Greener adventure tourism: how we can better protect nature’s resources
As an adventure travel company, Tracks and Trails has been a pioneer in developing a more sustainable approach to both summer and winter tourism. Our long-term commitment to protecting the environment is best evidenced by the approach we created and nurtured in our ongoing sustainability programme. Over time we’ve further developed and enhanced this program for our clients in each of our travel products. Recognising our approach, as early as 2010, when the Tracks and Trails business was still in its infancy, we were identified as a leader in greener, more sustainable travel. Ten travel and tourism experts judging entrants in The Guardian Green Travel List selected Tracks and Trails as a leader amongst travel companies that had significantly reduced their business’s carbon footprint. Tracks and Trails was chosen primarily for its innovative and sustained engagement in finding solutions to develop lower impact travel by encouraging the use of public transportation and more environmentally friendly accommodation services in its products for travellers. In 2011 we gained yet another stamp of approval from 'Much Better Adventures' - a website working to promote companies offering a genuine, sustainable approach to travel and adventures in the outdoors.
South Tyrol, known by the Italians as Alto Adige and German-speakers as the Südtirol, is a picturesque, tranquil region in northern Italy and home to the Dolomites mountain range. The Dolomites, also known as the ‘Pale Mountains’ for their limestone hue, are a UNESCO World Heritage site and the South Tyrol’s truly unique natural wonder. It’s no exaggeration to say that the forests and mountains here are widely regarded as being among the most attractive landscapes in the world. Indeed, the recognition given by the protected status of UNESCO since June 2009 is testimony to just how well preserved and unspoilt the natural environment remains.
Standing in front of the church in the centre of Chamonix, looking up at the sun setting on Mont Blanc. Breathing slowly to control the nervous energy. Waiting. Trying to make a personal space in a crowd of more than two thousand runners. Wired bodies and minds, tense, yet totally still. All poised to cross the start line. Ready to run into the night. Preparing for whatever the next two days will bring. Nervous, yet calm.
Croatia’s Paklenica Riviera, a 20km stretch of coastline where the mountains meet the sea, provides a beautiful setting for our next Nordic Walking break in partnership with Sam Armstrong from Core Concept and Danijela Bucić of Mountain Traveller Croatia. The Paklenica Riviera is part of the Velebit Nature Park, which because of its specific relief, vegetative, and landscape features was placed by UNESCO in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. We’ll stay in Starigrad-Paklenica, a relaxing small port on the coast of the Velebit channel built on the foundations of the ancient settlement of Argiyruntuma. Our accommodation in Starigrad Paklenica is the well-appointed 3-star Hotel Alan, which was completely renovated in 2004 with a cutting-edge wellness centre being added a year later.
We love the Queyras, both for snowshoeing in winter and for trail running in the summer months. The remote and uncrowded Queyras National Park is situated in the Hautes Alpes region of the French Alps, east of the Ecrins, between Briançon and Gap. The area is one of the most picturesque in all of France and so far seems to have remained quite undiscovered - allowing us to truly savour an unspoilt winter wilderness. Venturing into the park on snowshoes we explore its unique, dramatic landscape: breathtaking views of sparkling snowfields, dense centuries old larch and Cembran pine forests and the impressive, jagged rock faces of the rugged mountain peaks with their unique geological features.
It can seem a little daunting choosing the right destination for your cross country skiing or snowshoe trip this winter. So much choice!
Well, we’ve a short guide to the different countries - what they each have to offer by way of their distinct charms and unique experiences …
Which ski for which course? A ‘Rough Guide’ to cross country skis!
As ski technology continues to advance manufacturers have developed a massive range of skis all designed for a certain type/style of skiing and terrain. Choosing the right ski for the holiday you have booked can be a little challenging, but we can help point you in the right direction toward making the correct choice of equipment. The information below is just an indication of what is available; as you will discover, there are many variations and makes and models.
Why Begin Cross Country Skiing this Winter? It’s the perfect boost for your running fitness
Cross country skiing (a.k.a. Nordic skiing, or ski de fond) is currently enjoying a serious renaissance. Like the boom in road cycling and ultra trail running that’s taken the UK and US by storm in recent years, it’s no longer just nerdy endurance geeks and burly army boys who are hooked on this now-fashionable-again winter sports pursuit. Unlike their Scandinavian forefathers, today’s Nordic newschoolers are decked out in on-trend, technical gear (from brands such as Oakley, Maloja and Salomon), while events such as the Vasaloppet in Sweden have attracted celebrity participants including Kate Middleton’s sister, Pippa. The Swiss Engadin Marathon – one of the biggest XC Ski events (even looks cool in writing!) has between 11,000 and 13,000 participants every year.
Snowshoeing using the latest lightweight equipment has opened up a whole new world to those who previously thought mountain walking was only a summer activity. Snowshoeing is neither technical or complicated and allows access to a wonderful snow covered playground. You don't need any prior experience to snowshoe in the Alps, just some warm clothes and a sense of adventure! With a little guidance you can soon pick up the skills: we regularly see whole families wandering through magical snow covered forests or across high meadows enjoying the views normally only afforded to mountaineers or skiers. There is also the myth that it's all hard work. Indeed, if you happen to have to break the trail it’s a bit of a workout, but if there is a trail already there, and there often is, then it's really no harder than normal hill walking.