In 1993, my husband and I were introduced to independent, self-guided walking tours by Uniquely Europe, a division of Bothell, Wash.-based Europe Express. We enjoyed this mode of travel so much that we subsequently made several more self-guided walks in Europe.
This summer, we had the opportunity to experience Uniquely Europe’s new seven-night Black Forest itinerary. The trip was soft adventure at its best. Located in Germany’s southwest corner, the Black Forest’s myriad trails makes it a premier destination for hiking and walking. We flew into Frankfurt, approximately 135 miles north of Lossburg, our starting point.
Uniquely Europe carefully selected all hotels for their restaurants and ambience. We were treated nightly to four-course gourmet dinners featuring regional specialties and local products. Restaurants printed special menus for us, the “Gourmet Wanderers.”
Most hotels, some dating back several centuries, are family-operated. The attractive accommodations are steeped in tradition. On our weeklong trek, we walked among quaint hamlets through dense forests and fertile farmlands.
Although our walk was rated easy to moderate, it was sufficiently challenging for us to feel no guilt while enjoying the sumptuous evening meals. Our daily distance walked was eight to 13 miles. The terrain varied, sometimes dramatically, with fairly steep climbs from valley floor to mountain crests. Some trails were dirt, others paved. All were well-marked.
The Black Forest is exceptionally scenic and worth savoring slowly on foot. Besides dense woods and mountain streams, we wandered past tidy farms and through picture-perfect villages with timbered buildings and flower-filled window boxes.
The Black Forest package includes seven nights’ accommodations, daily breakfasts and gourmet dinners. Luggage transfers from the railroad station and to and from hotels are provided.
Before our arrival at the first hotel, route maps had been delivered. This vacation would appeal to physically fit, independent travelers who appreciate nature, comfort and in-depth regional experience. Most tourists in this area are German, and we found few locals fluent in English.
The price is $799 per person, double. Travelers can select any date of departure from April to October.
Europe Express offers a wide range of guided and independent biking and hiking programs, barge trips, city packages and self-drives. Call 800-927-3876.
Web site: www.europe express.com.
Gayle Christensen is a travel consultant with Alamo World Travel, in Alamo, Calif.