Our trip begins in Shannon, Ireland with a 1:00pm pick up at Shannon Airport. Meet your guide and fellow travelers, then transfer to picturesque Kenmare Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way. We stretch our legs with a walk along the Kerry Way in the woodlands of Kerry, an ancient forest rumored to be inhabited by mystical creatures. Our guides will reveal how you can open your eyes to the magical kingdom in order to see tiny fairy houses. An introduction to Leave No Trace principles will frame our week ahead, so we can all earn a Leave No Trace certificate. Overnight the next three nights in Kenmare. Dinner included.
Hiking: 1-2 miles.
From the small town of Kenmare, we travel to Parknasilla?s vast, historic estate for a bushcraft lesson in wilderness survival. A ?mini-beast hunt?, fire starting, and foraging for edibles are all part of the fun. Next, we board a boat to try our hand at fishing in Kenmare Bay; we hope to catch tonight?s dinner! Those with wobbly sea legs can opt to cycle through the estate, following tiny backroads into the village of Sneem. We gather at a local family-friendly pub to enjoy dinner. All meals included.
Walking: 1-2 miles; Fishing: 3 hours; or Cycling: 3-6 miles.
Today we explore the spectacular Ring of Kerry coast. We begin in Caherdaniel, a tiny village in County Kerry situated on the Iveragh Peninsula. We stroll along a beach to meet a local seaweed expert to learn about edible seaweeds, and to partake in a variety of foraged snacks during our lunch break. This afternoon a marine biologist guides us around the Sea Synergy Marine Awareness and Activity Centre. Get up close with marine life in touch pools, and view whale and dolphin skulls. Our next stop is a local chocolate factory to see a chocolate wheel machine in action; we also taste the best hot chocolate in Ireland! Dinner is on your own tonight and your guide will provide suggestions for local specialties. Breakfast and lunch included.
Walking: 2 miles.
A circular journey through Killarney National Park begins with a hike through the Gap of Dunloe, a spectacular narrow valley that cuts through Ireland?s highest mountain range. Our route takes us through a gap in the mountains just east of Carrauntoohil, Ireland?s highest mountain. The trail continues along one of the many rivers that flows into Lough Leane. At the conclusion of our walk, we meet up with a local boatman (and perhaps his dog!) for a ride across the Lakes of Killarney to Ross Castle. The castle was built by the Ross clan in the 15th century and was the last to surrender to Cromwell?s Roundheads during the Irish Confederate Wars. We spend the next two evenings in the colorful, music-filled village of Dingle. All meals included.
Hiking: 6 miles; boat ride: 1.5 hours.
This morning is free time to take in Dingle town?s vibrant atmosphere. Explore the craft shops, art galleries or try the famous ice cream. We gather in the afternoon and head to a working sheep farm to watch a local sheep-farmer skillfully working his sheepdogs in gathering and controlling sheep movement. During lambing season, we may have the opportunity to bottle feed some lambs. Next, we hike a cliff path that hugs the Atlantic coastline to take in the views of the sea. If you opt out of hiking, you may wish to try a seaweed bath (own expense) or head to the beach to build sand castles. Breakfast and dinner included.
Hiking: 3 miles.
A ferry ride takes us north along the Wild Atlantic Way across the Shannon Estuary to Co Clare, an area renowned for its lunar-like gray limestone landscape called ?the Burren?. We transfer to Doolin, our base for the next two days, and check into our hotel. This afternoon we take to the sea. After a demonstration on kayaking techniques and safety procedures, we begin paddling on Galway Bay past tidal islands and castle ruins. The sheltered bay offers a rocky shoreline where groups of seals like to rest, and sandy coves that invite exploration. The next two nights are spent in Doolin. Breakfast and lunch included.
Kayaking: 2-3 hours; Ferry: 30 minutes.
Inis O���rr, the smallest of the rocky Aran Islands, is encircled by colorful fishing boats bobbing on turquoise waters. From the ferry dock, we walk to a local chef?s home to learn the art of baking Irish bread. Everyone gets to roll up their sleeves and work the dough, and then feast on bread fresh from the oven. Returning to the mainland by ferry, we take in the views of the towering Cliffs of Moher stretching 700 feet above the Atlantic coast. Tonight, we enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner in Doolin and are presented with our Leave No Trace certificates. All meals included.
Ferry: 30 minutes each way.
Following breakfast, we provide a transfer (about 1 hour) to the Shannon Airport. We plan to arrive at the airport by 9:30am; departing flights can be scheduled after 11:30am. Breakfast included.