Explore diverse landscapes on your active holiday with practical tips for navigating scenic routes and trails off the beaten path.
Cycling enthusiasts are looking for their paradise, where they can cycle through hilly vineyards or along sun-kissed paths through a beautiful hinterland. A destination where every turn of the bike is a brushstroke that paints an ever-changing mosaic of natural and cultural heritage..
Walkers embark on a journey of the senses when they walk the historic Camino de Santiago or climb the rugged peaks of Europe’s mountains. Walking becomes an intense dialogue with the environment, where each step creates a deeper connection with the living ecology and the footprints of earlier pilgrims.
For those who find solace in the company of horses, riding offers a noble dimension. Whether galloping along the tranquil beaches or trotting through the lush meadows, riding offers a unique rhythm for discovering the interior of the country – a dance between ancient tradition and vibrant landscapes.
An active holiday is more than just exercise; it is an intimate, lively encounter with the soul of the country. Each activity – cycling, trekking, horse-riding – tells a different story and invites you to embark on a personal odyssey interwoven with the majestic fabric of the environment.
Here are our top tips for active holidays.
Here is an overview of what to expect:
Benefits of Staying Active During Your Vacation
We all seem to lead busy lives these days and look forward to a break from our usual routine. For many people, the break they dream of is doing nothing but lying on a hot beach somewhere, maybe anywhere, in the sun. This may be fine for a day or two, but anything more than that, with the inevitable over-eating and over-drinking, and you’ll come back from your holiday in a worse physical state than when you left work.
Go on a walking, cycling or horse-riding holiday, and you will see and experience new places. Just getting out and about is known to reduce stress. If you’re with a group of people, especially if some of them are new to you, you are likely to talk about things outside of your life and take your mind off all the things that cause stress in the first place.
If done in moderation, the exercise will make you healthier by improving your cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems. You will likely come back from your holiday with new memories and possibly even friends, rather than just the story you read while lying on the beach.
Which, let’s face it, you can always read at the end of an active day, relaxing in a comfortable hotel.
Top Tips for Active Holidays
Make the most of your active holiday with these tips.
Stay Hydrated and Fuel Up
Eating well and properly before a day’s exercise is really important. You need food that releases energy slowly into your system; carbohydrates are best, and make sure you drink well.
We all like our tea and coffee, especially first thing in the morning, but while they are a good stimulant to get you moving, they also dehydrate you. To combat this, drink plenty of water before you set off and continue to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day.
On a normal, non-exercising day, you need to drink about one and a half litres of water. If you are exercising, especially in the heat, you will need considerably more. Consider using rehydration drinks, which are essentially water but replenish many of the minerals and vitamins your body loses through sweating. You will recover much faster.
Alcohol also dehydrates you, so don’t overdo it when relaxing in the evening.
Get Ready Each Morning
Before each day’s events, there would normally be a briefing; this would give you time to see what your day will be like and prepare accordingly.
After breakfast you might want to “warm up”, this might include a small five minute walk with some incline to start activating the gluteal muscles (the strongest in the body) and the hamstrings (the longest but most easily damaged) as well as the quadriceps, and lower back.
An example: Sitting on a chair with one ankle on your other knee and pull up towards your opposite pectoral this is a good lower back and gluteal stretch hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 times both legs.
Hamstring stretch: Place your foot on a chair or small bench and lean forward, you should feel a slight pull at the back of your leg. Hold for 10 seconds and switch legs. Repeat 3 times.
Clothing and Equipment
As a rule of thumb, I would suggest to anyone going on an active holiday that it is a must to try out your clothes and trainers / walking shoes before you go on holiday.
You need to try them on, see if you have any discomfort and work on solutions before you go on holiday, remember you want to enjoy your holiday and not all active holiday tours are like ours and give you the opportunity to change bikes, shoes, helmets etc….
So you have decided on an active holiday, say hillwalking, and identified a mountain you have always wanted to climb. Not just for the sense of achievement but also for the amazing views you know you will get on a good day.
Unless you have trained specifically for the climb before your holiday, and even if you have, you should consider acclimatizing. The heat and humidity will probably differ in your home country, so don’t get up the next morning and do your longest walk (or bike ride).
Take a shorter trip and get used to your new surroundings.
Even on these ‘warm-up’ days, take regular breaks if you get tired, rest and don’t forget to drink water. Eat snacks throughout the day that will give you a boost of energy, little and often is much better than stuffing yourself at the end of the day and hoping that will help you recover.
Above all, if your body is telling you that something is wrong, listen to it and stop training, especially if it’s the start of your holiday.
Any form of physical activity involves a certain amount of risk – even crossing the road is risky in some countries. Whatever you do, make sure you follow safety guidelines.
You don’t want to end up in hospital in a faraway country, but don’t forget to take out travel insurance just in case.
If you join a company or hire a guide to help you with your activity, make sure they know what they are doing and follow the safety guidelines. If it is scuba diving, make sure the company has PADI or BSAC-qualified instructors and check online if they have had any serious accidents in the past; the same goes for sailing companies or water skiing.
If cycling is your thing, make sure the bikes the company provides are good and that there are people on hand to carry out any repairs that may be necessary. At Toro Blanco Active Holidays we do this and benefit from it. It means you don’t have to wait long for help, and you can get back on your bike sooner.
It’s really good and valuable to have staff with local knowledge and lots of experienced instructors and assistants. Choosing the right company, which may not be the cheapest, means you will have a much better and probably safer holiday.
Third-Party Expert Advice
Before you go on holiday, it’s always good to seek professional advice, go to a health and fitness trainer, or talk to someone who has been on a holiday similar to the one you want to go on.
Or better still, go with someone who has been on a few, that way you can be reassured that if you are following what your friends, colleagues, family are doing, then you are being guided correctly.
I would also suggest that you stay in touch with your head/lead guide in the weeks leading up to your holiday. These days, this is made much easier with Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram, and email.
We are experienced and have seen most of the pitfalls of the unprepared guest. So we are happy to give advice and love to see fresh faces trying these active holidays. Please don’t be afraid to contact us, it will put your mind at ease and allow you to look forward to your holiday instead of dreading it.
Travel broadens the mind, so the old cliché goes, but only if you interact with local people by not just seeing a country, but experiencing it.
Cycling, walking, and horse riding get you out into the countryside and into the local cafes, restaurants, and bars, away from the chain hotels and crowded beaches that give you the sun but not much else.
There is still plenty of wildlife and amazing scenery to see, and getting off the beaten track means you are more likely to have a unique experience and see things that many people miss on holiday.
Go scuba diving, and you’ll experience a different world. Although it’s the same, sailing allows you to see whales and dolphins. Just seeing them in the wild gives some people a ‘rush.’
Take an active holiday and improve your physical and mental health, but choose a professional company like Toro Blanco and you won’t regret it.
Active Tour Examples
Here are a few examples of active holidays to check out.
Walking and Cycling Adventure in Andalusia, Spain
Embark on a remarkable journey from the coast near Malaga. Wind through fragrant orange groves and rolling hills dotted with sun-kissed olive trees.
As you pass numerous ancient towns and villages, each with its own breathtaking views, you’ll discover the joy of stumbling upon hidden gems that may have eluded you until now.
Andalusia is often referred to by many Spaniards as Europe’s fruit basket due to the wide variety of fruits grown throughout the region.
Follow sections of the Rio Guadalhorce, traversing old roads that link market towns with delightful tapas bars along the way.
See sights such as Antequera’s Alcazaba and take a guided tour of Granada’s magnificent Alhambra.
Experience the unique landscape of the Hoya Basin, formed by erosion from small rivers in the surrounding hills, creating stunning gorges and badlands.
Walk along the Caminito del Rey (Little King’s Path), a hiking trail that runs along the steep walls of a narrow gorge near El Chorro.
The all-inclusive tour has everything you need
- Choose from our range of hybrid bikes for men and women or opt for an e-bike if you prefer.
- Bike hire is included for both men and women, so there’s no need to worry about finding the right equipment.
- If you are concerned about routes or physical fitness on certain days, rest assured we also offer e-bikes.
- Convenient pick-up points on arrival day ensure easy access to start your adventure.
- Luggage and bike transfers are provided throughout the 8 day trip.
- If anyone wishes to stop cycling along the way, we offer vehicle completion options for your convenience.
- Stay well nourished with essential food and drink provided throughout the tour.
- Breakfast and dinner are included throughout the 8 days of your active holiday.
Horse Trekking and E-Bike Holiday in Andalucia
Embark on an authentic Andalusian journey where you can explore the world on horseback and by bike. This unique experience combines horse riding and cycling, tailored to your preferences.
Santiago, the owner of a highly acclaimed rural hotel and stables, has teamed up with Chris, a former professional triathlete and health and fitness coach. Together they offer an unforgettable adventure in Andalusia that includes both horse trekking and cycling through the breathtaking mountain ranges of Málaga.
You’ll get the best of both worlds: Santiago’s expertise from over 30 years of riding, and the guidance of his team as you explore the stunning Ardales mountain ranges. For the final three days of your journey, Chris will join you, along with his exceptional team, who will look after your safety and nutritional needs while taking you through lesser-known corners and offering awe-inspiring views of Málaga.
In Chris’ own words: “This is truly an experience of a lifetime, full of adventure, challenges and daily triumphs”.
This adventure not only allows you to immerse yourself in nature, but also provides an opportunity for personal growth while enjoying an active yet enjoyable holiday.
The Andalusia Adventure includes
- All transfers
- All equipment
- All breakfasts
- All lunches
- Hotel accommodation for 8 days/7 nights