As far as extreme thrills go, white water rafting is about as good as it gets. Making your way down raging rivers, traversing rampaging currents and dropping down torrential waterfalls, all on what is essentially a glorified airbed, is certainly an exhilarating experience.
And the best bit is that all of this is just on the doorstep across the continent.
Travelling around in Europe may be pretty easy these days thanks to the Schengen agreement – this allows freedom of movement within most EU member states (and even a few non members). And it gives us access to some fantastic rivers!
When you think of activity holidays in the Algarve, you probably imagine surfing, sailing or maybe even skydiving. But think again, with over 5,500 km2 of rugged countryside on offer, the Algarve has more than a few surprises when it comes to active holidays.
For example, have you ever considered visiting for a spot of astronomical observation? Perched on the very edge of Europe, the Algarve suffers less from light pollution than other areas, making it perfect for a little star-gazing.
There are observatories scattered throughout the region but some will require prior notice if you intend to visit. If you want to make astronomy the focus of your holiday, the Centro de Observação Astronómica no Algarve in Portimão offers on-site accommodation so you can spend every night looking through your telescope.
It’s grim isn’t it? The weather, I mean. Makes you want to bury your head in the pillow and stay that way till next spring. After a summer of love – a summer that saw Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France and massively inspiring moments of Olympic glory – winter is at our door.
But before you reach for the biggest, fattest winter jacket you can find, consider this: as you lie there moping, bemoaning your status a citizen of a northern-hemisphere nation, some people out there are soaking up the last rays of sun in the most southerly corner of Europe – the Canaries.
I say, extend your adventure, head south and there’s activity breaks in the Canaries that will keep you enthused until spring.
Winter can be a bummer for water sports aficionados in northern Europe. Seemingly dogged by endless cold snaps, it’s a gloomy prospect for most – if you’re into winter windsurfing then in Europe there’s also wind chill to contend with…
There’s nothing worse than cowering behind your van in the car park with a monumental case of ‘hot aches’ – possibly one of the most painful experiences any self-respecting windsurfer will endure.
But this time of year needn’t be cause for concern. In fact, for those with a positive outlook, it can be the best point in the season to get your fix. Pick and choose your days wisely and you will be rewarded with some spiffing conditions. In terms of where to head, check out the following guide…
After what can only be described, at best, as a patchy summer, the nights are once again rolling in. It’s traditionally the time to put away the pannier bags and forget all about cycling holidays and Euro bike tours for another year.
Unless, that is, you start to think a little further afield into Southern Europe. The dismal UK weather might make touring only for the diehards, but in France and Spain the milder conditions means euro bike tours are very much still in full swing.
There are several reasons why, over the last twenty years, so many Brits have swapped pound for euro, upped sticks and took bike tours abroad – here are just a few:
The National Watersports Festival (NWF) opens its doors on Hayling Island, Hampshire, this weekend and the birthplace of windsurfing will be the place to be!
This annual get together kicks off on Friday 7 September and runs all the way until the evening of Sunday 9 September ensuring a full weekend of fun and salt water.
In years past the festival has celebrated masterblaster windsurfing – masterblaster being the term used for an in and out style race that is popular with amateurs and pro’s alike. The successful format once again sees organiser and enthusiast Allan Cross at the helm.
Paragliding in Europe, from the icy wilderness of Scandinavia all the way down to the semi-tropical beaches of the Algarve, there’s an impressive assortment of destinations – and hard-won competition silverware…
A European has won every single Paragliding World Cup since its inception in 1992 – that must tell us something about how seriously the sport is taken on the continent!
Is it the climate or the culture? Could it be just down to the geographic variety, or is this a sport that’s yet to spread around the globe? Here’s more about what’s available and where to find your wings.
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