What is it like to take a self-guided holiday for the first time? If you’ve never tried a self-guided holiday before, we realise it might seem a little daunting. It’s sometimes hard for us to imagine, as we’ve been creating self-guided hiking and cycling tours for over 26 years.
But rather than us trying to explain why we think our holidays are accessible to everyone, we decided ask one of our recent travellers how she found her first trip with us.
Abi Brock, who’s a PhD student at Cambridge University in the UK, went on her first S-Cape Travel holiday in August with 3 friends. She kindly gave up her time to tell us what she thought about everything, including the walks, the hotels and the geese!
Where have you been on a walking holiday before?
“I grew up in the Lakes so have always been outdoorsy and now I love to spend my holidays walking. I’ve been hiking in the Pyrenees, the Swiss & French Alps and the Dolomites. Last year my friends and I did our first long-distance trail, the Peaks of the Balkans. We carried our own 20kg rucksacks because we were camping and then realised that each day had at least 1000m of ascent over every day’s 20km! We covered 200km over 10 days, all self-sufficient and lost a lot of weight. It was quite brutal, to be honest.”
What were you looking for with your first trip with S-Cape Travel?
“Something still adventurous but with slightly less suffering.”
What did you choose and did it deliver?
“We chose an 8 day trip to La Gomera and it delivered extremely well!
The walks were brilliant and scenery was gorgeous and full of nature we’d not seen before. As a scientist I can confirm that I saw some very cool plants.
The luggage transport was really smooth and it was an unbelievable relief not to have to carry all our stuff this time
We stayed in beautiful hotels and got to have breakfast every morning and in the evening with dinner we were able to enjoy tinto de verano, several glasses in fact!
What is tinto Verano?
“It’s red wine, lemonade and fruit – I recommend it if you’re heading to the Canary Islands. It’s extremely nice in hot weather which is why I guess it’s called wine of the summer.”
As a vegetarian, what did you eat in La Gomera?
“It was no problem. Actually, I decided to eat fish as the most sustainable way to eat on an island which doesn’t produce a lot of its own vegetables so I had loads of gambas with garlic, paella and churnfish all caught locally. We also had tons of potatoes baked in salt with red and green mojo, local cheese soaked in palm honey, baked aubergines baked in palm honey and we stopped for arepas in Valhermoso which were cheap and amazingly delicious. I got obsessed with papas locas – crazy potatoes – which everyone found hilarious. They are chips, cheese (I forwent the ham), mustard, mayo and ketchup. What a great snack – the La Gomeran version of chips, cheese and gravy which is a Cumbrian speciality!”
“The hotel in Hermigua had a killer view to go with breakfast, so that might be my favourite except the lady in the hotel in Valhermosa was so friendly she might win!”
What was La Gomera like?
“The paths are extremely well-maintained and crossing the island you go from the desert to the lush green side with giant valleys and palm trees and prickly pears. It’s really something, moving between two such contrasting sides. The cloud rainforest high in the centre of the island was stunning.”
What was your favourite walk of the week?
“The day we went down into Vallehermoso which was spectacular, from Jacuda. I really liked that day, even though we got chased by a goose some of the way. We made up for it by buying some local mango juice from outside a farmhouse. It was a very hot day and we were very sweaty when we got to the little lake Embalse de la Encantador and a lovely family were having a picnic and brought over tons of cakes and wine. What an ending!”
For people who’ve never done a self-guided walking holiday, what’s the routine?
“You get up, have delicious breakfast, look at the route for the day with several cups of coffee. Hand your luggage to the driver. Nip to Spar and grab some lunch. Usually there’s some uphill hiking to be done before lunch, lunch will have a great view point, and then it’s downhill to the next hotel. It’s very fun and very relaxing.”
Did you need a lot of Spanish?
“We would have been fine with our clumsy restaurant Spanish but Natalie, one of our group, speaks Spanish so she was able to chat with everyone. She had a lovely time practising her Spanish”
Was it easy getting to La Gomera?
“Yes, super easy as the ferry in Los Cristianos was close to the airport and there was a direct bus. On the ferry on the way home, we even saw a pod of dolphins.”
Would you do another self-guided trip? “Definitely. For next year, we’re looking at two of your trips – maybe the 12 day trek across the Picos or The Menalon Trail - Across the Peloponnese, which actually we’d never even heard of before.”
What would you say to anyone who’s never done a self-guided tour before?
“Give it a go! It’s a lot more accessible than you’d imagine with all the directions mapped out with an easy to follow app. It’s really nice because someone has already done all the research and found all the best beautiful walks and you don’t have to spend months working it all out. It’s been a revelation as previous holiday-DIYers and it must be said, that S-Cape Travel prices are super reasonable, one could say a steal, given the quality of everything.”
Thanks so much Abi for your time. And we hope you all come on holiday with us again soon!
Abi Brock and her friends travelled on the following S-Cape holiday:
1.La Gomera Walking Trip – 8 days from €614
And are interested in these hiking tours for their next adventure:
2. Picos de Europa 12 day mountain trek – 12 days from €720
3.The Menalon Trail - Across the Peloponnese from €670
All our trips include hand-picked B&B accommodation, luggage transfers, expertly planned routes and easy walk directions plus a bespoke app. 24/7 support is always on hand and all our stuff are multi-lingual.