Spirit of Sicily Trip Notes

Travel to Sicily and experience Italy’s Mediterranean heaven. From castles in Montalbano to the moon-like surface of Mt Etna, discover the food, hospitality and surprises of Italy’s most distinctive culture.

    • 11
    • ZGKS
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $3,900
      CAD $4,150
      AUD $4,305
      EUR €2,910
      GBP £2,575
      NZD $5,105
      ZAR R39,205
      CHF FR3,590
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    • Walking
    • Comfort
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Spirit of Sicily.
Print Version
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2014
Spirit of Sicily
Trip code: ZGKS
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Ancient civilisations, prehistoric caves, Byzantine churches, Baroque buildings and majestic landscape – the island of Sicily has it all. Immerse yourself in all the glory of Sicily including its mouth-watering cuisine!
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Also available to purchaseSingle travellersHealth
We also recommendAccommodationSafety
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionTravel insurance
Culture shock rating MealsResponsible Travel
Physical ratingTransportA couple of rules
Included activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Carbon offset
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsFeedback
Spending moneyFinish point
TippingEmergency contact
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Themes
Walking
Map
Spirit of Sicily
Itinerary
Day 1 Palermo
Our journey starts in the bustling city of Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Palermo can easily be reached by boat, train or plane.
While at your discretion, we recommend arriving and departing by train where possible within Europe, because this method of transports minimises carbon emissions.
There are no activities planned today, so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the joining hotel (details are in your travel documents).
In the evening, we meet our tour leader and our fellow travelling companions at a Welcome Meeting (this is usually at 6pm, but you will be advised of the exact time and place in a notice located near the reception at our hotel).
At the meeting, our tour leader will give us a briefing on what lies ahead on our tour. Afterwards, we dine together in a local restaurant.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Monreale - Palermo
This morning we take a stroll through the old heart of Palermo, admiring some of its main monuments such as the cathedral, which has a wonderful mix of styles. Originally built in the 12th century, it has been modified a number of times, most notably in the 18th century with the addition of its dome. We also spend some time wandering through some of the city’s colourful markets.
Our private minibus then transfers us to nearby Monreale, situated in a panoramic position above Palermo with fantastic views over the city and the sea. From here we take our time to visit its stunning cathedral, described as one of the ‘wonders of the medieval world’, and climb to its roof.
We stroll through the old historical centre and have time to buy some picnic supplies before travelling on to the wonderful Zingaro Nature Reserve - the oldest in Sicily. We find a spot to enjoy a picnic lunch before commencing a beautiful coastal walk along the pristine Mediterranean landscape.
Upon completion of our walk there is time to relax on the beach or perhaps take a swim before transferring to the charming small village of Scopello at the entrance of the reserve, where we can enjoy an ‘aperitivo’. We return to our hotel in the centre of Palermo, where the evening is free to enjoy an optional dinner in one of the nearby local restaurants that serve traditional Sicilian cuisine.
(Total walking time: sightseeing walks in Palermo and Monreale + ‘Zingaro’ walk: around 2 hours; approx. walking distance: 8 km. Total driving time today: around 2 hours)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Cefalu/Montalbano
This morning we are passing the famous fish market before we travel along the northern coast to the beautiful small town of Cefalù, one of Sicily’s ‘undiscovered treasures’.
We are dropped off at the town’s Roca, the mountain with a castle built on top that overlooks the old city centre. From here we embark on a wonderful short round walk before continuing down into the old town and discovering its charming narrow alleyways and imposing Norman cathedral.
After lunch there may be the possibility for a swim before we continue our travels along the north coast to Tindari. After visiting the intriguing ruins of the old Greek city of Tyndaris, we can pay a short visit to the sanctuary - one of the most important places of worship in Sicily, before visiting the intriguing ruins of the old Greek city of Tyndaris, where we take a wonderful afternoon walk through the ruins, overlooking the Mediterranean. Energy levels permitting we can continue our walk down to the coast. We walk along spectacular sand formations and green-blue lakes, before returning to our bus.
We drive inland to the charming medieval town of Montalbano, dominated by its impressive castle, listed as one of the hundred most beautiful small towns of Italy. We settle in a great hotel, overlooking the coast and the Eolian Islands.
(Total walking time: around 3hours; approx. walking distance: 7 km. Total driving time today: around 3 hours)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 The Malabotta Forest/Argimusco
Today is a relaxed day. After a leisurely breakfast this morning, we start the day with a short walk through the alleys of Montalbano Elicona, with its interesting medieval town centre and a visit to its impressive castle, recently restored.
We then travel on by private bus to the forest of Malabotta, a beautiful and unknown nature reserve of inland Sicily. From here we embark on a round walk, partly through the forest, partly along strange rock formations, locally known as ‘megaliti’. An ancient megalithic site, now known as the ‘Sicilian Stonehenge’ has recently been discovered here.
We have our lunch with local specialties in the forest, with views of Mount Etna, in front of us. If energy levels permit we continue our walk to Moio dell’Alcantara, where we can see the ‘Vulcanetto’, a small volcano just outside the village.
We then return to our hotel, in time for a nice ‘aperitivo’ at sunset, before having dinner at the hotel.
(Total walking time: approx. 4 hours; walking distance: approx. 9 km).
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Taormina/Castelmola/Isola Bella
Today we travel on to our next base, the wonderful resort town of Taormina, situated in one of the most dramatic spots of the whole Mediterranean.
Our bus first brings takes us to the charming hilltop town of Castelmola, a small fortified city, from where we enjoy stunning views over the surrounding area, the city of Taormina, Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea. After a stroll through its medieval streets, an optional visit to the castle and perhaps a drink on one of the terraces, we walk on, down to Taormina, along a beautiful panoramic footpath.
Through pleasant agricultural landscape, with breathtaking views of the coastline and glorious Etna, we reach the charming Taormina, not without reason one of Italy’s foremost resort towns. The Greek influence is noticeable in the architecture and wandering the back streets is a great way to transport you back in time to the days when this part of Italy remained a stronghold for their Aegean neighbours. With picturesque ruins and the backdrop of Etna, views are grand to say the least. Here we make a first orientation walk through the charming small streets of town, its gardens and of course to visit the world famous Greek/Roman theatre and the cathedral.
The whole afternoon is at leisure, so plenty of time for another stroll along Taormina’s main boulevard, with its many beautiful shops, or to have a drink in the shade of an oleander tree, or return to the hotel and enjoy its panoramic swimming pool.
Those who want can join in for an optional walk down to the sea, which we reach in front of the beautiful Isola Bella (what’s in a name!). Here we have time for a swim/ relax at the beach and a drink in the Mediterranean sun. In the late afternoon we take the cable car back up to town and from there we return to our hotel, passing along a spectacular medieval staircase. From our hotel we have perhaps the best possible views on Mount Etna and the Mediterranean Sea, which can even be enjoyed from the swimming pool!
Tonight we have dinner together in a great restaurant, with stunning views over Taormina and the Sicilian coastline. After dinner we can take a 5 minute walk to one of the most spectacular viewpoints of the area.
(Total walking time: approx. 3.5 hours; walking distance: approx. 9-11 km).
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Mt Etna
After breakfast a private minibus picks us up from our base for a full day visit to Mount Etna. Firstly we drive into the valley of the Alcantara river, irrigated by a complex system of basins and canals, dating back to the times of the Arab domination of Sicily. We stop at the unique canyon cut through an ancient lava flow of Mount Etna. Here we take a short & easy, but spectacular walk through the canyon.
We then travel on towards Francavilla, where we walk along the river, through a pleasant terraced landscape of orchards and fruit trees and pass a few hamlets built of lava stone and will also have the opportunity to see many strange lava formations, sculpted by the Alcantara River. We may also have the opportunity to dive into one of the ‘gurne’, natural ‘swimming pools’.
We then continue along the Alcantara river, up to the charming little town of Linguaglossa, where we can enjoy a typical ‘granita’ or a coffee and a wonderful sweet (almond/pistachio) cake from this area. Our journey then takes us up along the scenic Via ‘MareNeve’, the road of the sea and snow. From here we can see the most recent lava flows, some of which date back only a few years, reminding us of the fact that the Etna is still an active volcano! We walk on one of these recent lava flows, with a visit to some of the spots where the lava burst. This walk really gives us the feeling of the immense forces still working beneath us.
Our bus then brings us to the Sartorius Mountains, a completely different landscape, and from here we walk, partly through the forest, partly over older lava flows, ending at a mountain hut with spectacular views over the Strait of Messina. There is also time today to enjoy a wine tasting in one of the renowned wineries of Mount Etna, overlooking the sea.
It’s then on to the southern side of Mount Etna, perhaps the best-known part, again completely different in landscape. We settle into our next base, a charming hotel on the southern slopes of Mount Etna and the highest hotel on the Etna.
(Total walking time on day 6: approx. 4 hours; walking distance: approx.7 km. Total driving time today: around 1.5 hours).
The following day you will travel towards the very top of Mount Etna, for a full day visit to the top of the volcano. After breakfast you will travel up by cable car and 4x4 vehicles, until you reach almost 3000 metres in altitude.
Then, together with a specialist volcano guide you will start the relatively easy walk towards the very top, which you will notice is not just one, but a series of crater peaks.
After a short stop for a snack and a drink you will visit the other highest craters here, a unique experience! From here you will start your downhill walk, passing along a marvellous viewpoint above the Valle del Bove, Etna’s largest valley, in which many lava flows can be seen, one atop of the other.
If there is volcanic activity going on your specialist guide can take you there, to allow you to observe these impressive forces of nature from a safe point. You will then walk back to the cable car.
Those who are after a longer walk – all downhill - can walk all the way back to the base. In case of adverse weather conditions, you will not go all the way to the top, but instead take a round walk over one of the most impressive cones, the Montagnola, and along the edge of the Bove Valley.
Back near your base, you can go for a short but spectacular walk along the Monti Silvestri, through the barren landscape formed by the explosion of 1892.
After a short stop for a drink you will then walk back to your base and spend another night on the top of Mt. Etna.
Approximately 4-5 hours; walking distance: approx. 13-17 km. Different options available, according to weather conditions and fitness)
Included Activities
  • Mount Etna Day Trip
  • Wine Tasting
  • Guided tour to the summit of Mount Etna
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 8 Pantalica/Ragusa
This morning we drive south under the shadow of Mount Etna to the charming baroque town of Sortino, which dominates the Anapo River valley.
After a short stop in Sortino , where we can take a stroll and buy our picnic supplies we drive to the entrance of the canyon of the Anapo River. This one of the most intriguing places in Sicily. The valley has been inhabited since prehistoric times and many civilisations have left their mark here.
We take a walk through the valley, firstly through the higher parts along the various prehistoric burial sites, known as the necropolis of Pantalica, and its most impressive monument - the Palace of the Prince. We also encounter small chapels, Byzantine villages and, at the edge of the canyon, beautiful baroque churches. We enjoy a picnic lunch on a nice spot in the valley.
After lunch we continue our walk following the course of an old railway. Along the river there are several good spots for a rest and perhaps a swim in one of the small lakes. At the end of our walk, we are picked up by our vehicle and are transferred to the town of Ragusa, one of the most scenic Sicilian towns and that also blends in wonderfully into its surrounding landscape.
The ‘new’ baroque city of Ragusa was completely rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693, but the historic part of the town still features older monuments. Both parts of the town deserve a visit.
At night we can stroll through the wonderful baroque streets and choose from a range of restaurant options for dinner.
(Total walking time: around 3,5 hours; approx. walking distance: 9 km. Total driving time today is around 2.5 hours)
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 9 Ibla/Modica/Noto/Vendicari Nature Reserve
Today we start with a short stroll through Ragusa, which is equally beautiful by day, as it is at night.
We then travel on to Modica, yet another wonderful baroque city, famous for its precious chocolate, made for centuries according to the same secret recipe. A short coffee break allows us to soak up its atmosphere.
Then we travel on to the nature reserve of Vendicari, one of the last remaining pristine bits of coastline in Sicily. Here we do a relaxed coastal walk, with the possibility to go for a swim.
By mid afternoon we leave for nearby Noto, perhaps the best known of the baroque cities, where we admire the wonderful colours of its many monuments in the beautiful late afternoon light.
At the end of the afternoon, we will be picked up by our bus again. Shortly we arrive in Siracusa, an ancient town on the sea, which was of immense importance as Greek Syracuse.
Our hotel is located in the middle of the lovely historical heart, located on the island of Ortigia. Here you will see that the much of its charm lies in wandering down the narrow medieval lanes, past romantically crumbling Baroque and medieval palaces and churches. We can eat something together in one of the lively restaurants in the historical centre, and if energy levels permit we make a nice roundwalk in the evening to savour its typical Mediterranean atmosphere.
Total walking time: approx. 3.5 hours; walking distance: approx. 9 km. Total driving time today is around 2 hours.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Syracuse/Ortigia/Neapolis
After breakfast we walk directly from our hotel through the most interesting parts of the old town. We discover many archaeological areas (some are amongst the world’s finest), countless baroque churches and many other important monuments. The character of the city is enchanting with its crumbling facades with balconies supported for centuries by a host of stone lions, tigers, bears, dragons, Moors, satyrs, devils, angels, kings, paupers, wenches and cherubs.
We also walk along limestone-paved streets overhung with drying laundry and ancient scaffolding and discover some of the most expansive piazzas that Italy has to offer. Passing some open doors will give us a glimpse of an ornate secret court yard, whilst others open right on to someone's dining room where lunch is being prepared.
We have ample time to stroll around the old city, visit its monuments and enjoy a coffee or savour a granita in one of the lively bars. Syracuse’s superb archaeological zone boasts the largest Greek theatre, which is still used today for live performances.
The rest of the day is free and your tour leader can help with some suggestions of things to see and do. Options include a boat trip around the island of Ortigia or a bike ride through the old city.
From Syracuse it’s easy to reach the nature reserve of Fiume Ciane, the only place in Europe where the papyrus plant grows, or a local beach. The city also has a great shopping district to explore. This evening we can gather together for an optional farewell dinner - a great opportunity to reflect on our just-completed adventure.
Your trip will come to an end after breakfast in Syracuse. There are a number of shuttle bus and train services to onward destinations including Catania (airport) and Messina.
The bus station is within walking distance of the hotel and the train station is also close by.
Arrivederci!
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • Spirit of Sicily - Single Supplement (ZGKS)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Italy Experience (ZMKF)
  • Italian Lakes Discovery (ZGXI)
  • The Cinque Terre Explored (ZGXT)
Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Physical rating

This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Money Exchange
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest €1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €2-€4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
OUR LOCAL PARTNER:
This trip is operated by Peregrine Adventures and you will be joined by other like minded Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers. Single travellers will share accommodation with another traveller of the same sex.
Group size
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Accommodation
Hotel (10 nts)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Meals
10 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 6 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
EUR 525.00
Transport
Minibus, Cable car, 4x4
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
Hotel Joli
Via Michele Amari, 11
Palermo
ITALY
Phone: +39 091 6111765
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Finish point
Hotel Alla Giudecca
Via Alagona 52
Ortigia
Syracuse
96100
ITALY
Phone: +39 093122255
Fax: +39 093162433
Emergency contact
In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner Genius Loci on their 24 hour emergency number
Tel: 00 39 393 93752799
For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
EUROPE:
On this trip, you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 135.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.