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Rioja: Hidden Spain, Land of Wine

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 25 people
Destination(s): Spain  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring   Food & Wine  
Season: April - September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 835 Euro (EUR)
Maximum Per Person Price: 835 Euro (EUR)

The very name of the Iberian Peninsula comes from this river – Iberia, the country of the Ebro. Our route follows what begins as a tiny mountain stream flowing through the green pastures of Cantabria, beautiful valleys, imposing canyons, vineyards, past pretty and unknown villages, witnessing the changes in the landscape and the river itself. Finally we arrive in La Rioja, home of the finest wines produced in Spain. A sea of vineyards dotted with ancient villages, castles and wine-producing bodegas, all with the limestone mountains of the Sierra de Cantabria in the background. A magnificent trip for those who wish to visit parts of Spain the tourists never see.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Sunday Transfer to Campoo. Arrival in Santander and transfer to our hotel in Campoo. Test bikes.

Day 2: Monday Campoo – Villanueva de la Nía. Short 53km – 33 miles; Long 90 km – 56 miles. This stage takes us through some fabulous and unspoilt scenery. From the green mountain pastures of the Cantabrian Mountains, along the shores of the Ebro Reservoir, past the Monastery of Montesclaros surrounded by forests to finally rejoin the Ebro in the Valley of Valderredible and tonight’s stop in Villanueva de la Nía. Those on the short version follow the river direct to Villanueva. The longer version circumnavigates the Ebro Reservoir.

Day 3: Tuesday Villanueva de la Nía – Pesquera de Ebro 53 km – 33 miles. We begin by cycling through the open valley of Valderredible. Take the opportunity to visit the Romanesque church of San Martín de Elines and also the churches carved into the very rock which are so characteristic of this region. As we progress down the river, the sides of the valley begin to close in until we find ourselves in a marvelous canyon of ever-increasing dimensions, where eagles and vultures soar overhead. Stop to visit the fairytale village of Orbaneja del Castillo with its cascades running through the village. As we approach Pesquera, the canyon of the Ebro reaches unbelievable dimensions before we finally reach the attractive village that will be tonight’s resting-place.

Day 4: Wednesday Pesquera de Ebro – Medina de Pomar 36 km – 23 miles (63 km – 39 miles with route extension to Puentedey). A beautiful route which follows a huge bend of the river through the most picturesque and undiscovered villages. An optional extension takes us to the dramatic village of Puentedey, built on a natural rock bridge over the River Nela. Tonight we stay in the Castillian town of Medina de Pomar with its old Jewish quarter and the castle dominating the town and the surrounding landscape.

Day 5: Thursday Medina de Pomar – Frías 56 km – 36 miles. From Medina, we head back to the Ebro, The route then takes us along a quiet country road running parallel to the river where the valley begins to open out again. Visit the Romanesque church of San Pedro de Tejada and soon we are cycling through yet another canyon, which then opens out into the fertile valley around Frías. This is a spectacular village built around its castle and enjoying fine views of the Ebro Valley.

Day 6: Friday Frías - Haro 62 km – 39 miles. As we leave Frías/Herrán, the valley begins to close in on us again until we find ourselves in another spectacular canyon. The road runs along the shores of a reservoir surrounded by high mountains and through short tunnels carved out of the rock. The route crosses the little town of Miranda del Ebro before passing through imposing peaks that signal the gateway to the enormous open valley of La Rioja. Tonight is spent in the wine-producing village of Haro, with a chance to drink a glass or two of Rioja in its birthplace. Our shorter route terminates in Miranda and we transfer to Haro.

Day 7: Saturday Haro - Laguardia Short 25 km – 15 miles; Long 50 km – 31 miles. We begin Day Seven with a visit to one of the many famous bodegas in Haro, complete with wine tasting. We then cycle through endless vineyards and numerous picturesque villages of La Rioja, with the backdrop of the Sierra de Cantabria mountains and the Ebro never too far away. We finally reach the superb walled medieval village of Laguardia where, as in Haro, wine is almost a way of life.

Day 8: Sunday. Tour ends, depart from Santander.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

- Tour package: EUR 835
- Single room surcharge: EUR 240
- High season (August 7, 21; September 4) supplement: EUR 115.
- Bike rental: EUR 68

Price Includes:
- Accommodation with en-suite bathroom
- Luggage transport
- Continental style breakfast
- Evening meal on days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- Visit to wine bodega and wine tasting on Day 7
- Transport from Santander to Campoo on arrival day
- Information Pack (Route Guide and maps).

Price Excludes:
- Lunch
- Bicycle hire
- Holiday extension.

Dates 2011:
- April 30
- May 22
- June 12, 26
- July 10, 24
- August 7, 21
- September 4, 24.