A COUNTY family who have spent 16 months cycling across Central and South America say the experience has been 'incredible and life-enriching'.

Steve and Pippa Genner, from Wolferlow, near Bromyard, said they wanted to take their two boys - Henry, 13, and Charlie, 11 - on the trip of a lifetime so they could experience the world in a way they just couldn't do from home.

The family began in the Yucatán in Southern Mexico, cycling the Chiapas into Guatemala, then through Central America via El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and then sail boating through the San Blas islands to Colombia, then Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

They are currently in Argentina, and Steve, 52, said: "This is the most valuable thing we will ever do. Pippa and I spend all of our time with the boys and although that can lead to friction on occasions, we know each other so well and all the most beautiful things we have experienced we have seen and shared together.

"We decided to do the trip because we work in education and have become seriously disillusioned with the regimented format of the system with total emphasis on grades. We wanted our children to have a far more rounded educational experience, meeting people in different environments and seeing the varied cultures."

The boys are both now completely fluent in Spanish and want to learn more languages.

Pippa and Steve made sure their sons kept up their education on the road, focussing on maths and science while letting the geography and history progress as they went along. They also used free online resources.

Steve added: "We have met so many wonderful and varied people, experienced the highest highs and some big lows - although not many . The landscapes have been unreal, particularly from the view point of cycling there - although it has been tough at times. Riding across the Bolivian salt flats, being above the clouds in the Andes and sailing for five days through the 365 tropical islands which make up the San Blas islands north of Colombia. We've done so much."

The trip will end in April when the family will return home to Herefordshire, although he said 'the boys are reluctant to return'.

"We are missing home - only as we draw to a close, thoughts naturally return to home and the future, but this is only a recent situation and in no way detracts from our enjoyment. We have had about 15 days of rain on the whole trip, so how could we miss the UK?"