Review of Clean Breaks by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith

by Heather Cowper on February 18, 2013

If you’ve ever travelled yet felt you didn’t quite get the best out of a place, then Clean Breaks, by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith, will open your eyes to a different way to travel.

Clean breaks book Review Published at Clean breaks book Review

This book’s for anyone who had a packaged holiday experience or spent a long weekend ticking off the ‘must-see’ sights, only to feel vaguely dis-satisfied. It’s for all you out there who want to leave a small environmental footprint and leave something good behind, whether it’s a local community that’s economically stronger or a smile on the face of a new friend.

Experience the world in a new way

Clean breaks is about maximising your experience of the local surroundings, people and culture, while minimising the environmental impact of your stay. The book covers 500 travel experiences, organised into 14 different regions of the world. It’s both a book to dip into for those ‘Where shall we go next?’ moments and also a practical guide to local contacts who can make your Clean Break a reality.

Short experiences to dip into

Most of the experiences are things you can do in a day or two and build into a wider trip. The emphasis is very much on going local and staying in smaller scale accommodation, or with organisations that will benefit the local community. In between the regional sections there are interesting pages on different travel themes, such as travelling by train or cargo ship, or carbon off-setting and eco-labelling.

It would take you a lifetime to experience all the things in this book – I can only assume it’s the by-product of years of travelling by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith and that a great deal of research has gone into finding these wonderful experiences. But even if you try one or two I’m sure you’ll come back feeling inspired.

Here are some of the travel experiences featured that took my fancy;

Tannourine Cedar Reserve on the Lebanon Mountain Trail Published at Tannourine Cedar Reserve on the Lebanon Mountain Trail

Lebanon – a long walk through the mountains of Lebanon

This was something I got a taste of when I spent a day treking in Lebanon earlier this year. If I went back, I’d definitely want to walk at least some of the Lebanon Mountain Trail that runs from North to South of the country. You will pass through rural mountain areas, valleys with orchards of fruit trees and stay in the homes of local village families. For more information see the Lebanon Trail Website.

Brazil – Learn to dance in Rio de Janeiro

Staying in locally run guest houses, you’ll spend your days learning how to dance the different styles of Samba and other dances from ball-room to funk. Then spend the nights putting your new moves into practice at local nightclubs where all the best local dancers hang out. The local company that organises the dance break helps to fund a community centre in one of the shanty neighbourhoods of Rio. For more information, contact Jingando Holidays.

Trericket Mill Bunkhouse in Wales Published at Trericket Mill Bunkhouse in Wales

Wales – stay in a Bunkhouse Barns in the Brecon Beacons

The national park of the Brecon Beacons in Wales is a mecca for lovers of the great outdoors, and if you want something more substantial than a damp tent over your head, you can stay in a network of bunkhouse barns. These are normally in restored stone barns or farm buildings with a self-catering kitchen and showers, staying in bunk-bed rooms. I’d love to spend a few days walking from one of these barns to the other taking in the amazing mountain scenery and perhaps taking in a spot of canoeing or climbing at the same time. One of the barns featured where I have stayed and which I’d highly recommend is Trericket Mill near Talgarth. For more information, contact Boots Bikes Bunkhouses or read more about our stay there here.

South Africa – Ride a bike in a township

Township Bike Tours Published at Township Bike Tours

Take a bike tour round Masiphumelele Township visiting the creche, craft shops and healer before finishing with lunch in the home of one of the local women. The money from the cycle tours goes to support a bike workshop which provides and repairs bikes for the community. For more information contact Adventure Without Limits.

It’s the sort of book you can refer to time and again when you’re planning a trip to add that extra magic to your travels, and it would be a great gift for any traveller, especially one with an environmental conscience (I hope that’s most of us these days).

You can buy Clean Breaks, by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith from Amazon and all good book shops

This article by Heather Cowper was originally published here on my travel blog at

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