We're pleased to welcome an exciting addition to our riding holidays in Castilla and Leon: the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Route. We  begin our epic journey at the famous monastery of San Juan de Ortega. This monastery was built as an information point to the pilgrims who walked the route.

We then travel west towards the coast and the jewel in the crown of the pilgrim's route: Santiago de Compostela. En-route we will encounter ancient Roman villages and the climb the magnificent mountains of Leon staying in small and comfortable hotels and guesthouses along the way.

The horses are all Pure Spanish (PRE), forward-going and very responsive and ridden in Spanish style saddles. The food is typical of the region, lovingly prepared and freshly cooked. Your host on this route has bred these beautiful horses for many years and is knowledgeable and passionate about the history and culture of this area.

This Spanish horse riding holiday will appeal to riders who are interested in a combination of scenery and culture with comfortable hotels, good company and beautiful horses.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from JM of Salford on 11/10/2016

Ride Summary
the almost daily travel by road should be mentioned and the pace of the ride due to the camino's very nature was slower and less varied than expected. I think this trail is for riders who especially want to sample the camino.
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments Ula our English speaking guide is a friendly and charming young lady. She was always ready to help and had time for everybody.
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments Although the horses were fit and well suited to the job several of them developed sores during the week. Tack was changed or altered, but if the tack and horses are used regularly it's surprising this should happen to the extent it did.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response Although it was explained that we would travel by bus/car for part of the last leg of our journey there was no mention of the parts of the ride that were missed out and completed by road. Also being a linear ride there was a long drive back to base.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response The food was excellent and almost too much and accommodation generally very good. But the almost daily travel by road should be mentioned and the pace of the ride due to the camino's very nature was slower and less varied than expected. I think this trail is for riders who especially want to sample the camino.
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 6
Please explain why you scored it as you did Some steep bits to ascend and descend so confidence required but also lots of walk.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments The group was very friendly, there was no skimping on the food and wine,and our guide was excellent. The horses were good if the riding was a little disappointing. All in all still a very enjoyable week. Thanks.
Unicorn comments Thank you for your feedback. I'm glad you had an enjoyable time :) We are going to work on improvements to the itinerary and hopefully we can cut down on the travel time by car. We are aware that some of the horses had some sores - this is quite usual for working horses at the end of the season who are ridden for several hours every day. Unfortunately it is not possible to prevent the sores at all times.

Day 1: TRANSFER MADRID - COVARRUBIAS
Dinner and accommodation: Hotel Nuevo Arlanza or Hotel Doña Sancha (Covarrubias).

Day 2: SAN JUAN DE ORTEGA – BURGOS
We start the tour in San Juan de Ortega - this village is famous for its beautiful roman church were you can see the 'Milagro de la Luz', or 'miracle of the light', twice a year. The light of the sun illuminates the equinox and the scene of Annunciation will appear. We follow the camino along Agés and Atapuerca and slowly climb up to the mountain Matagrande (1078m), from here we can see Burgos on the horizon. The descent will bring us to the villages of Villalval and Cardanuela-Riopico and in Orbaneja-Riopico we will carry on, passing Castañares where we will stop for lunch. After lunch we will head to Burgos, the capital city, along the Riverside of “el rio Arlanzón”.
Dinner: Burgos or Calzadilla
Accommodation: Calzadilla de la Cueza

Day 3: CALZADILLA DE LA CUEZA – EL BURGO RANERO
We leave Calzadilla de la Cueza crossing over farmland, wheat fields and rammed earth of adobe in these last villages in Palencia and we will enter the province of León. Passing Sahagún, known as the capital of the poor roman for its use of mud bricks instead of stone, we will have lunch and after a typical Spanish siesta we continue our camino to el Burgo Ranero.
Dinner and accommodation: Castrillo de los Polvazares

Day 4: VALDEVIEJAS (ASTORGA) - FONCÉDABON
Today we will leave the Castilian flatness behind and start climbing the mountains of León. We are leaving Valdeviejas and at the crossroads we will pass by the charming medieval hermitage of Ecce Homo. From here the camino will incline progressively and we will continue to climb until the end of the journey today. Entering the mountains of León we will stop to have lunch and some rest in Coloma de Somoza. In the afternoon we will head towards Foncébadon, a ruined village on the Irago mountain where we will stay until tomorrow.
Dinner and accommodation: Convento de Foncébadon

Day 5: FONCÉBADON - MOLINASECA
We leave the village of Foncébadon through its principal road and along the camino after 3kms we come across the “Cruz de Ferro”, almost on the highest point of the Irago Mountain. This ancient monument is very simple: an iron cross nailed to a stick, borne on a base of infinity of small stones. We march on in slight ascent until we reach the highest point of the camino, 1.151m. After this we will start to descend down to a beautiful village called Molinaseca.
Dinner and accommodation: Molinaseca.

Day 6: OCEBREIRO – SARRIA
Today we finally reach the land of Santiago; land of fog, Celtic castles and mines which were craved by the romans: infinity of hills, oak and chestnut trees. After some more climbing we start descending to Fonfria (and its church) Viduedo, Filoval, Pasantes and we arrive at Triacastela where we will have lunch. We continue along the beautiful camino through a forest full of chestnut and oak trees, enjoying the genuine Galicia and its variety of tracks and country roads. At the end of our ride we will arrive in Sarria.
Dinner and accommodation: Sarria or Santiago de Compostela

Day 7: ENTRADA A SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
On the last day we will enter the Obradoiro square, the monumental centre of Santiago de Compostela. We will have to enter before 9:00am as we are not allowed to enter with the horses after. After a short ride back to the stables there is time to visit Santiago or attend the service. In the afternoon we will drive back to Covarrubias.
Dinner and accommodation: Hotel Nuevo Arlanza or Hotel Doña Sancha (Covarrubias).

Day 8: TRANSFER TO MADRID
Today we will say our fond farewells and head home, full of memories of the Camino de Santiago.

This ride is a shortened version of the whole Pilgrimage route and really shows the highlights of this wonderful journey. It is kept to 8 days by trailering the horses and taking riders by vehicle a short distance towards the end of the ride.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

The owner breeds and competes Pure Spanish horses (PRE). The horses are Spanish, Arab X and some Andalusian X, and there are 35 excellent riding horses to choose from. They range in height from 15hh-16.2hh with some ponies available. They are all in well rounded condition and beautifully polished on a daily basis with traditional flowing manes, mainly kept stabled, shod all round and very well mannered. They are ridden in traditional deep seated Spanish saddles with soft sheepskin covers and traditional big stirrups. The bridles are mainly curb bits and the horses are ridden loose reined and respond easily to weight shifts and subtle signals. This is a very easy and relaxing style of riding similar to Western, some instruction will be given if wanted. The horses are all experienced and sure footed trail horses with temperaments that vary from quiet and reliable through responsive to fiery and showy. With 35 horses to choose from you are sure to find your ideal partner for the week. The riding is mainly at a walk due to varying terrain, but there are plenty of opportunities (4-6) for long and fast canters every day. Jose Manuel, your guide, is not too keen on trotting although this is possible if requested! The riding starts late morning, after 2-3 hours a break is made for lunch followed by a siesta and a similar length afternoon session to arrive late afternoon at your destination. All saddling and grooming is done for you although you are welcome to assist with your own horse.

Rider requirements

Riders need to be able to walk, trot and canter. These horses are trained in the Spanish style and are used to being ridden with a loose rein when at walk and a light contact at canter. There are some large and strong horses, so there is a higher than usual weight limit of 105kg. Due to the long rides this ride is not suitable for children under 12 and all children should be competent riders. There is no need to saddle or clean your own horse on this ride unless you wish to. Assistance is available for mounting and dismounting and minimal walking next to your horses is required.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 17 st/231 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The hotels used en-route are all very comfortable with twin or double rooms and en-suite shower, toilet, bidet and basin in the bathrooms. They are always located in spots of particular interest and have a local character all of their own. The meals cover a range of local dishes and are always freshly prepared. Continental breakfasts, extensive lunches and 3 course dinners are the norm.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Climate Summary

July is the hottest month in Galicia with an average temperature of 18°C (64°F) and the coldest is January at 7°C (45°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 8 in August. The wettest month is December with an average of 135mm of rain. Due to its exposed north-westerly location, the climate is still very cool by Spanish standards.

Climate Chart
Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity in the hotel rooms and camera equipment can be recharged each night. Most towns and villages will sell some batteries and film.

Packing List

It is recommended to take a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly and sunglasses with string. There is a good range of riding helmets on site if you wish to borrow one. 2 pairs of riding trousers, half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey/fleece, warm jacket (depending on time of year), shorts, long trousers (evenings) long sleeve shirts, T-shirts, sarong or wrap, swimsuit, 8 pairs of socks, waterproofs, sun block, camera, binoculars, a pair of short riding/walking boots and trainers. On a practical level a bottle of water for refilling and the all essential loo paper (for outdoor emergencies only!) are handy.

Programmes

8 days / 7 nights and 6 days riding with set dates for this programme. Other dates may be arranged for groups of 6 or more.

Departure Dates

2017: 24 June; 16 September

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20178d/7n6double pp1,649
20178d/7n6single supplement139
20178d/7n6non rider sharing1,135
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20178d/7n6double pp1,769
20178d/7n6single supplement149
20178d/7n6non rider sharing1,219
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20178d/7n6double pp2,125
20178d/7n6single supplement179
20178d/7n6non rider sharing1,459
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20178d/7n6double pp17,405
20178d/7n6single supplement1,465
20178d/7n6non rider sharing11,959
Other Activities

Non-riders are welcome to accompany the ride in the luggage transfer vehicle. Each night is spent in interesting local villages and hotels and there is plenty to do and see. The main cultural items are visited with your guide en route and non riders can join in here.

Other Country Information

Spain is a beautiful and diverse country, the second largest in Europe. The official language is Castilian Spanish but Catalan, Galician and Basque are also spoken. Territory includes two island archipelagos – the Balearics and the Canaries – and two enclaves on the North African coast, bordering Morocco – Ceuta and Melilla. The African influence can be found throughout Spain but especially in the south, for example the guitar was invented by the Spanish when they added a sixth string to the Arab lute. Music and art permeates Spanish culture, most obviously displayed in the fire and passion of the Flamenco and the stunning modern architecture found in the cities.

The famous siesta is still enjoyed by the majority of Spaniards, most shops close at lunchtime for two or three hours so everyone can escape the often scorching afternoon sun. Evening meals are served late into the evening with plenty of wine or sangria. Often meals can last two or three hours, especially if your host is serving Tapas, small and varied dishes of meats, bread, vegetables. Paella is also a delight and very popular across the country.

Spain is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram. The international dialling code for Spain is +34.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Madrid Airport (MAD)
Transfer:
Included from meeting point at 5pm. Approximate transfer time is 2 hours. Return to airport around 12pm noon.
Flight Guide:
Madrid - London return from £60. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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