Choosing a walking-based tour can be an environmentally friendly option for your summer travel, one that reduces your carbon footprint, and -- let's face it -- give you that extra dose of physical activity you've put off for too long. You won't necessarily be saving money by traveling this way, in fact many walking tours are comparable in price if not slightly more expensive than traditional tours, but the groups are generally much smaller, the level of detail is greater, and you will undoubtedly get a more intimate connection with your destination. Here are four active and appealing trips to get your feet moving, your camera clicking, and your adventurous spirit ignited.
Walking Connection (tel. 800/295-9255; www.walkingconnection.com) will be running its special Costa Rica "Green Sea Turtle Safari" from August 27 to September 2 and the price has been reduced from $2,988 to $1,998 per person, land only (round-trip airfare to San Jose, Costa Rica in August is additional but it is downright cheap -- starting from $285 including taxes from Miami with American Airlines). The trip is a combination walking, bus, boat and chartered flight tour and begins in San José with a visit to a Farmer's Market, a city walking tour and a visit to the National Museum. The following day travel by bus and boat to Tortuguero, hike along the Tortuguero National Park trail and visit the Atlantic Green Sea Turtle Museum. Walk along remote beaches to watch baby turtles hatch; take a boat tour through the back water canals of the park to see monkeys, sloth, otters, and more than 320 bird species; experience a night walk to see turtles laying their eggs; visit a local village school to interact with the children; and spend your final night on a 40-acre plantation property in Central Valley. The six-night trip includes airport transfers; expert guides; almost all meals (except the first day); accommodations at Hotel Grano de Oro in San José, Xandari Resort & Spa in Central valley and three nights at the Tortuga Lodge in Tortuguero; and moderate amounts of walking/hiking daily.
The Wayfarers (tel. 800/249-4620; www.thewayfarers.com) is offering a series of new walking adventures this year, including its eight-day "Towards Tatras" trip in Slovakia. Departing from Budapest on August 9, the tour is priced at $3,895 per person based on double occupancy,land-only. You will be generally walking about nine to 14 miles per day along scenic Alpine paths and good quality cross country trails. Participants will be transported by bus from Budapest to picturesque city of Banska Stiavnica and the first day of walking will take you up into Stiavnica hills, covering beautiful landscape, scenic views, and relics of medieval mining. Continue your journey across Slovakia partly walking, partly driving across the hills towards Kremnica, one of the world's leading gold mining centers during the Middle Ages; Banska Bystrica, a modern city with a historic center that was home to anti-Nazi resistance during World War II; Donovaly, a popular ski resort high up in the mountains; the Low Tatras National Park; the village of Vlkolinec, one the most-photographed sites in Slovakia; Liptovsky Hradok, the High Tatras National Park, with its waterfalls, gorges and rugged peaks; the Levocske Hills; Spis Castle, one of the largest in Central Europe; the town of Levoca, home to gothic, renaissance, and baroque houses and well-preserved city walls; and Kosice. Accommodations include two nights in Banska Stiavnica at the Hotel Grand-Matej, two at the 13th century Grand Castle Hotel in Liptovsky Hradok and one night each in Kremnica at the Hotel Golfer, Donovaly at the Hotel Sport and the historic 13th century Hotel Zlaty Dukát in Kosice. Transportation (including train trip from Kosice to Budapest), most meals and expert guides are also included. Round-trip airfare to Budapest is additional starting from $822 flying Malev Hungarian Airlines (www.malev.com) from New York.
Country Walkers (tel. 800/464-9255; www.countrywalkers.com) offers walking tours across five continents and the South Pacific and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with $300 savings off the price of 30 of its specialized trips. One of those trips is the six-day "Québec: Québec City and the Charlevoix" Canadian adventure that departs on July 20 and again on August 3 (plus two dates in September). The tours features easy to moderate walking of between three and seven miles per day. Highlights include whale-watching on the Saguenay Fjord, detailed walks through Quebec City, and walking through three Canadian National Parks: Jacques Cartier, Parc National des Hautes Gorges ,and Saguenay National Park. Québec City is the launching pad for exploring the province's beautiful countryside. Stay five nights at two authentic French-Canadian style auberge inns overlooking the St. Lawrence River and dine on local cuisine infused with the warm hospitality of the Québécois (all meals except one are included). This trip is usually priced at $3,098 but with the $300 discount, it is currently $2,798 per person land-only. Round-trip airfare to Québec City from New York starts from under $500 flying Continental (www.continetal.com) from New York or Around $540 flying Air Canada (www.aircanada.com) from Chicago.
If you can hold out until early September, Classic Journeys (tel. 800/200-3887; www.classicjourneys.com) has a sensational "Fès to Marrakesh" (Fes to Marrakech) walking tour from September 5 to 13 priced at $3,795 per person land-only. The price include eight nights' first-class accommodations; breakfast and lunch daily plus seven dinners; experienced guides who are with you throughout the trip; support vehicles; admissions to tastings, historic sites and other scheduled events; gratuities for hotels, meals and baggage; and all land transportation during the trip - by bus, dune rover or camel. The tour begins in Fes with a guided tour of the labyrinthine 9th century Medina and a chance to dine at La Maison Bleue, considered one of Morocco's finest restaurants. Cross the Atlas Mountains to Erfoud, from cedar forest to pre-Saharan hills; travel to the 1,000-foot-high sand dunes of Merzouga; spend a night in tented Berber lodgings with the Blue men; experience the spectacular gorges of the Todra River; visit Ouarzazate where the hotel rooms are carved from stone; traverse Morocco's highest mountain pass; visit a remarkable clay city on the caravan trail to Timbuktu; and explore Marrakech with its lush gardens, world-famous souks and Moroccan crafts. Round-trip flights to Fez start from $1,053 including taxes flying Royal Air Maroc (www.royalairmaroc.com) from New York.