Tracks of the day

Some seriously good looking tracks from CTO Guy this morning in Morzine:

skiing in Morzine in March

Back in work by 11 and on inspired form. Now that is what we call a good working environment!

The Alps had an awesome dump of the snow this weekend, and there are plenty of great deals still to be had…can we tempt you? Check out chalets now.

Mountain Biking in… Greece

Touring sunny holiday destinations by bike is becoming more prevalent by the minute, partly because of the varied trails on offer and partly because of the warmer climate. Budding bikers can choose from picturesque routes, cruising along the spectacular coastline, to more daring treks along the jagged peaks. There is something for everyone in Greece. Gaining access to the region is easy and a number of flights leave on a daily basis.

Where to go

Greece has a huge range of riding opportunities, as well as a number of high-altitude trails. Such trails are more suited to the intermediate biker as opposed to the beginner. A number of rugged, natural tracks can be found in the area, all of which are surrounded by picturesque scenery and crystal waters.
Many say mountain biking was a pursuit designed for Greece. Mountainous areas, high hills and stunning scenery, surround a large majority of the country. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, although you’ll be able to find certain softer routes on lower ground.

Mountain Biking In Mount Paggaio

Mount Paggaio is an area of tranquil beauty and is a great spot for those that wish to explore natural scenery. Situated at the Northern end of Greece, the area of Paggaio mixes exceptional views with stunning flora. From the city of Thessalonika, the mountain can be reached in less than two hours. Holidaymakers that visit this spot can also try their hand at skiing.

Mountain Biking In Litochoro

Positioned close to Katerini and just one hour from Thessalonika, Litochoro sits at the base of Mount Olympus. This is the tallest Greek mountain and boasts a peak of 2,917 metres. Both the diverse trails and flora make biking here a pleasant experience and one that will showcase a variety of scenic views. This is an area suited to amateur and professional bikers, as there are both manmade pathways and rocky routes to choose from. The further you travel, the better the views of the Aegean Sea become. The coast is just 20 minutes away and makes for a welcome retreat after a morning of cycling.

awake-paros

Image supplied by www.awakeparos.gr

Mountain Biking In Karpenisi

Situated in central Greece and only a short journey from Athens, Karpenisi is renowned as an activity spot and is home to a number of extreme sports including off-road biking. Here you can ride in a remote region and one that offers exquisite views. There are a number of villages dotted along the cycle routes, which means there are plenty of places to stop off along the way.

Stop Searching

 

Most Memorable Ski Resorts

As any avid skier can tell you, it is all about location. Unfortunately many ski resorts around the world feel all rather the same, as if you have been there before, many times. As an avid skier myself, I like to find ski resorts that offer something a bit different to hang in the memory. There are a number of resorts I would recommend to anyone looking for something similar. Here goes with a few of my most memorable ski resorts.

Sainte Foy, France

Located in the French Alps, not far from Val d’Isere and Tignes, Sainte Foy de Tarentaise is a small, quiet, perfectly formed resort. It has gained a bit of a reputation recently as a powder heaven (thanks to the miles of un-pisted but very accessible terrain, and general lack of crowds). The ski pistes are actually perfect for skiers of all ages and experience. Likewise, the resort itself is charming, and features plenty of private chalets, offering the experience of a quiet, isolated retreat amidst the scenic backdrop of the French Alps. Whilst some people prefer active, busy ski resorts, I sometimes prefer this quiet retreat for a family getaway.

Cerro Catedral, Argentina

cerro catedral argentina If you’re not a highly active skier, there are probably a few places around the world you’re not aware of. In this case, I’m referring to Cerro Catedral, near Bariloche in Argentina. It’s understandable, of course; few people would consider a South American country such as Argentina for skiing. Nestled amongst the stunning lakes of Nahuel Huapí National Park, this is a truly stunning ski setting. Cerro Catedral is a popular resort for students and gap year travellers as well as ski adventurers, and the resort buzzes with the vibrant, lively Argentinean lifestyle, making it feel totally unique. The Andes of both Chile and Argentina is littered with good ski resorts, so you might find it is soon time to swap that summer holiday for a winter one!

Zermatt, Switzerland

zermatt ski chaletsUnlike Argentina, I’m sure you’re not surprised by the ski opportunities in Switzerland. I would definitely recommend Zermatt. There is miles of glacial skiing, and terrain to challenge all levels of skier (consider a guide to get the most from it). If the slopes themselves don’t excite you the unique buzz of the village has plenty to offer, be it quiet shops during the day or a great night-life with a range of highly acclaimed restaurants, bars and cafés. If all that fails, the sights speak for themselves. Zermatt offers multiple viewpoints of the wonderful, dominating Matterhorn.

These are just three locations that spring to mind if I am asked to name ski resorts that stick in the memory, but they should hopefully show you some of the variance and great holiday potential that comes from skiing. Skiing is an adventure; it definitely rewards the bold and daring who are willing to think outside the box, even a little bit.

Like any resort, you’re dealing with locations away from major cities. As such, I’d also recommend you hire a vehicle for your winter break too, with a good hire car insurance policy in place of course, to help you get around if needed. Also, don’t forget to dress warm!

This is a guest post from Mark Bower, skier, managing director of car hire insurance and niche money saving website www.moneymaxim.co.uk.

Don’t forget you can use our ski chalet hunting service to save yourself loads of time and effort getting your group sorted this winter!

My Bike’s Insight To The Dordogne

I’m an Egyptian-blue semi-retired Giant CFR (…Pro) from the late 90s who’s spent many a year locked in a dark garage.

 

You can imagine my delight then when I was airlifted to the sunny South of France a few years ago. My jockey wheels were positively jangling at the prospect of riverside rides at sunset with my new owner in Aquitaine – sharing tarmac with trim Peugeots from the noughties.

 

I’d heard much about the warm climate and smooth-as-a-top-tube tarmac in France from some ex-Tour de Francers.

 

Admittedly I was a bit hurt when my last owner’s wife spitefully gave me away during the divorce – an undignified scenario for a fine specimen like myself. I couldn’t believe my luck though when it transpired I’d be moving to France with my new owner.

 

Unfortunately, he’s a typical fair-weather rider. He often forgets to flip me over before leaving me for months on end, my spokes haven’t been straightened in years and when my handlebar tape came loose last year he used basic Scotch Sellotape to fix it. The shame. I daren’t imagine the state of my derailleurs. I quite often let my air out for literally no reason in protest. In truth, our relationship revolves around him bashing me with the wrong tools until he’s covered in my oil with sore extremities.

 

Nonetheless, I’m very grateful to be here, so I thought I’d give you other bikes a glimpse into my new home in the Dordogne to entice you out here.

 

IMG_0314
The Dordogne is littered with friendly villages like Mauzac (above) where your owner can stop for a refreshing Orangina. Apparently they like it best served in a glass bottle. Go figure.

 

Be prepared to stop quite frequently at defunct barns that in your owners eyes are calling out to be restored. By them.
Be prepared to stop quite frequently at defunct barns that – in your owners eyes – are calling out to be restored, by them.

 

Expect to make that satisfying "Vvvv" noise here as most of the tarmac is intact. Which is just as well, if a potthole so much as looks at me I'm a gone-er.
Expect to make that satisfying “Vvvv” noise here as most of the tarmac is intact. Which is just as well – if a pothole so much as looks at me I’m a gone-er.

 

There are some cracking picnic spots round here overlooking medieval buildings.
There are some cracking picnic spots here for all you gearly beloveds. Most can be found under droopy willow trees by the river overlooking medieval buildings. Ideal for an old romantic like myself.

 

This is just a selfie I Instagramed the other day.
This is just a selfie I Instagramed the other day…

 

Remain cautious when delving down sidelanes. Some roads inexplicably run out of tarmac and we all know what happens if you attempt a route like the one above.
Remain cautious when delving down sidelanes. Some roads inexplicably run out of tarmac here.

 

Owners love a good sandblasted bridge and there's plenty of them round here for them to stick on Instagram.
Owners love a well sandblasted bridge and there’s plenty of them around here.

 

A classic vista in the Dordogne area. My jittery handlebars never bore of such delightful views.
A classic vista along the Dordogne. My jittery handlebars never bore of this.

 

And incase you were wondering, here's where I rest between rides.
And here’s where I rest between rides. By an unfinished painting near a corner that hasn’t been dusted in well over 3 years. Still, musn’t grumble.

 

If you’re keen on seeing the Dordogne with your own carbon eyelets, I’m told that the cyberspace tool ‘Much Better Adventures’ has made it all very easy. You just get your owner to state dates, group size and preferences and then local specialists around here will come back to you guys with tailored offers. Give it a bash for free here.

 

roadbikingholidays

 

Ps. If there are any Peugeot Urbanite 2.0s in the Lalinde area who are in to heavy pedalling reading this out there… ring your bell.

 

Scotland is the Land of Adventures


The Versatility of Mountain Biking in Scotland

As avid riders will be well aware, Scotland’s mountain biking scene has exploded in the last 10 years. With its plethora of trails and landscapes; its dedicated centres and its careful maintenance of the environment, there’s never been a better time to jump in a hire car and hit the curvaceous roads of the highlands – which is an adventure in itself!

“The Scots have gone positively bonkers!” wrote the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) upon awarding Scotland the Global Superstar title in 2005 and 2006. The Forestry Commission– an organisation that’s been actively pushing Scottish mountain biking- recently increased trails and facilities in and around Scotland’s best natural and cultural areas. What’s more, each trail centre offers its own unique side of Scotland, from the rocky roads of the 7stanes to the mythical lore of the Witch’s trail. Scotland caters to every skillset.

The only trouble is choosing which trail to ride!

 

7 stanes biking scotland

Go With the Pros

If you’re struggling to decide which is for you, why not follow the tire tracks of the professional riders? The Nevis Ski Range area in the Scottish Highlands holds an adrenaline-packed weekend of world-class Downhill and 4-Cross competitive action whilst The Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup is one in a series of nine international competitions.

However, be warned. The Fort William Downhill is a “full-on, flat-out, no-compromise charge down the face of Aonach Mor” – the 9th highest mountain in the UK. This one is not for the beginner. Riders need physical strength, quick reflexes, superb bike control and an unnatural fearlessness in the face of a free-fall. Basically, this 2.8km course is black graded through and through.

 

Monumental Choice

If the latter sounds a little too hard-core for your sensibilities, then don’t fret. 7stanes, situated in the south of Scotland, offer seven mountain biking centres that start from the bottom up. With your bikes strapped firmly to the boot of your car, check out the centres at Dumfries and Galloway.

In the village of Ae you can enjoy a gentle downhill slope that caters especially for families whilst Dalbeattie is known for its infamous black graded Slab. Oh, and keep your eyes pealed for the legendary stone sculptures. ‘Stane’ is the Scottish word for stone and at each 7stanes location, you’ll find a monument reflecting a local myth. A great spot for a tea break.

 

High on the Lands

For some, the Scottish Highlands are simply too alluring to overlook. If you fall into this category, head to Laggan Wolftrax. Offering 35km of the most up-to-date track in the country, Laggan Wolftrax will take you on a journey through the Strathmashie Forest, an outstandingly beautiful example of lush highland wilderness. Plus, Wolftrax has a green-graded beginners’ trail, a manmade bike park, a fast red-graded route and, of course, a black-graded trail that’s apparently the most technical of its type in Scotland – although they all claim that accolade.

A word of caution, in many rural highland areas, roads are unlit, single-tracks through vast, uninhabited mountain ranges and they will most likely be dominated by sheep. Therefore, it’s important to always keep your wits about you – when driving and riding. However, if you remain alert and keep your bike in good shape, you’re guaranteed to have an accelerating experience that will leave you gasping for another go.

 

 

Continue reading “Scotland is the Land of Adventures”

Lake District: an Adventure Seeker’s Paradise

Nestled in Cumbria in the North West of England, the Lake District’s scenic beauty and tranquil pace of life has been attracting tourists for hundreds of years. Its residents have included some of England’s most famous artists and many of today’s visitors are looking to follow in the footsteps of the writers and poets who were inspired by the region.

However, away from its cultural and historical heritage, the Lake District’s terrain of mountains, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls attracts a more adventurous and active holidaymaker. Walk through any of Cumbria’s sleepy towns and you will be confronted with shops selling a range of outdoor clothing, climbing gear and camping equipment; that’s because this is the ideal destination for those who enjoy hiking, climbing, sailing and cycling.

Lake District Walking
There is so much for the outdoor enthusiast to do in Cumbria that it can be hard to choose just one activity. Saying this, one of the main attractions of the region is its mountains range, which includes the highest peak in England, Scafell Pike.

Throughout the Lakes there are numerous trails that are suitable for all hiking and climbing abilities, from those who just enjoy a ramble along designated paths to experienced mountain climbers seeking a more challenging route.

The fact that its mountains are such a popular attraction means that there are many companies that organise hiking holidays in the region, which normally include an experienced and knowledgeable guide, along with all the health and safety equipment needed. This option is great for those who are new to hiking and who don’t have the skills and confidence to go it alone.

Another activity the mountain range provides is abseiling. Again there are many companies that offer visitors the chance to try abseiling in a safe and friendly environment, which is especially popular with families looking for an activity that the whole family can participate in.

For those who enjoy hiking but would rather stay at ground level there are many routes throughout the region to choose from. These can vary in distance, from 15 mile hikes to more gentle 5 mile walks; while walkers who choose to follow the path around Ullswater Lake have the option of shortening or lengthening their walk by catching one of the regular ferries that stops off at pre-designated points around the lake. Those walking near to Ullswater can also visit Aira Force, a waterfall that drops 65 ft. The route to the waterfall takes walkers through ancient woodlands and landscaped glades.

Lake District. Image provided by eGuide Travel.

 

Along with hiking, walking and mountain climbing the Lakes is a great place for cyclists. Many of the paths surrounding the lakes are suitable for cyclists as well as walkers. While for those who prefer biking off the beaten track, there are numerous of routes suitable for experienced mountain bikers. Cycling in the Lake District not only provides varied tracks, but also allows bikers to take in some of the most unique and stunning scenery in the UK. For those who are new to cycling or who just want to join a like-minded group, there are many tour operators based in the region who offer cycling holidays for a variety of skill and fitness levels.

During summer the Lake District becomes a haven for water sports enthusiasts. From sailing to water skiing its numerous lakes are a hive of water activities. If you are heading to the area with water sports in mind you are better off going to one of the more touristy lakes, as they will have more activities on offer. Lake Windermere is well known for its water sports and some of the sports it has includes sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, canoeing and kayaking.

Another popular activity in the Lakes is camping. Most choose to camp in one of the many designated campsites, however for the more adventurous there is also the opportunity of wild camping. If you are new to wild camping and don’t know its rules and regulations it is a good idea to join an organised wild camping holiday, which will not only offer an introduction to the activity but will also provide the information and skills needed to go it alone in the future.

With so many activities on offer it is clear why people who enjoy the outdoors are drawn to the Lake District and in many ways it has now become an adventure holidaymaker’s paradise.

 

Written by Derin Clark a writer, editor and blogger.

Image 1: Much Better Adventures’ Alex hiking in the Lake District earlier this year.

Image 2: Provided by eGuide Travel.

Cycling around London: the best routes and places to stay

We all need a bit of inspiration for some weekend mini adventures right here in the UK. So here we go with our first installment starting perhaps where you wouldnt expect us to, London town. It may be more urban jungle than great escape, but a weekend in London by bike is definitely recommended as a great way to explore our wonderfully diverse capital city.Even before the Boris Bikes, London was popular with cyclists. Packs of two-wheeled commuters can be seen on a daily basis, jostling for slippery road space with cars and cabs, and whizzing past pedestrians confined to the pavement. With a wealth of cycle paths and dedicated bike routes dotted around the city, those very same bikes are put to surprisingly good use on the weekend, and the city is compact enough to properly escape using pure pedal power. One of the more spectacular inner city routes is the Royal Parks Circuit, showing off the very best of the West End, which is nearly as leafy as the countryside but with the added eye-candy of some of the worlds grandest architecture and most manicured parks. The 17.58 mile route starts and ends at St. James Park, taking in Hyde Park, Regents Park, Richmond Park and Green Park along the way. The few miles it runs along the Thames, from Chelsea to Westminster, make for a very special way to see the city. The Royal Parks Circuit encounters minimal traffic, and can be done on any type of bicycle. Its also quite achievable for children and inexperienced cyclists, and comes highly recommended as a cheap daytrip for anyone wishing to experience the living museum of London. There is no shortage of fine pubs on the route, not to mention some of the best hotels in the city. For those seeking decent accommodation on a limited budget, the W14 Hotel in West Kensington is a classy conversion of four Victorian town houses close to the endpoint of the route. Richmond Park also runs a series of popular walks around the Isabella Plantation, a jaw-dropping ornamental garden full of rare plant species. See the Royal Parks website for more information.More hardcore cyclists might prefer the epic West Hampstead to Box Hill route, which also allows you to take in Richmond Park on the way out, and returns via Putney. The 64 mile route lasts around six and half hours, and cuts a swathe through some of Londons highlights, north and south of the river, including Cheam and Wimbledon. If youre looking for a one-way route that takes you out of the city, never to return, the Addington Village to Bramley path gives you that wonderful sensation of a receding metropolis and an encroaching countryside that only gets greener, wider and more serene the further you cycle its 51 miles. Starting in Addington Village, you can set off after a restful night at the Landsdowne Hotel in nearby Croydon. Bookings with all these London hotels can be made via the website LondonTown.com, where youll find plenty of discounted rooms, up to 85%!

Fuerteventura Tez’s Much Better Guide to a Kayak Surfer’s Paradise

Fuerteventura a Kayak Surfers Paradise
Image for article: http://i49.tinypic.com/548umw.jpg
Grinding heavy reef breaks, ultra long left hand points or getting pitted at wedging beach breaks its easy to see the attractions of kayak surfing in Fuerteventura.
Bear in mind that this mid Atlantic rock is an island too, and it couldnt be easier for the travelling paddler to get around from setup to setup. This is just what I needed and I didnt waste any time booking my ticket.
Corralejo
Previously a sleepy fishing village now transformed into the main tourist hub on the island, Corralejo has a number of traits that make the town attractive to the wave rider.
A plethora of accommodation options are available with everything from self-catering to the more luxurious. The majority of digs are within walking distance of the main centre of town where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants. Youll be spoilt for choice for your evening down time away from the surf.
I chose a small self-catering apartment that was just a short stroll from the centre of town. It was basic, but ticked all the boxes I needed. Bed, bathroom, kitchen and a small amount of storage – perfect for the visiting wave head.
With waves in mind you couldnt be in a better spot. Right out front of the large Atlantico Shopping Centre is the main harbour with good waves to both the north and south.
Shooting Gallery is the more advanced spot, with Rocky Point being a slightly mellower affair although dont be fooled, the waves in Fuerte all pack a punch. Walking to these breaks from my accommodation took about ten minutes and, with a kayak trolley, lugging my gear was pretty easy.
Continuing on south you will find the famous set ups of Flag Beach and Glass Beach. Each are left hand point breaks that require hefty swells to break, although with a bit of breeze a moderate wind swell sometimes rolls onto the reef. It took me slightly longer to walk here and the tiring journey back after being pummelled by Atlantic waves was not welcome!
That said, the fact I could access all these spots on foot highlights how easy it is to get around this part of the island. And the stroll to and from venues was a nice warm up and warm down after my session.
If you become weary of getting battered by waves then the harbour in Corralejo will offer some flat water respite.
The northern track
Head across the opposite side of the island to Cotillo and you will discover a moderately-heavy beach break that dishes up fun shore dump type waves with lips that just beg to ridden.
Cotillo is also the gateway to the fabled northern track, which is notorious for both the potholed nature of the so-called road and the world class wave setups you will find.
Being mostly hard-core reef spots, youll need your wits about you and a high level of skill if youre going to attempt to conquer any of these waves be under no illusion, these breaks are heavy, powerful and demand respect!
I tried out a couple of gentler breaks in my kayak, which were still quite powerful. It took a while to dial in to the speed and hollowness of each wave but after a short time my confidence increased and I had a whale of a time.
As the swell picked up I decided to grab my surfboard, which is easier to manoeuvre, get out of trouble and handles beefier conditions. There was also no one else around and I was conscious of not getting into a spot of bother with no one to raise the alarm to.
Exploring the island
After a few days I decided to go exploring, knowing from previous visits that good waves are all over the island though the time of year you visit will ultimately dictate the quality of these.
Winter is when booming swells pummel Fuerte meaning that those quiet, tucked away waves usually spring to life, whereas summer sees smaller swells and windier conditions meaning shelter can be difficult to find.
If youre faced with this then you could consider some downwind paddling to get your water-based fix.
As Fuerte receives steady Trade Winds, this could be your saving grace during windy spells. Head off downwind using the breeze to help propel you and, with such an interesting coastline to explore, who knows what you may discover.
Whichever time of year you choose to travel to Fuerteventura, you will find some form of swell. You may have drive to find waves but youll score something. If you want guaranteed pumping conditions the winter is your best bet just be prepared for some solid conditions!
I managed to score something more or less every day. Head to Fuerteventura with an open mind and a pinch of optimism and you should be rewarded.
Tez Plavenieks is a well-travelled watersports fanatic and keen stand up paddle boarder. Youll often find him hitting the waves on the UK South Coast or anywhere else around the world. Tez writes for Sitons; a UK-based sit on top kayaking community site.

Grinding heavy reef breaks, ultra long left hand points or getting pitted at wedging beach breaks its easy to see the attractions of kayak surfing in Fuerteventura.

Bear in mind that this mid Atlantic rock is an island too, and it couldnt be easier for the travelling paddler to get around from setup to setup. This is just what I needed and I didnt waste any time booking my ticket.

Corralejo

Previously a sleepy fishing village now transformed into the main tourist hub on the island, Corralejo has a number of traits that make the town attractive to the wave rider.

A plethora of accommodation options are available with everything from self-catering to the more luxurious. The majority of digs are within walking distance of the main centre of town where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants.

Youll be spoilt for choice for your evening down time away from the surf. I chose a small self-catering apartment that was just a short stroll from the centre of town. It was basic, but ticked all the boxes I needed.

Bed, bathroom, kitchen and a small amount of storage – perfect for the visiting wave head.With waves in mind you couldnt be in a better spot. Right out front of the large Atlantico Shopping Centre is the main harbour with good waves to both the north and south.

Shooting Gallery is the more advanced spot, with Rocky Point being a slightly mellower affair although dont be fooled, the waves in Fuerte all pack a punch.

Walking to these breaks from my accommodation took about ten minutes and, with a kayak trolley, lugging my gear was pretty easy.

Continuing on south you will find the famous set ups of Flag Beach and Glass Beach. Each are left hand point breaks that require hefty swells to break, although with a bit of breeze a moderate wind swell sometimes rolls onto the reef.

It took me slightly longer to walk here and the tiring journey back after being pummelled by Atlantic waves was not welcome!

That said, the fact I could access all these spots on foot highlights how easy it is to get around this part of the island. And the stroll to and from venues was a nice warm up and warm down after my session.

If you become weary of getting battered by waves then the harbour in Corralejo will offer some flat water respite.

The northern track

Head across the opposite side of the island to Cotillo and you will discover a moderately-heavy beach break that dishes up fun shore dump type waves with lips that just beg to ridden.

Cotillo is also the gateway to the fabled northern track, which is notorious for both the potholed nature of the so-called road and the world class wave setups you will find.

Being mostly hard-core reef spots, youll need your wits about you and a high level of skill if youre going to attempt to conquer any of these waves be under no illusion, these breaks are heavy, powerful and demand respect!

I tried out a couple of gentler breaks in my kayak, which were still quite powerful. It took a while to dial in to the speed and hollowness of each wave but after a short time my confidence increased and I had a whale of a time.

As the swell picked up I decided to grab my surfboard, which is easier to manoeuvre, get out of trouble and handles beefier conditions. There was also no one else around and I was conscious of not getting into a spot of bother with no one to raise the alarm to.

Exploring the island

After a few days I decided to go exploring, knowing from previous visits that good waves are all over the island though the time of year you visit will ultimately dictate the quality of these.

Winter is when booming swells pummel Fuerte meaning that those quiet, tucked away waves usually spring to life, whereas summer sees smaller swells and windier conditions meaning shelter can be difficult to find.

If youre faced with this then you could consider some downwind paddling to get your water-based fix.

As Fuerte receives steady Trade Winds, this could be your saving grace during windy spells. Head off downwind using the breeze to help propel you and, with such an interesting coastline to explore, who knows what you may discover.

Whichever time of year you choose to travel to Fuerteventura, you will find some form of swell. You may have drive to find waves but youll score something. If you want guaranteed pumping conditions the winter is your best bet just be prepared for some solid conditions!

I managed to score something more or less every day. Head to Fuerteventura with an open mind and a pinch of optimism and you should be rewarded.

Tez Plavenieks is a well-travelled watersports fanatic and keen stand up paddle boarder. Youll often find him hitting the waves on the UK South Coast or anywhere else around the world. Tez writes for Sitons; a UK-based sit on top kayaking community site.

Inspired? Take a look at our Canoe and Kayak holidaysand browse all our kayak holidays in Spain.

5 Cheap or Free Things to do in Cuzco, Peru

Katy from Aspiring Adventures gives us some of her local insights for scratching under the surface of Cuzco, Peru.

Anyone going to Machu Picchu must pass through Cuzco, so the town gets a lot of tourist traffic. As Cusco is a beautiful, interesting place with lots to see and do and plenty of places to enjoy some downtime, many end up staying longer than they planned to.

Going on tours of Cusco and hitting the Western-style cafs recommended in guidebooks can get expensive, though. If youre looking for new and affordable ways to entertain yourself in Cuzco and gain insight into what the locals get up to in their free time then read on

1. Hang out at the weekend market in the Plaza Tupac Amaru.

This market started up fairly recently and is a lovely sign of the ever-improving standard of living in Cuzco. Its the first market in the town whose purpose is leisure, not survival. Throngs of locals wander from stall to stall buying houseplants, toys, artesanal yoghurt and pet clothes. Often there are music concerts and street theatre.

2. Discover Sacsayhuamans rock playground.

If you have paid for entry to Sacsayhuaman, the massive Inca fortress overlooking the town, make sure you explore the whole site. To the right of the main complex if youre coming up from town, over on the other side of the ticket booth, is a whole complex of ruined walls, natural rock slides, and mysterious tunnels you can wander through.

3. Watch schoolchildren practice traditional dancing.

Where in my culture, sports days and Speech Nights were the punctuation to the school year, in Cusco its parades with traditional dances. Theres a small plaza on the left hand side of Calle Plateros as you walk up away from the Plaza de Armas and you can often see groups of schoolkids practicing their dances here.

4. Have lunch in the South Valley.

Catch a local bus towards Urcos or Sicuani and hop off in Saylla, about half an hour out of town. Locals flock here on the weekends for family lunches and a stroll in the countryside. The bus will set you back a couple of soles, and a huge plateful of food in a garden restaurant between 10 and 20 soles.

5. Catch some culture.

If you speak Spanish, look out for free plays, talks and arthouse movies at the ICPNA and Biblioteca Pukllasunchis – they put posters up around town.

Want to get away? You can search for the adventure holiday of your dreams right here.

5 Great Beginner Ski Resorts

Youre a complete beginner when it comes to skiing or snowboarding? Looking for the ideal beginners ski resort to get the most out of your winter ski holiday? Our concise guide below details insider information on the best beginner friendly resorts in the Alps.
Morzine (France) Located in the Portes du Soleil ski area, just over one hours drive from Geveva airport, Morzine is a fantastic resort and perfect for beginners. There is a great selection of green and blue pistes allowing you to hone your skills and technique in the beautiful surroundings of the Portes du Soleil. Situated a stones throw from your Morzine ski chalet is the Pleney telecabine, directly next to which, is the main ESF ski school. At the top of the Pleney telecabine you will find the TS du Belvedere chair lift which takes you to the top of a green beginners piste, a great place to have lessons and improve your technique before progressing to one of the blue runs which meander all the way to the bottom of the Pleney. Morzine is a family friendly resort which caters for all levels of ability. The town is lively and charming, full of great restaurants and bars, as well as two cinemas, an ice rink, indoor swimming pool and even a fish and chip shop.
Morillon (France) As one of the five resorts which make up the Grand Massif ski area, Morillon is a great beginners resort offering very enjoyable skiing on gentle terrain. Morillon is one of the closest ski resorts to Geneva airport, you can be at the front door of your cosy ski chalet, just one hour reclaiming your luggage and finding your hire car/airport transfer. With a choice of three ski schools (ESF, Zig Zag and 360 International) and a large beginners area, Morillon is a great choice for inexperienced skiers and snowboarders. Once in resort, you must ski Marvel, a fantastic green run which gently flows down the mountain side through an enchanted forest. Once you have progressed onto blue runs, try the Sairon piste, starting at 1700 metres altitude, the top section will be a good challenge for beginners as it is fairly steep to be graded blue, but once you have overcome that section, the remainder is gentle, wide and easy. Here you have the choice of staying in Morillon village which is a quaint, sleepy and traditional Savoyard village, or you find an apartment at Morillon 1100, which is a purpose built ski in / ski out resort approximately 20 minutes drive from the village.
Alpe d’Huez (France) Located at 1869 metres above sea level in the Isere department of the central French Alps, Alpe dHuez (host of some events during the 1968 Winter Olympics) is a fantastic snow sure resort which has ample runs for beginners. Assisted by 84 ski lifts, the ski area has over 150 miles of linked piste, many of which are green and blue. There is also a British ski school in Alpe dHuez which means you will definitely get the most out of your lessons and nothing will be lost in translation. Boasting an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, you can be sure to have great weather in-between the essential snow showers. The resort is south facing so enjoys sun light throughout the day. To combat the strong, snow melting sun rays, Alpe dHuez has extensive snow making facilities to ensure the white stuff remains on the ground throughout the winter season. As with any large European ski resort, there are an abundance of good restaurants and bars, good value accommodation and a variety of non skiing activities to experience.
Lech (Austria) Lech is an exclusive ski resort in the Bludenz district of Vorarlberg in Austria. Home to a number of world and Olympic champions, Lech has become one of Europes premier ski resorts. The ski domain is well connected by ski lifts and the pistes are more often than not, in excellent groomed condition. Lech enjoys one of the best snow records in Europe from the beginning of season in early December, right up until the last day in early May. The ski area gives direct access to over 171 miles of piste, lots of which are intermediate and beginner standard. Lech is a very picturesque village surrounded by beautiful scenery, peppered with fine hotels and cosy ski chalets. There are a few highly-regarded ski schools which employ English speaking instructors. With the choice of 9 bars, the aprs ski scene in Lech is lively from late afternoon until early evening.
Les Arcs (France) Nestled above Bourg Saint Maurice in the Tarentaise valley, Les Arcs is notorious for being a great choice for beginner and intermediate skiers. Since opening in 1968, the resort has grown substantially and now consists of 106 pistes and 54 ski lifts. Since 2003 Les Arcs has also been linked to the Paradiski area, which in total has over 260 miles of groomed piste. The ski area has a mixture of pistes out in the open, and pistes in amongst beautiful woodland lower down the mountain. The ESF ski school in Les Arcs teaches parallel turns from day one, so if you prefer to avoid the snow plough phase, ESF Les Arc will help you to progress very quickly. There are many ski in / ski out, ski chalets in Les Arc, which is very convenient for those wishing to get the most skiing time possible. For anyone on a more restricted budget, there is a good selection of more affordable accommodation in Bourg Saint Maurice, which is linked to Les Arcs by a high speed funicular train – linking the two resorts in just 7 minutes.

Youre a complete beginner when it comes to skiing or snowboarding? Looking for the ideal beginners ski resort to get the most out of your winter ski holiday? Our concise guide below details insider information on the best beginner friendly resorts in the Alps.

Morzine (France) Located in the Portes du Soleil ski area, just over one hours drive from Geveva airport, Morzine is a fantastic resort and perfect for beginners. There is a great selection of green and blue pistes allowing you to hone your skills and technique in the beautiful surroundings of the Portes du Soleil. Situated a stones throw from your Morzine ski chalet is the Pleney telecabine, directly next to which, is the main ESF ski school.

At the top of the Pleney telecabine you will find the TS du Belvedere chair lift which takes you to the top of a green beginners piste, a great place to have lessons and improve your technique before progressing to one of the blue runs which meander all the way to the bottom of the Pleney. Morzine is a family friendly resort which caters for all levels of ability. The town is lively and charming, full of great restaurants and bars, as well as two cinemas, an ice rink, indoor swimming pool and even a fish and chip shop.

Morzine holiday makers can benefit from out new request service, to make searching for a holiday that much easier! Follow the links on the Ski Chalets in Morzine page!

Morillon (France) As one of the five resorts which make up the Grand Massif ski area, Morillon is a great beginners resort offering very enjoyable skiing on gentle terrain. Morillon is one of the closest ski resorts to Geneva airport, you can be at the front door of your cosy ski chalet, just one hour reclaiming your luggage and finding your hire car/airport transfer.

With a choice of three ski schools (ESF, Zig Zag and 360 International) and a large beginners area, Morillon is a great choice for inexperienced skiers and snowboarders. Once in resort, you must ski Marvel, a fantastic green run which gently flows down the mountain side through an enchanted forest. Once you have progressed onto blue runs, try the Sairon piste, starting at 1700 metres altitude, the top section will be a good challenge for beginners as it is fairly steep to be graded blue, but once you have overcome that section, the remainder is gentle, wide and easy. Here you have the choice of staying in Morillon village which is a quaint, sleepy and traditional Savoyard village, or you find an apartment at Morillon 1100, which is a purpose built ski in / ski out resort approximately 20 minutes drive from the village.

Alpe d’Huez (France) Located at 1869 metres above sea level in the Isere department of the central French Alps, Alpe dHuez (host of some events during the 1968 Winter Olympics) is a fantastic snow sure resort which has ample runs for beginners. Assisted by 84 ski lifts, the ski area has over 150 miles of linked piste, many of which are green and blue. There is also a British ski school in Alpe dHuez which means you will definitely get the most out of your lessons and nothing will be lost in translation.

Boasting an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, you can be sure to have great weather in-between the essential snow showers. The resort is south facing so enjoys sun light throughout the day. To combat the strong, snow melting sun rays, Alpe dHuez has extensive snow making facilities to ensure the white stuff remains on the ground throughout the winter season. As with any large European ski resort, there are an abundance of good restaurants and bars, good value accommodation and a variety of non skiing activities to experience.

Lech (Austria) Lech is an exclusive ski resort in the Bludenz district of Vorarlberg in Austria. Home to a number of world and Olympic champions, Lech has become one of Europes premier ski resorts. The ski domain is well connected by ski lifts and the pistes are more often than not, in excellent groomed condition.

Lech enjoys one of the best snow records in Europe from the beginning of season in early December, right up until the last day in early May. The ski area gives direct access to over 171 miles of piste, lots of which are intermediate and beginner standard. Lech is a very picturesque village surrounded by beautiful scenery, peppered with fine hotels and cosy ski chalets. There are a few highly-regarded ski schools which employ English speaking instructors. With the choice of 9 bars, the aprs ski scene in Lech is lively from late afternoon until early evening.

Les Arcs (France) Nestled above Bourg Saint Maurice in the Tarentaise valley, Les Arcs is notorious for being a great choice for beginner and intermediate skiers. Since opening in 1968, the resort has grown substantially and now consists of 106 pistes and 54 ski lifts. Since 2003 Les Arcs has also been linked to the Paradiski area, which in total has over 260 miles of groomed piste. The ski area has a mixture of pistes out in the open, and pistes in amongst beautiful woodland lower down the mountain.

The ESF ski school in Les Arcs teaches parallel turns from day one, so if you prefer to avoid the snow plough phase, ESF Les Arc will help you to

progress very quickly. There are many ski in / ski out, ski chalets in Les Arc, which is very convenient for those wishing to get the most skiing time possible. For anyone on a more restricted budget, there is a good selection of more affordable accommodation in Bourg Saint Maurice, which is linked to Les Arcs by a high speed funicular train – linking the two resorts in just 7 minutes.

If you’re looking for a ski holiday in Morzine, why not try out our new request system – you can request, compare, share and buy direct with local suppliers.

Cycling in Vaujany

I AM in the midst of discovering the true meaning of thigh burn. Sweat stings my eyes and drips off my nose. I can feel my heart pounding as my shorts gasps for air become increasingly rapid. My neck has seized up and my back aches. Im exhausted.
This is not quite the French Alpine holiday Id imagined.
I am on a road bike, and doing my best to pedal up one of the Tour de Frances most infamous climbs, the Col du Glandon.
And what a climb it is: over 24 kilometers of unrelenting uphill to the mountains 1,924m summit. Steep hairpin corners and lengthy stretches of tarmac make this the type of terrain where the weak crumble as I was finding out.
The Col du Glandon is a regular feature in the worlds most famous cycling race, the Tour de France. And this year the 198 all-male group of pros will test their endurance here for Stage 11.
Now Im no Victoria Pendleton, but for a reason that seemed like a good idea at the time, I decided to tackle this vicious course. I wanted to show that girls are tough enough to take on this route too.
I had done the easy bit: freewheeling down to the start of the route from Vaujany where I spend my four-day break. The ancient farming village is quiet, with only 300 year-round inhabitants; but it offers plenty of activities that make this the perfect location for an action-packed holiday.
From hiking and rock climbing, to archery and horse riding, there is something to keep every member of the family happy. For the more adventurous, a watersports centre on the Lac du Verney offers windsurfing and sailing, while in town the free tennis courts are an added bonus.
In winter, a 160-person cable car whisks skiers up to one of the largest ski areas in France, the Alpe dHuez. In July and August, the cable car is back in business and when the snow melts, the mountains transform into a cyclists dream: hundreds of kilometres of road and mountain biking trails make this one of Frances top areas for the sport.
Yet despite high-tech conveniences, the town still retains its alpine charm. Once a gateway to nearby Italy, the original road to the border (Le Grand Chemin) is still lined with original wooden chalets dating back to the 18th Century. Here there are none of the high-rise hotels that have invaded much of the Alps.
I stayed at the traditional-looking Chalet Arnou, which was only completed in February, but youd never know from its pine exterior and gently sloping roof.
Run by UK-trained mountain bike instructors Daniella Gardner and Andrew Goodman, the eight-person catered chalet is a mountain retreat with all the trimmings. The couple is on hand to point out routes that suit your ability and to offer tips, from how to conquer downhills to using the optimum gear for uphill plodding. The chalet is kitted out with a bike rack, and Andrew is always eager to cart you and your bike to and from the trail of your choice.
Of course, the best thing about exercise is that it justifies huge quantities of fuel before, during and after and our hosts made sure we got it. The best cappuccino cake Ive ever tasted greeted me on arrival and I devoured it on my balcony while watching a rainbow form in a mountain waterfall. Everything is homemade, from freshly baked bread in the morning to the biscotti decorating dessert.
I meet a group of female mountain bikers, better known as the Dirt Divas, who are also staying in the chalet. With just four rooms, this isnt somewhere that offers city-style anonymity and within a few hours of friendly chatter, we are all strolling the three-minute walk to the Rose Showroom together, to hire ourselves top of the range road bikes.
The night before The Great Bike Ride, we sat down for an eve-of-battle meal of baked Camembert, pork and cider stroganoff and apricot tarte tartin.
Earlier in the day we had driven up the Col du Sabot and tested our bike legs on a technical downhill route. Technical is bike-speak for hard, which I discovered when I had an argument with a river and ended up sopping wet.
This did not bode well.
Sure enough, my plan to save the lowest of my 21 gears for absolute emergencies goes out of the window after 30 seconds on the Col du Glandon, when I am faced with the first of countless hairpin corners.
To avoid having to look the enemy in the face, my gaze instead wanders to my surroundings. The higher we get, the more barrenit gets. Lush pasture full of wildflowers and bell-wearing goats gave way to crumbling grey cliffs and patches of snow.
A bright flash whizzes past. I blink to discover that it was a Lycra-clad man with white whiskers and go-faster yellow shoes. He shouts a brief Allez of encouragement as he powers past me.
I must look like I need help.
But after two and a half hours of snail-paced climbing, suddenly there it is the Chalet du Glandon. The mountaintop caf signals I have made it to the top.
The panoramic view takes away my last remaining breath as I roll up to join the others who are already on their second glass of ros. Buzzing with pride, I think Ill have to remember my yellow footwear next time.
But for now, where is that waiter? I could do with a ros.

I AM in the midst of discovering the true meaning of thigh burn. Sweat stings my eyes and drips off my nose. I can feel my heart pounding as my short gasps for air become increasingly rapid. My neck has seized up and my back aches. Im exhausted.

This is not quite the French Alpine holiday Id imagined.

I am on a road bike, and doing my best to pedal up one of the Tour de Frances most infamous climbs, the Col du Glandon.

And what a climb it is: over 24 kilometers of unrelenting uphill to the mountains 1,924m summit. Steep hairpin corners and lengthy stretches of tarmac make this the type of terrain where the weak crumble as I was finding out.

The Col du Glandon is a regular feature in the worlds most famous cycling race, the Tour de France. And this year the 198 all-male group of pros will test their endurance here for Stage 11.

I had done the easy bit: freewheeling down to the start of the route from Vaujany where I spend my four-day break. The ancient farming village is quiet, with only 300 year-round inhabitants; but it offers plenty of activities that make this the perfect location for an action-packed holiday.Now Im no Victoria Pendleton, but for a reason that seemed like a good idea at the time, I decided to tackle this vicious course. I wanted to show that girls are tough enough to take on this route too.

From hiking and rock climbing, to archery and horse riding, there is something to keep every member of the family happy. For the more adventurous, a watersports centre on the Lac du Verney offers windsurfing and sailing, while in town the free tennis courts are an added bonus.

In winter, a 160-person cable car whisks skiers up to one of the largest ski areas in France, the Alpe dHuez. In July and August, the cable car is back in business and when the snow melts, the mountains transform into a cyclists dream: hundreds of kilometres of road and mountain biking trails make this one of Frances top areas for the sport.

Yet despite high-tech conveniences, the town still retains its alpine charm. Once a gateway to nearby Italy, the original road to the border (Le Grand Chemin) is still lined with original wooden chalets dating back to the 18th Century. Here there are none of the high-rise hotels that have invaded much of the Alps.

I stayed at the traditional-looking Chalet Arnou, which was only completed in February, but youd never know from its pine exterior and gently sloping roof.

Run by UK-trained mountain bike instructors Daniella Gardner and Andrew Goodman, the eight-person catered chalet is a mountain retreat with all the trimmings. The couple is on hand to point out routes that suit your ability and to offer tips, from how to conquer downhills to using the optimum gear for uphill plodding. The chalet is kitted out with a bike rack, and Andrew is always eager to cart you and your bike to and from the trail of your choice.

Of course, the best thing about exercise is that it justifies huge quantities of fuel before, during and after and our hosts made sure we got it. The best cappuccino cake Ive ever tasted greeted me on arrival and I devoured it on my balcony while watching a rainbow form in a mountain waterfall. Everything is homemade, from freshly baked bread in the morning to the biscotti decorating dessert.

I meet a group of female mountain bikers, better known as the Dirt Divas, who are also staying in the chalet. With just four rooms, this isnt somewhere that offers city-style anonymity and within a few hours of friendly chatter, we are all strolling the three-minute walk to the Rose Showroom together, to hire ourselves top of the range road bikes.

The night before The Great Bike Ride, we sat down for an eve-of-battle meal of baked Camembert, pork and cider stroganoff and apricot tarte tartin.

Earlier in the day we had driven up the Col du Sabot and tested our bike legs on a technical downhill route. Technical is bike-speak for hard, which I discovered when I had an argument with a river and ended up sopping wet.

This did not bode well.

Sure enough, my plan to save the lowest of my 21 gears for absolute emergencies goes out of the window after 30 seconds on the Col du Glandon, when I am faced with the first of countless hairpin corners.

To avoid having to look the enemy in the face, my gaze instead wanders to my surroundings. The higher we get, the more barrenit gets. Lush pasture full of wildflowers and bell-wearing goats gave way to crumbling grey cliffs and patches of snow.

A bright flash whizzes past. I blink to discover that it was a Lycra-clad man with white whiskers and go-faster yellow shoes. He shouts a brief Allez of encouragement as he powers past me.

I must look like I need help.

But after two and a half hours of snail-paced climbing, suddenly there it is the Chalet du Glandon. The mountaintop caf signals I have made it to the top.

The panoramic view takes away my last remaining breath as I roll up to join the others who are already on their second glass of ros. Buzzing with pride, I think Ill have to remember my yellow footwear next time.

But for now, where is that waiter? I could do with a ros.

This article was written by Ellie Ross.

Ellie stayed at Chalet Arnou, 400 a week including breakfast and three-course dinner with beer/wine and shuttles around town with your bikes.

Road / Mountain bike hire is 40 a day from The Rose Showroom in Vaujany.

Fly to Lyon (around 90 minute drive away) and Grenoble (in winter months).

Fed up of searching for holidays? Why not try our new road cycling in France request system?!

Sophie’s muchbetter guide to Iceland

Why Iceland?
Of all the places I have visited as an adventure sports/travel journalist, nowhere has come close to touching me in the way Iceland has. Geographically positioned in the middle of nowhere just south of the Arctic circle, it is an isolated country yet one which is literally overflowing and not just with the lava from the volcanoes and steam from the geysers. This is a land literally full of energy, yet somehow it feels serene. Its people are friendly, innovative and creative yet capability and calmness oozes from their core. Here there is a feeling that anything is possible as long as you keep your feet on the ground, optimism founded in reality if you will. Sure you might become an international rock star but youll need to make sure you can drive a boat, kill a goat and build a shelter from a whale carcass..should the need ever present itself. The best time to experience Iceland is pretty much right now as it is currently more affordable than it has ever been.
Best skiing
A journey to Iceland is an adventure in itself but if you really want to get a feel for the place then head to the North part of the island. A plane ride from Reykjavik to Akureyi is just a 40 minute hop and more akin to getting on a bus than going to an airport 30 minute check in time, no security and a free cup of tea. Love it. The Troll Peninsula is where all the best ski touring is in Iceland, where 2,000m of heart pumping ascent is swiftly followed by a main of freshies in steep couloirs. Icelandic hospitality can mean hot tubs, massages, and beers for afters! The terrain here really is immense, endless and undiscovered and even towards the end of the season you can be part of the first group to ski tour one of the local valleys. Rewards for our efforts were considerable, Icelands super stable snowpack allowing for lap after lap of waist deep powder under calm, sunny skies. Dreamy yet true.
Best Town
If you only make it as far as Reykjavik, I wouldnt blame you. If you had to live in a city Reykjavik would be a wonderful choice with great coffee shops, top level restaurants, trendy boutiques, and lively bars on every corner, it really is a vibrant, creative and enormously fun place to hang out. If mainstream tourism is not really your thing and youd prefer to live like a local during your stay, then why not take an morning run along the waterfront with the locals, then fuel up on caffeine and cake at the bohemian Caf Babalu before heading over the road to get a Norse tattoo with the friendly and experienced artists at Kingdom Within Tattoo. Reyjkavik is special, you might as well mark the experience!
Wash down the pain with a few cocktails at your hotel bar before heading out for some good value and super tasty tapas at Tapas Barinn. Take note that whilst all the usual Spanish suspects are on the menu, you can always go for the Icelandic version and get involved with a bit of smoked puffin, a fillet of Icelandic foal, or a slice of minke whale with cranberry sauce!!
Best Day Adventures
Staying in Reykjavik is an adventure within itself but so is getting out and about. There are a plethora of outfitters offering visitors some adventurous day trips with a variety of options including rafting, glacier hiking, caving, ice climbing, whale watching, kayaking and snowmobiling the variety of operators have pretty much all adventurous bases covered. For a truly unique experience I highly recommend a snorkeling tour in the crystal clear, and impossibly blue waters of the Silfra canyon. Any concerns of the cold are kept at bay by the combination of a fab dry suit and the realization that you are swimming between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia a pretty unique opportunity to say the least!
Best Road Trip
If youre only on the island for a short break then the Golden Circle is probably the best known tourist route on the island. Starting in Reykjavik, this is a 300km loop which takes in Thingvellir National Park, the amazing Gullfoss waterfall and the Strokkur and Geysir geysers in the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur. This gives you a taster of the best of Iceland in one day but if you prefer the more organic and authentic approach, why not take Route 1 that runs around the entire country. Only finished in 1974 this 1,339 km ring road takes you through the towns of Reykjavik, Sellfoss, Hofn, Egilsstadir, Akureyri, Blonduos, and Borgarnes and through some of Icelands most extreme landscapes. Achievable in about 9 days, this is a great journey with amazing scenery and not a lot of people!
Something a bit different.
If you want to go somewhere truly off the beaten track then head to the very north west of the country to the Westfjords. With natural harbours, big mountains, fabulous cliffs and spectacular waterfalls, the Westfjords are one of Icelands most impressive hidden gems.
Check out our Flight Finder for cheap, low carbon flights to Iceland!

Why Iceland?

Of all the places I have visited as an adventure sports/travel journalist, nowhere has come close to touching me in the way Iceland has. Geographically positioned in the middle of nowhere just south of the Arctic circle, it is an isolated country yet one which is literally overflowing and not just with the lava from the volcanoes and steam from the geysers. This is a land literally full of energy, yet somehow it feels serene. Its people are friendly, innovative and creative yet capability and calmness oozes from their core. Here there is a feeling that anything is possible as long as you keep your feet on the ground, optimism founded in reality if you will. Sure you might become an international rock star but youll need to make sure you can drive a boat, kill a goat and build a shelter from a whale carcass..should the need ever present itself. The best time to experience Iceland is pretty much right now as it is currently more affordable than it has ever been.

Best skiing

A journey to Iceland is an adventure in itself but if you really want to get a feel for the place then head to the North part of the island. A plane ride from Reykjavik to Akureyi is just a 40 minute hop and more akin to getting on a bus than going to an airport 30 minute check in time, no security and a free cup of tea. Love it. The Troll Peninsula is where all the best ski touring is in Iceland, where 2,000m of heart pumping ascent is swiftly followed by a main of freshies in steep couloirs. Icelandic hospitality can mean hot tubs, massages, and beers for afters! The terrain here really is immense, endless and undiscovered and even towards the end of the season you can be part of the first group to ski tour one of the local valleys. Rewards for our efforts were considerable, Icelands super stable snowpack allowing for lap after lap of waist deep powder under calm, sunny skies. Dreamy yet true.

Best Town

If you only make it as far as Reykjavik, I wouldnt blame you. If you had to live in a city Reykjavik would be a wonderful choice with great coffee shops, top level restaurants, trendy boutiques, and lively bars on every corner, it really is a vibrant, creative and enormously fun place to hang out. If mainstream tourism is not really your thing and youd prefer to live like a local during your stay, then why not take an morning run along the waterfront with the locals, then fuel up on caffeine and cake at the bohemian Caf Babalu before heading over the road to get a Norse tattoo with the friendly and experienced artists at Kingdom Within Tattoo. Reyjkavik is special, you might as well mark the experience!

Wash down the pain with a few cocktails at your hotel bar before heading out for some good value and super tasty tapas at Tapas Barinn. Take note that whilst all the usual Spanish suspects are on the menu, you can always go for the Icelandic version and get involved with a bit of smoked puffin, a fillet of Icelandic foal, or a slice of minke whale with cranberry sauce!!

Best Day Adventures

Staying in Reykjavik is an adventure within itself but so is getting out and about. There are a plethora of outfitters offering visitors some adventurous day trips with a variety of options including rafting, glacier hiking, caving, ice climbing, whale watching, kayaking and snowmobiling the variety of operators have pretty much all adventurous bases covered. For a truly unique experience I highly recommend a snorkeling tour in the crystal clear, and impossibly blue waters of the Silfra canyon. Any concerns of the cold are kept at bay by the combination of a fab dry suit and the realization that you are swimming between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia a pretty unique opportunity to say the least!

Best Road Trip

If youre only on the island for a short break then the Golden Circle is probably the best known tourist route on the island. Starting in Reykjavik, this is a 300km loop which takes in Thingvellir National Park, the amazing Gullfoss waterfall and the Strokkur and Geysir geysers in the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur. This gives you a taster of the best of Iceland in one day but if you prefer the more organic and authentic approach, why not take Route 1 that runs around the entire country. Only finished in 1974 this 1,339 km ring road takes you through the towns of Reykjavik, Sellfoss, Hofn, Egilsstadir, Akureyri, Blonduos, and Borgarnes and through some of Icelands most extreme landscapes. Achievable in about 9 days, this is a great journey with amazing scenery and not a lot of people!

Something a bit different

If you want to go somewhere truly off the beaten track then head to the very north west of the country to the Westfjords. With natural harbours, big mountains, fabulous cliffs and spectacular waterfalls, the Westfjords are one of Icelands most impressive hidden gems.Check out our guide on cycling in Iceland here!

This article was written by Sophie – check out her profile and other articles!