Great Hikes & Cuisine Series Melds Breathtaking Hikes with Inside Look at a Region’s Food Culture

Berkeley, CAWilderness Travel, known for its one-of-a-kind detailed itineraries that take travelers deep into an area’s culture, is offering a new collection of trips focusing on regions renowned both for their beautiful landscapes and historic culinary traditions.

The Great Hikes and Cuisine Collection offers four distinct trips that take travelers into the heart of a country, weaving food through every aspect of these active adventures. Journeys to Provence, the Basque Country of Spain and France, Indochine (Laos and Thailand) and Northern Italy have all been meticulously crafted and feature picturesque hikes through vineyards and olive groves, freshly-prepared meals at Michelin-starred restaurants, visits to food markets with local chefs, one-on-one encounters with area food artisans and hands-on culinary opportunities.

“These trips give our guests access to the good life – good food, good wines and good hikes,” says Barbara Banks, director of marketing and new trip development for Wilderness Travel. “The Great Hikes and Cuisine Series is not just about eating well, but gaining a deep understanding of the role of food in each culture, as well as taking a turn at preparing the cuisine. We’ve combined the classic walking tour with an opportunity to authentically explore a culture’s cuisine through its people.”

The Great Hikes and Cuisine tours for 2014 include:

Great Hikes and Cuisine of Basque Country, Departures in June, July & August, Starts at $5495/person

Discover the ancient and mystical Basque region of Spain and France with its tangy sheep cheeses and rich Rioja wines on this new 10-day adventure. “Eating well is truly the second religion of the Basques,” says Banks. Dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, a monastery and a shepherd’s farmstead. “The hiking on this tour is as good as the food with walks through hidden mountain valleys, and gorgeous trails through craggy mountains and smugglers’ paths,” she says. Very much a shepherding region, travelers in the early summer may see the baby lambs coming to pasture.

Great Hikes and Cuisine of Provence, May 18-26, September 20-28, starts at $5795/person

On this 9-day trip, travel deep into the heart of Provence’s food culture with visits to truffle and olive oil producers, winemakers, cheese makers and Michelin-starred restaurants. Explore the produce market of Carpentras with a local chef followed by a lively cooking class and hike through the Luberon and Provence’s many enchanting villages. Sample fresh figs, melons and honey right from the source. On May departures, travelers can enjoy the fragrant lavender fields, cherry orchards, as well as wild thyme and rosemary.

Culture and Cuisine of Indochine, Nov. 23-Dec. 6, 2014, starts at $5595/person + internal airfare

On this 14-day tour, guests get an up-close look at the renowned and very distinct cuisine and culture of both Laos and Vietnam, which are actually quite different. It includes three hands-on cooking lessons from well-known regional chefs. Travelers also accompany a chef to an open-air market to buy the ingredients for the meal, learning about the different types of produce and how they’re used. Marvel at the exotic selections like hornets’ eggs, bamboo worms, eels and more. By day, enjoy hikes through the capitals of each country, as well as local villages, temples and World Heritage Site Halong Bay, along with boating on the Perfume and Mekong Rivers. Watch the sunrise procession of monks at Luang Prabang and donate food to receive the monks’ blessing.

Great Hikes and Chefs of Northern Italy’s Gourmet Trail, Departures in May, September & October, starts at $6195/person

Led by a popular veteran trip leader who is also a former chef and restauranteur, this 9-day tour provides unfettered access to three of Northern Italy’s exquisite regions beloved for both their landscapes and their distinctive cuisine. Along the way, guests stop at cheese grottoes and a family farm where prosciutto is aged to enjoy a cooking lesson, and dine on a 9-course meal in a palace, as well as at Michelin-starred restaurants. The journey also takes guests through Torino, located beneath the Alps and where the “slow food” movement originated, and through the Italian lakes district to Verona. Hike through vineyards, woodland groves and past gorgeous lakes.

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