Thursday, March 31, 2016

Newsletter March 2016







Hello,

Warming up nicely now for a full packed holiday itinerary available this Spring. The walking is good after a relatively dry winter, the paths and tracks are all in good shape. The temperatures are warmer than average for this time of year 20oC by the weekend but will feel a lot warmer in the sun.

We have only a few holidays left with availability :
We are offering 75 euro off or free single room supplement on all these guided holidays.

There are also 2 places left on the Iceland Trip in July.
We also have all our self guided itineraries available to reserve to start on any day or date.

Please contact us for more information for availability on any of our holidays.

Have a Good Easter!
Good Friday in Granada
Semana Santa in Ronda

Semana Santa in Andalucia 

SEMANA Santa marks the week when the Spanish love for procession, pageantry and communal expression reaches its zenith.

This incense-scented week of penitence and processions is most keenly observed in the orange-blossomed streets of Sevilla. Vast thrones (pasos) supporting ornate religious effigies are paraded through the city.

But although ostensibly a religious festival, Holy Week’s long nights and packed streets have much in common with any Spanish fiesta.

Families burn the midnight oil to watch the parades, the odd drop of vino is usually on hand to help lubricate proceedings and it’s as much through local pride as religious piety that Sevillanos call out ‘Guapa!’ when the Virgin’s statue passes.

The presence of Roman centurions at the parades adds to the theatre and underlines that this is an occasion for everyone (in Spain, even the dastardly Romans who were responsible for it all are invited to commemorate Christ’s crucifixion). Nevertheless, for the first-time observer, the hooded ranks of Nazarenos – the week’s defining image – can be a little startling. Their beautiful medieval robes are co-ordinated in the colour of each religious brotherhood, or cofradia, but their conical hoods, with slits for eyes, have an almost menacing solemnity.

Down in Gibraltar, British and Spanish traditions are fused as Easter revellers gobble up bollos de hornazo – a sweet bread made with eggs, sugar and aniseed – as well as hot-cross buns and Cadbury’s Cream Eggs.The cofradias organise the processions and the task of carrying the thrones is highly sought after, with the costaleros – or ‘sack men’ – carrying out this role. Until the 1970s, sturdy dock workers were hired to perform the sinew-straining job.

The sheer scale and length of the occasion can be a little overwhelming, but if you are lucky enough to be in Andalucia during Semana Santa you will be right at the heart of one of Spain’s most extraordinary events.

Semana Santa by numbers

March 20 – 28: Spain celebrates Semana Santa
1500s: Celebrations of Semana Santa begin in southern Spain
14: The hours a procession can last
50: The number of costaleros it can take to carry the floats bearing images of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
70: Cofradias involved during Sevilla’s Semana Santa.
1,000,000: Visitors who come to Sevilla for Semana Santa
50,000 : Nazarenos parading through the streets of Sevilla
Six to nine: The number of processions in Sevilla each day
400,000: Jobs created in Spain during Semana Santa, according to Adecco
One: Every Semana Santa, a convicted criminal is released from prison through a collaboration with Jesús Resucitado y María Santísima de la Asunción
5,000: The weight in kilos of the heaviestpasos carried through Malaga
Five: The length in metres of the longest floats in Malaga
10,000: Number of people who attend the Passion of Christ tradition, El Paso, at the El Calvario outdoor auditorium in Axarquia

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Newsletter November 2015

November 2015
Ibex Trex Walking Holidays
Great Walking, Blossom And The Picos
Our Walking In Blossom winter sun walking holiday, commences on the 25/02/2016 and 03/03/16 -  455 Euro imagesfor 4 nights full board
in the fantastic Alqueria De Morayma. Walkng through the pinks and purples with the snow capped Sierra Nevada as the background is a great walking holiday.

Please contact us for more information.
Hi {FIRST_NAME|},

Another busy year has finished with just a few self guided walkers to have their holidays. We have had a great year and I always say this but have met some great people on our holidays.
We are constanlty trying to improve our holidays and find new areas to walk in - we hope people will enjoy the Picos - it really is a beautiful and dramatic place. There will be a Picos guided holiday this September and I will keep you informed when we have the dates organised.

We will also be launching Cabo de Gata self guided walking holiday next year as well (after it has been sat on the shelf for the past 2 years!) and hopefully have a guided week there in the winter 2017.

Our Iceland holidaysfor 2016 is on the 04/072016 and we only have 6 places left with a week before already full. So if you are interested please book soon.

Once again thank you for making my job so enjoyable and hopefully see some of you soon.


Yours,

Dan Shaffrey
Ibex Trex Walking Holidays
 
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Our holidays in 2016 have a great early booking discount of 50 euro per person for all reservations made before the 31/12/2016.

All our 2016 dates are live and you can book now to receive your special offer.
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NEW Picos De Europa
We have been up to the North of Spain and walked in the Picos de Europa, where we have designed a new 7 night guided and self guided itinerary. Walking across the central and eastern massif; it is a packed week staying in good hotels. We believe we have designed an excellent walking holiday, that gets you walking the some of the best bits of the Picos. You can view the itinerary on our blog before it goes live on the website. This is available from June 2016 - October 2016.

We are looking for past clients who would like to be the first to walk here and are offering a great 25% off of the holiday for the first two takers!Contact me for details
 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Picos De Europa - Fabulous Mountain Walking

Picos de Europa
Self Guided Walking 7 nights

The Picos de Europa is a range of dramatic mountains inland from the northern coast of Spain. They straddle the 3 regions of Asturias, Cantabria and Castille & Leon. The name derives from ships arriving from America and these were the first landmark – “The Peaks of Europe”
The Picos de Europa consists of three massifs: Central, Eastern and Western. The Picos are mainly limestone and thousands of years of weather and glacial action has sculpted the peaks into some awesome landscapes.

The central and western massifs are separated by the breathtaking Cares Gorge (Garganta del Cares), a 1.5km deep gorge with a stunning path running along the water canal that feeds two hydro-electric stations. The highest peak is Torre de Cerredo at 2650m but the most recognisable peak is Naranjo de Bulnes, or Picu Urriellu, at 2529m.

The Picos De Europa has Cantabrian brown bears (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus) and wolves (Canis lupus signatus) live in the more remote regions. There are about 150 bears in the massifs and they are timid. There are roughly 2000 grey wolf in Spain with only a fraction of the population existing in the Picos. The main mammal you will encounter is the Cantabrian Chamois, or Rebeco, of which there were reportedly 8000 sightings in 2008.

We have designed this walking holiday to walk some of the best bits of the Picos de Europa. We walk through the Eastern and Central massifs and utilise El Cable (cable car) at Fuente De to gain 750m and to make the walking easier for some. We walk to the beautiful village of Sotres straight over the Eastern massif below the foot of the peak of Naranjo de Bulnes. We also walk to Bulnes which until 2001 was not connected by any transport but now the Funicular train connects the village to the main road; then we walk the Cares Gorge. The walking holiday stays for 2 nights in each hotel with only 1 night at the Cares Gorge, your luggage being moved onwards for you to the next hotel.

We have chosen family-run hotels that are good quality, comfortable and cook quality local traditional food. All the rooms are en-suite. We use local taxi drivers and we keep your transport to a minimum.

Level : Medium - 8km - 24km(up to)
Accommodation: Hotel Posada Sobrevilla III, Hotel Peña Castil, Hotel Garganta del Cares, Hotel Picos de Europa.
Price: 645 Euro 
Includes:-
All breakfasts, 6 Evening meals (not inc 1 night in Espinama), quality en-suite hotel accommodation, onward luggage transfers, taxi to Fuente De (10min), taxi from Poncebos to Arenas de Cabrales (10 min)
Transfers:- 100 Euro each way from Santander – Espinama
                                                             Arena de Cabrales – Santander
Trains to Unquera – 1hr transfer from here (price to be arranged).
               

Itinerary 7 nights Picos De Europa
Day 1
Arrive in Espinama - Transfers available from Santander
                Hotel Posada Sobrevilla III – Dinner in hotel
Day 2
Walk 1 Espinama – Pido – Las Ilces – Espinama; 10km 3-4hrs
A beautiful walk through the woods of Monte De Carbon along an easy to navigate and walk route
Walk 2 Espinama – Pembes – Espinama; 13km 5-6hrs
A walk into the national park with some fabulous views of the Central massif
Day 3

Transfer to Fuente De (5mins)
Either walk up to the plateau or catch El Cable(cable car 10 Euro one way Adult, 4 Euro one way Child)
Dinner in Espinama – 4 good restaurants to choose from
Walk 1 Walk to Sotres – via GR202 (if windy or conditions are bad then this can be walked from Espinama) (an early start of 9am to make sure you miss the queues at the cable car)
A trip to the Picos is not complete without a ride on the Teleferico – cable car. This rises 750 m to the plateau where the walk begins. It costs 10 euro one way per adult, 4 euro per child. Breathtaking views at the top before you walk past the Refugio de Aliva and then down onto the GR202, walking along a long valley all the way to Sotres.
Dinner in Hotel
Walk 2 Fuente De – Naranjo de Bulnes – Sotres ; 17km (extra 2km and 750m ascent if cable car not used)
A stunning walk right over the Central massif through the limestone landscape, walking along good paths but must be wary of navigation. All the way to the refugio at Naranjo de Bulnes (lunch can be bought here). Enjoy the dramatic peak above you before the beautiful long descent down in to the valley and on Sotres.
Check into Hotel Peña Castil
Dinner in Hotel
Day 4

Walk 1 Sotres – Tielve – Sotres; 14km 4-6 hrs (can be shortened to 9km with a taxi from Tielve)
Another great walk rising out of Sotres you will walk over grazing land with some stunning views down the Rio Duje Valley. Walk through disused farmsteads along a track before the final descent to Tielve. From here you need to walk along little used road for 2km before taking an ancient mule trail back into Sotres. Lunch can be had at the Hostal Duje just a little down the road towards Sotres.
Walk 2 Hito Escarandi – Sotres; 17km 5-7 hrs (short transfer to Jito de Escarandi – 10mins)
 A beautiful circular walk that takes you right past the old mines of Andara, where they mined Sphalerite (the chief ore of zinc) and lead. Great views and walk.
Dinner in Hotel
Day 5
Sotres – Bulnes – Funicular train (17 Euro one way) 7km or walk on to Poncebos 10km
A lovely walk out of Sotres and over the Collado Pandebano and then down to the village of Bulnes. Bulnes did not have any means of access till 2001 apart from on foot. Lunch can be had at Bulnes. Then you can either catch the Funicular train down to Poncebos or walk along a stunning gorge down to Poncebos.
Check in to Hotel Garganta del Cares – right at the start of the gorge walk
Day 6

Garganta del Cares Walk Up to 24km
(You cannot catch a taxi from Cain as this is a 2.5 hr road journey.)
The famous Cares Gorge is 1.5km to the valley floor and is 12 km long to the village of Cain. You will pass through tunnels with amazing scenery. A walk well worth doing. This was built to serve the canal that runs parallel to the path. 
This walk is a return walk to Poncebos, it is 24 km return from the village of Cain (12km each way). It is not hard walking but it is vertiginous. You can walk as long as you want on this day but bring lunch as the bars in Cain often do not serve food.
Dinner in Hotel
Day 7
 Transfer to Hotel in Arenas De Cabrales
Check into Hotel Picos De Europa
Free day or Walk
Arenas de Cabrales Circular 10km 4-6hrs
A walk from the hotel into the hills to the north of Arenas de Cabrales, providing some wonderful views of the national park. A good walk to finish the week on.
Dinner in hotel.
Day 8
Check out of Hotel and Transfer


Flights
Ryanair
London Stansted – Santander
Edinburgh – Santander
Dublin – Santander (Sunday & Wednesday)
Vueling - London Gatwick – Santander
Transfers will be expensive from Bilbao
Bilbao – Manchester  Easyjet
Bilbao – London Heathrow BA
Bilbao – London Gatwick Vueling
Bilbao – London Stansted EasyJet
Asturias – London Stansted Easyjet

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Iceland Trip 2015

We have been guiding for an Icelandic guide in the Sierra Nevada for 4 years. She came every year with a group of 15 - 20 people for 7 nights. Last year we were sat having a beer and this holiday was formed.

Steinunn, the Icelandic guide, is a professional guide in Iceland and what she doesn't know about her country is not worth knowing. So we went away and organised a 7 night walking holiday that would include the 'Golden Cirlcle' of Gulfoss, Geysir and Pingvellir, Porsmork(Thors Land), volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers, good comfortable accommodation and quality local food.

This was our first walking holiday to Iceland with a group of 10 people and this is how it went:-

Day 1:- Everyone booked their own flights and made the simple and efficient transfer from the airport in Keflavik to the Hotel Smari, on the outskirts of Reykjavik. We were met by the owner who showed us to our good sized en suite comfortable rooms.

We met Steinunn after a good dinner and went through the week over a drink.

Day 2:-
Pickup at 9am to transfer to Heidmork, 20 minutes away. This is a designated outdoor park which the people of Reykjavik use for walking. The first thing that struck me is the alien landscape that surrounded us. A large lava field with high snow-capped peaks in the distance. We walked for 16km through a fabulous park, into a volcanic crater and climbed one of the peaks we could see in the distance for some great views. It showed the vastness of the volcanoes and lava that have shaped this part of Iceland. Steinunn kept us well informed all day about the different lava and volcanoes to the politics of Iceland.

Day 3:-
Pickup at 9am and a longer transfer deep into the peninsular of Reykjanes. We are using a 4X4 coach now to get around as the tracks are often bad. We drove though a huge lava field which can only be described as something from Mordor in Lord of the Rings. The walk today was 14km of easy walking over grassy hills. To start the walk Steinunn brought us through a crevice between a small hill that had been cracked in two by an earthquake. We then climbed Trölladyngja 279 m and Grænadyngja 393 m, with great views again before descending to the hot springs which have made the earth a colourful sight.


Day 4:-
Pick up 8.30am and transfer to Hellisheiði heathland. Driving to a futuristic looking geothermal site, we start our walk with a steep ascent to the heathland. We walk along a large open area with snow capped peaks all around. It feels very wild and the fording of a small river makes it feel all the more isolated. The views are spectacular and the walking is great. We stop for another of Steinunn's lovely lunches before gently climbing for some truly great views over a large lake and down to the sea. We then start to descend to the thermal river of Reykjadalur. Here we take a bath in the almost too hot water - an amazing way to finish a walk. We have a 20min walk to a bar. After a beer we are picked up and transferred to Stora Mork farm. An hours drive through some spectacular scenery. This is a beautiful walk and my favourite so far. Stora Mork farm is basic but they have good showers and serve some good food all set at the mouth of Thors Land.
Day 5:-
After breakfast we get into the 4 wheel drive coach and set off into Porsmork(Thors Land).

Travelling along the vast glacial valley we drive through rivers in the coach and pass other 4 wheel drive vehicles making there way further up the valley to the Glaciers. This is a fantastic journey with stunning scenery. After around 40 minutes we arrive at a steep sided valley with walls going up to 200 metres. We walk along the valley floor and to cave with a large waterfall of Seljalandsfoss pouring through the roof. We then make our way back to the coach and travel further towards the vast glacier we can see spilling into the valley. We stop at a campsite and have lunch before I take some of the group on a uphill trek to the summit of the near by peak. Fabulous views of the three glaciers surrounding the valley we are in. This is the place of Eyjafjallajökull glacier and volcano that erupted in 2010. After our short trek we make our way back to coach to find it has broken down...but not to worry after an hours wait we are on our way again to a lovely new hotel that has utilised the old workers huts from the mines to make the rooms. We eat out of the hotel that night at a local restaurant and have fish 'n' chips. They were very nice though.

Day 6:-
Gulfoss
This is the day of the very popular 'golden circle'. Everywhere we went were companies offering this tour so must be something worth looking at. We started with an hours drive to Gulfoss an amazingly powerful waterfall with an interesting story about how it stayed wild and was not turned into a hydro electric plant. We then traveled for 20 mins to Geysir hot springs national park. We saw little brother geyser go off and several other hot springs - amazing if you have not experienced this before. Then we traveled to the national park of Þingvellir where we walked between the european and american plates. This is also the birth place of democracy and Steinunn gave us a very good talk on this subject. We walked to an old farm in the middle of the plates and then returned to the bus for our journey back to Reykjavik and the very good Hotel Smari. Another good meal.

Day 7:-
Reykjavik Church
Free day in Reykjavik. The hotel smari is a bus ride away from the centre of Reykjavik about 20 -30mins but I decided to walk in and it took around an hour using paths and cycle routes - it was a great way to see the districts of Reykjavik. In the centre there are a few museums and the church which is quite impressive with a resident organ player. We had lunch in a good bar bought presents and had a few beers in the happy hour which every bar seems to partake in. Then back to Hotel Smari. A nice day.

Day 8:- Up early and catch the Greyline bus back to the airport for our flight back to Belfast. An excellent holiday.

To summarise, the holiday is a fabulous way to do some great walking in a very different country. We saw some amazing sites and walked were there were very few tourists which is a great bonus for me. We also got see the main tourist sites as well which although is not my cup of tea it would be something I would have done had I traveled to Iceland on my own. Also to my surprise the food was very good - very fresh and well cooked. Iceland is expensive and to see and do all that we did in a week is extremely good.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer 2015 Newsletter

We have had a great Spring season and have had many happy walkers. Our groups are becoming more diverse with more and more people coming from countries outside of the traditional UK and Ireland areas to experience the beautiful Andalucian mountains.

From Spring 2016 we are going to be running an Andalucian Experience holiday with 3 days walking in the Sierra Nevada, 1 night in Granada and the Alhambra, 3 days walking in Grazalema and 1 night in Ronda. Also we are going to the Picos this Autumn so scout out possible self guided and guided holidays in the area - we will keep you informed.

We are off to Iceland next week and will be sending out a trip report to everyone.

We have several holidays running this autumn and to view them go here - Dates & Prices Autumn 2015

We look forward to seeing some of you in Autumn.

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Andalucia's Big Six

alhambra

ANDALUCIA boasts six UNESCO sites, including one of Spain’s only two natural sites, Donana National Park in Huelva. The vast nature reserve and wetland is a breeding site for thousands of migratory breeds, and also home to the endangered Iberian lynx. Elsewhere, Granada’s stunning Moorish palace, the Alhambra, has been awarded the accolade, as has Cordoba’s Mezquita, the city’s extraordinary cathedral built around a mosque. The Alcazar and Gardens in Sevilla has also made the list along with the beautiful renaissance cities of Ubeda and Baeza in Jaen province. Finally, 68 items of cave art in Almeria, Granada and Jaen have been recognised for their importance in depicting the way of life during a critical phase of human development.

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Caminito Del Rey 

The world's most dangerous walkway is now open caminito-new2_3227981bfor the first time in 14 years.

Spain’s three kilometre-long cliff-side path, built 100 metres above the Desfiladero del los Gaitanes gorge, was closed in 2001 following five deaths in 1999 and 2000.
Daredevil tourists continued to try their luck along it however, prompting local officials to launch a $3.36m (£2.23m) scheme ten years ago to renovate it.
Now that a glass floor has been installed and the final planks laid, the walk will reopen to the public during Holy Week, which begins on March 29, according to Elías Bendodo, the president of the Diputación Provincial de Málaga.
The 110-year-old walkway, set in the village of El Chorro, north west of Málaga, has been fixed with a new wooden pathway and equipped with safety lines and steel bolts for visitors, who will be required to wear a helmet to walk across it.
Caminito del Rey (the 'Kings’s walkway') was completed in 1905 and was used by construction workers carrying goods to the Guadalhorce dam. Its royal association came when it was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1921.

If you would like us to reserve some tickets for this walk please contact us.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spring 2015 Newsletter

Hi,

2015 has come along quickly and the new seaon starts in a few weeks time with Walking In Blossom . The first week is now full and we have only 4 places left on the 5th of March one. So if you want some winter sun and to get away from the grey, book yourself a short walking holiday.

If you are a returning walker with us we will offer you a50 Euro discount off any of our holidays. We have people booked on nearly all our weeks in Spring and we hope to fill them all.

See our 2015 Date & Prices
 
Iceland Trip 2015 Only 5 places left!!

Iceland2We have the itinerary and dates set for the much anticipated Iceland trip. Keep the dates June 27 - July 4 free if you would like to join this bespoke walking holiday in the beautiful country of Iceland.
You can see more infromation and the full intinerary on our webpage here - Iceland Trip.

If you have any questions regarding this trip or any other trip please contact us.

Kindest regards,

Dan Shaffrey
Ibex Trex Walking Holidays
 

Great News!!
CONSERVATIONISTS in Spain are celebrating after the Sierra Nevada National Park was added to an elite worldwide list of protected reserves.
The Granada park, popular with skiers, is the only Spanish entry on the list of 23 protected parks compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
It was chosen for its ability to balance its ‘fragile mountain ecosystem’ with a ‘rich and cultural heritage’ which combines to create ‘an envious tourism market’.
Donana’s National Park in Huelva hopes to join the list next year.
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Autumn/Winter Newsletter 2014

The 2014 year is finished for Ibex Trex Walking Holidays with just a few self guided groups to walk in the autumnal sunshine. We have had a great year and met loads of new and interesting people who have all enjoyed their holidays with us.

We have all our 2015 dates live and we are taking bookings for all our holidays. So get booking early!!

Walking In Blossom is booking up with only 4 places left on the 26/02

If you are a returning walker with us we will offer you a50 Euro discount off any of our holidays.

See our 2015 Date & Prices


Iceland Trip 2015


We have the itinerary and dates set for the much anticipated Iceland trip. Keep the dates June 27 - July 4 free if you would like to join this bespoke walking holiday in the beautiful country of Iceland.

You can see more infromation and the full intinerary on our webpage here - Iceland Trip.

If you have any questions regarding this trip or any other trip pleasecontact us

Federico Garcia Lorca Grave Might Have Been Found

THE grave of famous poet Federico Garcia Lorca may soon be uncovered as archaeologists embark on a grave hunt for Civil War victims near Granada.

Radar will be used to sound 300 sq. m. of the a hillside in the Peñón Colorado near the city with work starting on November 17 and lasting 14 days.

Lorca is believed to have been executed by members of General Franco’s militia (aged 38) and buried near the area at the start of the Spanish Civil War on August 18 1936.

The location of his grave is considered as one of the Civil War’s great mysteries.

A budget of €15,000 has been allocated to the project and the Junta’s General Director of Democratic Memory, Luis Naranjo, has insisted that the search is aimed at all victims, not just Lorca.

Lorca was the youngest member of the influential poet group Generation of ’27 which had its first formal meeting in Sevilla in 1927.

He was a poet, playwright, and theatre director, best known for his poetry collections ‘Poet in New York’, ‘Gypsy Ballads’ and tragedies such as ‘Blood wedding’.

Thanks To Everyone

We would like to thank all our customers for their business in 2014 and we hope to keep growing and keep providing excellent walking holidays in the forthcoming year.

We want to keep looking for new areas in Spain and we are always open to suggestions from people.


Kindest regards,

Dan Shaffrey

Ibex Trex Walking Holidays