Active & Adventure Holidays: An adventurous year

Active & Adventure Holidays: An adventurous year

Image credit: Turismo de Portugal

Pick thrilling trips to suit the season, says Joanna Booth

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“You should have been here last week!”

No holidaymaker wants to hear those words. And while you can’t control the weather, you can make sure they don’t travel at the wrong time of year and miss the big highlight of their destination – whether that be turning leaves, migrating creatures or a festival.

The good news is that with a world of adventures to sample, whatever time of year your clients can travel is the best time, somewhere. It’s merely a matter of matching person, place and season.


What could be a more potent symbol of spring than flowers bursting into bloom? And while we Brits can still be shivering in April showers, on the balmy Portuguese island of Madeira, spring has well and truly sprung. The islanders celebrate with a flower festival, which runs from April 16-22 this year.

Floats laden with flowers fill the streets of Funchal, there are walls and carpets of flowers, and there are performances and concerts too – there’s a real party atmosphere.

Travel 2 recommends staying at the exclusive Belmond Reid’s Palace, where seven nights with breakfast, private transfers and flights from Gatwick, departing April 15, start from £1,299.

Clients who prefer a wilder wander can book Inntravel’s Grazalema Sierra Flower Break, on offer between April 13 and May 16 when more than a thousand species in this rural Andalusian area bloom.

The seven-night trip (from £462 excluding flights) has clients staying in a country house in the pretty ‘pueblo blanco’ of Grazalema, and with walking routes and car hire included, they can do plenty of exploring.

Clients can burst into action in spring too. In May the climate is perfect for Explore’s new nine-day Israel by Bike itinerary, sunny but not too hot as they pedal through wine country between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Prices start from £1,990 including flights, accommodation with breakfast, transport, equipment hire and a tour leader.

If they like messing about in boats, they can be the first to catch the spring breezes at the new, improved Vounaki Beachclub in Paleros, Greece, when it reopens on May 17.

Neilson offers yacht training for all levels of expertise from the on-site marina. A two-week holiday starts from £1,045, including flights, a week staying at the beachclub including activities, and a second week’s yacht charter with crew support.

If the rhythm of a rocking boat isn’t their thing, how about something more syncopated? The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival runs from April 24 to May 3, with performances this year from artists as diverse as Jerry Lee Lewis, Tony Bennett and Elton John.

Suggest clients team the city with others famous for southern sounds to create a music-focused tour.

Virgin Holidays offers an 11-night fly-drive holiday visiting Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans from £2,025, including room-only accommodation, car hire and flights, departing April 24.


Chile Atacama Desert - cyclists valley of the moon

Any agent worth their salt will know that July and August herald the Great Migration, as wildebeest and zebra traverse the Serengeti in their millions. It’s a pricey time to visit Tanzania, however, and as herd movements aren’t set in stone it can be difficult to guarantee clients won’t miss signature sights such as river crossings.

G Adventures’ seven-day Tanzania Camping Adventure is an economical way to get up close to the game, with prices starting from £1,299 for a full-service camping trip with a safari guide out of Arusha.

Hardy clients who want to get off the beaten track should earmark summer for a trip to Greenland – it’s only really feasible to visit the Arctic wilderness during this period.

KE Adventure Travel has a 12-day Greenland & Iceland Trek & Walk, taking clients through incredibly dramatic peak and glacier landscapes, camping by the shore and visiting Inuit fishing villages. Land-only prices start from £2,495.

Another area with a short summer season is the Silk Road, as it winds through the mountainous landscapes of central Asia, which are inaccessible during the long winter months.

Dragoman offers an adventurous 29-day Bishkek to Ashgabat trip, visiting Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, traversing the Karakum Desert and sleeping in yurts at Song Kul Lake. Prices start from £1,665 land-only, with a kitty of $930.

Well-off clients who like to brag could take Pura Aventura’s Chilean Ski and Desert trip in July and August, combining a week on the snow in the Andes at Portillo – frequented by Olympic teams who often come here to train in summer – with adventures staying in the sandy Atacama Desert, where they can hike, horseride or explore by jeep.

A 13-night trip with full-board accommodation, internal flights, transfers, excursions, guiding and lift passes starts from £3,940 – international flights are extra.


Bhutan-Cred Travis Lupick
Image credit: Travis Lupick

Summer may be over but there’s no need for clients to feel down – autumn is party time in many parts of the world. As the intense summer heat fades, India becomes more attractive to tourists, and it’s time for the Puskhar Festival.

Insider Journeys – the new name for Travel Indochina – offers a 14-day Highlights of Rajasthan with Pushkar Festival trip, offering clients the chance to meet nomadic desert dwellers and see camel racing and trading, as well as tick off Dehli, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and tiger tracking in Ranthambore National Park.

Departing November 27, the trip is priced from £2,195 and includes accommodation with breakfast, some other meals, activities and tour guide, but excludes flights.

They’re celebrating in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan too this year as it’s the 60th birthday of the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

Autumn is a beautiful time to visit the temples, mountains and monasteries, and Regent Holidays’ November departure of the 11-day Land of the Thunder Dragon tour will coincide with the royal birthday celebrations in capital Thimpu. The trip, including flights and full-board accommodation, starts from £2,985.

In Europe, there are plenty of chances to raise a glass or two, particularly in Munich at the infamous Oktoberfest, which runs this year between September 19 and October 4.

Think tents of different sizes filled with crowds sinking litre steins of beer and eating pretzels, sausages and even spit-roast ox. There are fairgrounds and sideshows too. Entry to the tents is free, but clients will need to arrive early to bag a spot.

Fred Holidays offers a two-night Oktoberfest break from £429, including accommodation with breakfast and flights from Gatwick. The operator can reserve tables in the tents for groups of 10 or more.

For something more low-key, book them on Sherpa Expeditions’ six-day, self-guided Country Walking in Umbria itinerary (from £730 land-only) in November – they’ll be there during the olive harvest and will see celebrations first-hand.


Dog Sledding

Falling flakes bring plenty of family fun, and clients don’t have to go far – or break the bank – if you book them on the Family Adventure Company’s good-value Winter Pyrenees Family Holiday.

Based in Andorra, the week-long trip starts from £1,129 per adult and £1,016 per child (minimum age five), with flights, transfers, half-board accommodation and plenty of activities included – think snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, igloo-building and husky-sledding.

Families with older children could try Exodus’s Tatra Winter Activity Week (minimum age 12). Seven nights in the Slovakian mountains with breakfast, flights and activities starts from £859, and clients can try snowshoeing, dog-sledding, sleigh riding and snowboarding as part of the package.

Winter can be a great time to see destinations that aren’t usually considered for that time of year. Japan is expensive and crowded in the cherry blossom season, so why not suggest clients visit when it’s clothed in white instead of pink?

Intrepid Travel’s nine-night Japan Winter Festivals tour (from £2,030 land-only) will whisk them off to the Snow Festival in Sapporo, where they can eat, drink and dance among displays of lights and ice sculptures.

Then they’ll visit a festival in Asahikawa, try ice-hole fishing, showshoeing, skiing and trekking – and thaw out with dips in the heated onsen hot springs.

Or how about the great US National Park of Yellowstone, blanketed in snow – and without the summer crowds?

Grand American Adventures has a Yellowstone Winter Wildlife trip, which includes cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, plus wolf-tracking and adventures by snowcoach. Prices start from £1,729 land-only for a January 2016 departure.


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