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ltstyle Dec 2nd, 2005 08:00 AM

ATG-oxford? Has anyone used them?
I have been researching extensively for a "self-guided" walking tour in Italy (no group; just a route, hotel reservations and luggage transfers). I saw mentioned on this site and was stunned to see how much less expensive they are than ANY other company - for a trip that sounds like JUST what I want....what's the catch? Are they good?
Tell me, tell me....

cigalechanta Dec 2nd, 2005 03:18 PM


ltstyle Dec 2nd, 2005 03:24 PM

ok, i give up - what does "topping" mean?

cigalechanta Dec 2nd, 2005 03:31 PM

No one anwered your post at noon, so I topped it for the evening crowd so you will get some responses. :)

You can top your own thread to bring it to th top/

Bree Dec 2nd, 2005 03:38 PM

I wish I could tell you about an ATG_Oxford trip, but the trip I was supposed to take with them last June was cancelled because not enough people signed up. I will say, however, that they were very good about refunding my deposit promptly, and that the materials they sent in advance of the trip appeared to be very thoughtfully prepared.

The only thing I didn't like about them -- and it's a minor point -- that they require, as a condition of booking, that you take out trip insurance (the choice of insurer is up to you). I prefer the question of whether to get trip insurance or not to be up to me.

sheila Dec 3rd, 2005 01:04 AM

I haven't been with them but I have friends who have, both on teh self guided version and the guided version. No-one has had a bad word about them

RockCrest Dec 3rd, 2005 02:54 AM

We used ATG for a self guided walk in Provence in May, 2005 and will use them again in Italy in May, 2006. They were perfect for our needs. They did the luggage transfers, made the lodging reservations, and the rest was up to us. They had an extremely well written and extensive walking guide and a route manager for contact if needed.

We have spoken with people who have used other services and if ATG was one of the comparison's, it always came out on top. We "self guided" in Ireland in September, 2005 and used South West Walks and it was "average". It was fine and we did want to be independent, but the maps were outdated, directions were incorrect and there were last minute changes in our lodging after we arrived in Ireland.

I think the only negative comment I have ever heard about ATG is that it is more pricey than its competitors, so your comment on the cost suprised me. I didn't do much comparison shopping for our upcoming Italy trip because I was so pleased with our previous dealings with ATG. I would highly recommend ATG.

ltstyle Dec 3rd, 2005 07:02 AM

Thanks for the good feedback, RockCrest, it was most helpful. and truly, unless I am missing something, they are definitely less expensive.
Thank you also cigalchanta, for "topping". Not only did it work, I learned something new :)

flanneruk Dec 3rd, 2005 09:36 AM

I'm probably the person who mentioned them. I'm a huge fan and greatly looking forward to my next jaunt just after Christmas, though I've not been on a Footloose journey.

You're probably the first person in history to complain they're too cheap. Please don't do it again, since it'll only give them ideas.

But are you ABSOLUTELY sure you're comparing like with like? Their Footloose product doesn't include any meals, and the Standard Footloose package is mostly based on 2 star places. You'll often overnight in places with limited restaurant facilities, which might force you into paying the semi-monopoly prices some of these hotels can try to get away with, as you won't have a car and French and Italian public transport out in the boonies is seriously dire.

Also, some of the Footloose itineraries look to need an expensive taxi to get to one or both ends, and even if you're driving, getting back to where you left the car might be pretty pricey. Could ATG's competitors be including all this in the price?

All of which said, your question's prompted me to read their mailer which arrived during this week. Their entry-level walk, at £250 for five days through Tuscany, does indeed look a ridiculous bargain, and you may well bump into Mrs F and me having a flaming row on it this coming spring about which of us can't read a map. So thanks for asking the question.

cmt Dec 3rd, 2005 12:05 PM

I'm interested in this thread, becaue I've been getting their catalogues for a few years. I tried to sign up for one of their tours earlier this year, but it had been cancelled for insufficient interest. The information in their catalogues is excellent and very detailed regarding mileage and terrain and the type of wildlife and flowers and food harvests you might expect at various times of year.

Their tours LOOK like they'd be pretty difficult--either long hours or distance or steep terrain or both.
I took their little self-quiz to arrive at a rating suggesting my walking level. However, in my case the results may be misleading. For instance, I choose to walk when visiting a new city, I don't get out of breath when rushing to answer a phone, I recover quickly from being out of breath if I run to catch a bus (those were a few of the questions, I think), BUT I find it really hard to do long very steep uphill walks. So my "healthy" answers on those everyday situations do not really indicate that I'm a good strong hiker.

Anyway, their trips look really good. For myself, I'd try to look for the easist ones, though.

They used to be cheaper; their prices have gone up quite a bit in the last few years, along with the prices of all the other walking tour companies whose catalaogues I receive. But they're not as expensive as the good so-called mocerate-priced American walking tour companies and much cheaper than the really high-end ones.

ltstyle Dec 4th, 2005 09:15 PM

thanks flanneruk, never again will I mention that ANYTHING is too cheap :) I think you're right, though, I have not been comparing apples to apples. I will also now be sure to inquire thoroughly about tranportation to the beginning and from the end of the walk. thank you also for the heads up on eating establishments...that never occured to me. I just assumed that being in small villages one would be able to dine at inexpensive local places.
In regards to the degree of difficulty, I actually was drawn to ATG because it looks like their routes are a little tougher. My friends and I are pretty avid hikers/walkers and are looking for something a little challenging - more than a stroll.
So far I haven't heard anything that is deterring me from using ATG-Oxford...I think I'll move forward.
Umbria in May!

RockCrest Dec 5th, 2005 02:42 AM

Just putting in my two cents based upon our Footloose trip in Provence in May, 2005. Yes, there are transportation costs to and from the first and last villages. Many times you can take a train and/or bus and that keeps the costs down, but sometimes a taxi is the only alternative and that does need to be factored in. However, you can go on the ATG web site and under trip details, you can pull up all the preplanning information including the approximate cost of a taxi if that is the only alternative. It is very detailed and informative. I feel like ATG is trying to be very upfront about all the costs so there are no "hidden surprises" and when we did our French trip this was the case. It was exactly as advertised.

With regards to eating - once again I base my information on our Provence trip - there were always plenty of choices in the villages. In only one remote village, Buoux, did we not have a choice and we had to eat at the inn, but that 5 course dinner was a delight. I don't know about the Italian trips, but I am guessing the villages have similar facilities.

ATG will answer all questions via email and, if needed, they will even refer you to the route manager for that specific trip. They are very straightforward in their proper, cordial British manner.

You will enjoy.

ltstyle Dec 6th, 2005 07:05 PM

It just keeps sounding better...and you're right, all my correspondence with them so far has been great. Helpful, friendly, knowledgeable etc. Now to decide between Umbria/Assisi and Chianti/Florence....

look11 Jan 23rd, 2011 04:57 PM

My mother and Aunts have been taking guided trips with ATG for years, and I joined them on a Dordogne, France trip. We LOVE them! The guides are fantastic. Their knowledge of the areas they serve is wonderful and you get to see things you might never see on your own. Not to mention, when you're on a guided trip, they provide picnics along the walks that are out of this world. I cannot recommend them enough!
The older ladies (65+)did the walking through Tuscany tour and found it hilly and challenging, but doable. At any time, you can always get a ride to your next destination.

janisj Jan 23rd, 2011 05:08 PM

look11: The OP is from <B>2005</B>

It was topped by someone who registered and topped some really old ATG threads.

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