Activity breaks to keep you fit

It is about the middle of January that the New Year’s resolutions made are first broken then forgotten. Most common among the broken resolutions are those involving keeping fit, being more healthy or exercising more. Mid-January is also the time of year when we begin thinking about the where and what of our travel plans.

Perhaps, for the reasons above, you are looking to be a little more active on your holiday. Alternatively you might be an active person looking for something a little different in an activity break.

Activity Break 001
Activity breaks are a way to keep fit and slow down. This gives you more time to stop and admire the scenery

I have researched and discovered a few activity breaks that appealed to me and thought you might like to share them with me. Some are to far flung and unusual places and others are gentler and easier to get to.

For those who hesitate to take an activity break fearing it might be beyond their skill most mainstream providers have a grading system from easy, through moderate to extreme. It is important though to choose a level within your capabilities otherwise your trip can become an endurance test. Of course if that’s what you are after go for it.

Activity Break 02
The open road on the Lofoten Islands – on islands dominated by soaring cliffs and towering mountains this looks pretty flat

Cycling the Loftoten Islands, Norway
Search on Pinterest for the Lofoten Islands and you will see countless photographs of towering hills and stunning and majestic coastline. It looks a fantastic place to go and one that is on my list to visit; but cycling? It looks as though it would be included as one of the mountain stages in the Tour de France if only it was inside the French and not the Norwegian border.

However there are many coastal settlements and these are connected by ferries and coastal roads which are relatively easy to pedal along without being super fit. Exploring the islands on two wheels will take you through fishing hamlets, past Stone Age settlements and through some of this Earth’s most stunning scenery. At the end of the day’s cycling you will stay in comfortable local guesthouses.

Lofoten Island scenery is best seen from two wheels
Lofoten Island scenery is best seen from two wheels

This is a week long self-guided tour offered by Freedom Treks. It is 112 miles (180km) so is easily doable in the week. Prices, excluding airfare start from £1106 + bike hire starting at £164. Also included are most meals with packed lunches supplied each cycling day, all ferry crossings and the necessary maps and route information. You will need to be moderately fit or get yourself fit. Luggage is transferred each day so you can travel fairly light.

The idea of cycling in the Lotofen Islands would, for me, be an incentive to stick to my New Year’s resolutions.

Activity Break 003
Simian Mountains of Ethiopia – Photo used with permission of Village Ways

Walking in the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
The Simien Mountains of Ethiopia boast a landscape like no other, with craggy, flat-topped mountains intercepted by deep gorges, rivers and waterfalls. These mountains are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list and are a magnet for trekkers. Away from the much-used trekking route in the heart of the National Park Village Ways offers an eight day itinerary staying in villages on the southern rim of the Simien Mountain National Park. These villages have partnered with Village Ways and money from your stay directly benefits the communities.

Activity Break 04
Ibex in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia – Photo used with permission of Village Ways

The adventure begins in the ancient city of Gondar before travelling to the Simien Mountains for some unforgettable walks with a private local guide. Two nights spent in each village so there is plenty of time to become immersed in local life and getting to know your hosts.

Activity Break 06
Basket weaving in the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia – Photo used with permission of Village Ways

Prices start at £875 excluding all flights. All accommodation, guides and meals are included. Accommodation in the villages is in simple traditional guesthouses.

Sea kayaking in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Photo used with permission of Wilderness Scotland
Sea kayaking in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.
Photo used with permission of Wilderness Scotland

Sea Kayaking in Scotland
I love sea kayaking and this activity particularly appeals to me. Wilderness Scotland offer a number of multi-day guided trips island hopping or exploring the coast of Scotland.

Activity Break 07
Enjoy incredible coastal scenery sea kayaking in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Photograph used with permission of Wilderness Scotland

Explore pristine deserted islands, wild, rugged coastlines, punctuated by sea caves and wonderful rock features, and white-sand beaches while paddling in crystal clear waters. With, incredible wildlife and stunning coastal scenery it is easy to see why this area is considered to offer the best sea kayaking in Scotland and the UK. Camping in basic coastal campsites for several nights in each location means less time spent. The guides are highly qualified and extremely knowledgeable and the itinerary is flexible to make the most of weather and tidal conditions.

Prices for the six day Sea kayaking – Island hopping in the Outer Hebrides trip starts at £825pp based on two sharing and includes all meals, sea kayaking equipment, guiding  and all transfers. You should have least 5 days previous sea kayaking experience.

Activity Break 08
Hiking in the Black Forest, Germany. Used with permission of Inntravel

Hiking in the Black Forest, Germany
One of the first activity breaks I took was hiking in the Black Forest and I still yearn to return twenty years later.

The Black Forest is synonymous with a chocolate, cherry and kirsch gateau with lashings of cream. However the Black Forest is also high on the gastronomic list for more than its gateau. It is also a hikers paradise so why not combine the two; hiking and gastronomy.

Activity Break 09
Black Forest Gateau; a hike is what is needed after such indulgence

Despite it’s name the Black Forest is not all trees, neither is it black. Often the landscape opens out into meadowland revealing fantastic views of rolling pasture land, hills and rivers. The route has been designed to take in the best of this landscape taking in hills, riverside walks, pastureland and of course forest. Inn this fairytale landscape there are plenty of cosy wooden inns to tempt you to take a break. Tucked away in Inntravel’s new Walking and More brochure is a hotel-to-hotel walk exploring the Black Forest.

The Black Forest is neither black or all forest. Used with permission of Inntravel
The Black Forest is neither black or all forest. Used with permission of Inntravel
Activity Break 10
Typical signposting in the Black Forest, Germany. Used with the permission of Inntravel

A walk in the Black Forest with Inntravel starts at £745 for 6 nights half board in delightful hotels and guesthouses and 2 picnics. It is a self-guided route and the price includes meticulous route guide, maps and notes. Luggage transfers between the accommodation is also included in the price.

Activity Break 11
The white walled trulli with conical roof in the Puglia town of Alborobello

Pedalling in Puglia, Italy
The moment I arrived in Puglia I fell in love with this part of Italy. The idea of exploring on the slow pace of a bicycle appeals to me as it gives more time to soak up the atmosphere of the heel of Italy where slow living and slow food are a way of life.

Puglia - 045
The Trulli of Alborobello, Puglia

Inntravel offer a 10 night hotel-to-hotel cycling tour round Puglia. Accommodation is on traditional farmsteads known as masserie. These are villas, each with their own estate that can, in some cases, date back to the Roman era.

Rural scene from Puglia, Italy
Rural scene from Puglia, Italy

The route takes you through villages and hilltop towns, along coastal paths among the olive groves and fields surrounded by the dry stone walls endemic to the region. The highlight is a cycle to the town of Alborobello a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is full of white stone walled houses with conical roofs called trulli. Follow this with a cycle along the Valle d’Itria where you will see more of these houses in rural settings.

This 10-day trip, offered by Inntravel, starts at £1328 based on two sharing. It includes 10 nights accommodation, dinner most evenings and 10 breakfasts as well as bike, route notes and luggage transported each night.

Activity Break 12
Would you like to be here?

I don’t know about you but the booking of any of these trips would spur me on to at least keep fit by perhaps walking or cycling a little more instead of using the car (which of course would boost my green credentials a little too). Certainly I would kayak a little more.

You you like an active break? Would you choose one of these or similar? Or do you have an activity break of a different kind in mind? Please let us know in the comments below.

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