The specific promotions described in this article have now passed, but it remains online so that the resources named will be of future use to travelers.
You don't have to be from Australia to go on a walkabout. The world is full of great treks through rolling countryside, mountain ranges, and along beaches and coasts, and there's no better way to take it all in then with a long walk or bike ride. For those looking to take the slow road or long path, many travel operators offer specially tailored guided walking and bicycle tours to the world's top destinations.
Walking Vacations (tel. 508/698-6810; www.walkingvacations.com) has a vast list of global destinations offering guided walking tours to the world's most picturesque sites. A tour of the ancient world called "Greece's Culture Walk" covers the southern Peloponnese, and visits Olympia, Mt. Taygetus, and an area filled with olive groves, gushing rivers, ancient temples, and scenic coasts near fishing villages and Greek country life. The seven-night tour costing approximately $2,840 includes all accommodations, all meals (excluding all that Greek and Italian wine you'll drink) five days of professionally guided walking tour, a 1/2 day tour of Athens, all entrance fees to sites along the way, and airport transfers to and from the airport in Athens. This walk is considered easy with some walks along dirt roads and some mule and cliff side paths. Dates for 2006 departures are April 8-15, May 20-27, June 10-17, July 15-22, and September 16-23, 2006.
Closer to home and less costly, a tour of New York's Historic Hudson Valley costs only $825 per person with double occupancy lodging. The five-night tour departs through the summer and fall beginning in May and ending in October includes five nights in bed and breakfasts, four days guided walking tours, breakfast and lunch everyday and all daily driving transfers and taxes. The tour kicks off and resides at a bed and breakfast in Millbrook, New York. Other activities on this tour include biking and clay pigeon shooting. Walks are usually pleasant through quaint towns with antique stores, wineries, wooded countryside and a moderately challenging summit hike reaching a peak of 2,311 feet. For some astonishing images of the walk through the Hudson Valley covering Hyde Park, Dutchess Country, and the Taconic Mountain range, check out www.walkingvacations.com/walking-vacations/historic_hudson_valley_images.php. Walking Tours also offers tour through the Hungarian countryside, Costa Rican rain forests, Australian back roads, Ireland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Morocco and Switzerland.
France, long known for its biking, barge and walking tours, is a country that seems built for slow sightseeing. With castles, wineries, ancient ruins dating back to pre-Roman times and a regal history of great estates and stone-cut villages, France is the biking tour capital of the world. Discover France (tel. 800/960-2221; www.discoverfrance.com) has biking and walking tours of most of the country's regions. In the Loire Valley alone, famous for some of France's most striking and ancient castles such as Chenonceau, Chambord and Amboise, Discover France offers eight biking tours alone. Self-guided, meaning you get a detailed map, historical guide and directions to your hotel, is an easy way to travel allowing for freedom, flexibility and affordability. Of course, support is available from Discover France tour operator for route questions or any kind of emergency, orientation, services, or add-ons. A four-night five-day tour of the Loire Valley riding through Amboise, Chenonceau, and the town of Loche, important in the story of Joan of Arc costs approximately $842. Bike rentals cost 115€ or $137 for excellent quality professional touring bikes. In all, lodging, daily breakfast, all dinners except on the fourth night, route maps, daily bag transfer to your next stop, and technical support with bilingual local contact are included in the price of the trip. Accommodations are in four star quality inns and manors including the Chateau de Beaulieu, Chateau d'Artigny, Chateau de Chissay, and Chateau de Pray. Other regions with similar trips include Alsace, Brittany, Normandy, Champagne, Languedoc, Provence, the Rhone Alps area, and Dordogne. Because of the self-guided aspect of this tour, you and your family or group can depart anytime you want from April through October. Beginners will have no problem maneuvering a riding distance of approximately 30 milers per day along flat to rolling roadways.
If you don't want to wait to begin a walking or riding tour, Trails.com (tel. 206/286.0888; www.trails.com) lists some of the greatest walking and biking trails available in the Unites States. From challenging mountain bike trails down tough terrain to rolling bike rides along scenic California roads to long mountain treks, Trails.com is the comprehensive resource for trail description and trail maps. Whether you seek high resolution topographical maps of area terrain or detailed route maps, Trails.com has what you're looking for. Costing $49.95 per year, the resource is a perfect Christmas gift for the avid biker, long walker or traveler in your life. If you want to try the service out, a free 14-day trial is available. Over 30,000 trails are covered. The site even lists the trails by activities including birding destinations, romantic destinations, snowshoeing spots, hot springs locations, and kayaking areas, among countless others. Among romantic spots, you'll find Malibu Beach Blanket trail and a Cuddling in Connecticut locale. Get the 14-day trial for free maps and topographical looks of the destination of your next walkabout. For places in North America, you won't need to look further than Trails.com.