Activity Holidays: Four Adventures for Spring…

23rd January 2014
Pól Ó Conghaile

Looking for a getaway that gets you beyond the beach?

I featured several activity holidays on yesterday’s Today Show, from hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostella in Spain, to surfing in portugal and cycling on Donegal’s Inishowen peninsula. The details are below and, as you can see, it often pays to book early.

The show is available on RTE Player here (item starts at 48.30).

1. Walk the Camino, Spain

Caminoways.com has lots of different walking holiday options along the Camino routes, but the most popular is the last 100km of the Original Way.

Today, the French Way takes most of the Camino fame, but this was the first Camino trail – the route that joined the pilgrimage cities of Oviedo and Sanatiago. After a challenging beginning, it joins the last stretch of the French Way roughly half-way to Santiago. The first half is quiet, the second half busy and social, so you get the best of both worlds.

The city of Lugo, home to the best-preserved Roman wall in Europe (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), is the starting point. The city is also famous for its food and pintxos. Lugo hosts Holy Week processions, so Easter (April 13-20) is a great time to visit, given the brio with which it is celebrated in Galicia.

Accommodation is in hotels and country cottages, and the trip is self-guided (maps are provided).

Details: caminoways.com, from €645pp (flights extra).

2. Surf Holidays in Portugal

Irish company surfholidays.com provides tailormade holidays mixing surf lessons with personally vetted accommodation near some of Europe’s best breaks.

A week at Baleal Surf Camp in Peniche, Portugal includes two surf lessons a day. Accommodation is either in dorms at the Beach House hostel, or private apartments next door, just 100m from the beach.

Peniche is a peninsula with beaches facing four different directions into the Atlantic, so no matter what the swell direction or wind direction, it tends to have consistent surf. The peninsula is home to Portugal’s most famous wave – Supertubos, as well as some of its top beginner and intermediate beaches.

Peniche is 90km north of Lisbon (an hour’s drive from the airport), so daytrips are an option too.

Details: surfholidays.com; from €285pp (Feb/March) and €425 (April). Flights extra.

3. Horseback Safari in South Africa

Like horses? What about trying a safari on horseback?

Laura and Shane Dowinton’s stunning Waterberg ranch offers a great horse-riding holiday in South Africa. It offers the chance to join in herding the cattle, help out with ranch duties, play polocrosse, practice cross-country jumping and take a longer safari ride over two days in a neighbouring game reserve.

All riding, accommodation, meals and drinks are included, but not flights/transfers. Although all riding standards are provided for, I’d recommend experienced riders for this one. South Africa is a long way to travel to learn to ride, and advanced riders will get the best out of the safaris.

Details: Zarasplanet.ie; from €187 per night. Flights extra.

4. Northern Lights Cycling Tour, Inishowen

There are more and more cycling holidays available in Ireland, and this one takes you along the coast of the Inishowen Peninsula to Malin Head, the most northerly point in Ireland, where the Northern Lights have been spotted frequently over the last year.

The five-night tour includes four days of cycling covering 130km. Starting at the neck of the peninsula, in Burt, it brings cyclists up the west side of the peninsula, through Buncrana, finishing with a visit to Malin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland.

The price includes bikes, half-board, evening meals and breakfast, luggage transfers, maps, snacks and transfers from Derry Airport. A cycling guide is extra, and the tours run April to September.

Details: cycleinishowen.com; €750 per adult sharing, €375 for ages 10-18.