: Chichén Itzá - Riviera Maya (205km/127mi) Time to explore the amazing site of Chichén Itzá, before a short run to see a famous cenote or natural blue grotto. We then pass a couple more Maya sites, including the famous Tulum perched above a Caribbean beach, arriving in time to relax for an hour or two at our luxury all-inclusive beach resort hotel. Barcelo Maya Colonial Beach*****

DAY TWENTY-ONE: Monday 27 November: Riviera Maya - Belize City (436km/271mi) Good main roads take us quickly to the frontier with Belize and on to Orange Grove, where you can make an unforgettable “heart of darkness” river trip deep into the rain forest, to the remote, eerie Maya site of Lamanai (or drive there on dirt roads), before continuing to our luxury waterfront hotel in Belize City. Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina*****

DAY TWENTY-TWO: Tuesday 28 November: Rest day, Belize City Just offshore lies the world’s second biggest (and some say the world’s finest) coral reef. We will offer a range of options for unforgettable snorkelling or scuba diving. Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina*****

DAY TWENTY-THREE: Wednesday 29 November: Belize City - Flores (441km/275mi) First we head south along Belize’s lovely coast, before veering inland to enjoy the spectacular surrounds of the Hummingbird Highway. We pause for a dip at the Blue Hole before taking the hand-cranked ferry to the Maya remains at Xunantunich. We cross the border into Guatemala, and soon arrive at the superb Mayan site of Tikal, deep in the rain forest. Finally, there is a run around the lovely Lake Petén Itzá to our luxury hotel near the picturesque lakeside town of Flores. Hotel Villa Maya****

DAY TWENTY-FOUR: Thursday 30 November: Flores - Panajachel (502km/312mi) A day on back roads through remote areas of Guatemala, discovering old towns like Cobán, Santa Cruz del Quiché and Chichicastenango, famous for its traditional market. Our overnight hotel is on the shore of stunning Lake Atitlán, looking across to its namesake volcano. Hotel Atitlan****

DAY TWENTY-FIVE: Friday 1 December: Panajachel - Antigua Guatemala (183km/ 114mi) A short day’s drive, first circumnavigating the stunning Lake Atitlán, then across hills to Antigua, arriving in time to stroll around and visit the famous markets of the country’s picturesque old capital, or just relax in our stunning hotel. Casa Santa Domingo*****

DAY TWENTY-SIX: Saturday 2 December: Antigua Guatemala - Ruinas de Copán (313km/ 195mi) We skirt around the modern city of Guatemala before taking less frequented roads through upland villages, climbing to 2,500m (8,000ft). We cross into Honduras at a little used border crossing, with time to explore the splendid Copán ruins, where we spend the night in a fine posada. Hotel Posada Real de Copan****

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN: Sunday 3 December: Ruinas de Copán - Tegucigalpa (Classic Route 470km/293mi, Adventure Route 438km/274mi). The Classic Route takes asphalt and good gravel roads between tropical green hills to visit picturesque old towns and beauty spots like Santa Rosa de Copán, Gracias, Santa Barbara and Lake Yojoa (there’s an all-tarmac option too); the Adventure Route makes a detour on jeep tracks before visiting the same places. Both then follow a main road run into the country’s capital, and overnight at an international five-star hotel. Intercontinental Real Tegucigalpa*****

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: Monday 4 December: Tegucigalpa – Granada (472km/293mi) We cross the border into Nicaragua and pause at the former capital, León, famed for its beautiful cathedral, then run along Lake Managua, passing small towns famous for local delicacies. After traversing Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city, we drive up to the rim of active Volcán Masaya, then reach the lovely old city of Granada in time to stroll through its peaceful and historic streets. Overnight in a landmark hotel that overlooks the city’s Parque Central. Hotel Alhambra

DAY TWENTY-NINE: Tuesday 5 December: Granada - San José (465km/290mi) We take the main highway along the south side of Lake Nicaragua before crossing into Costa Rica, then follow secondary roads to the beautiful Lake Arenal, overlooked by the great volcano of the same name. Many temptations compete for your time today: a walk through the forest canopy on the Hanging Bridges, a visit to Arenal Observatory Lodge to get a close up view of the great volcano, a dip in hot springs, the lovely Fortuna waterfalls, and a drive to the rim of the 2,700m (8,800ft) Poás volcano. You won’t be able to do them all! Overnight in a luxury international hotel in Costa Rica’s delightful capital city. Holiday Inn Aurola*****

DAY THIRTY: Wednesday 6 December: San José - El Bambito (489km/304mi) Start the day by driving to the 3,432m (11,256ft) summit of Volcán Irazú, the highest point on the route; it’s just a short walk to the rim. We cross America’s spine of mountains on the Carretera Panamericana, then take lesser-used roads to the internationally renowned Wilson Botanical Gardens, a haven for tropical plants and flowers. Just after crossing the border into Panama, we turn on to good minor roads through fertile rolling landscapes, up to our cool mountain resort hotel high on the slopes of Volcán Barú. Hotel Bambito Resort*****

DAY THIRTY-ONE: Thursday 7 December: El Bambito - Panama City (Classic Route 525km/328mi, Adventure Route 567km/354mi) We drop back down Barú’s slopes before a long run along the Panamerican Highway; the Adventure Route makes a 125km (78mi) loop into the hills, with 22km (14mi) of gravel including three small watersplashes. Both routes detour to see cigars being traditionally hand rolled at La Pintada, before dropping down for lunch into the pleasant town of Penonomé, where you can buy a real panama hat. The Adventure Route then takes a jeep track through green hills to the charming little town of El Valle, while the Classic Route continues along the Panamerican Highway. They come together to enter Panama City on the Puente de la Américas across the entrance to the Panama Canal, to finish the event at one of city’s most luxurious hotels. Tonight, we celebrate with a great party and farewell dinner. Caesar Park Panama*****

Friday 8 December You can deliver your vehicle for shipment and fly home today if you want. But why not stay for a while to explore this fascinating cosmopolitan city, see the Panama Canal’s amazing Gatun Locks, visit the rain forest, or even take a short holiday on one of the fabulous resort islands? We will gladly suggest a range of options.

Total distance of the Adventure Route, approximately 11,860 km (7,377 miles). The above itinerary and schedule are provisional and subject to amendment.

JB/JW
Revised 5.7.2006

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