My husband and I booked the 11 Day Ireland Driftwood tour that covered the entire Island in a... read more
My husband and I booked the 11 Day Ireland Driftwood tour that covered the entire Island in a... read more
At the end of July 2018, I joined the Vagabond 7 Day Tour of Ireland.
The Mood – upbeat adventure. As a single, I wondered how I would fit in the overall dynamics of the tour. Within one hour of the beginning our tour, we bonded as a big family for the week. This important framework set the tone for the entire tour.
The Guide - I’m sure all Vagabond directors are fantastic, but our group was fortunate enough to get THE VERY BEST. Our guide, Tadhg (pronounced like “Tig” in the word Tiger), has the perfect rounded personality, education, group management skillset, outdoor sports expertise, and driving experience. Everywhere we went, Tadhg narrated the intricate related historical details of important Irish events through time, delivered in an entertaining style and with a sharp wit. The appropriate Irish music (classic and contemporary) was regularly piping in the background. His personality was a significant factor in the overall enjoyment of the trip. He was confident in managing the group and not a single day went by without numerous jokes and laughs. Lots of CRAIC! If you don't know what that means yet, you'll find out in Ireland!
The STYLE/AGENDA - There are many ways to travel around Ireland. This tour had an underlying theme of “active” – each day had activities (either optional or included) where you really got moving. Sneakers AND hiking boots a must when packing! At the same time, there was a nice balance of the number of things planned daily…time to smell the roses, (or in this case, fields of heather). AND SHOP…in the little villages we hit. No quaint shop went undiscovered. We are on holiday, after all! Along the way, the places we stayed and the friendly Irish people we met were so memorable. The places we WENT…many “must see” and many “secret” or “off road” were absolutely wonderful.
The tour gives enough flexibility during evening and free hours that if you want to break off and do your own thing, you can (and are encouraged). It was delightful to not feel pressured to always be doing group activities, but to be included whenever the timing felt right.
Irish coffee, anyone? Just pull the van over! Throughout the trip, we were spoiled with Tadhg’s pop up kitchen and homemade, authentic Irish coffee. These lovely little nips spoiled us (wondering how to keep this up now that I’m back to work!)
Skellig Landing – Tadhg made the impossible happen. We were both wait-listed for the trip, and he worked his magic with the locals and got us on that boat. He probably wished he hadn’t when he watched me barf my brains out from motion sickness.! The trip was SO worth it, and I felt so lucky to have gone. It was terrifying and breath-taking at the same time.
I look back very fondly on my Vagabond tour and thankfully, I have 1,126 photos to help reminisce. I can’t wait to return! Thanks again to Tadhg, Vagabond, and to the very special friends (tour family!) made on our tour bus.
Hello AmyFredJo,it sounds like your trip was unforgettable in so many ways! You are certainly not the first or the last to suffer a little sea sickness on that boat trip, but you are right, it is so worth it. Tadhg is a brilliant addition to our Vagaguide Team and we are so lucky to have in our family. That is alot of photos, be sure to print a few out and pop them in some frames, free art after all! Our Vagabond tours are all about being active and enjoying your vacation, we all need to have flexibility on our vacation. Thank you for taking the time to write such a wonderful review of your Vagabond Cultural Experience. Rob Rankin, Owner.
We have always wanted to visit Ireland and after months and months of looking at various tour companies, decided to go with Vagabond's 8 Day Wild Irish Rover Tour. It was our hope not only to see some of the famous sites there, but also to experience the true essence of Ireland. The people, their culture, and the beautiful countryside that is known only to those who live there. Vagabond's tour delivered all of that and more! Our guide, Tadhg, was simply phenomenal!! His warm & witty personality, his absolute attention to every detail of the trip and his desire to make sure that each person's vacation was the best ever was the key to making this tour such a success. This trip was listed as "active" and Vagabond provided such a wide variety of activities for us to do. Every day had options, so the activities could be tailored to the group and/or the weather. Even the travel time was great as Tadhg would either have us listen to a variety of Irish music or would entertain us with interesting tales of Irish history. (I never knew a history lesson could be so much fun!) In addition to seeing well known sites like the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle, we also hiked, biked, rode horses, kayaked, bottle fed lambs, went on boat expeditions and even went to a small traditional Irish music concert held at a quaint record store! The lodging selections were fantastic and the food was excellent. We traveled in a 4x4 Land Rover that allowed us to drive on small roads that took us to inner Ireland - to travel back in time and see the untouched beauty of the land. Just Tadhg and his "family" of 12 viewing a hidden waterfall or having a picnic at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. If you want to see the true essence of Ireland, a "behind the scenes" look at the Irish culture, the land and its people, then I highly recommend Vagabond Tours of Ireland.
Thank you, Tadhg and Vagabond, for the trip of a lifetime!! We will be back for another tour with you!
Hello solarwindminis, great to hear you will be back again with us, we regard our loyal guests and look forward to seeing you again. It sounds like you had such a wonderful time exploring Ireland. Here at Vagabond Tours we love getting into nature and doing lots of fun activities. Tadhg is brilliant and a super guide, we are very lucky to have him as part of our team. Thank you for your review, Kind regards, Rob Rankin, Owner.
As a solo traveler, and this being my first trip out of the country, I spent months researching different companies for my tour. I couldn't be happier with my selection. Rob and his crew provide a tour experience far above and beyond the typical big-bus options. They not only have a wealth of knowledge about the history, legends and famous stories Ireland is known for, but the geology, ecology, and modern infrastructure and economical efforts as well. They advertise "off the beaten track" and truly mean it. Our group had such a lovely time seeing the sights from high above on the hilltops, visiting quaint local shops, listening to local musicians, and resting up in timeless inns.... all with wonderful service and offerings at each. My trip to Ireland has been at the top of my list of things to do for most of my life - so it was important to me to get it right , and this tour was well worth the money, far surpassing my expectations of the memories I would bring home and cherish. My priority with this trip was to be able to actually experience Ireland, not just look at it, or only visit the touristy spots. The Vagabond option was a nice balance of mild touring (drives, short hikes, shopping) and adventurous exploring (hikes, kayaking, etc).
Hello Melissa C, thank you for your review, Vagabond is all about going off the beaten track in Ireland, for a small country there is so much to see and cover. At Vagabond we want to show you authentic Ireland. I am so happy to hear that your tour succeeded in being a memorable and special experience for you. Kind regards, Rob Rankin, Owner.
I'd never taken a tour before, and spent considerable time researching our options! I finally decided to choose this Vagabond Driftwood Tour and I am thrilled with the results! The tour itinerary is exceptional and gives you such a comprehensive look at Ireland! I especially loved the opportunity to hear from people of Northern Ireland about their experiences; and everything in the Republic of Ireland was spectacular! My husband and I did almost all of the optional activities and they surpassed our expectations! This certainly is off the beaten path traveling as promised! Our tour guide, Mark made each day exceptional with commentary that included history, and context, local color and hilarious stories! The combination of Vagabond's Driftwood itinerary and Mark's leadership made for an unforgettable trip! Thank you to Vagabond, and thank you to Mark!
Hello Cindy H, it is always a hard decision who to choose, especially a tour company. So happy to hear you felt your choice was correct and you enjoyed your experience in Ireland with us. The 11 Day Discover Ireland tour allows you to do just that, see so much of Ireland and get a really good overview of so much of the country. Mark has been with us for many many years and its a super guide, his stories are legendary! Thank you for your review, kind regards, Rob Rankin, Owner.
My wife and I recently took the Driftwood tour of Northern Ireland tour. What a fantastic week! The itinerary was carefully crafted to offer a wide variety of interesting historic and cultural experiences. The pace was brisk but manageable and we had enough discretionary time to fit in some additional activities. The accommodations were stunning and included two castles. Vagabond/Driftwood Tours is a very well-run company. They provided us with ample information to prepare for the tour and promptly replied to our inquiries. We also appreciate their dedication to being environmentally responsible (they recently adopted a carbon-neutral policy). Our tour guide, Darran, was knowledgeable and funny, and worked diligently to make sure our trip was fulfilling. I would recommend this tour to anyone taking their first trip to Ireland or those who want to experience a new part of this amazing country.
Hello Chuck, super to hear you enjoyed your tour. Vagabond is the only Irish Tour Operator to have achieved Gold Eco Tourism Certification so we take it quite seriously, this year we also won a Green Award. We think its important to look after this country and planet so we can all continue to enjoy it for years to come. Thank you for the recommendation, Rob Rankin, Owner.
My wife, 16 year old son and I just returned from a Vagabond Wild Irish Rover 8 day tour, which ran July 22- July 29. There aren't enough superlatives in English with which I can praise this experience. It was the best trip I have ever taken, superb in every respect. I would echo earlier comments written by other travelers. The locations we were taken to were breath takingly beautiful, the whole tour was superbly organized and ran like a Swiss watch, the accommodations were excellent, the pubs/restaurants outstanding. Our guide, John, was simply outstanding in every respect: personable, well organized and with encyclopedic knowledge of all things Irish. We were doubly blessed to have another new Vagabond employee, Derry, take the tour with us. He was like another guide for us, and like John, so generous with his knowledge and perspectives. Both men exhibited the wit, humor and grace for which the Irish are so well known. Such great ambassadors for their country and company, class acts both. I will always consider them friends, as I will the other couple on our trip, who were a lot of fun and a joy to be with.
First, this ain't your grandparents' trip to Ireland. The Vagabond tours give you the chance to get out and get close to Ireland's beauty, through hikes, a bike trek and even a kayak excursion. You don't feel like a total couch potato. The trip is energizing.
Our 13 passenger vehicle was comfortable, immaculate, rugged, and able to go where the tour buses could not. A cancellation meant there were only 5 of us on the tour, plus John and Derry, for a total of 7.
At each stop, all our rooms, or tables, were waiting for us, there was never any confusion or waiting at any stop.
As advertised, the trip takes you off the beaten path. We went down rural roads to see stunning vistas, which we never would have been able to find had we attempted this on our own. Having a local expert take you to these places made all the difference...I am so glad we didn't try to do this ourselves, because we didn't waste time trying to find our own way around.
Most of all, it felt, time and again, like we had Ireland to our own small little group. At almost every stop we were the only tour group present. You'd find yourself in a remote valley, a crystal brook murmuring beneath you, the silence broken only by the bleating of sheep on the steep mountainsides rising around you, totally unspoiled and appearing as they did centuries ago. For me, as an Irish-American, this bordered on a religious experience. This trip takes you to the real Ireland, the experience is totally authentic, not gimmicky or touristy. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Near the end of our trip we visited the Cliffs of Moher. We were dropped off about 90 minutes south of the visitors center, and walked north towards it, while John took the van up to the visitors center and walked from there to meet us. We had the Cliffs to ourselves most of the way on an utterly spectacular day. It wasn't until we were almost at the end of our walk, and saw the dozens of tour buses and legions of tourists walking towards us, that I fully realized how totally absent the crowds and massive buses had been from our week and how singularly different our experience was from those tourists on the big bus tours.
We travelled with our 16 year old son. When booking the trip the office staff was honest with us and said in a number of cases, he would likely sleep on a roll away bed of some type, which we weren't going to subject him to given he is 6 feet tall and not suited to children's arrangements, so we got another room for him. In every case but one, the hotels made sure his room was next to our own, which we really appreciated. Having an active tour such as this made this trip much more enjoyable for him. I definitely think this trip is the way to go with a teen. John, Derry and our fellow travelers treated him so well, we truly felt like a big family.
One of my favorite observations in life is fools know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. We derived enormous value from this trip and felt it was worth every cent and are already contemplating another visit in the future. I can't recommend this trip highly enough.
Hello FrankUSA2018, thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and lovely review of your Vagabond 8 Day Wild Irish Rover Tour. At Vagabond we really do want to go off the beaten track as much as possible while still showcasing the iconic sites of Ireland. The great thing about being a genuinely small group tour is you really can avoid the crowds, hiking into the Cliffs is such a special experience, delighted you got to enjoy it. We get a good few families on our tours and our guides are super at catering for their needs too, its great to be outdoors, enjoying nature and activities together. We hope to see you again in the not so distant future. Rob Rankin, Owner.