Q & A with Pedro Pedrosa, Founder, A2Z Adventures, Leiria, Portugal
An independent tour operator providing bicycle and walking tours to individuals or small groups. Guided or self-guided tours are available in Portuguese, English, Spanish, and French languages. “Inspiring world travelers with unique experiences.”
WERE YOUR PARENTS INVOLVED IN OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES?
Not really, but growing up I was a Boy Scout, and that’s how I came to appreciate the outdoors. I learned skills like climbing, caving, paragliding, and canoeing.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START AN “ECO-FRIENDLY” TOUR COMPANY?
It was my passion for travel and nature. I had previous experience travelling solo or with friends around the globe. I decided to share these beautiful places, experiences, and emotions with others who had similar interests. My focus is Portugal, but we do also have tours going to other countries.
Yes, I would say so. We already have a lot of inns that are certified eco-efficient. Then there are private companies – like A2Z Adventures - getting certified by the government as having good practices ["Turismo de Natureza"]. We have a nationwide network of e-cars and charging stations. We’ve also made a huge investment in wind turbines, so now half of the country’s total energy comes from renewable sources - both wind and water. Solar generation will be the next investment.
WHAT DO GUESTS LIKE ABOUT YOUR TOURS?
They like meeting friendly Portuguese people, the food, the wine, the landscapes - and the sunshine!
WHAT IS THE USUAL TOUR GROUP SIZE?
It averages 5 to 8 people. Self-guided may be 2 people.
DO CUSTOMERS PREFER GUIDED OVER SELF-GUIDED TOURS?
Actually there is a trend now towards the self-guided options, but we still have demand for our guided tours.
We have a fleet of more than 50 bicycles of several brands. We have a strong partnership with Trek Bicycles, so we have a lot of those. We do also have a few bikes from KTM and BH. As far as type, we have carbon frame road bikes, some hybrids, some mountain bikes, and also some electric bikes with Bosch technology. So there are plenty of choices.
DO YOU HAVE LIMITS FOR LUGGAGE SIZE OR WEIGHT?
No, not really.
Guests really like the Atlantic Coast rides – whether from Porto to Coimbra or from Porto to Lisbon. A road or hybrid bike is fine for those. The historical village tours are also popular, and for those we recommend taking one of the mountain bikes.
HOW DO YOU SELECT THE INNS FOR OVERNIGHT STAYS?
We test them first ourselves, and if their location, reputation, and service delights us, then we will recommend them. We prefer small boutique hotels. We especially love it when the owners host us and share the evening meals in their inns with us!
Tasty bread, butter and jams, fresh fruits, cereals, and yogurt. Coffee. Espresso in the end - always!
HOW ABOUT OTHER MEALS?
If you are visiting the coastline, nothing is better than a taste of grilled fresh fish caught the same day! You will find salted cod on the menu everywhere. You should also try our sardines - they are world-famous. Chopped salad with octopus is also a popular dish. Meat lovers will like our pork and beef from our unique breeds of Iberian pigs and cattle.
WHO GOES ALONG WITH THE GROUPS?
For the guided type tours there will be two people, the guide and the van driver. We also have “supported” tours where only the van driver follows the group. For the self-guided tours, we provide a personal briefing before departure and a debriefing upon return, plus we assist with luggage transfers and telephone support.
Yes - concentrated in certain areas you will likely see many birds of prey, also deer, foxes, and wild boar.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO SEE?
All depends on where you will be cycling or walking. One great aspect to Portugal is that even within small distances, there is much diversity. You can feel the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean as you look out across the beaches and water. You can pass through different wine regions and stop for tastings at various wineries. You can walk around small rural villages – some date back to the 12th century! There are Roman-era ruins too. There is history all around you. You can experience the rural life of Portugal and gain an understanding of how people have lived for centuries. Some still carry on many traditional ways of life.
Our emphasis is to show the countryside, the nature, villages and local culture to our guests. We stay in small inns where the owners are there to meet us. We participate in village workshops and taste the local cuisine. Since we regularly visit places that do not get a huge number of tourists, we can provide some economic support.
I would like to also mention that A2Z Adventures has supported social and environmental causes since Day 1 of our operations. We follow a 1% annualized income give-back plan to local communities.
ANYTHING NEW FOR 2016?
Yes! Since we have proudly reached our 10th year anniversary, we have new itineraries coming soon along with new bikes and a new tour van!
WELL CONGRATULATIONS ON 10 YEARS AND KEEP GOING STRONG!
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