Responsible tourism: Catalonia walking holiday for women
Aims - Our aim is to provide quality self-guided and guided tours, enabling our guests to experience the natural beauty of the Emporda region of Catalunya without damaging the environment. The main economy in the area is based around agriculture and tourism. Through our cycling tours we support the local economy by booking directly with locally run and managed hotels and restaurants, including the ‘Turisme Rural' initiative. We support local markets and producers by including visits and tastings by bike on our travels.
Each village has at least one recycling point and a general bin area. Unlike the UK we can empty our refuse on a daily basis to a local point. Our office is home based and we endeavour to run a minimum paper administration and use recycled paper and recycled cartridges. Small rucksacks are provided with the bikes and guests are asked to put all rubbish in it for disposal at the end of the day. Packed lunches are provided in reusable containers and refillable water bottles.
Fresh food is sourced locally, and menus are very much dictated by the seasons, which reduces transportation. Strawberries and peaches only appear on the menu in the summer, and pumpkins, mushrooms, apples and pears are on the table in autumn. Our local bakery produces fresh bread every day from a wood burning oven, free range eggs and chicken are delivered from the smallholdings to the butcher, and weekly markets provide organic produce.
Guidelines for visiting Protected Natural Areas - The Emporda is an area of great natural wealth. Its situation and layout means that it provides a habitat for a number of species which are under threat of disappearing. There are three areas of special interest that you might want to visit by bike: The Isles de Medes, a tiny archipelago which has a unique flora and fauna system, supporting a lavish marine life, the Aguamolls Natural Park, a wetland home to over 300 species of birds, and the Gavarres Natural Park, where wild boar roam through ancient cork, oak, and pine forests.
Isles de Medes - Within the strictly protected zone, activities are highly controlled. Visitors are permitted to alight on land, but on condition that a) you follow the signposted paths, b) do not disturb the animals, c) do not leave refuse. A special permit must be obtained for snorkelling or diving. This can be obtained from the Marine resource office of the Medes Islands.
The Gavarres - for guests visiting the Gavarres, please stay on the clearly marked cycle paths. Do not throw away lighted cigarettes, or start a campfire. The risk of forest fires in the summer months is very high, and can cause devastation to the flora and fauna. All guests will be supplied with refillable water bottles and reusable lunch boxes, and small rucksacks or panniers to store rubbish.
Aguamolls Natural Park - Again for visitors to Aguamolls please follow the designated cycle paths and observe the’ no refuse’ and’ no lighting fires’ rule. Observation points have been created to allow you to look closer at the wildlife without disturbance.
Preserving local culture is of paramount importance on our tours. Although Catalunya is in Spain and everyone here speaks Spanish, the first language, particularly in rural areas is Catalan.
We are based in Baix Emporda which is very much a rural community that takes great pride in its heritage, particularly since the end of the Franco regime, when many local traditions were banned for the Catalan people.
Every village has a strong sense of community, and there are always festivals, concerts, film shows, craft fairs, markets throughout the year. We have started a regular articles page on our website of any forthcoming events, and we actively encourage our guests to participate. Our tour always includes several visits to local producers.
We believe that experiencing local culture, makes a holiday memorable and worthwhile, and the best way to do it is on a bike! In many ways this strong sense of tradition is what makes this area so unique and worthy of a visit. Unlike some other areas of Spain, the Baix Emporda area of Catalunya is largely unspoilt, has managed to preserve its language and traditions, and has retained its own identity. We feel very privileged to live in such a beautiful place, and would like the opportunity to share the experience with like minded travellers through walking with us.
We also support wider charitable organisations and recently sponsored and hosted a charity cycle to raise funds for the Football Foundation of South Africa which aims to break down racial barriers through sport.