The age of the traditional city coach tour has definitely been and gone.
La Bicicleta Naranja is part of a growing trend of new school, eco-friendly city tours, where groups of tourists and porteños alike cycle across the city on luminous orange bicycles. So much for blending in.
I was worried that my aversion to trainers would inhibit my enjoyment of the tour. Luckily, you don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to keep up with the easy pace and flat routes – in the end, the entire experience turned out to be quite flip-flop friendly. The bicycles are comfortable and easy to ride, and helmets are offered, but thankfully not compulsory.
Our group was lead by two guides, who explained where our three-and-a-half hour tour would take us before we set off through San Telmo to Plaza Dorrego. Stopping to the side, our guide Belén explained some of the history surrounding the square, and managed to make myself and the other English person hang our heads slightly by talking about the unsuccessful British invasion of Buenos Aires in 1807. Ahem.
In the baking heat, we cycled through Parque Lezama to La Boca, dismounting to stroll down the colourful street ‘Caminito’. After a 15-minute photo stop, where we heard about the history of tango and the conventillos (houses inhabited by multiple families), our tour took us briefly to the river mouth.
Thankfully, we didn’t linger at the old port, but instead headed inland, away from the pollution to the ecological reserve of Puerto Madero, the guides stopping every so often to share an interesting fact or two about something we passed.
As we reached the reserve, I was starting to lag and the sun had left me with a pink left arm. In spite of this, the gentle cycle around the park was remarkably peaceful and enjoyable, and after 20 minutes, including a stop at the “beach” and a quick gawp at the people swimming in the brown river, we emerged from the reserve for a drink and a rest in the shade.
Despite a near miss with a lorry and minor sunburn, I was amazed by the knowledge gained from the tour. Looking at the tourists taking photos through the windows of buses, I felt they were missing out on the fun, hands-on and thoroughly informative experience I had just had.
There are five city tour routes available as well as individual bike hire. Visit www.labicicletanaranja.com for more information.