A SALISBURY graduate is saddling up to cycle the entire 8,000-mile western coast of South America to raise £80,000 for charity.

Starting at the southern tip of Argentina, Toby Mackean and three university pals will pedal up the coast to northernmost point of the mainland in Colombia.

Toby, 21, Guthrie Fenton, Archie Innes, and Thomas Lawson, all 22, will tackle some the world's most challenging cycle routes, including Bolivia's infamous “Death Road”, in just five months.

Toby said: “We wanted to plan a trip that ultimately presented a big enough challenge that would allow us to raise as much money as possible for our chosen charities whilst letting us see some of the most amazing parts of the world.“Cycling in the Andes appeared to fit the bill very well indeed.”

Toby said they were relishing the chance to meet the snow, sand and seriously steep climbs head-on, and were training hard in preparation.

“I have found it is quite easy to get confused between excitement and apprehension during our preparations, but I think what excites me most is being faced with the challenge of cycling more than 50 miles a day and the opportunity to push myself both physically and psychologically to places where very few people have actually done so,” he said.

The route will see them ascend mountainous trails and cross deserts and salt-flats.

They will encounter snow and sub-zero temperatures as they climb to 4,000m above sea-level through the Andes.

At the other extreme, they will have to contend with subtropical humidity and the searing heat of the Atacama Desert.

And they are aiming to complete the challenge entirely unaided, carrying 50kg of kit in their packs.

Toby added: “The unsupported nature of the trip means we will undoubtedly have to deal with some fairly compromising situations, and I suppose it is this element of risk that makes the trip so exciting for us.”

They will cycle through to three of the highest capital cities in the world - up to the lofty heights of La Paz and the salt-flats in Bolivia, to Lima, the capital of Peru, then on to the highest official capital of the world, Quito in Ecuador, at 2,800m above sea-level.

Continuing northwards to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, their tour will end at Punta Gallinas on La Guajira Peninsula, the northernmost part of Colombia, where the desert drops and meets the sea.

All four lads, who have all recently graduated from Durham University, have chosen a charity personal to them and are aiming to raise £20,000 each.

Toby will be fundraising for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust.

So far more than £5,000 has been raised.

To sponsor the group, visit uppingtheandes.com