Top 10 foodie adventures for 2020
Cycle, swim or hike up an appetite with these action-packed trips, all of which come with foodie bonuses (including hot waffles grilled on an open fire, and make-your-own banana roti)
Looking for foodie adventures across the world? Want to know the best cycle tours across Italy? Here are the best foodie adventure trips to take this year.
Freewheel Holidays’ eight-day Venice and Prosecco Lands self-guided cycle tour is an adventure with extra sparkle. It’s an easy-grade ride that includes a night spent in pretty Bassano del Grappa, where you’ll try the eponymous local liqueur. There’s more cycling along the waterways of Treviso and Padua, and across the Venetian islands of Lido and Pellestrina, though in Venice itself bikes are banned. Here, explore on foot, all the better to seek out the best backstreet cicchetti bars.
Food always tastes better when you’ve worked up an appetite. Nature and Nosh’s six-day Heart of the North trip combines hiking in North Island’s offbeat Waikato region with a buffet of foodie experiences. As well as walking amid waterfalls, bird sanctuaries and native rainforests where few others go, there are tastings at family-owned vineyards, tours of award-winning cheeseries and pretty picnics by lagoons.
Think of it as Robinson Crusoe gone gourmet. Do The North’s four-day Culinary Adventure explores the Saint Anna archipelago by sea kayak – paddle between rugged pine-and-spruce-cloaked islands, camp by the water’s edge (spot the seals) and live off nature’s spoils. By day you’ll explore and forage, collecting wild shoots, roots, mushrooms and berries, as well as local-grown veg and the freshest fisherman’s catch. By night you’ll learn to cook creatively: you might make wild venison stew with lingonberries one day, and waffles (grilled over an open fire) with homemade strawberry jam the next.
Travelling at slow pedal pace is the best way to see – and smell – the south Indian state of Karnataka. This aromatic enclave bursts with vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom estates, banana and coconut groves, and lively fish markets. Village Ways’ nine-night Cycling the Spice Gardens in Karnataka trip is split between two rural community-run guesthouses – one amid the Western Ghats, the other on the Arabian Sea. Both provide a sustainable income for locals and eye-opening insights for travellers. Head out on daily cycles amid the palms and plantations, and return to home-cooked curries; there’s an opportunity to make your own coconut chutney and banana roti, too.
Finca Las Encinas, a rustic, rambling farmhouse perched on the edge of a Moorish village, gazes at ancient olive groves and the peaks of the Parque Natural de La Sierra Subbética. Temptations here are twofold: the owners offer wine tastings and masterclasses in Andalucían cookery (make shellfish soup with fino wine, or chilled almond soup) using seasonal ingredients sourced from the finca’s own organic veg garden or neighbouring farms. But there’s also that natural park on the doorstep, where a trainline once used to transport the region’s olive oil has been converted into a 58km Green Way for hikers and bikers, still complete with viaducts, old stations and magnificent mountain views.
Obviously, you shouldn’t drink and drive… but exhilarating mountain-biking followed by a wee dram makes a fine blend. H+I Adventures’ eight-day Cairngorms trip matches single-track rides through Caledonian forest, along glens, across moors and down mountains (including the longest descent in the Highlands) with quality refuelling, from the best cake cafés to real ale pubs. There’s also a stop at Speyside cooperage to watch the barrel masters at work and a visit to an independent distillery, to sample a whisky or two.
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The quiet fishing town of Sayulita, on Mexico’s jungly Pacific coast, was discovered by surfers in the 1970s and is now boho hangout for boarders – and foodies. The waves here suit all sorts: beginners can book lessons by the sandbar with Lunazul Surf School, while the rocky promontories offer bigger breaks. Sayulita is most delicious behind the beach, where simple stalls and hip cafés sell everything from fresh coconuts and cold-pressed juices to sizzling chilli chicken, crisp tacos and potent margaritas. Stay at Petit Hotel Hafa, a bright six-bed bolthole with a roof deck overlooking the ocean, so you can keep an eye on the surf.
Though better known for its port wine and prehistoric rock art, Portugal’s peaceful Côa Valley is rich in animal life, especially vultures, wild Garrano horses and Iberian wolves. A five-night expedition here with the European Safari Company incorporates a stay at a tented Fly Camp within the Faia Brava reserve – a camp supported by Rewilding Europe, an organisation that works to bring back the continent’s lost biodiversity. As well as expert naturalists, you’ll get a tour of a local vineyard plus five-course wine-paired meals, eaten outside, overlooking the Côa and Duoro rivers.
Swimtrek’s seven-day Greek Cyclades trip incorporates a range of swims, from paddles in protected coves to coastline tracing, tunnel and cave explorations, and isle-to-isle crossings. Being based on two different islands over the week also means there are twice as many bars and tavernas to try: on Schinoussa, seek out local specialities such as octopus pasta and thyme honey; on Koufonissi you’ll stay by the harbour – the best place to order fresh, grilled fish.
Sri Lanka is the destination of the moment, not least because it’s the most delicious of adventure playgrounds, offering thrills for both body and belly. Intrepid’s 13-day Hike, Bike & Kayak trip around the teardrop isle works up an appetite in varied ways. Cycle through leafy tea plantations, hike amid the herb-scented Knuckles Range, make the pilgrimage up Adam’s Peak (stopping at the trail-side food stalls en route) and spend three days paddling down the Kaluganga River and camping in waterside villages. Coconut-infused curries, hot sambal and fluffy crisp hoppers fuel the fun.
Words by Sarah Baxter
Photographs by Sawday’s, H+I Adventures, Juan Carlos Muñoz, Intrepid
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