8 Days, 7 Nights|
Contact us for 2013-2014 Dates |
Or book a Custom Trip
8 Days, 7 Nights|
Ground transportation, lodging, all breakfasts and most dinners, support van, and guides.|
Air to Shannon, cycle, personal clothing and accessories, lunches, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, cost of hospitalization or evacuation from remote areas, additional expenses arising from delay or extension of trip due to weather, political dispute, sickness, failure of transportation, or other causes beyond our reasonable control, airport taxes and gratuities.
During this trip we will be staying at charming and comfortable inns. After breakfast each day, we’ll head out on our bikes, cycling approximately 25-50 miles per day, depending on the strength of the group and individual desires. The cycling is hilly, but the support van will be along all the time should you need assistance. Midday, we stop at a local pub for a hearty lunch and a chance to enjoy the local flavor of Irish towns. We will spend each night in a bed and breakfast or guest house in a different town, visiting Westport, Cong, Galway, Lisdoonvarna, and Clifden. Our route on Day 7 takes us back to Killary Lodge for our final night of fun and celebration!
Day 1: We will meet at the Shannon airport in early afternoon and take a mini-bus shuttle to our base at Killary Lodge (a former fishing lodge of an Irish nobleman and now a welcoming guesthouse!) Our first evening will be spent in an orientation and welcome dinner.
Day 2: After breakfast, we’ll head out on our bikes. We pack our lunch the first morning; the following days we'll have lunch at pubs along the way. Our first day's road leads us along the coast to Westport, an octogonal town that was built to suit the peculiar tastes of the Marquis of Sligo.
Day 3: Heading south from Westport, we cross the Partry Mountains descending into the Valley of Lough Mask, a beautiful lake alive with salmon and trout. Passing the regal Ashford Castle, once home of the Guinness Clan, we come to rest in Cong, land of "The Quiet Man".
Day 4: Another day of traversing green ridges brings us to the crossroads of the past and of the future in Galway. This bustling university town allows you to explore anything and everything you've ever heard about Irish night life.
Day 5: With a brief shuttle the next morning, we will bypass any remnants of civilization and head for the Burren, a region of unique lunar-like topography where alpine, Mediterranean, and arctic-like flora thrive - the only spot on earth with this diversity. Our night's destination is Lisdoonvarna, home of the famous matchmaking festival and, of course, the Matchmaker Bar.
Day 6: The next day, our shuttle will stop to allow a brief walk along the Burren Way, a series of trails across the limestone which formed on the ocean floor before the last Ice Age. We will see both "dolmens", prehistoric stone burial sites, and "souterrains", undergound passages built by ancient tribes. Continuing north, we will start our ride in the first of several of today's fishing villages, Spiddal. Following the coast once again, we watch the landscape change from barren rock to green mountains as we approach our destination, Roundstone.
Day 7: After one last night together, the party will end as we will shuttle those departing back to Shannon.
Day 8: We bid farewell to our new friends after breakfast at Killary Lodge, and are shuttled back to Shannon to catch our flights home.
**As with all adventure travel, this itinerary is subject to change due to safety concerns, weather and other unforeseeable factors. Alternative experiences and activities may be substituted.
See our FAQ page for additional planning details.
Packing light is always right! We recommend soft-sided luggage - small wheeled duffle bags combine the best of both worlds. It can definitely be a one-bag trip and artful packers may be able to go with just a carryon bag.
- 2 pairs cycling shorts
- Comfortable shoes for hikes. Boots not needed.
- Water bottle
- Basic toiletry kit, sunscreen (yes, even in Ireland!), etc.
- Any necessary medications
- Clean change of clothes for the flight home
- Rain gear - jacket and pants
- Biking gloves
- Basic equipment including bikes and safety gear will be provided, but feel free to bring your own helmet, bike, etc.
- Biking goggles, sunglasses, guidebook
- Adapter plugs for electronic equipment. If you have a cell phone, check with your provider for international rates to avoid any surprises.
What is special about this trip?
We believe these comments from past participants say it all!
How do I get there?
Our adventure begins in Shannon, where we will meet you at the airport and transferred you by van to Killary Lodge in Leenane. There are direct flights from the U.S. to Shannon or connecting flights through London, Dublin or other cities.
What papers do I need for travel?
All US citizens require a valid passport to enter Ireland. Your passport should be good for at least six months after your intended date of departure from Ireland. A visa is not required for citizens of the United States, Canada, and the European Union. If you are a citizen of another country, please check with your nearest Irish embassy for visa requirements.
Do I need to get any shots before traveling?
No inoculations are required when entering or leaving Ireland.
How and where will you meet me?
We will ask for a copy of your travel itinerary prior to your departure. We will meet mid to late morning on the day the trip begins at the Shannon Airport. Exact meeting time will be determined once we receive travel itineraries from all the participants. The Shannon Airport is quite small and we will meet at the spot identified by a green sign marked “Meeting Point.” We will be holding a laminated Northwest Passage sign.
How long will it take me to get there?
The flight to Ireland is often an overnight flight from the U.S., leaving late afternoon or evening and arriving the following morning. The return flights are generally “same day.” With the time difference, one often leaves Ireland and arrives in the U.S. around the same time.
Where should I stay overnight around there?
There are several hotel options near the Shannon Airport as well as some inexpensive B&B’s. Limerick is the closest town to Shannon and has numerous lodging options.
Contact us for suggestions.
How much extra money should I take?
The trip fee covers most of your costs. The only things you will be responsible for are lunches, drinks, one dinner, personal purchases, and gratuities. Lunches vary depending on how much and what you like to eat. Most of our lunches will be in pubs where you can often get soup and sandwich for around $7 US or more for a complete meal ($12). In the past, the groups have sometimes chosen to do picnic lunches where we just split the costs of items we pick up at the grocery stores (fresh bread, cheese, fruit, sausage, chocolate etc). Personal purchases again vary- Irish sweaters and other typical Irish gifts can be purchased in various price ranges- it’s up to you.
What's the currency? Exchange rate? Where can I exchange money?
As of January, 2002, the Euro became the official currency, replacing the Irish punt (IEP) which was the Irish currency. . For the most current exchange rate, there are several helpful websites including www.mytravelguide.com and www.foreigncurrency.com or check the travel and/or business sections of your local newspaper . You can exchange money at the airport or at banks with a Bureau de Change in some of the towns we visit.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?"
Many of the shops do take credit cards. There are some cash stations at banks in the towns where we stay and where we cycle through. Galway in particular (where we will be taking our layover day) is very accustomed and accommodating to tourists.
What's the weather like?
The weather varies but you should expect to see rain, windy and cool conditions. Average temperature in June is13.4° Celsius (55.4° F) with relative humidity of 73%. When it rains, it is usually an intermittent affair- rain showers followed by clearing and sun followed by more rain. Having a good set of raingear (jacket and pants) which you can take off and put on easily is key. The Irish talk about a “soft rain” rather than steady downpour. Raingear can also serve as good wind protection as conditions on the west coast are often quite windy. When cycling, you will tend to get fairly warm but it is good to have extra layers you can put on when you take breaks. Last June, the participants were amazed to find that they actually got sunburned on the last day of the trip!
What are the accommodations like?
We stay in charming B&B’s, guesthouses and some hotels. All rooms have private baths. Depending on the size of our group, we may take over the B&B or guesthouse entirely or we may be sharing it with others.
What do I need to bring?
Upon registering, we will provide you with a detailed clothing and equipment list to guide you in your packing. Casual clothes are the order of the day- no need for anything fancy. Cycling shorts can make a big difference in your comfort level! Having at least 2 pair of cycling shorts is key so that one can be washed and drying while you wear the other. Keep in mind, cycling shorts are designed to be worn without underwear (Some of you may find this so obvious that you can’t believe we’re saying it. But we’ve learned through experience that not everyone who owns cycling shorts is aware of this fact!) Leggings/tights can also be very helpful. Again, having a good layering system can be very important as your temperature needs will generally vary significantly over the course of the day. The bikes have rear racks to which one can attach panniers and front handlebar bags which can fit quite a bit. The rest of your gear can be loaded in the van in the morning. Packing your gear in flexible bags (e.g. duffle bags vs. hard suitcases) is preferable. The van will be leading and following the riders throughout the day. However, the bags will generally be dropped off at the next B&B first thing in the morning so you may not have access to other items over the course of the day if you pack them in your main bag in the morning. If you bring any items requiring electricity, be sure to bring both a converter and adapter plugs. These can be purchased at Radio Shack®, other electronics stores, travel stores etc. Let the salesperson know you are traveling to Ireland and they can help you select the appropriate converter and adapter plugs for your equipment. Note that hair dryers, irons, and any other heat producing devices require a stronger converter than other devices. It is helpful to know the wattage of your particular equipment when purchasing the appropriate converter.
Can I drink the water?
The water is safe to drink. In some areas, the water is well water that has minerals in it, leading it to look darker but doesn’t affect the taste much. Bottled water is also readily available and we will have big containers of water in the van from which you can refill your water bottles. Water bottles will be provided with the bike rental or you can choose to bring your own.
What's the food like?
The overwhelming response from past participants was that they were most pleasantly surprised by how wonderful the food was. Breakfast generally consists of full Irish breakfast (egg, sausage, bread) or a la carte porridge, cold cereal, yogurt, breads. Lunches vary but can consist of soup and sandwiches in pubs to a full meal (shepherd’s pie, lasagna, pot pies, meats etc). We also have chosen to do picnic lunches on occasion. Dinners generally give you many options of fresh fish (this area of Ireland is known for salmon fishing and fresh Atlantic salmon was a frequent option), meats, many varieties of potatoes (at one dinner, we counted 6 different varieties!), vegetables and breads. There are always vegetarian options but we need to know in advance as some dinners are ordered on a set meal basis.
What time zone will I be in?
Ireland is 5 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time; 6 hours ahead of Central Daylight Time; 8 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time.
How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
We will provide you with a list of our hotels including phone and fax numbers. You should also provide family/friends with The Northwest Passage number (800-RECREATE, 732-7328) as NWP staff will always be notified of any changes in the itinerary. You can call home using a calling card. Some of the accommodations will have phones in the rooms. Keep in mind the time difference listed above. It can be helpful to remind family and friends about this also. MCI access code for calls from Ireland is 800-551-001. AT&T access code is 800-500-000. Sprint access code is 800-552-001.
How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
We will generally cycle 5-6 hours per day, covering 30-50 miles. You will receive daily route maps and notes at the start of the trip. The support van will be constantly going between the front of the group and the rear, making sure no one gets lost or left behind. You can set your own pace and stop as often as you like for photos, souvenirs, a quick bite to eat or to chat with the dear woman standing in her garden, tending her roses. Past experience shows that this may lead to your being invited in for a cup of tea so be prepared! We will usually arrive at the next B&B by around 4 p.m., leaving some free time for showers, wandering around town, etc. before dinner.
What kind of equipment do you use?
The bikes available for rent through Killary are Cannondale hybrids, H 300 or H 500’s. The bikes are generally one to two seasons old and in very good condition. They also rent mountain bikes but most participants choose the hybrids as these are ideal for the conditions we are cycling. The bikes all have gel seats, front handlebar bags, rear racks to which one can attach a pannier (also provided if you like), and water bottle cages. Helmets and water bottles will also be provided with the rental unless you prefer to bring your own. The van will have a full repair kit and the cycling coordinator riding with the group will have a personal repair kit. You may bring your own bike if you choose. Be sure to box it properly for shipment on the airline. Also check with your airline carrier regarding luggage requirements
How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
Our group size for this trip ranges from 8 to 12 participants. We generally have one staff member cycling with the group and one driving the support van. Your guides will be knowledgeable Northwest Passage staff members who are highly skilled in all aspects of cycling and wilderness travel and have years of experience leading groups. They all have training and/or certification in Wilderness First Aid.
How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
We have had participants on this trip who regularly cycle centuries (100 mile rides) and others who have cycled 9 miles at the most in one day in the past. All have had a great time. The average day will include 30-50 miles of cycling. Most of it is fairly hilly and the weather conditions also play a major role (headwinds, rain). There are some days where the cycling is more flat (over the bog roads). The trip is van supported throughout so you can choose to cycle all or part of a day’s itinerary. Spending time training by actually riding a bike (vs. stationary bikes at health clubs) is your best bet to increase your enjoyment of this trip. However, any exercises that will improve your leg muscles and cardiovascular system will be helpful. Though it is possible to do the trip with limited cycling experience, you may not enjoy yourself as much if you are constantly concentrating on aches and pains. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns about your physical capabilities for this trip.
“Cycling was amazing- Ireland is like a million postcard-perfect images lined up next to each other. Seriously, I felt like I was riding in front of a movie backdrop- sometimes beaches, others mountains or bogs. But really what made the trip memorable for me was the group of people. I will never forget the picnic lunches of bread, cheese and fruit, passing "the streamers" to the person who worked especially hard one day, comparing sunburns after the one sunny day in Ireland, sitting around on rocks above a babbling brook, laughing hysterically and taking "family" pictures on the Cliffs of Mohrer, taking turns running into ice cold water on the last>day of cycling, riding up a steep hill and not even realizing it until I reached the top, and flying down the other side singing theme music in my head- OK, this has turned into a cheesy movie script, but yes, it was that good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I will just ride off into the sunset. (Don't worry Scott, I won't wave).”
”OK, OK, I admit it, I don't own a bike. I didn't really train. I thought "Eh, it's level 1, I can hack it." And, truthfully, cycling through Ireland was a little harder than I expected. But I found this was one of my favorite parts about Northwest Passage trips: It's challenging, but it allowed me to work at my own pace- I had the choice to ride through a mountain pass through sheets of rain, but I knew that if I needed to, I could always hitch a ride with Nancy in the trusty red van. The program also proved to be completely flexible- we actually changed the schedule around to meet everyone's desires, and somehow everyone ended up happy.”
“The Skye Road is a must, as well as picnicing and Galway. And if somebody who doesn't even own a bike can do it, anyone can. THANK YOU”
“We saw Gothic cathedrals, the bottom of tea cups, beautiful hotels, loose chippings, sheep, and one very windy day. It's hard to talk about any one thing because everything was completely different from anything before. Day two was all about the biking, very "hardcore" and we had a day to shop, hike, and always time to eat. It was the best feeling to have all the planning, decision-making, and arrangements taken out of my hands, knowing that everything would be perfect because NWP was in control of my vacation.”
“One of the best things was the spontanaity Everything was taken care of for us, all the arrangements were made, but we could still bend the rules or take a left instead of a right. Nancy brought us peppercorn salami, fresh strawberries, French bread, and chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.”
“This trip was both fun and relaxing, but it also allowed me to push myself and find out my limits at times. The itinerary was excellent and put me directly in the heart of the Ireland I wanted to discover. The rolling hills, the changing weather, the sheep, and the amazing food was very memorable. The Guinness also.”
“The range of ages on the trip allowed us to talk to many different people from many different countries, both young and old. Seeing and meeting the Irish people in the pubs, on the roads, and in the shops was the best part of the trip for me. It was refreshing to see a culture built upon good hospitality and thoughtfulness.”
“Everything was a pleasant surprise. Each evening was extremely welcoming. The meals were a gourmet delight. The cycling was so invigorating and so breathtaking. Each day I thought we had seen the"real" Ireland and the next day it was more beautiful and entirely different. I think we saw the most beautiful parts of the country. The last day was a true bonus- sun, sand and cycling. Brilliant tour, Bravo!”
“Finally making it to the top of each hill was the greatest experience for me. On the first day, I was using 1st gear for the hills and by the last day, I was in 3rd gear.”
“I am 50 years old and I never had cycled before, except as a child. I used a stationary bike and then began riding outside when it got warm enough. I had ridden a maximum of twenty miles in a day so I was intimidated when I got to Ireland. There are hills and it does rain but I was able to do most of the trip even the steep hills. It was also beautiful, peaceful and different than any place I've ever been. There was always a support vehicle available and the staff was there for encouragement and help. The accommodations were great, the food was very good. Our group ran the gamut from 18 years to 63 years; by mid-week, we all felt like family and it was great to see how supportive everyone was.”
"Seeing and meeting the Irish people in the pubs, on the roads, and in the shops was the best part of the trip for me. It was refreshing to see a culture built upon good hospitality and thoughtfulness.”
“Everything was a pleasant surprise. Each evening was extremely welcoming. The meals were a gourmet delight. The cycling was so invigorating and so breathtaking. Each day I thought we had seen the ‘real’ Ireland, and the next day it was more beautiful and entirely different. I think we saw the most beautiful parts of the country.”
“This trip was both fun and relaxing, but it also allowed me to push myself and find out my limits at times. The itinerary was excellent and put me directly in the heart of the Ireland I wanted to discover. The rolling hills, the changing weather, the sheep, and the amazing food was very memorable. The Guiness also.”