Peddlers Sells Cephalonia as Cycling Adventure

Reed Travel Features

ASSOS -- New on the cyclist's path is the Ionian island of Cephalonia, 284 square miles of well-paved, quiet roads with panoramic views of the coastline, passing through many villages seemingly unchanged from ancient times.

A new company, Peddlers, is riding high here on what its owner, John Senior calls "the fastest-growing segment of the tourism industry, adventure travel."

Senior, a veteran travel manager who handled European operations for the luxury barges of Continental Waterways for many years, has teamed up with Michel Tsiantar who has both a passion for cycling and the Greek islands, particularly Cephalonia.

Travelers taking this program are met in Athens and escorted to the short flight to Argostoli, then transferred to the Assos peninsula where they are based for six nights.

Each morning's ride can accommodate even an absolute beginner to cycle touring, traveling mostly downhill all the way to lunchtime at a seashore rendezvous; the afternoons provide more challenging optional rides.

Riding routes vary with ability, and each day offers routes for three different levels, with matching mileages.

Routes include the coastline, the port of Agia Efimia and villages of the Erissos region (14, 30 or 32 miles); the Gulf of Sami and inland (eight, 17 or 20 miles); to the Argostoli capital with museum sightseeing (21 mostly downhill, 44 or 46 miles); through Vasilikades, Mesovounia and Plagia, with lake trip by boat and transfer to top of Stavrovouni mountain for descent to Agia Efimia (19, 33 or 35 miles).

According to Senior, more than 85% of the rides are coastal routes, which means cool breezes in Cephalonia.

Seven day/six-night tours depart every Thursday in May, June, September and October, and the per person rate, double, is $1,690, with a single supplement of $330; rates include the roundtrip Athens-Cephalonia flights on Olympic Airways.

Rates also include accommodations (rooms with bayview balconies), breakfasts, dinners with wine, one lunch, top-level 21-speed mountain bikes, support vans and the services of two guides.

The program is also available for four days/three nights, departing Athens on either Thursday or Sunday; the per person cost is $985, with a single supplement of $165.

This year, Peddlers also is offering a walking tour program, Peddlers Nature Trails, through some of the finest areas of Cephalonia and the neighboring island of Ithaca.

Ithaca has 1,014 flower and plant species, including 50 wild orchid species; 26 species of birds, and has herds of wild horses living atop Ainos.

The World Wildlife Fund also supports ongoing projects for the protection of many of the island's endangered species such as the Mediterranean monk seal and marine turtles.

Departure dates and prices (for both six- and three-night tour), and features such as meals and accommodations for the Nature Trails program are the same as for the cycling tours.

Peddlers programs are offered in the U.S. by Destinations & Adventures International in Los Angeles, (213) 650-7267 or (800) 659-4599; and Uniquely Europe in Seattle, (206) 441-8682 or (800) 426-3615.

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