Va­ca­tion like an Olympian

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

If the Games are in­spir­ing you, take a look at th­ese hol­i­days with the fo­cus on Olympic sports such as sail­ing, archery, kayak­ing swim­ming and cy­cling in beau­ti­ful spots around the world – from Thai­land to the Adri­atic coast.

White­wa­ter kayak­ing, New Zealand New Zealand is con­sid­ered one of the world’s best lo­ca­tions for kayak­ing, dubbed by tour op­er­a­tor Wa­ter By Na­ture as “Pad­dlers’ Par­adise”. This thrilling two-week trip – suit­able for more ex­pe­ri­enced kayak­ers (class 3+/4-) – is led by ex­perts JJ Shep­herd, Mike Ab­bott and Ko­ryn Gould, who have lived with some of the world’s finest rivers on their doorstep. The trip will in­clude pad­dling the Hu­runui and Buller rivers, as well as tak­ing on the 11-me­tre Maruia Falls, with heli­copter flights on three of the days, giv­ing vis­i­tors plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to take in the spec­tac­u­lar views be­low. Granted, it’s a trip that will most likely ap­peal to the more com­mit­ted kayak­ers out there. Those af­ter a more ac­ces­si­ble, cheaper, white-wa­ter ad­ven­ture could try out a three-night raft­ing trip in Switzer­land (from US$785 in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion and most meals), with a chance to try some paraglid­ing or moun­tain bik­ing.

Moun­tain bik­ing in Morocco An Olympics sport since 1996, moun­tain bik­ing has long been a pop­u­lar hol­i­day ac­tiv­ity. For those feel­ing in­spired by the pros, who will be tack­ling steep drops and rough ter­rain on the Rio off-road course on Au­gust 20 and 21, it’s easy to find af­ford­able bik­ing hol­i­days. Ex­pe­ri­enced cy­cling-tour com­pany Skedad­dle runs plenty of moun­tain bike hol­i­days: One of the stand-out trips, how­ever, is a nine-day, ve­hi­cle-sup­ported tour across the stun­ning Jebel Sirwa moun­tain range in Morocco, sleep­ing un­der the stars in the Sa­hara and camp­ing with no­mads in the moun­tains. The trip will take bik­ers past an­cient kas­bahs and tra­di­tional vil­lages, with pit stops for mint teas and in the odd oasis to cool off in.

Horse rid­ing in Italy Olympic eques­trian events can be a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to re­late to at times. Watch­ing an aris­to­crat make a horse dance dur­ing dres­sage isn’t quite the same as gal­lop­ing down the beach with the wind in one’s hair, while the waves crash in. With that in mind, for those look­ing for an Olympic-in­spired horsey hol­i­day, we would sug­gest opt­ing for the lat­ter. Horse-rid­ing travel spe­cial­ist Zara’s Planet of­fers an eight-day tour of Sardinia that com­bines coun­try trails and beach rides, stay­ing in an old coun­try house, with swim­ming pool, jacuzzi and ter­race, where fan­tas­tic Ital­ian cook­ing can be sam­pled. But, for a horse-rid­ing hol­i­day that truly screams “epic”, a trip to Bit­ter­root Ranch (from $2076 in­clud­ing all meals and ac­com­mo­da­tion in log cab­ins), in the heart of Amer­ica’s Marl­boro coun­try in Wy­oming, could be the an­swer.

Sail­ing in Thai­land It’s dif­fi­cult to think of a more beau­ti­ful place to learn how to sail than in the trop­i­cal climes and clear wa­ters of the An­daman Sea. Sun­sail runs Royal Yacht­ing As­so­ci­a­tion-ac­cred­ited cour­ses from Phuket, where the com­pe­tent crew qual­i­fi­ca­tion can be gained over five days sail­ing along the beau­ti­ful coast­lines to pic­turesque is­lands, liv­ing on board a 43-foot train­ing yacht. You can also sign up to sim­i­lar RYA sail­ing cour­ses at most Mark Warner beach re­sorts, such as the San Lu­cianu Beach Re­sort in Cor­sica (from $908pp for one week full board in­clud­ing flights), where it’s just one of a long list of sports that can be tried out.

Swim­ming the Dal­ma­tia coast Croa­tia’s Adri­atic coast is dot­ted with more than 1,000 tiny is­lands with tran­quil rocky beaches, warm wa­ter and small fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties. Swimtrek of­fers a seven-day guided tour based on the Šibenik ar­chi­pel­ago, vis­it­ing is­lands such as car-free Zlarin, a beau­ti­ful, peace­ful spot with an at­trac­tive vil­lage. There will also be a chance to visit in­land sites, such as the Krka na­tional park with its wa­ter­falls. With 3km of swim­ming per day, the trip is per­fect for those who are less ex­pe­ri­enced in open wa­ter.

Archery in Austria For the more tar­get-ori­ented among us, there are few places that of­fer such a per­fect set-up as the Tiroler Adler ho­tel in Waidring, Austria. The tra­di­tional ho­tel, sur­rounded by moun­tains and at the head of the Pillersee Val­ley, is sur­rounded by an im­pres­sive set of archery cour­ses, where pack­ages of­fer­ing plenty of time to learn – or per­fect – bow-and-ar­row skills can be booked. The archery cen­tres are not just your typ­i­cal bulls­eye-on­haystack fare – they have tar­gets hid­den among the forests and ferns in the form of ar­ti­fi­cial deer, stags, bears and var­i­ous other ma­jes­tic wood­land crea­tures to chal­lenge the aim and help vis­i­tors get lost in a time­less hunts­man (or -woman) fantasy.

Photo: Shutterstock

New Zealand is con­sid­ered one of the top spots on the planet to hop in a kayak thanks to places like the Mil­ford Sound, above.

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