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  • Ireland: Walking Trails of the Emerald Isle
Overview

Explore the Rugged Beauty of the Irish Coast with Boundless Journeys

Ireland will embrace you and may never let you go. For hundreds of years, this romantic land has inspired bards, musicians, and artists. You too will be swept away by the beauty of the landscape and the warmth and wit of the Irish people.

On Boundless Journeys’ Walking Trails of the Emerald Isle tour, our days are spent walking and hiking the lush, forested valleys of the Ring of Kerry, the wild green hills of the Dingle Peninsula, and the surreal limestone paths of the Burren. We’ll explore the quaint streets of small villages dotting the south and west of Ireland and in the evenings savor local music and indulge in excellent fresh seafood and Connemara lamb.

Our brilliant Irish guides will introduce us to the mythic landscape of Ireland, filled with some of the friendliest people on the planet, and deeply rooted in its Celtic past.

What Our Guests Have To Say About This Tour

I was amazed that every time I called Boundless Journeys they knew who I was and could accommodate what I wanted. Very well informed and prepared to add value—bravo!

Barbara S
Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Itinerary &
Accommodations

Itinerary & Accommodations

Day 1

Killarney National Park

  • Activity Overview: Walk
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 2-3 hours; 4-5 miles

We depart Adare this morning for Killarney National Park. This section of the Kingdom of Kerry is one of the few areas of Ireland that remains forested, and MacGillicuddy's Reeks are among the highest mountains in the country. Nestled between the base of the mountains and the town are the Lakes of Killarney, the centerpiece of Killarney National Park. We begin our exploration by walking the Muckross Peninsula. This beautiful, pastoral walk encircles Muckross Lake and brings us past the 200-year old Dinish Cottage and the Old Weir Bridge. Nearby, we pass the "meeting of the waters," where a stream feeds Muckross from the other two lakes. If we are lucky, we may also see the Irish red deer, the only surviving herd of native deer in the country.

After lunch, we continue our walk to Muckross Abbey, an old Irish monastery built in the 6th century. Remaining are the Abbey's bell tower and church, and massive gothic arcades and arches. In the center of the inner court is an old Yew tree, said to be as old as the Abbey itself.

This evening we check into our home for the next two nights, a lovely four-star hotel situated on its own private estate on the edge of Killarney National Park.

Accommodations

Cahernane House Hotel
Killarney, Ireland

Beautifully situated on its own private estate on the edge of Killarney National Park, and a short 10-minute walk to Killarney town center, the 4-star Cahernane House Hotel is a unique experience of old Irish history and modern hotel luxuries. Dine on local produce in the award winning Herbert Restaurant with Head Chef Tadgh Corkery, or relax and enjoy bistro style dining in the old wine cellar.

Day 2

Old Kenmare Road

  • Activity Overview: Walk
  • Activity Level: Moderate to strenuous
  • Activity Length: 4-5 hours; approximately 9 miles (shorter options available)

We begin our adventure today in an unusual way—boarding an open boat for a scenic two-hour trip through Lough Leane, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lakes—the perfect way to see another side of the park before walking Old Kenmare Road, a local favorite. Our trail begins at Lord Brandon's Cottage, the impressive hunting retreat of an 18th-century aristocrat, and ends at the beautiful Torc Waterfall. We make our way through magical, moss-covered woodland—the oldest oak woods in Ireland—and into the open valleys of Esknamucky Glen.

Tonight we enjoy dinner at one of Killarney's best restaurants; full of character with an open fire, wine cellar, and exposed old timbers.

Accommodations

Cahernane House Hotel
Killarney, Ireland

Beautifully situated on its own private estate on the edge of Killarney National Park, and a short 10-minute walk to Killarney town center, the 4-star Cahernane House Hotel is a unique experience of old Irish history and modern hotel luxuries. Dine on local produce in the award winning Herbert Restaurant with Head Chef Tadgh Corkery, or relax and enjoy bistro style dining in the old wine cellar.

Day 3

Transfer to Dingle

  • Activity Overview: Walk
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: about 3 hours, 2-3 miles in the morning; about 4 hours, 3-4 miles in the afternoon (optional)

This morning we make our way west to the Dingle Peninsula. Our day begins with a walk along the shoreline of Dingle Harbor to the picturesque Dingle Lighthouse. There are a number of interesting stopping points along the route, taking in the flora and fauna, sprinkled with some local history.

This afternoon you may opt to take an energizing walk in the outskirts of Dingle. This walk departs directly from our hotel ascending to a ridge with panoramic views over West Kerry.

Our hotel for the next three nights is well located in charming Dingle. This evening we enjoy dinner in one of the town's wonderful Michelin recommended restaurants, featuring seasonal, local ingredients in rustic, flavorsome dishes.

Accommodations

Benners Hotel
Dingle, Ireland

Centrally located on the main street in the colorful town of Dingle, Benners offers traditional Irish warmth and comfort, coupled with modern facilities.  Relax in Mrs. Benner’s bar, and sample the best in Irish cuisine. Afterwards, retire to the comfort of your well-appointed guestroom, or enjoy the lively atmosphere in town. Benners reflects the history and uniqueness of this special part of Ireland.

Day 4

Smerwick Harbor

  • Activity Overview: Walk
  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Activity Length: 3-4 hours; 5 miles

Today we walk along winding roads from the town of Tír a'Bháin to reach Smerwick Harbor. Along the way we may visit our friend and accomplished artist, and tour her studio. Once we reach the shore, we take in beautiful coastal views and fresh sea air as we walk along the Dingle Way. Our trail links the beaches Smerbhic, Béal Bán,Trá 'n'Fhíona and Muiríoch.

This afternoon we will have time to explore the vibrant town of Dingle, steeped in history and culture, with numerous galleries, stores, and lively pubs.

Tonight you are free to choose from one of Dingle's many restaurants for dinner. Our guides will be happy to make suggestions for you.

Accommodations

Benners Hotel
Dingle, Ireland

Centrally located on the main street in the colorful town of Dingle, Benners offers traditional Irish warmth and comfort, coupled with modern facilities.  Relax in Mrs. Benner’s bar, and sample the best in Irish cuisine. Afterwards, retire to the comfort of your well-appointed guestroom, or enjoy the lively atmosphere in town. Benners reflects the history and uniqueness of this special part of Ireland.

Day 5

Great Blasket Island

  • Activity Overview: Walk
  • Activity Level: Moderate
  • Activity Length: 4 hours; 4-5 miles

Today we take a trip back to a time before cars, cell phones, and computers. If the seas permit, we will board a ferry from Dingle to Great Blasket Island, the largest of a group of islands clustered off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula. Made famous by local author and Blasket native Tómas Ó Criomhthain, the people of the Blaskets eked out a tough existence of fishing, turf cutting, and taking advantage of the odd shipwreck in their waters. The population has dwindled, but Great Blasket Island still offers excellent options for walking and hiking, or perhaps just relaxing and imagining life on these islands in centuries past. (Please note: Ferry service to Great Blasket Island is highly dependent on weather conditions. If it is not possible to ferry to the island, our local guides know numerous excellent walking and hiking options around the peninsula, each with their own special highlights.)

Dinner tonight is at yet another Michelin recommended restaurant in Dingle, offering freshly sourced food from the owner's garden, local farms, and the sea.

After dinner, those who wish can seek out any of a number of "trad" music sessions taking place nearby. In Dingle, it is still common for talented musicians to spend their evenings playing together in a local pub, and it is delightful to witness this Irish tradition.

Accommodations

Benners Hotel
Dingle, Ireland

Centrally located on the main street in the colorful town of Dingle, Benners offers traditional Irish warmth and comfort, coupled with modern facilities.  Relax in Mrs. Benner’s bar, and sample the best in Irish cuisine. Afterwards, retire to the comfort of your well-appointed guestroom, or enjoy the lively atmosphere in town. Benners reflects the history and uniqueness of this special part of Ireland.

Day 6

Transfer to Ballyvaughan

  • Activity Overview: Walk
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: about 2 hours; 2-3 miles

We depart Dingle early this morning by way of the spectacular Conor Pass, and make our way north to Ballyvaughan. Our drive on the narrow country roads is delightfully scenic as we cross the Shannon Estuary by ferry, stopping for lunch along the way.

As we approach Ballyvaughan, the landscape changes completely. Here, we enter the Burren (literally "rocky place" in Gaelic). The vast, limestone landscape is an ideal environment for wildflowers, including dozens of species of orchids. The history of the human impact on this area is fascinating, as centuries of farming and the removal of trees and turf have led to the austere beauty of the Burren today.

The cap on our day, will be a visit to the Cliffs of Moher—one of Ireland's most spectacular sights, standing at 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and stretching 5 miles along the coast. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara, and the Dingle Peninsula and Blasket Islands in Kerry.

At day's end, we arrive at our final hotel, a lovingly restored four-star country house. This historic 18th-century mansion welcomes guests by scenic roads, and extraordinary views of Galway Bay and the Burren. Writers J.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis often stayed at Gregans Castle during the 1950s and it is believed that The Burren was part inspiration for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Accommodations

Gregans Castle Hotel
Ballyvaughan, Ireland

With breathtaking views across Galway Bay and idyllically situated overlooking the unique Burren landscape, Gregans Castle Hotel is the ultimate luxury and gourmet hideaway. This 4-star hotel features genuine Irish hospitality, award winning innovative cooking, and elegant rooms. Surrounded by gardens and paths, the house itself comprises 21 rooms, as well as seemingly endless drawing rooms, lounges, and libraries.

Day 7

The Burren

  • Activity Overview: Walk
  • Activity Level: Easy to moderate
  • Activity Length: 4-6 hours; 6-7 miles

After breakfast, we head for the small parish of Fanore, where we begin our walk on a greenway (an old farm road) through the Burren. To the west and north are views of the Atlantic and Galway Bay, and on a clear day we will see the Aran Islands in the distance. Ancient stonewalls mark our way through the rolling hills, and if we are lucky, we may see one of the many herds of wild goat that roam here.

Tonight we enjoy a final celebratory dinner at our hotel.

Accommodations

Gregans Castle Hotel
Ballyvaughan, Ireland

With breathtaking views across Galway Bay and idyllically situated overlooking the unique Burren landscape, Gregans Castle Hotel is the ultimate luxury and gourmet hideaway. This 4-star hotel features genuine Irish hospitality, award winning innovative cooking, and elegant rooms. Surrounded by gardens and paths, the house itself comprises 21 rooms, as well as seemingly endless drawing rooms, lounges, and libraries.

Day 8

Departure

Today you will be transferred to the Shannon Airport in time for your departing flight, or you may continue to explore the charms of Ireland on your own.

Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.

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Dates &
Prices

Dates And Prices

2017
Trip Length

8 Days

Trip Dates

Jun 11-18, 2017

Jul 16-23, 2017

Aug 13-20, 2017

Sep 10-17, 2017

2017 Land Cost

$4,595 Per Person


Single Supplement

First two reserved:$150

Additional:$650

See single supplement policy below.

What's Included

  • Expert leadership
  • All accommodations
  • All meals except one dinner (Day 4)
  • Local beer and wine with included dinners
  • All transportation during the tour
  • All activities as noted in the itinerary
  • Park fees
Single Supplement Policy

Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.

If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!

* This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.

What To
Expect

What To Expect

Physical Activity

Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Ireland: Walking Trails of the Emerald Isle is rated 2, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walking and hiking on this trip averages 3-5 hours a day, with most of the time spent on trails and greenways, and only occasional vehicle support.

Meeting Point

Adare, Ireland, approximately 9:30 a.m. Pick-up time will depend on your choice of pre-tour hotel.

Departure Point

Shannon Airport, Ireland, 10:30 a.m.

Traveling To and From

Most Convenient Airport:
Shannon Airport; Shannon, Ireland (airport code SNN)

Meeting Time and Place:
Your guide(s) will meet you on the first day of your tour at your choice of the following two hotels (please be dressed for walking):

  • 9:30 a.m. in the lobby of the Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Ireland
  • 9:45 a.m. in the lobby of Adare Country House, Adare, Ireland

Departure Time and Place:
Your guides will provide a drop-off at the Shannon Airport by 10:30 a.m. on the last day of the trip. Since we will be driving from Ballyvaughan on the final morning of the trip, it is not possible to arrive at the Shannon Airport prior to 10:30 a.m. Please schedule your flights accordingly.

Preparing for This Trip

It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well-prepared you are for the activities, the more you will enjoy yourself. As a general guideline, we suggest that you engage in easy to moderate aerobic activities (such as walking, hiking, jogging, or cycling) for at least 30-45 minutes several times a week for 4-6 weeks before the trip. If you live in a flat area, try to incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability (consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness program). Please contact us if you have any doubts regarding your physical match with this tour.

Weather

Ireland's weather conditions can vary greatly, even in the course of a single afternoon. It is not uncommon to have deep blue skies followed by "soft" weather (the local term for a bit of rain), and of course, the trademark Irish rainbow. Then the cycle begins again. Therefore, it is essential to be prepared for a variety of conditions -- including dressing in layers and wearing quick-drying clothing. Waterproof hiking boots are not a bad idea either, as mornings are often dewy and the grass can be long.

You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.

Ireland

June

High: 64
Low: 46

July

High: 70
Low: 50

August

High: 70
Low: 48

September

High: 62
Low: 51

When to Go

The southwest coast of Ireland enjoys a milder climate than you might expect, and spring comes quite early. By May, flowers are in full bloom, including the many varieties of orchid to be found among the limestone pavements of the Burren. Lambs are everywhere at this time of year as well. June brings longer days, with excellent light well into the evenings. July and August are the height of summer and days tend to be warmer and perhaps a bit drier.

Guides

Featured Guides

About Our Guides

With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.

$4,495 / person* *airfare not included
8 Days
Reserve This Tour
  • Departure Dates: Jun 11-18, 2017
    Jul 16-23, 2017
    Aug 13-20, 2017
    Sep 10-17, 2017
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Activity Level 2 Easy to Moderate

Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 3-5 hours per day.

  • Group Size: 4-16 Guests

Make it Your Own!

This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.

Prefer a Custom Tour?

Questions?

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1-800-941-8010

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