Thursday, 11 July 2013

Celebrating 15 years of Authentic Adventures in Andalucia - where it all began!

Happy Jo!

Happy Birthday us!

At the beginning of the year, we launched a competition to win a holiday to Andalucia to celebrate the fifteenth birthday of Authentic Adventures! As many of you already know, John started the company after a life-changing walking holiday around Southern Spain. A former career as an outward bound teacher and Steiner trained teacher, John cleverly brought together his strengths and love of travel, to bring people to special places "off the beaten track" whilst teaching them something at the same time. Thus his very specialist brand of holidays was born. Jo Carter, our resident walking guide in Grazalema, was one of his first guides and has a deep and passionate love for the Sierra de Grazalema since moving there when she was twenty one. I asked her how she came to live there, and what has kept her there all this time,
"I first visited Grazalema when I was twenty one, with my then partner who'd bought an old water-mill here. We started restoring it, and then rented it out for holiday lets, and then eventually moved out to the village in 1999, being ready for a complete lifestyle change for ourselves and our children. A healthier climate, a child-embracing culture and a quieter, simpler life all-round. 
That was when I started taking people out on walks. Guests staying in the mill wanted to know where they could walk. They were worried about trespassing, coming across a dangerous Spanish bull or merely getting lost and not having the language skills to find their way again. It was easier to show them the footpaths rather than explain them. I wanted to extend my knowledge of the Sierra and started talking to local farmers, hunters and shepherds. I talked and walked with another guide in the area and together we found more and more routes. I'd always been intereted in wild flowers but only knew the ones I'd seen in Norfolk during my childhood. Again, because people asked me, I began to look them up and identify the amazing variety of flora we have here. Likewise with birds, though I prefer flowers - they don't move so much!
Now I have a good selection of hikes that I love doing, however many times, and I suppose that the enthusiasm rubs off on the people I take out into the beautiful Sierra of Grazalema. Now I'm married to Fernando, a leather-worker, who worked for Authentic Adventures for the first time this year as a back up for the painting group."
Jo Carter, our fabulous walking guide. She guided a trip in June this year including Rachel Beard, the winner of our 15th anniversary competition. 

One of Jo's fans wrote this poem to help comrades keep up the tempo whilst walking:

"Jo's a splendid walking leader
Pretty good at naming blooms
We climbed so high
Saw eagles flying by
Watching the vultures flying high
We were always laughing
Playing silly games
Now we ache, that's just too bad - Grazalema thinks we're mad

Written by Patsy Perrin who has travelled with us TEN times!!

Our anniversary supper on the final night of the trip! Rustic and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Always time to relax

Taking you to places you'd never find on your own....

If you love walking, join us in 2014 for an exciting programme. We've got lots of new locations to inspire you....walk with us in the gorgeous scenery of the Gers region of France, where we will stay in Frances only, privately owned medieval walled village - a real treat. We have also found a very special 17th Century mansion in North West Portugal belonging to the wonderfully charming and eccentric Conte Castellieros - from there we will explore nearby Ponte de Lima and the unknown landscapes of the region. Puglia is a brand new location for us next year, and it's seaside location will provide a new perspective for walking - enjoy fantastic food and wine and routes through villages of tradition stone trulli. How about a flower walk in Bulgaria? It is a Grade 4 walk for more adventurous walkers. For more details on any of the above, please call our office and speak to Linda, Judith or Di - they will be more than happy to chat to you!

We are in the process of designing our 2014 brochures, which will hit your doormats in the Autumn. To pre-order yours, log on to our website.