Q & A with Linda Woods, Founder, Ireland Walk Hike Bike, Co. Kerry, Republic of Ireland.
An award-winning responsible tour provider since 1994.
It is the only way to see Ireland properly in my opinion. By traveling at a slower pace, you can really take in the scenery, also meet and get to know the locals. You come away with a more intimate and memorable experience. This is so much harder to do if you are always driving from one town to another.
WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE YOU BEGAN THIS COMPANY?
Tons actually! Probably the biggest change has been the public access to travel information online through the Internet and being able to book tours directly with companies. Also travelers' expectations have gone up since they read customer "feedback" sites like TripAdvisor and Trip Pilot. I find this all quite fascinating.
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO SUCCESS AS A PROVIDER OF ECO TOURS?
Daring to be different and always looking for new ways to deliver dream holidays to our guests while minimizing their carbon impact. We continually evaluate our own tours and procedures to make sure we are staying on top of our mission.
Mostly from the United States and Canada and more recently also from Australia and New Zealand. From mainland Western Europe we receive guests mostly from Holland, Germany, and France.
CAN YOU GIVE US EXAMPLES OF A UNIQUE TOUR THAT A PAST GROUP REQUESTED?
We had one last year where the group requested day hikes to be followed by Traditional Irish Music sessions. We had them stay in Doolin just north of the Cliffs of Moher. Doolin is known for great live music in their pubs. The first three days they took hikes in the Burren, on the Aran Islands and of course along the Cliffs of Moher. After that they moved on to the town of Dingle and enjoyed another three days of superb walks around the Dingle peninsula with musical entertainment in the evenings. They went home tired but happy from the combination of exercise, fresh air, and lots of laughter.
Distance and the duration of the walk each day. For example, a comfortable walking tour offers shorter walks per day, this allows you more time to enjoy other activities, perhaps local cultural activities.
SHOULD WALKERS DRESS IN LAYERS DEPENDING ON THE WEATHER?
Yes please, and they should choose clothes made of fabrics that wick away sweat from the body. This helps to provide more comfort. Usually three layers will see you through most of our seasons. Start with a good base layer with a fleece over it and then a good quality raincoat on top. I recommend lightweight walking trousers with good quality rain trousers (with long zips) to go over them.
Depending on the age of children, our Clare Cycle or our Dingle 5-Day Hike are the most popular and suitable for families. We also receive many requests for customized family excursions.
WHAT KINDS OF BICYCLES DO YOU PROVIDE?
Quality, 21 geared cycle, Hybrid bikes (a cross between a mountain and a road bike). These are the best choice for cycling in Ireland. We prefer that guests have previous cycling experience and that they are able to do basic minor adjustments, if necessary, and should be able to change a flat tire.
There are several considerations. It could be location, or it could be the “Ban an Ti” (Lady of the House) who is an exceptional hostess and makes your stay so warm and memorable. It could be the food, or it could be the proximity to a walk.
IS THERE AN OPPORTUNITY TO GO SWIMMING?
Absolutely, almost all our trips have that opportunity. If you take a swim off the west coast, it will be one of the best experiences you can ever have. Imagine super sandy beaches and crystal clear water, it is paradise!
I would point to Killarney National Park in the South West and Glenveagh National Park in the North West as being the two most impressive ones. Both parks offer amazing landscapes, beautiful gardens, and interesting historical buildings. You can enjoy days of walking, hiking, or bicycling with lovely spots to sit down and have a picnic lunch or take a short rest.
WHAT KINDS OF WILDLIFE CAN ONE SEE?
At the top of the list would be the red deer. These animals represent a touchstone species; they have been a part of our natural world since the last Ice Age! There are plenty of ducks and geese around the lakes and birds in the forests, also rabbits, squirrels, and bats. Lots of butterflies too.
Peat bogs [wetlands] are found throughout Ireland, there are two different types. They may not look fancy, but they are important because they trap gases in the soil while also creating a vital habitat for hundreds of plant species, insects and birds. Some of these species are quite rare. Peatlands also serve as a catch basin for the rain and that prevents flooding. The concern is due to the excavation of peat for turf or for heating in rural regions. There are restoration projects going on that we need to support along with expanded protections.
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