Paul Holman —
My first reaction to the idea of taking BikeHike’s active, adventure tour to Slovenia and Croatia (The Alps to Istria) was: “What?”, “Where?” and “Why?” While I am healthy and reasonably fit, I thought I might be too old (over 40) for an adventure tour. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, more and more people over 40, 50, 60 and even 70 are choosing tours that take you outside the gates of an all-inclusive and into an incredible, active, authentic and connected experience. After all, 60 is the new 40! The fact that BikeHike Adventures is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year tells me that they have lots of experience with these types of tours.
This tour is defined as “moderate,” which means you need a reasonable fitness level because you bike, kayak or hike for up to five hours per day. The good news is that a support vehicle follows the group in case someone needs a break. The activity level is enough to make you feel like you accomplished something (and appreciate the glass of wine or cold beer at the end of the day), but doesn’t push you beyond your limits. It offers a good balance of activity, relaxation and time to explore local culture.
This eight-day group trip, one of BikeHike’s most popular European tours, begins in Slovenia and wraps up in Croatia. BikeHike’s maximum on any trip is 12 people, with a minimum of two, so it is always a small group. The “land only” cost is $2,999 U.S. per person (with no single supplement). It covers almost everything once you are on the ground, including the tour guide, transportation of your luggage, support vehicle, bikes, kayaks, most meals and accommodation.
Slovenia and Croatia are largely undiscovered gems, which means it is still possible to have an authentic, “non-touristy” experience. The regions visited on this tour are a culinary and wine lover’s paradise. They could be compared to some parts of Italy for food, wine and history, but with their own unique and – as yet – undiscovered charm.
Along the way, there is an overnight stay in a mountain hut in the Julian Alps, hiking through green pastures and alpine mountains, cycling and several wine tastings through the Brda wine region (known as “Slovenian Tuscany”). This itinerary goes through lands of castles, vineyards, small white churches and friendly villages. It is a perfect balance of the road less travelled and the opportunity to step into a magical world full of history and charm – one that hasn’t been overwhelmed by tour buses and big groups.
In Croatia, there is more vineyard cycling on the legendary route of the Parenzana, called “The Railway of Wine” – with a rich history of its own. Visiting local villages and medieval towns along the route brings the past alive.
Meeting locals, making friends in the small tour group, and stepping into moments right out of history creates once-in-a-lifetime memories different from anything you could possibly expect. Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone takes you into amazing experiences that you never could have imagined and, now, never want to forget.
• BikeHike Adventures Inc. – www.bikehike.com
• The Alps to Istria Tour – www.bikehike.com/croatia-slovenia-adventure-tours