Archive for Hidden Gems Challenge Series

The Hidden Gems Challenge Series – The Pyrenees Snow Shoe Challenge

Have you ever wanted to know what it is like to strap a pair of ‘tennis rackets’ to your feet and float across snow…if you have ever pondered this thought then why not take a look at the second challenge to feature in our “Hidden Gems” collection.

The thought process behind launching our “Hidden Gems” blog series is to throw light upon some of our lesser known and more quirkier short haul challenges. Now is the turn of perhaps the most memorable, challenging and quirkiest challenge of them all! – The Pyrenees Snow Shoe Challenge

Our upcoming March 2013 departure date will be the very first time we run the Snow Shoe trek, and we’re really excited to be launching a challenge that will be a first for us both in terms of location and activity!

So Pyrenees Snow Shoe Operations Manager Kathryn has put together the below blog to let everybody know what this rather intriguing challenge is all about!

 What is a Snow Shoe:

A snow shoe used to look like an old fashioned wooden tennis racket with lattice work made out of animal hide so there wasn’t a build up of snow on the shoe, but these days they’re normally made with lightweight metal or plastic frames with synthetic lattice work and they also have bindings…if your still not sure theres a picture on the right for you to have a look at!

 The Origins of Snow-shoeing:

Snow shoeing was invented about 6000 years ago, in the area that we now call Central Asia, archaeologists have hypothesised that what was originally thought to part of a back pack frame found on the famous Chalcolithic mummy Otzi was in fact part of a snow shoe. It is believed that the ancestors of the Inuit’s and Native Americans migrated to North America on primitive shoe shoes fashioned by strapping slabs of wood to their feet.

 So what actually is snow-shoeing?

Snow shoeing still uses the same principles as when it was 1st invented. This was to have a large surface area strapped to your feet to disperse your body weight and stop you from ultimately sinking in to the soft powdery snow and passing out with exhaustion within 10 minutes of going anywhere! It is a great way of exploring the mountains when they are covered in snow and trekking would normally be impossible, and also a fantastic way of keeping fit with new aerobic/running snow shoes being invented.

 Why would you snow shoe?

It is a fantastic way to explore the winter wonderland of the Pyrenees and the Aiguestortes National Park, with breath-taking landscapes and an ethereal quietness. All you’ll hear is the sound of your breathing and the crunching of the fresh snow beneath your  feet.

 What to expect:

This challenge takes you into the heart of some of Europe’s most unspoilt wildernesses. Beginning in the Midi-Pyrenees, you will be given a full safety briefing including avalanche training from our expert challenge leader, and time to acclimatise. You then have the chance to test out your newly learnt skills as you cross over the border into Spain. Here, amongst the staggering vistas of Catalonia’s only national park, you will have a chance to explore a world that for much of the winter is inaccessible to most trekkers.

This incredible challenge affords a chance to test your-self against nature and the elements in the mountains of north-eastern Spain.

So what are you waiting for?! There are still places available for our March 2013 departure date! Check out the Pyrenees Snow Shoe Challenge Itinerary, fact file and much more here!

Or get in touch with Kathryn directly at

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The Hidden Gems Challenge Series – Trek Translyvania

Here at Charity Challenge, we are proud that our challenge portfolio includes the most iconic, classic and spectacular of treks from the adventure travel business, – namely “the Kilimanjaro Summit Climb”, “Trek to Machu Picchu” and the “Great Wall Discovery”, all quite rightly on half the nation’s bucket lists!

But we don’t stop at that. We also offer an entire range of more niche short haul challenges for those who struggle to pull themselves away from their day to day commitments at home, at work and (more often than not!) their footie team. These challenges includes treks such as our Etna Volcanic Adventure, and our Icelandic Lava Trek.

These treks aren’t always so high on people’s radars, but the way we see it, adventure travel is not just about fulfilling your lives’ ambitions, but finding yourself in a place you’d never have expected you’d ever be and finding out new things about yourself… And absolutely loving it! The challenges in our portfolio that are able to deliver this unique, and sometimes unexpected, amazing experience are what we refer to as our “Hidden Gem Challenges.”

Unfortunately, these Hidden Gems can be a little overshadowed by their aforementioned more famous sibling challenges. Which is a bit of a shame, as these short haul challenges provide just as big a thrill, and are a perfect fit for people who can’t afford to spend too long away from home and/or are perhaps taking their first step into the world of trekking and looking for something a little bit different. So, to celebrate these challenges, we have decided to write a special blog series, putting them firmly into the limelight. First up is an invigorating challenge that takes place in the borderland of European civilization – the Trek Transylvania.

There is a rustic and olde world feel to Trek Transylvania that is unique among our challenges. The trek takes place in Romania’s wild Transylvanian Alps, a quiet and sparsely populated region of the country. The first point of call when you touch down in Romania is Brasov city – a beautiful medieval city, which you pass through on your way to Bran Village, which acts as the home hub of this challenge.

The scenery around Bran is serene and rugged, pastoral, with atmospheric rocky ledges and specular mountain views. But, as our Transylvania Trekkers quickly find out, the trekking experience itself is anything but serene, Those picturesque rocky ledges are in actual fact rigidly sharp, uncompromising and frankly a bit of a nightmare to scramble over! The terrain is varied and unyielding, barely trodden and can be challenging to navigate. There are steep up-hills, perilous slopes, with the grassy landscape seeming to stretch on into infinity!

But intertwined are glimpses of Romania’s rich pastoral culture, as trekkers have the opportunity to talk with locals, sleep in small mountain villages and taste traditional food.

And of course, a trip to Transylvania would of course not be complete without a visit to the 14th century Romanian icon – Dracula’s Castle! A site loved by vampire lovers and vampire slayers alike, this beautiful castle was fabulously renovated in the 19th century by the royal family of Romania, but it is best known by Bram Stoker’s infamous novel of the same name.

So, in summary, Trek Transylvania is an ideal challenge for country enthusiasts, culture vultures, trekking heroes, people wanting to escape the city, vampire lovers and people after an ultimate, alternate and absolutely once in a lifetime challenge. The feedback that we get from our Transylvania Trekkers always speaks for itself!

I had the most amazing experience in Romania. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the trek was challenging but so much fun.” ‘Chloe Fox’

it was the Challenge of a lifetime.’ Ilana Epstein

An exhilarating life changing  experience.’ Tanya Richards

Fall into those categories and inspired by the feedback? Then check out our Trek Transylvania challenge itinerary and departure dates here!

Subscribe to this blog (by clickin the orange RSS button) to hear more about us and all the amazing challenges we offer! To keep up to date on all our latest challenge news and special offers, please enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.