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Vietnam Adventure

A comprehensive north to south exploration



At a glance

* 10 nights comfortable hotels
* 1 night boat with twin share cabins
* 1 night standard guesthouse to experience some ‘Mekong Delta’ hospitality,
all en suite
* 1 night sleeper train, soft-bed berths

A comprehensive north to south exploration

This trip encapsulates the magic of Vietnam: the conservative north, the rich
heritage of the imperial cities, coastal scenery and the vibrant life of
Saigon and the Mekong Delta. We come face to face with an outgoing culture,
where so much goes on in the streets: eating, washing, socialising, buying
and selling or impromptu games. This intoxicating parade of Vietnamese daily
life may leave us with our strongest memories, as much as the superb
landscapes and amazing cuisine.

https://www.exodus.co.uk/sites/exod/files/node/itinerary/images/aov.jpg?t=1DifEG

Type: Land Only

Flight prices available from NeenanCycling. Contact us for details

What’s included

* 12 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout
* Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
* Arrival & departure transfers

Food:
12 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners included.

Thanks to the tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of
mountain, Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings
and consequently maintains its reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines
in the world that still packs a punch with delicious fresh and fiery
flavours. Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a whole
myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all
play an important role in the cuisine. The Chinese and French influence is
felt throughout the country where you are just as likely to be offered a Banh
Mi (stuffed baguette) as you are a hot steaming bowl of Pho (noodle soup).
Each dish is prepared with the Asian principle of Wu Xing in mind (the five
elements) meaning that the perfect combination of spicy, sour, bitter, salty
and sweet is the ultimate aim. Be sure to also seek out the national
beverages; Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, a
real sugar and caffeine hit, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is
served on most street corners in the North out of large plastic jugs that are
perfect for sharing.
Food is cheap in Vietnam and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you
wish. Western food is readily available almost everywhere, with the exception
of the night in the Mekong Delta. Vegetarian food is widely available however
the offering will be fairly similar in most places.

Start destination: Hanoi

End destination: Saigon

Cycling profile

Day 1

The day is free to recover from the flight or stroll amongst broad tree-lined
avenues dating from the French period. There is a faded colonial charm where
baguettes and good coffee are sold from doorways of grand buildings of a past
era. There will be a welcome briefing this evening with an optional group
dinner at a local restaurant.

*May de Ville City Centre Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 2

In Hanoi we take a sightseeing tour of the city this will include visits to
the Temple of Literature, the site of the oldest university in Vietnam with
over 2000 graduates; Hoa Lo Prison & the Old Quarter of the city with its ’36
Streets’ where each street is home to shops selling particular products –
e.g. ‘silk street’, ‘gold street’, ‘paper street’ and ‘naff souvenir street’.
Another stop is the grounds of the Presidential Palace where Ho Chi Minh
refused to live in the grand structure for symbolic reasons. We visit his
traditional Vietnamese stilt house here. In the evening there is the option
to enjoy a performance of Hanoi’s famous water puppets.

*May de Ville City Centre Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 3

We make an early start for the approximately 4-hour journey to Halong Bay.
This is one of the most stunningly beautiful sights in South East Asia with
roughly 3,000 limestone peaks rising directly from the clear emerald sea. We
cruise amongst this amazing karst scenery and enjoy a seafood lunch on board.
We overnight on board in twin share cabins with en suite facilities.

*Overnight Boat*

Day 4

We continue to cruise around Halong Bay this morning before returning to
port. We then drive back to Hanoi, and transfer to the train station and
board the Reunification Express for the overnight train ride to Hue, 500km to
the south.

*Overnight Train*

Day 5

Arriving mid-morning in Hue we transfer to our hotel. Hue claims to be the
cultural and historical centre of Vietnam, and there is plenty to see. The
most outstanding sight is the Imperial Citadel with walls six miles in
length; inside are the palaces and halls of the Mandarins, and the remains of
the Forbidden Purple City, where only the emperor his eunuchs and concubines
were allowed. The Forbidden Purple City was almost totally destroyed during
the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still
atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the
destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. This afternoon we visit
the Imperial Citadel and the famous Thien Mu Pagoda. The pagoda was a centre
for anti-government protest in the early 1960’s and it houses the Austin car
that transported a monk, Thich Quang Duc, to Saigon in 1963 where he burned
himself as a protests against the president. The photograph of his
self-immolation was printed in newspapers all around the world. We continue
our journey to visit the mausoleum of Tu Duc, one of the most extravagant
mausoleums of the great Nguyen emperors who ruled Vietnam from Hue between
1802 and 1945.

*Cherish Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 6

This morning we will take a cycle ride out to the Thanh Toan bridge and a
nearby local market. Travelling as the locals do on we discover the sights,
sounds and smells of the villages surrounding Hue. Riding past rice paddies
and small villages we arrive at Thanh Toan, a small village that is home to a
legendary market. There will be time to explore the market stalls, before
heading back to Hue for a free afternoon to further get to know this
historical centre or to simpy relax by the riverside and absorb the local
sights. The morning cycle is a leisurely ride on flat and mostly even
terrain. Ride approx 15km. There is the option to journey to the village by
motorbike as a pillion passenger for those who would rather not cycle (there
will be a small extra charge paid locally).

*Cherish Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 7

Leaving Hue, our 130km journey drives through the beautiful peninsula of Lang
Co between the crystal waters of a lagoon and the South China Sea, and then
passes over the spectacular Hai Van pass (‘Pass of the Ocean Clouds’) where
the views are stunning. In Danang we first stop at the Cham museum where
there are altars, statues and decorative works collected from Hindu and
Buddhist temples and towers from the Kingdom of Champa that flourished
between the 7th to17th century in Central Vietnam. We then climb Marble
Mountain where we explore the large caves which were used by the Viet Cong as
a hospital base during the war. From the mountain peak, there are fantastic
views over China beach and the surrounding countryside leading on to Hoi An
where we spend the night.

*Hoi An Silk Boutique Hotel & Spa or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 8

This morning will include a walking tour of Hoi An, the original European
trading port in Vietnam dating back to the mid-sixteenth century. It is now a
living museum, with attractive wooden merchant’s houses and pagoda-style
temples with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural
influences. It is also a marvellous place to wander around and enjoy the
thriving riverside market and great silk, clothes shopping. If you have
anything you want made up in mind, you should consider taking a picture of it
along with you. This afternoon is free, one popular option is to jump on a
bike for a ride through the countryside past local markets, schools and
villages before continuing on to Cua Dai beach (5 km).

*Hoi An Silk Boutique Hotel & Spa or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 9

This morning we will visit My Son, the Cham civilisation’s spiritual home,
where Cham kings were buried as early as the fourth century. Although wartime
bombing has destroyed much of the site, there are a number of interesting
stone towers and sanctuaries. Upon returning to Hoi An the rest of the
afternoon is free to carry on enjoying this historic town.

*Hoi An Silk Boutique Hotel & Spa or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 10

We drive to Danang and then fly to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), an exciting and
absorbing city where scooters pack the streets and temples stand defiantly
alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vietnam War, it is now a
bustling free market city where anything goes. Our hotel is in the heart of
this incredible city. We include a visit to the Ben Thanh Market,
Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and War Remnants Museum. The
Museum has an interesting photographic record of the Vietnam/American War.
Please be aware that some images at the museum are very graphic.

*Huong Sen Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 11

Today we leave the city behind us and head north to visit the infamous Cu Chi
tunnels. Used by the Viet Cong during the war the network covers 3 levels and
approximately 240km of tunnels. Traditionally these were very narrow but some
areas have been widened to allow tourists to explore the system.
Claustrophobes may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine! In the afternoon
we return to Saigon and the rest of the day is free for individual
exploration.

*Huong Sen Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 12

In the morning we drive to Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta, known as the ‘rice
bowl’ of Vietnam. This region produces most of Vietnam’s fruit, sugar cane
and coconuts. We take a boat trip on the mighty Mekong River to Cai Be. En
route we pass many orchards and friendly locals also travelling by boat. We
stop to see some small cottage industries such as rice paper and coconut
candy, getting a chance to sample the local produce along the way. The
evening is tranquil as we have dinner on an Island and enjoy some ‘Delta’
hospitality. We spend the night sleeping at a simple guesthouse built in the
style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are
provided.

*Mekong Guesthouse or similar, Guesthouse*

Day 13

This morning we take a walk through the fruit orchards and navigate our way
through the small canals in a traditional wooden sampan. Later we rejoin our
boat to rendezvous with our vehicle for the journey back to Saigon via a
little visited Cao Dai temple used by devotees of this strange indigenous
religion, which fuses all the great religions of east and west.

*Huong Sen Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel*

Day 14

**

Prices & Dates

Date: 2018-01-272018-02-09

Trip code: AOV180127

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Price: €1335

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Date: 2018-02-102018-02-23

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Customer Feedback

Vietnam adventure

Summary:
A feast for the senses! Amazing sights and stunning scenery! Wonderful food!
Crazy sounds of manic cities! Balmy breezes humid showers tropical heat! A
complete sensory experience! The most exotic country I have visited! Plus
friendly people and a wonderful local guide Nhi PHam. What’s not to like!

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Local meal with Vietnamese family in Hue

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Absolutely fantastic! She made Vietnam come alive! Knowledgeable caring funny
and friendly

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Warm clothes for the north

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Train journey from Hanoi to hue can be a bit of an ordeal

Read full review

A fantastic experience

Summary:
This trip really lives up to it’s name – every day is an adventure. Most
mornings our alarm was set for 6am, sometimes earlier. There are so many
different experiences, it was exhilarating. The food is amazing. I would
thoroughly recommend this trip.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
It’s hard to single out one moment out of so many. Each area we visited had
its own characteristic. I loved the cycle trips in Hue and Hoi An (you don’t
need to be an experienced cyclist to enjoy it) and enjoyed meeting local
people.
The cookery class was great. I was fascinated to see the places I had read
about, such as the breathtaking cave in Marble Mountain, used by the Viet Con
as a hospital in the war.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
We became very fond of Duy. He looked after us well and was great company. He
was very knowledgeable and keen to share his country with us.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Read the trip notes – if you don’t like cities, want to get off the beaten
track or like restful holidays this might not be the one for you.
I was glad that I had learned something about Vietnam’s history before I
went, it made some of the places we visited more meaningful- such as the Cu
Chi tunnels, ‘Hanoi Hilton’ & Marble Mountain. It’s gruelling to see how much
the country has suffered, but humbling to see the resilience and recovery.

Read full review

Great introduction to this wonderful country

Summary:
This was a busy trip covering a lot of ground! It was my first trip to SE
Asia and I feel the itinerary was well thought out to provide an overview of
Vietnam. We also did the Cambodia extension, which was excellent

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
There were a lot of them: Halong Bay was very beautiful, though very busy
and in danger of overcrowding unless numbers are restricted. Our private
boat was a welcome refuge from the crowds.

Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum was very interesting.

The homestay in the Mekong was lovely – many of our group would have
preferred to spend an extra night there, perhaps reducing the time at Hoi An?

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Bao was excellent and really helped us share his love of his country. He was
great at finding interesting and unusual places for us to eat, even in
locations where most of the other restaurants were offering identikit
tourist-orientated menus.

Bao managed very well the balance between organising us and our activities
and giving us plenty of free time to do our own things.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Don’t take too many warm clothes – you’ll only need them in Hanoi, if at all.
Do take lightweight clothes that are easily laundered – wherever we went,
Bao could arrange laundry services that were efficient, fast and extremely
cheap by UK standards.

Do take lightweight rain protection i.e. a lightweight folding umbrella
and/or cheap plastic waterproof with a hood. Don’t bother with ‘technical’
rain protection

Do take anti-mosquito protection. We used Incognito and found it very
effective.

I quite enjoyed the overnight train journey and slept well – it’s certainly
not luxurious but it was clean and moderately comfortable, though earplugs
and an eye mask are a good idea.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
The Cambodia extension was excellent and I’m very glad we did it. Angkor Wat
is superb and lived up to all the hype, and the Phnom Penh visits were very
moving.

Read full review

AOV170729

Summary:
Firstly, I wish to thank EXODUS for allowing an 87 year old to take this
trip. It was such a rewarding experience and I was very touched when on the
last evening the group praised me and said I was an inspiration to them. I
did opt out of only two activities but I was not the only one. Although I was
with my daughter, our guide, KHOA DUONG , was wonderfully encouraging too. In
fact he was outstanding the way he showed sensitivity to the group as a whole
and altered timings and activities according to our energy levels or more to
the point, how we were all coping with the heat and humidity! I was impressed
with his knowledge of the history of Vietnam as it affected different areas
of the population and he always gave both sides of the story. His
impartiality was without irony too. At the end of the trip were all felt
like an extended family, with myself as the great- grandmother.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The war museum in saigon

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
KHOU DUONG was the absolute best. I have already commented o n this

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Make sure you have extra batteries and a memory card for your camera

Read full review

Amazing trip

Summary:
Our trip was amazing, can’t believe we did so much! Leaving the hotel by 8
each morning we seemed to do a week’s worth of adventure in one day! Our
guide was brilliant, he was informative, fun and had great English. The
hotels were much better than I expected, the one in Hoi An was particularly
good.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
We went to a local house for a meal. Not only was the food the best of the
whole trip but it was really interesting to meet the family and to gain some
understanding of their way of life.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
He was excellent. I don’t think he could have been improved upon. Clone him!

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Do it!

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Don’t hesitate!

Read full review

Vietnam for Americans

Summary:
As an American who grew up in the 60s, the American war in Vietnam was a
painful episode in our history. The exodus trip did not shy away from some
the sites that caused me some personal pain. That said, I welcomed the
reflection. For me it was not a trip entirely about lounging, great food and
shopping. And I am grateful to our gracious guide for that; and the amazing
Brits who were my traveling companions.

Rating: 4

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Taking a side trip to a war memorial in Hue. The peddle car driver opened up
to us that he lost a father and uncle in the war. He was very kind about your
mutual loss.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
I can’t say enough about Binh our leader. He let us know that all subjects
were acceptable to ask questions about. He wanted to share information about
his country ; political and cultural. He told us his own personal story,
which reflected the hardship after the reunification of Vietnam. His honesty
and kindness are qualities he did not have to share with a bunch of tourists,
but he went there. The first day he called us his little family. A two week
family.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
The itinerary is touristy. There are masses of people at each site. There are
painful reminders of the war at several places.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
The quality of my fellow travelers. Where I could be morose and reflective,
they would give me a hug and pull me out of it. I am so grateful that this
group of strangers. I’m home now and miss them all…and Binh

Read full review

What a Fantastic Holiday!

Summary:
This was my first organised party trip and my first holiday experience with
Exodus. Everything about the Vietnam Adventure exceeded my expectations, the
group were great company, the hotels were so much better than I expected, the
food was superb and Vietnam was such a wonderful experience – a fantastic
country with lovely people.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
There were two: Halong Bay was such an amazing experience, I didn’t know too
much about before my trip, but it was breathtaking. Secondly, the vibrant
colours of the night time lantern displays in the super resort of Hoi An were
a sight to behold, a photographers dream.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our group leader, Cong, was brilliant. He was so enthusiastic and caring,
nothing was too much trouble. He certainly educated me on currant & past
Vietnam.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Don’t expect a relaxing holiday lazing around! This is a full-on trip, with a
huge amount of variety to experience every single day. There are some free
afternoons, but mostly you’re on the go.

Read full review

Fantastic Vietnam Adventure

Summary:
This trip is well named and proved to be a most enjoyable adventure from
north to south Vietnam. We experienced so many different things from the
hustle and bustle of Hanoi and Saigon to the peacefulness of Halong Bay. We
walked a lot, climbed to get the best views, we cycled, we travelled by road,
rail, boat and aeroplane. We stayed in excellent hotels, a very well run boat
and a very welcoming home stay.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Witnessing the resourcefulness, resilience and work ethic of the Vietnamese
people, their smiles and how well they have built up their country after the
horrific war. Arriving in the hustle and bustle in Hanoi with motorbikes
every which way.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our group leader, Thuy le, was wonderful, very likeable and hardworking.
Nothing was ever too much trouble for him. He gave us an informative insight
into Vietnamese history and culture. He answered our endless questions with
patience and ease. He had excellent organisational skills. Everything worked
like clockwork. Buses miraculously appeared and tables were always laid up
ready as we walked into a recommended restaurant. He made sure we tried a
variety of different types of excellent restaurants and escorted us back to
the hotel if that’s what we wanted. He had a wonderful sense of humour which
was contagious and made for a very happy group.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
In February/March, bring warm clothes for the north and be prepared for very
hot and humid weather further south. Bring rainwear as well.
Travel light as laundering can be done locally very cheaply.
Bring a small overnight bag for the boat in Halong Bay and the homestay in
the Mekong Delta.
Having clothes tailor-made in Hoi An (or elsewhere) is great so bring a
picture etc of anything you want copied, although they do have their own
catalogues to chose from

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
We are a couple in our late 60s/ early 70s and found all the activities
doable. There were early starts and full days.
We found the overnight train journey unpleasant in terms of uncomfortable
sleeping arrangements and smelly toilets. Personally, it was an experience I
could well do without.
Not wanting to end on a negative note, we thoroughly enjoyed the trip for the
reasons we have described., made all the more enjoyable by having Thuy as our
leader.

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Vietnam Adventure

Summary:
This truly was an adventure in Vietnam! From busy and interesting Hanoi to a
lovely overnight in Halong Bay. The night train journey to Hue was an
experience ; I slept well, though probably in the minority! Hue is a lovely
city with its Citadel, and we had a delicious meal at a local family house.
Hoi An is wonderful, a very walkable town and full of character and lanterns.
We were glad to spent 3 nights there. Ho Chi Minh City is a fascinating city
; from there to a most enjoyable trip to the Mekong Delta and a homestay on
an island. A perfect trip!

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Halong Bay
My Son
Cu Chi Tunnels

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our leader was Thuy Le. We thought he was a lovely, warm and most informative
guide. He was most efficient, everything went like clockwork, buses just
appeared with no delays along the way. He gave us an interesting cultural
insight in his country, also joining us for meals and putting us right on
menus. A really good leader and popular guide.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Book this tour! You won’t regret it.
Don’t forget your camera charger, you will see so many photo opportunities,
including the variety of goods one can bring on a motorbike! We saw a
mattress, television, wheelbarrow, chickens, a ladder, and lots more.
Bring a sleeping bag liner for the train.
Bring tissues and hand gel, although many loos are fine.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
The friendliness of the Vietnamese people is amazing. From villages to cities
it is unwavering.
The food is delicious, a variety of menus from North to South, and by our
standards, incredibly cheap.

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Fantastic Trip

Summary:
This was our first trip to Asia and it proved to be very special. We were
taken care of from start to finish making for a worry free holiday and
Vietnam turned out to be a gem of a country. The people, the scenery, the
history, the experiences all combined to make a fantastic trip with a great
group of people and a very special leader.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The amazing streets of Hanoi, sailing in Hulong Bay even though the weather
wasn’t too great, and the Mekong Delta homestay. The gruelling history of the
Vietnam war.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our leader Thuy Le was a star, he never tired of answering our endless
questions, always with charm and a sense of humour. He went the extra mile on
many occasions taking us to amazing restaurants lunchtimes and evenings that
we never would have found on our own.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Travel light, we slept in 8 different beds in two weeks! Be prepared for the
temperature differences between north and south and for living out of a
suitcase for two weeks. Take some comfortable walking shoes.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Vietnam is an amazing place, but possibly in five to ten years it won’t be
what it is now. There is a lot of development going on almost everywhere, So
go now!

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Activity Levels


Activity Levels range from Leisurely to Tough, the grading takes into account the daily cycling distances and terrain, as well as any technical riding skill required. We also consider the number of cycling days as there can be a cumulative affect from tiredness on a longer trip and the type of accommodation used, as this can also influence your day to day recovery.

If you are in any doubt, please give us a call on +353-1-607 9900 or email us.


Activity level 1 - Leisurely Activity level 1: Leisurely

If you can ride a bike and enjoy gentle exercise, these are an ideal introduction to a cycling holiday. No routes are entirely flat, so expect some short climbs and descents. Maximum daily height gain is approximately 250 metres and daily distances rarely exceed 50kms (32 miles), any longer days are often optional.


Activity level 3 - Moderate Activity level 3: Moderate

Most people who enjoy a weekend riding at home will enjoy a Moderate trip. You need to be in good health and reasonably fit. Ideal for occasional cyclists, or as a more relaxed trip for fitter riders. Moderate off-road trips require no previous experience. Distances rarely exceed 70kms (43 miles) per day.


Activity level 5 - Challenging Activity level 5: Challenging

For any ride at this level, fitness is important. Challenging trips require confidence in your ability and physical condition. They are equivalent to an extended period of cycling at home. Previous mountain biking experience is essential for Challenging off road trips as they will involve some technical riding.


Activity level 7 - Tough Activity level 7: Tough

Previous experience of the cycling style or surface is a must as these routes have long cycling days and tougher terrain on both road and off road trips. You need complete confidence in your fitness and technical ability to cope with difficult or steep terrain, rough surfaces and longer distances. Ideal for those seeking a challenge!


Split grades

In order to provide more accuracy, where a trip falls between two grades we use an intermediate or ‘split’ grade, for example 2: Leisurely/Moderate.


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