Tuscan Hills Bicycling Tour Returns to Colorful Slate of Vacation Offerings Thanks to Overwhelming Interest of VBT Travelers
BRISTOL, VT — Frequent requests from travelers have led VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations to bring back its Tuscan Hills bicycling trip, one of four new vacations for 2012 offered by the company, a leading provider of international deluxe active bicycling and walking tours.
“The requests have been continual and passionate over the past few years,” Gregg Marston, President of VBT, said. “Our travelers made it clear that they want to encounter the extraordinary scenic beauty and unique way of life in the Tuscan hills with VBT. We wanted to make sure that when we brought back this vacation, the new itinerary would provide the best combination of discovery and value, and now we’ve done it. We have a long tradition of listening to our travelers, and, once again, they have pointed us in the right direction. It’s great to be back in the Tuscan hills with a bicycling vacation.”
Other new destinations await VBT travelers, including a 10-day Bordeaux & the Banks of the River Dordogne and a 6-day Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, both bicycling vacations. Rounding out the new slate for 2012 is Argentina: Walking in Patagonia, which combines the stunning beauty of Patagonia with tremendous value, thanks to the strength of the U.S. dollar there.
“All four of these vacations embody the best of what VBT offers travelers,” said Chris Skilling, the company’s Director of Worldwide Product. “There’s a connection among the mind, body, and spirit that our travelers find fulfilling and exciting. It’s what brings them back to travel with us again and again.”
Skilling noted that VBT’s commitment to rewarding discoveries and unbeatable value has led to the company being named among the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure, and placing 4th in Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2010 World’s Best Awards in the “Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter” category.
The new Bordeaux & the Banks of the River Dordogne bicycling vacation is the perfect escape for travelers who long for the serene beauty of rural France and who delight in the rich rewards of French cuisine and wine. The heart of the trip is bicycling along the tranquil banks of the River Dordogne on quiet country lanes used only by vineyard workers, past historic chateaux and lovely small villages, and through prestigious wine domains.
VBT travelers will also encounter the best of rural French culture, with activities that range from a private visit and wine tasting at Chateau Font Vidal to a walking tour of the underground catacombs of Saint Emilion’s cathedral. Accommodations include two quite different chateaux: a small one carefully crafted from the ruins of an 18th-century chateau, and the other large, set on a magnificent estate surrounded by vineyards
Also new for 2012 is the Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay bicycling vacation, which brings travelers to one of the most unique and rewarding seascapes in the U.S. This 6-day trip highlights the region’s tidal bays and fertile farmland, with enticing, tree-lined back roads. There’s rich Colonial history here, along with easy access to fascinating galleries, shops, and restaurants.
“This trip is a perfect choice for travelers new to bicycling vacations,” Skilling said. “Most of the roads are flat, and they offer a great way to stretch your legs at your own pace. We’ll also explore the region’s distinctive maritime culture, including fabulous crab dishes and seafood. There’s an evening of local music and story-telling, too. It’s a wonderful trip.”
Back by popular demand is the 10-day Tuscan Hills bicycling vacation, offering travelers unforgettable discoveries in Florence, Siena, Pienza, and romantic San Gimignano. Cycling through one of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes, travelers will explore the steep hills of the Elsa Valley and the soft hills of the Orcia and Asso valleys. In the evening, travelers will relax in the comfort of historic villas and ancient, converted monasteries.
“We’ll cycle to Chianti through vineyards and wonderful hilltop Tuscan villages,” Marston said. “And there’s plenty of time for travelers to explore on their own, which they tell us they love to do.” The vacation also includes a visit to the 14th-century Benedictine abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a ride to Colle Val d’Elsa, a picturesque town famous for its fine handcrafted crystal and medieval architecture, and a wine tasting at a renowned local enoteca, part of a day of discovery in Pienza.
Offering an entirely different travel experience is Argentina: Walking in Patagonia, a new itinerary to one of the last wild places on earth. This unique itinerary is centered on the small outpost villages of El Calafate and El Chalten. From these home bases, travelers will walk well-groomed trails among dramatic landscapes, including towering Andean peaks and vast Patagonian plains, or pampas. And though the region is known for its rustic atmosphere, VBT has secured Patagonia’s best deluxe accommodations—including Los Sauces, the El Calafate, a European-influenced luxury resort, and Los Notros, the only lodge in Los Glacieres National Park with direct views of the Perito Moreno Glacier.
“We’re all thrilled that VBT can offer a walking vacation in this absolutely amazing part of the world,” Skilling said. “Our travelers have told us that they want to explore new places on foot, and this itinerary is literally a direct result of traveler feedback. We designed it from the ground up, so to speak, with plenty of opportunities to discover Patagonia’s unique culture—from the estancia lifestyle at a century-old ranch to a typical Argentine barbecue.”
First departures of Argentina: Walking in Patagonia are in the Fall of 2011. VBT is also offering Winter 2012 dates for those travelers eager to dash away from the cold of Winter back home. “Our Winter is Argentina’s Summer,” Skilling pointed out, making it the perfect time to visit.
Unlike most active tour companies, VBT includes roundtrip international airfare for all vacations, as well as including all air fuel surcharges. All four of these new 2012 vacations include superb accommodations, most meals, guided sightseeing and activities, support vehicles and other transport, transfers, use of VBT bicycles or walking poles, and more. Daily route choices and continuous road support give travelers the opportunity to tailor the pace to their individual tastes. Groups are limited to 14-20 travelers, with two dedicated local, bilingual VBT Trip Leaders offering expert guidance and support.
Founded in 1971 by Middlebury College professor, John Freidin, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. The company offers 37 deluxe, small group bicycling and walking tours in 26 countries worldwide, including destinations in Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Peru, Argentina and the U.S.A. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local Trip Leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities, and full vehicle support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes international airfare and air fuel surcharges in its trip cost.
For reservations or more information, call 1-800-245-3868 or log on to the company’s website, www.vbt.com.