Travel + Leisure 

Walking Tours, Step by Step

By Elisabeth Garsey- Published August 2000

"The word tour often conjures images of buses crammed with tourists and drone-like guides rattling off perfunctory details about sights seen through a window. But a walking tour is something completely different. Walking slows us down and heightens our senses, allowing us to explore our surroundings intimately, thereby sweetening natural and cultural experiences — and isn't that the whole point of travel?More and more outfitters are noticing this trend and are expanding their offerings, pushing the limits of where you can trek. You need little more than a decent pair of boots to take on winding Tuscan roads or South Africa's dinosaur-age floral kingdom. But before you hit the trail, check out our picks for the hottest places to go, the coolest gear, and who can best lead the way.

Self-Guided
While most walking-tour companies listed here emphasize flexibility and independence on their group vacations, Randonnée Tours guarantees it: there are no guides, so the path you take is up to you (with a little help). The company was started 10 years ago by ecologist Ruth Marr, a longtime walker of the French and Italian countrysides. She and her team of insiders draw up detailed itineraries for every trip, right down to the dining suggestions, and local experts are available for questions or emergencies. You can mix and match levels of accommodation—spend one night at an old farmhouse, another at a five-star hotel. Trips range from inn-to-inn hikes to day walks from a single location; drive-and-stroll is also an option. The Dordogne is one of Randonnée's most popular destinations, for the limestone villages of Domme and Rouffillac and the prehistoric cave art at Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. Other tours take you along a portion of the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela in Spain; or you can stroll from Le Puy to Conques in France's Auvergne region, passing by roadside chapels, fields of humble green lentils, and misty forests. A Corsica driving and walking trip starts this fall.
www.randonneetours.com / 1 800 242 1825."



 
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