Eco Colors trips offer pedaling, paddling

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CANCUN, Mexico -- A company here specializing in eco-adventure tours is marketing biking trips through the more than 70-mile stretch of Mexican coastline and jungle known as the Riviera Maya.

The company, Eco Colors, has put together a series of eight-day trips that are heavy on biking but also allow participants time to swim, snorkel, kayak and hike through the region's jungles, bays and inlets.

Still relatively pristine, the Riviera Maya is situated along the Yucatan Peninsula coastline in the state of Quintana Roo. It begins approximately 18 miles south of Cancun Airport in Playa del Secreto and extends to Punta Allen in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

Far more laid-back than Cancun, the Riviera Maya's main selling points are its small guesthouses and resorts and its abundant natural attractions, including caves, underground rivers, cenotes (spring-fed swimming holes) and the second-largest barrier reef system just off shore.

Accompanied by bilingual guides, a group of approximately 20 bikers will set out each day on 30- to 45-mile rides that will take them to the region's most important man-made and natural attractions, including the archeological parks of Xcaret and Xel-Ha, and the ancient Mayan cities of Tulum, Coba and Muyil.

One biking expedition involves a 42-mile ride from the Hotel Costa Tankah to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, appointed a World Heritage Site in 1987.

A bike ride into Sian Ka'an (where the sky begins) reveals thousands of butterflies, as well as howler monkeys, pumas, crocodiles and giant land crabs. Lucky riders might even spot a jaguar among the tropical foliage.

Another day, bikers will ride 38 miles from the colonial city of Valladolid, where guests stay at the Meson del Marquez, to Chichen Itza, the most famous and best restored of the Yucatan Peninsula's Mayan sites.

Among Chichen Itza's attractions are El Castillo, the castle, which visitors can climb to get a bird's eye view of the area, and the Sacred Cenote, a sunken well where the Mayas are believed to have sacrificed female virgins by throwing them into the cenote to drown.

In the 1920s and 1960s, archaeologists dredging the cenotes brought in divers, who discovered the remains of men, women and children as well as precious stones and other artifacts.

Guests spend the night at the Hotel Hacienda Chichen, the home base for the archaeologists who excavated Chichen Itza. A tour option is an evening light-and-sound show at Chichen.

In addition to the Hotel Costa Tankah, the Hotel Hacienda Chichen and the Meson del Marquez, the other host hotels are the Club Med Coba and the Club Med Uxmal.

The trips cost $1,100 per person, double.

The price includes accommodations, daily breakfast and dinner, airport transfers, transportation, equipment support, the services of a guide and park entrance fees. Clients can bring their own bicycle or rent one for $100.

Departures are scheduled for Feb. 3 to 10, March 3 to 10, April 7 to 14, Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 1 to 8.

For information or reservations, call 011-52-98-849580/843667 or visit the company's Web site at www.cancun.com.mx/ecocolors.

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