Secret Trails of Medieval Spain

8 days
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4.6 / 5 from 43 reviews >
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Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Walking & Trekking
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Warm Spanish hospitality and spectacular scenery following historic pilgrim routes

The undiscovered lands of Old Castile, one of the historic mediaeval kingdoms of Spain, encompass an incredibly varied landscape where high plains and fertile valleys alternate with rugged hills, dramatic windy ridges and deep wooded gorges. Here, in the heart of the nation's gone but remembered glory and power, we venture on a fantastic journey during which we walk secret pilgrims’ routes, explore rich mediaeval heritage and enjoy the typical warm Spanish hospitality.


  • Follow historic pilgrim routes
  • Enjoy impressive gorges and spectacular scenery
  • Stay in a family-run hotel based in a traditional historic village
  • Explore the city of Burgos with its impressive Gothic Cathedral on your free day
  • Attend vespers sung in Gregorian chant by Benedictine monks

Key information

  • 7 nights in a traditional Spanish family-run hotel
  • 5 days centre-based walking; 1 free day
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus UK leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 1278m, average 1000m


What's included

  • All breakfasts and 7 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights


What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas & vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Walking & Trekking

Approximately 5 hours walking per day


Low altitude; good paths with some gradual ascents

Day by day breakdown
Day 220.0km/12.0miles
Day 317.0km/11.0miles
Day 415.0km/9.0miles
Day 520.0km/12.0miles
Day 721.0km/13.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Covarrubias.

    Our trips starts in Covarrubias, a small village and municipality in the province of Burgos located approximately 200km north of Madrid.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Circular walk in the Valles de Ura, home to numerous species of local flora and fauna.

    We set out from Covarrubias and walk by the Arlanza river to the village of Puentedura and then down into a gorge. After lunch we climb out of the gorge and make our way to a hermitage, Ermita de Redonda, and then back to Covarrubias. 

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 3

    Full-day circular walk: ascend the Sierra de las Mamblas and circle the distinctive Muela mountain.

    We climb out of Covarrubias to another hermitage, Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Mamblas, followed by lunch on the ridge looking north. After lunch we complete the circuit of Muela and return to Covarrubias down a wooded valley. 

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Beautiful walk from Rio Arlanza to Santo Domingo de Silos; visit the beautiful Benedictine monastery.

    We take hired transport along the Arlanza river and then climb gently onto the plateau for a break at the Tenadas de Valcarcel with a second break at Tenadas del Campo and lunch on the top of the ridge facing the spectacular mountain of San Carlos. We descend to Silos with time to visit the Cloister museum (optional) before being collected by our private transport for the return journey to Covarrubias, taking in a short visit to La Yecla gorge on the way back. 

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Walk through vineyards and beautiful valleys to the 'The Three Villages', three remote and primitive settlements.

    We leave Covarrubias by the Arlanza river and climb through vineyards on the way to the first village of Retuerta. We then climb over the ridge and descend to the second village of Castroceniza. Lunch will be taken in this beautiful valley on the way to the third village of Ura. Another climb out of the valley takes us through forest and farmland to a highpoint overlooking Covarrubias, before descending back to the hotel. 

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 6

    Free day to relax or visit cathedral city of Burgos and its many sights.

    A suggested day is to take the 9:00 public bus to the cathedral city Burgos and its many sights. Return on 13:00 bus to Covarrubias for tapas lunch at our hotel. The choice of a siesta or short afternoon walk before an optional evening visit to Silos for vespers is possible before dinner.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Walk along the crest of the Sierra de las Mamblas for stunning panoramic views.

    Another steady climb out of Covarrubias brings us through the dense forest to a limestone edge. After lunch we continue along the edge with wonderful views to the Sierra de la Demanda, before descending back to Covarrubias. An optional visit to a bodega (winery) is possible before dinner. 

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 8

    End Covarrubias.

    Out trip ends today in Covarrubias after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 7 dinners are included.

The excellent home cooked dinners are accompanied by complimentary wine. Please note that mealtimes in Spain are later than in many other countries; dinner is usually taken between 20:00hrs and 21.30hrs. The hotel offers a picnic lunch each day for a charge of EUR 5 or there are local shops to purchase your own lunch items from.

Vegetarians are catered for given prior notice, and most other dietary requirements can also be accommodated as long as you let us know in advance (at the time of booking). Please note that food choices may be limited. 


The weather should be warm and sunny, but it may feel quite cold when the temperatures drop overnight - so a fleece is advised for evenings and early mornings. This is northern Spain and a rainy day is always possible, including the possibility of a thunderstorm, so do not forget to take your waterproofs. An umbrella can be useful in a sudden heavy shower and can also be used as a parasol should the temperatures rise! Because of the risk of strong sunlight, suitable sun block should be applied and a sufficient quantity of water should be carried each day.

Central Spain

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level 3 (Moderate)

This is a moderate walking holiday with 5 days walking and 1 free day. The walks follow historic pilgrim routes, mule tracks and trails through the rural countryside of the Spanish heartland, as well as allowing free time to explore the cathedral city of Burgos.

The tracks are mostly well marked but some of the terrain under foot can be a little rough. All walks take around 5-6 hours and require a moderate level of fitness. Walking is on a variety of dirt tracks, gravel and some tarmac. There are some rocky sections that may require some scrambling and in less visited areas be aware paths may be overgrown and rougher underfoot, therefore walking boots are recommended. A few steep ascents and descents should be expected. Walking hours stated in the itinerary are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group.


Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotel Rey Chindasvinto

This is a centre-based tour, spending 7 nights in the 3-star family-run Hotel Rural Rey Chindasvinto based in the picturesque village of Covarrubias.

The hotel is an elegant conversion of a traditional village house, set in a quiet square within the town walls. The hotel offers comfortable accommodation whilst retaining a mediaeval feel, with each of the rooms named after a local king or queen. Twin bedded and single rooms have a shower and WC, TV and telephone. Free Wi-Fi is also available in the hotel. The excellent dinners are accompanied by complimentary wine and include a good choice of regional and vegetarian dishes.

There are a limited number of single rooms which can be requested at the time of booking. Single supplements are subject to availability.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2018
    Susan Wroe

    Secret trails of Medieval Spain

    A very enjoyable trip because all the walks were excellent and because so much was arranged for us to do after the walks that informed us of the area we were in. I did not know rural Spain and this trip made me want to know more.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Our leader was a keen bird watcher. He took us to the head and top of a gorge where we could see griffon vultures feeding their young.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Well informed about the area and keen for everyone to have a good holiday. The walks were exceedingly well planned, timed perfectly, and we always walked through very interesting areas and had beautiful views.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A good trip to go on.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • Reviewed October 2018
    M B

    Quiet walks in Spanish countryside

    Gentle walks in extremely quiet Spanish countryside with fantastic views from some of the ridges. Mostly flat with occasional climbs that varied between long but gentle or a few minutes ascent and then flat again .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing some of the views from ridges, the flat countryside with no construction for miles ( as far as the eye could see)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was very helpful and passionate about the birdlife. Always explained various species and also flora and fauna. Personally I like to be advised of distance completed / distance outstanding at breaks/lunch but when asked , Xavier always provided the information .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you choose not to have hotel packed lunch ( and many of us made that choice ) it can be a bit of an adventure finding which shop ( tiny supermarket , bakers ) is open before setting off for the walks daily at 09.45. The cafe/ baker in main square opposite Bar Tiki opens at 08.30 and has a range of empanadas , not obvious when peering through the window , in addition to sweet biscuits and cakes . Their hot chocolates were indulgingly rich and thick .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Try to visit the College/seminary near to hotel ( opposite Princess Kristina statue) . Its compact but quite interesting and is comparable to the numerous individual chapels in Burgos cathedral.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Alexandra Owen

    A beautiful place full of little treasures

    A week of great walks, in a beautiful, and fabulously quiet place, what more could you want! Lets face it, it's always exciting, but also a little nerve wracking, setting off on a trip to meet a random group of people you've never met before, in a place you've never been. But this trip was absolutely lovely, a great group of ten people and an excellent tour leader. The walks were really beautiful (even the couple in the rain), and thanks to our very dedicated tour leader we had lots of additional activities and opportunities, allowing us all to get the most from our trip. The hotel was in one of the traditional buildings and the rooms were great and added to the atmosphere of staying in the beautiful village of Covarrubias.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Going to Vespers at Silos was very special and rather like being taken to another world. However both the history and nature of this area were both inspiring throughout the week.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our trip was lead by Xavier who was lovely and really dedicated to his role. He was always ahead of the game with information about the walks the evening before, and arranged lots of other optional visits to museums, hermitages and local tours. His genuine love for nature and the environment came across and added to the walks.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just relax and enjoy!
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Andrew Dann

    Relaxing walking holiday in scenic hilly countryside

    It is not a "thrills and excitement" sort of adventure holiday. Nor is it wildly exotic or spectacular. If you want to avoid tourism and spend some slow time walking and staying in scenic deepest Spain with a group of (probably) like-minded people, this may work well for you. Lots of small details to enjoy, rather than big wow factor stuff.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Slow time in the riverside village of Covarrubias - full of history and birdlife (but not nightlife). Burgos cathedral. The company of an interesting group of people. The gorge leading to Ora village.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier's knowledge and enthusiasm for birds was a great bonus. He is not fluent in English, but good enough to act as guide and to translate on excursions. All the walks and excursions were organised well and we rarely spent any time hanging around waiting for things to happen.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Buy provisions from the small shops in the village to make packed lunches. In May, the weather was colder than in London, so bring warm clothing.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't expect to be walking romantic pilgrims' roads with historic gems at every corner. It's more nice country walks with the occasional dilapidated ancient village.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Anna Kulisa

    TSR Secret trails of medieval Spain

    This was a very pleasant trip and I thought the guide Xavier was nice but his English was very poor. You had to repeat a simple question several times and he could not engage at meal times etc. His lack of speaking English easily meant that the walks were not described well and we got a poor grasp of the area and it’s fascinating history. He has a brilliant knowledge of birds but this wasn’t a birding trip. Lovely food and v good breakfasts but too much of it- we hoped the hotel staff ate what was left. Excellent value - unlimited wine included.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The architecture and age of the ancient villages. Excellent trip for birds - especially eagles and vultures.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above. Local guides normally have excellent English. We had other guides for post walk tours whose English was excellent. Our guide was not all that fit and was trying hard to diet.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    €100 cash is the most you’ll need for the weeks spending . Unlimited wine is included - so very good value.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The walks weren’t quite as interesting as I hoped. I expected tougher walks for a moderate grade. (3) I would rate it as easy compared to say Kinabalu (a 4) ) and Tour of Mont Blanca only a 4 and some Nepal treks which are a 4 - all of which I’ve done. I think this should be looked at . Difficult though to get a lot of variety as well with circular walks. There were tops we could have climbed within the grade I thought.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Rose Lennard

    Very enjoyable walking in interesting part of Spain

    Very enjoyable walking in beautiful and varied landscapes. The terrain was generally not very rugged or challenging, so the 10-12 mile hilly walks felt easily doable, but with a sense of achievement. The hotel was run by very helpful and friendly people, the town was full of historic interest and beautifully situated with a river running through. The hotel location was peaceful, away from traffic, and in good weather it was lovely sitting out on the square. There was a good mix of walking and visiting places of historic interest.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    As a keen naturalist, the bird life was a real bonus - hearing and seeing nightingales regularly, swifts, martins and swallows filling the skies above the town, huge flocks of griffon vultures, as well as many other less easily spotted species. We were a bit early for the wildflowers due to a late Spring, but still saw lots of lovely orchids. Also plenty of good photo opportunities in the landscape and villages.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier was very helpful, cheerful and friendly. His knowledge of local history was very good and he is an expert ornithologist with good local plant knowledge as well. At times there was a bit of a language barrier but we usually managed to understand each other!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We found the weather surprisingly cold - there was snow on nearby mountains and the winds were really chilly - so travel with plenty of layers even in mid May! It wasn't an expensive holiday - nearly all meals provided and the opportunity to make your own picnics. The hotel catered pretty well for a non-meat eater who prefers to avoid wheat - if you eat fish and eggs you'll be OK, though complete veggies or vegans might not be so happy.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A relaxing holiday with plenty of exercise and fresh air!
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Paul Newell

    walking in rural reas of northern Spain

    The guide Xavier Martin was very knowledgeable both on the places visited and on the local birds. If he was leading a walk at the front he continually ensured that walkers at the rear were managing OK and came down a slope to check on me when I lost my footing and fell backwards onto a rock ( I was OK ! ). The hotel was excellent ; the staff could not do enough for us and the food provided was excellent with a varied choice of dishes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Watching the eagles and vultures flying over the hills and admiring the views from the high points.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent ( see above )

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If travelling at the beginning or end of the season to take some warm clothes in case the weather is inclement.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The holiday gave a good impression of typical Spanish rural life, a world away from the Costas ! I would recommend this trip to any walkers who like to experience the traditional ways of life. in a pleasant climate.
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Mike Bond

    secret Trails of Mediaeval Spain

    Good, varied, moderate grade walking in a very attractive area of rural Spain. An opportunity to see a wide variety of wild flowers and hear and see a very wide variety of birdlife and to walk in unspoilt countryside some of which appears to have changed little over the centuries. You will also stay in the charming village of Covarrubias which must be quite unique in preserving so many buildings from mediaeval times.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Varied walking through ancient woodland, alongside cultivated fields, along ridges and through unexpected gorges. Great views across the Sierra de las Mamblas. The hotel is very comfortable and it offers really tasy regional dishes every night for dinner; you will eat well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Xavier is a walking encyclopedia of birdsong and he was a great leader and host.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a range of clothing, but when we were there in June we had beautiful weather with temperatures ranging from 18C at night up to 36C during the day, but this was extremely unusual and temperatures will normally be ten degrees less than this. Walking poles are useful for the steeper sections of some of the walks.
  • Reviewed November 2016
    James Elder

    TSR161015: Secret Trails of Medieval Spain

    The trip did not get off to a good start as contrary to the joining instructions, there was no one to meet us at Madrid airport. (Flights had been booked through Exodus). Eventually we had to telephone the Exodus office in the UK and the guide who had been waiting at a different terminal did meet us. Covarrubias is a pretty medieval town which was unfortunately mostly closed as the season appeared over. The hotel was pleasant, the staff very friendly and the evening meals very good. The packed lunches were at best average. The first two days walks were disappointing and returned early afternoon. The last three days walks were much better, covering a variety of terrain and offering lovely views. The guide was enthusiastic but it was the first time she had led this trip. The 2+ hour return trip by bus to the airport was not accompanied by an Exodus representative (or English and Spanish speaker) but fortunately no problems were encountered.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The last two walking days were good.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was enthusiastic and made an effort to find the answers to questions. She kindly organised a bus for us all to go to Burgos on our day off. As experienced walkers, she did not appear to us to be an experienced walking guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    At this time of year the town was very quiet with most things closed.
  • A Great Trip!

    Having enjoyed travelling with Exodus several times now, we were certainly not disappointed this time - this trip was one of the best. Covarrubias has a charming small medieval town centre, and the hotel is well-situated in the old part where limited traffic access meant it was very peaceful. The hotel was very comfortable and the meals good - substantial breakfasts and varied dinners (with wine provided). Our host, Eloy, looked after us very well. The walking matched the grade very well for us - 17-20 km walks with leisurely 9.30am starts, and usually ending back at the hotel between 4pm and 5pm - in time for a relaxing beer or two afterwards under the shady trees in the square. The climbs were often gradual, with just a few steep pinches; but the views from the top were well worth the effort. The maximum climbing in one day was 450m (not all at once though). We often had quite hot weather (up to 33°C), but as a lot of the climbs were in the morning, often in partial shade, this wasn't too bad. Rucksacks were a bit heavy though, with up to 2 litres of water, packed lunch and the precautionary waterproofs etc. The main effect of the hot weather was some sore feet after long descents on stony paths - very comfortable boots are needed for such conditions. All but one of the walks started from the hotel, taking us quickly into the lovely countryside. The vast expanses of wild flowers were an unexpected bonus (we thought they'd be over by June). All the walks took in different views and terrain, and were planned to allow for plenty of opportunities to stand and stare, take photos and enjoy leisurely elevenses and lunch. The villages were interesting, if rather quiet. The free day spent in Burgos was worthwhile. The cathedral is spectacular, and the town centre very pleasant to wander around, especially by the river. For a more relaxing day it's worth sharing a taxi to return to Covarrubias late afternoon rather than taking the regular 1pm bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Highlights were - panoramic views from ridges or mountain tops, fields of wildflowers, isolated villages, Burgos cathedral.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Emily, was great - very friendly, knowledgeable and with relaxed leadership. She paced the walks very well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Watch out for the stairs in the hotel. A few of our group missed their footing coming down where the stairs turn - the dark wood stain makes the edges hard to see, even with the light on.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936