Expert Guide on tour for the tour duration.
7 nights stay, 6 days hiking
Moderate Walks each day – Previous Hiking experience required
“Have done 2 trips with IWHB. Relaxing way to travel with someone else making all the plans. Guides were interesting and fun. Quality food. The company really knows the best places to walk”
– Ken & Donna, USA, 2016
The Burren and Connemara face each other across Galway Bay, with the glorious Aran Islands strategically placed in between. It is hard to imagine two more contrasting landscapes. ‘Burren’ is derived from the Irish word boireann meaning ‘place of stone’, and the name could not be more apt. There is no part of Ireland where rock so obviously dominates the landscape as it does in the Northwest corner of County Clare.
The Burren covers an area of some 260 square kilometres and is famous for its bare limestone pavements dissected by deep crevices and traversed by countless stone walls. Surprisingly, this bizarre and apparently hostile environment is a botanist’s paradise as around ¾ of Ireland’s plant species are found in the Burren (more than any other region).
By contrast – Connemara is an imposing landscape of lakes, moorland and rugged mountains. It has some of the most extensive areas of blanket bog in Europe and is home to many heathland and bogland plants such as the insectivorous sundew and butterwort and a rich variety of heaths and heathers. The two main mountain groups – the Twelve Bens of Connemara and the Maamturk Mountains – are separated by the deep valley in which Lough Inagh lies. One of the most typical Connemara scenes is to see the jagged peaks glistening with quartz reflected in the still waters of a bogland pool.
In between these 2 contrasting landscapes lie the Aran Islands, Inisheer (near island), Inishmaan (Middle Island) and Inishmore (big island). Although the Aran Islands belong to Co. Galway, geologically they are similar to the Burren in Co. Clare with many of the fields consisting of little more than bare limestone. The islanders have eked out a living by improving the soil over generations with sand and seaweed. Aran is also a bastion of Irish culture. Irish is still the everyday language of most islanders, making it the strongest Gaeltacht in the country. Many traditions that have been lost on the mainland have been maintained here. It also has a wealth of archaeological and historical remains, notably its prehistoric stone forts and Early Christian sites. Aran has been a mecca for scholars and discerning travellers ever since John Millington Synge’s brilliant depiction of the islanders’ life in The Playboy of the Western World.
Not Included: Personal drinks, medical expenses or gratuities.
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Your holiday begins in the cultural city of Galway – a city that thrives both on a fascinating and historical past & a traditional & proudly Irish present. Your Guide will meet you at 16.00 hours inthe centre of Galway, and then a courtesy transfer by minivan takes you to your holiday start location on the southern shores of Connemara. From here, your Guide will introduce you to your group & brief you on the coming days of your holiday. You will then walk to a nearby restaurant for your first dinner together & return later to your accommodation for your overnight. If you wish to make your own way to your first accommodation in Connemara ahead of time – you are most welcome & your Guide will meet you there. Should you wish to explore Galway in more detail & spend an extra night or two there before (or after) your holiday – we will be happy to book accommodation for you.
Your first walk is a wonderful introduction to the beauty of Connemara and the contrasts of bogland & beach that makes this part of Ireland so enthralling. After your full Irish breakfast and with your picnic lunch in your backpack, you have a choice of 2 walks:
A short drive takes you to the pristine white beach of Dog’s Bay. From here, you have a magnificent walk around this rugged tombola, with the sea beside you throughout your walk. Following the coastline, you walk into the little fishing village of Roundstone to enjoy some refreshment before returning to your accommodation for your 2nd overnight.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 17kms. Highest point: 300mts. Paved roads disappear to grassy tracks & then open hillside with rocky & uneven sections, some boggy & wet underfoot conditions with some steep climbs up & down. Paved footpaths & beach towards the end.
After your walk, you will return to your accommodation for your dinner & overnight
Driving a short distance, you reach the little village of Letterfrack and Connemara National Park. Here, you will have time to enjoy the Visitor Centre, where you may wish to learn more about the formation of this fascinating landscape & its early settlers. From here the then have a choice of walks:-
Diamond Hill is one of the most iconic of the Twelve Bens range of mountains & stands proudly in the centre of Connemara National Park. There is a lovely circuit that goes around the base of this mountain, introducing you to Connemara Ponies and the rich flora & fauna that this region abounds in. Returning to the Visitor Centre, you may wish to enjoy a lovely video on the region before moving on to Killary Harbour.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 14kms. Highest point: 445mts. Gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, stepping stones, board walks & boggy underfoot conditions. Steps up and down
At the end of your walk, you will then continue on to the famous & impressive Killary Harbour – Ireland’s only fjord and if energy allows, enjoy a short walk here. Those who wish, will have the opportunity to meet a local farmer, immerse themselves into this diverse way of life, get hands on experience with farming sheep & if you wish – cutting turf. Return to your accommodation afterwards for a free evening at your leisure
Today you transfer to Galway Bay & reach the largest of the Aran Islands and Inishmore where you will spend your next 2 nights. Taking a small ferry from Galway, your crossing takes approx. 1 hour. On reaching the island, you drop off your luggage at your accommodation & then continue on to have a wonderful walk around the south eastern region of the island. Learning some of the rich history of these islands, you will also have time to visit an old fortress before returning to your accommodation for your dinner & overnight.
& Walk Details – Distance: Up to 9kms. Highest point: 100mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, limestone slabs which can be wobbily underfoot.
Today you will have the opportunity to discover Inish Mor in all its glory. Leaving your accommodation, and overlooking the southern shores of the island, you reach the centre of Inishmor at Kilmurvey. Today you have a choice of the following walks:
Following a lovely old trail, you will be brought across the limestone pavements to reach the fascinating “Poll na bPeist” or Serpents Lair. This amazing natural swimming pool is a wonderful location to learn more about this ancient landscape. With its rough and severe tidal currents, it soon becomes clear on why the sea forms so much of island conversations. Continue on to reach the impressive stone fortress of Dun Aonghasa and your breath will be taken away with the wonderful views from here. Returning by minivan to your accommodation, you will have a free evening to enjoy the island at your own leisure.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 19kms. Highest point: 150mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks with rocky & uneven sections, limestone slabs which can be wobbily underfoot. Exposed cliff edges with no protection.
Those that wish to learn more on the history of the island will be given the opportunity to meet one of the locals & hear more about island life and the changing times over hundreds of years.
Leaving the island this morning, you return to the mainland and drive south, around Galway Bay to reach the Burren. This is a completely different & contrasting landscape to Connemara & also boasts one of the most diverse arrays of flowers that any keen botanist would wish to find. Your choice of walks is as follows:
Just outside the village of Ballyvaughan, you reach Abbey Hill. From here, you follow a trail to the foothills of its peak, before climbing across the limestone pavements to reach the top. Overlooking Ballyvaughan Bay & Galway Bay beyond, you will be able to see Connemara where you have already been and the Aran Islands inbetween. Continuing on from there, you reach your accommodation in Doolin where you spend your next 2 nights.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 9kms. Highest point: 320mts. Paved roads & gravel tracks, grassy trails, open hillside with rocky & uneven limestone slabs to traverse.
At the end of your walk, your Guide will point you in the direction of some super places to eat & enjoy some of the lively traditional music that makes Doolin such a “mecca” for Irish music lovers.
When visiting Doolin – one of the most talked about “must-do’s” is to visit the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. These impressive cliffs form a protective barrier from the Wild Atlantic Way to the rich & fertile land at the southern end of the Burren region. Standing proudly above the ocean their towering dominance is a spectacle that can best be appreciated on foot.
Walk Details – Distance: Up to 15kms. Highest point: 300mts. Paved roads, gravel tracks & grassy, muddy trails. Exposed cliff edges throughout the walk.
At the end of your walk, you return to the delightful village of Doolin to enjoy your final farewell dinner together, compare stories, reminisce and enjoy some great music before your onward journeys tomorrow.
After your final and substantial Irish Breakfast, you will be taken by minivan to reach the bus & train station in Ennis. From here, you can then avail of the excellent bus/train service to all major airports, cities & ferry ports in Ireland. Your estimated arrival time to Ennis is approx. 10.30am. Please note that Ennis is approx. 20 mins (drive time) from Shannon Airport.