Famous explorers and sporting stars provide holiday inspiration for active types. Abigail Healy looks at cycling, walking and sailing itineraries for clients keen to emulate their heroes
The oldest, most prestigious cycling race in the world, the Tour de France has been dominated by Brits recently, with Welshman Geraint Thomas taking the top spot on the podium this year.
For clients keen to test their own mettle, Explore offers the eight-day Velo en Provence. The “moderately-graded” cycle trip includes biking at the southern foot of Mont Ventoux, a legendary stage of the Tour.
Cycling product manager Alison Butler says: “Mont Ventoux is a classic Tour de France stage. This strenuous ascent is suitable for fit cyclists only, but a great challenge for those who are up for it. Clients on our Velo en Provence holiday have the option to give this iconic ride a go.”
For those looking to include cycling, but not as the sole focus of their holiday, Mark Warner’s San Lucianu Beach Resort in Corsica is located near the opening stage of the 100th Tour de France in 2013.
Both road cycling and mountain biking are included in packages at the resort, and it offers free guided bike tours – covering part of the 2013 Tour route – for guests aged 13 and over, with bikes and helmets provided.
Book it: Explore’s Velo en Provence trip starts from £1,089pp on a twin share basis, including flights, seven nights’ B&B, bicycle hire and a tour leader.
A seven-night stay at Mark Warner’s San Lucianu Beach Resort, Corsica, including flights and transfers, starts from £579 per adult and £499 per child, departing on September 15.
Patagonia has attracted explorers for centuries with its wild landscapes and vertiginous climbs. Notable explorations of the region are too many to list but include those by naturalist Charles Darwin, adventurer Florence Dixie and explorer Ernest Shackleton. The Torres del Paine national park is considered to be the crown jewel of Chilean Patagonia and is recognised as a Biosphere Reserve and Unesco World Heritage Site.
Latin Routes product manager, Aurelie De Brouwer, says: “The W Trek is one of the most iconic hiking routes in Patagonia, with views of the granite towers that give the park its name. It runs up three valleys creating a W shape. The trek takes between four and five days with stops in refuges or camping sites along the way. It’s a moderately challenging hike covering approximately 46 miles with some climbs reaching 800 metres. The trek gives access to some of the park’s top attractions, including Base Torres, the French Valley and Glacier Grey.”
Book it: Latin Routes offers an eight-day trip from £2,799pp, including flights, transfers, accommodation in Puerto Natales and the W Trek.
The Caribbean is a popular destination for professional sailing contests. Antigua Sailing Week now attracts more than 100 yachts annually while Bermuda was the venue for the famous America’s Cup race in 2017.
Novice sailors keen to practise tacking and jibing – manoeuvring for the uninitiated – should look to Intrepid Travel’s Bahamas Sailing Adventure.
Dianne Muldoon, marine brand and product manager, says: “What makes this Bahamian paradise so perfect for beginners is its protected and shallow waters. Under the guidance of a local skipper with extensive sailing miles, and a maximum group size of just eight, this trip is perfect for first-time sailors.”
Clients who demand more privacy should look to The Moorings – now available through Caribtours – where more confident sailors can skipper their own yacht while those who prefer to kick back while someone else does all the hard work can book a crewed charter.
Book it: Intrepid’s Bahamas Sailing Adventure starts from £1,460pp, including yacht accommodation, selected meals and activities but excluding flights. Trips depart from March 2019.
Caribtours offers seven nights’ all-inclusive onboard a luxury Crewed Yacht Charter from £2,925pp, based on six adults sharing and including flights, transfers, lounge access and three nights’ pre- or post-cruise at St Lucia’s Capella Marigot Bay.
The world’s highest mountain above sea level, Mount Everest is the pinnacle of hiking challenges, with adventurers including Edmund Hillary and Ranulph Fiennes having conquered the summit.
For clients keen to follow in their footsteps but perhaps less prepared for the extreme altitude and terrain, G Adventures offers the chance to tackle “the steps to heaven” – the route to Everest Base Camp.
The 15 days Kathmandu to Kathmandu itinerary is rated five, the most challenging on G Adventures’ scale. It sees groups of up to 15 head from Kathmandu to Phakding where they’ll pass Sherpa villages, glacial ridges and foothills, as well as experiencing local cultures.
Mature clients keen to experience the scenery, culture and trails of the Himalayas at a slightly more relaxed pace should look to Saga’s Trekking in the Himalayas itinerary. It includes hiking through the valleys of the Annapurnas, plus exploring the city of Kathmandu and local lowland villages.
Book it: G Adventures offers the Kathmandu to Kathmandu trip from £1,049pp, excluding flights.
Saga’s trekking in the Himalayas trip starts from £2,499pp, including flights and transfers, and departing April 1, 2019.
It’s not strictly sailing, but Tenerife’s El Medano played host to the Professional Windsurfers Association World Championships last month. Fans of the sport will find the resort an excellent spot to hoist their own sails with regular trade winds creating ideal conditions.
The Canary island is home to a number of windsurfing schools, suitable for both beginners and those with more experience. Sports Club Tenerife (sctenerife.es) offers three-day courses for beginners from €300, which includes three hours of lessons every day, while those with some previous experience can book courses to improve their technique.
Book it: Jet2holidays has seven nights’ B&B at the four-star Arenas del Mar Hotel from £365pp, based on two adults sharing and flying from Stansted on December 12, 2018.
The first mountaineer to summit Everest, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, Sir Edmund Hillary honed his skills on New Zealand’s Aoraki Mount Cook.
Reaching the peak is a technically challenging climb but any fairly fit walker can follow in Hillary’s path. Silver Fern Holidays’ 24-day Easy Walks in New Zealand itinerary includes an easy to moderate half-day walk in the Hooker Valley at the base of the mountain.
Managing director John Lightwood, says: “The walk is one of the most popular walks in Mount Cook national park. The track starts at the Sir Edmund Hillary visitor centre at Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Village and heads up the valley towards the mountain.”
The trail includes plenty of viewpoints, including those from its three swing bridges, with the Hooker Glacier, the Southern Alps and Mount Cook itself among the highlights.
Book it: Silver Fern Holidays offers the 24-day break from £3,495pp, excluding international flights.
The highest mountain in the Alps, and indeed Western Europe, Mont Blanc draws many mountaineering enthusiasts. While summiting the 4,810-metre-high peak is a challenge that shouldn’t be taken lightly, keen hikers can enjoy the crisp Alpine air, verdant valleys and quaint mountain villages on the Tour du Mont Blanc that circumnavigates the mountain.
HF Holidays offers a guided trip following the route. Trails manager Annie Coutts says: “Walkers can look forward to putting their legs to the test and circumnavigating the majestic Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest mountain, with expert guides on hand every step of the way to bring the beautiful landscape to life.”
Book it: The 10-night trip starts from £2,099pp on a full-board basis, including flights, and departs on June 26, 2019.