Sunset over the mouintains

History and geography are two of the highlights of the Cathar Trail. You'll be transported back 8 centuries to the Pyrenean route the Bon Hommes (Good Christians) utilized in their great exile from French inquisition during the XII, XIII and XIV century. The route goes from the Castle of Montsegur near Foix in France to the Queralt Monastery in the Berguedá (Barcelona Province). On this trail you will discover historical farmhouses, hermitages, and castles ruins. 
We ride well schooled Andalusian horses, all trained with natural horsemanship techniques which helps to create an enthusiastic, good natured horse that is keen to collaborate with its rider and really enjoys its work. Overnights in local hotels.
There are two versions of this trail. You can either choose to ride for 6 days along the full route or shorter 3 days version on a long weekend. This ride is suitable for confident riders comfortable riding in mountainous terrain. The tack is English and trekking style and most horses are ridden in snaffles. Saddle bags are provided to carry items required during the day and for picnic lunches.

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 Lara on 08/07/2017

Ride Summary
Fantastic adventure! Loved it.
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     (X) Excellent     (   ) 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     (X) Excellent     (   ) 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     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) 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 Lovely guy, very helpful.
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 Horse selection was spot on. Really appreciated.
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     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) 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 Not exactly, I thought we were going closer to Monserrat and Monsegur, however the trails used were amazing and I am not disappointed. Catalonia trails website map gives a clear idea of the route but I was unaware before the trip.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response Possibly. I had elastic sided, rubber soled riding boots. They really werent supportive enough for walking down rocky slopes. Will use laceups next time.
What could we do to improve this ride? Not much at all!
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 8
Please explain why you scored it as you did The terrain, although the horse were well used to it!
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 Would do this same trip again in a heart beat
Unicorn comments Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1 Welcome
The trail begins in the Baix Berguedà near the Catalan village of L’Espunyola (800 m altitude), spending the first night at the Hotel-Restaurant Cal Majoral. Before dinner, you will be told about the special characteristics of our Spanish trail horses. You will be given an introduction to the week´s program with an opportunity for a one-to-one conversation designed to find every rider their perfect horse. Then you can enjoy a fantastic dinner!

Day 2 The journey begins
Today we are entering in the rocky and craggy walls of the Alt Berguedà landscape on out way to the magic mountain. After passing the first foothills, we arrive at Capolat, where we take a break. Then we leave the tunnel of Jouet to the right and we can have a pleasant gallop arriving to Campllong, where we will have our daily picnic under one of the most emblematic icon of the Catalanism, “the three branches pine”. In the afternoon, the ride continues to the Corbera Monastery where we will discover in the horizon the Queralt sanctuary. At the end of the day, we arrive at the Casanova de Les Garrigues, the historical starting point of the “Bons Homes” route. We are now at 1.300 m altitude.

Day 3  Up to the dinosaurs tracks
Nice day in the saddle; after an excellent breakfast, the ride begins through the Baga de les Nou Comes, a spectacular beech forest. Then we have to dismount and walk for 50 metres to cross an old mine tunnel, arriving at the other side of the valley with a more typical Pyrenees land aspect, red pine and fir trees. We ride up and to the village of Peguerà where at its smooth meadows we can enjoy the picnic lunch. We continue our journey over the Vallcebre cliff, crossing Fumanya where we can observe the fossil tracks of the dinosaur’s age on its high grey stone walls. The altitude is now 1.700 m and the views are incredible over the Catlarás region. We finish the day riding down through a narrow path towards Cal Barbut where we will overnight and have a delicious dinner.

Day 4 The magic mountain
After an copious breakfast, we saddle our horses and we are ready for the longest day of the week. We turn back up to the deserted village of Peguera, galloping into the green and nice valley. We turn around the Gallina Pelada summit with its impressive Ferrús wall and ride down slowly to the Gósol valley, our destination today. We will admire the "magic mountain" Pedraforca, imposing and majestic from the distance. During the next days we will ride around it. We spend the night at Hotel Cal Franciscó at Gósol, where the altitude is 1.400 m.

Day 5 The green summit
No need to pack your luggage today as we will return to Cal Franciscó for the night.
We follow a slowly ascending route to the “Cim del Verd” mountain, where we gallop on its green hills. Here we can enjoy magnificent views over Tuixent and the imposing Pedraforca, very close to the other side of the mountain, through which we will descend after having a picnic on the Summit at 2.150m. If needed, you can today stay at the hotel for a rest.

Day 6 The back side of Pedraforca mountain
We leave the dense Gósol forest and we climb smoothly on the Pedraforca mountain enjoying the imposing views. The path leads over the South slope of the long Serra de Cadi, without losing altitude and going round the edge of the mountain. We come closer to Gisclareny, a small mountain village, and we finally arrive at the Rústic Vilella guesthouse where we will spend the night, again at 1.400 m altitude.
 
Day 7 Down to the forest
Our todays destination is Bagà. We will leisurely ride down through the forest bursting with wild flowers and aromatic scents, passing the Dou fountain, where the Bastareny River begins. After a delicious picnic at the river bank there will be a free time at the Hotel-restaurant El Moli del Casó. Excellent dinner and overnight.

Day 8 Adios Amigos
Breakfast and departure

Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.

It is not possible for non-riders to join this trail.

 

 

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 horses used for rides are well schooled pure or crossbred Andalusians and Paint. They have all been carefully chosen and most are between 14.2hh (150cm) and 16hh (165cm) and are of a medium build. They are sure-footed, fit, forward going, responsive to ride and well adapted to the requirements of the sometimes rough terrain. The horses are all trained using natural horsemanship techniques which helps to create an enthusiastic, good natured horse that is keen to collaborate with its rider and really enjoys its work. The tack is English and trekking style and most horses are ridden in snaffles. English saddles and trekking saddles are utilised. Saddle bags are provided to carry items required during the day and for picnic lunches.

Rider requirements

To participate in this trip you must be a reasonably competent rider (English style). You should be well balanced, comfortable and secure in the saddle and able to control a well-schooled horse outside at all paces. Riders are expected to be able to cope with a variety of different going and different types of terrain. All the rides are aimed at reasonably capable riders, who are also fairly fit and riding regularly.
There are also places on the rides where you will need to dismount and lead your horse - if the ground gets rough or steep, and for a short time to warm the horses up and cool them down each day. Riders are expected to groom and tack up their own horse each day in preparation for rides.
Your guide will go over the week's programme when you first arrive (usually at dinner on the first night), explaining the special characteristics of the Andalusian trail horse and of the tack used, then discussing each rider's ability, experience and their preference as to the kind of horse they would like to ride. A small selection of hard hats are available although we recommend you bring your own for fit and comfort.
Minimum age 14 years.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation consist of well located hotels (see the list below) and offer friendly teams of staff who are ready to help. At the various hotels the meals are plentiful and contain many typically Catalan dishes as well as regular European dishes. Breakfast is substantial, lunches are either saddle-bag picnics (extensive with quiche/salted cakes/chorizo/Catalan cured meat/fruit/cheese/ham/wine/biscuits/chocolate) or sit-down lunches at a table prepared by the back-up team (hot food/mixed salads/cheese/biscuits/fruit). Dinners are 3-4 course and accompanied by good local wines. A bottle of local cava is never far away and the atmosphere is very welcoming. The team always tries to showcase their regional and Catalan products resulting in beautifully prepared meals for all to enjoy!

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

Climate Summary

Due to the interaction of Mediterranean and mountain climate in this region, you will find ideal conditions for horse back riding the whole year round. In spring the climate is mild, summer is not too hot, the autumn pleasantly warm and winter with its clear air, not too cold.

Climate Chart
Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity available every night to recharge cameras and batteries. Mobile coverage can be partially restricted due to the mountainous landscape.

Packing List

We recommend wearing jodhpurs, as these protect your legs from soreness, and you will find a light-weight, cotton pair, more comfortable during the summer months.

Your riding boots should have a sole with tread and be comfortable for walking, as you are certain to lead your horse on some occasions. Jodhpur boots and half-chaps are a more flexible combination for comfort and leg protection than long riding boots.

A long-sleeved shirt is recommended for protection against the sun and against scratches when riding through undergrowth.

Comfortable shoes are a good idea for when not riding and plastic shoes/flip-flops are very useful for wearing in the river and to the toilet when camping.

Lightweight riding gloves are useful, as is a "bum bag" to contain your camera and any other items you may need during your ride.

We strongly recommend taking a water-bottle, especially on trail rides, which can be refilled en-route; these can be carried in the saddle-bags provided.

A light cotton scarf can help to avoid breathing in too much dust in dry areas.

Bring sunglasses, also to protect your eyes from dust.

Sun cream and lip balm are also recommended.

It is essential that you bring good wet weather gear. Although it rains very little, when it does it is normally a heavy downpour, consequently a jacket or cape and waterproof trousers are a good idea.

Please bring a photocopy of your travel insurance certificate with you.

Your guide will carry a First Aid kit but please take along your personal medication.

Last, but not least: do not forget your bathing suit!

Programmes

This ride has set dates which can be confirmed online. Please let us know if you wish to book another date, we can confirm new dates on request for 4 or more riders between February and November.

Departure Dates

2017: 18* Jun; 17* Sept; 15 (FULL) Oct (* denotes high season)
Other dates on request

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,239
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement179
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board825
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,175
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement179
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board759
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,375
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement199
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board915
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,305
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement199
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board845
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,599
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement235
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board1,065
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,519
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement235
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board985
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp13,399
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement1,955
2017 high season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board8,915
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6double pp12,715
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6single supplement1,955
2017 low season 7 nights8d/7n6non-rider half board8,235
Wildlife

The flora and fauna in this region is plentiful and varied. On the plains you'll come across plenty of livestock such as herds of sheep and cattle as well as wild boar, wild horses, deer and many species of birds. As you climb higher into the mountains you may be lucky to see mountain goats and eagles soaring.
The flora is really special. Meadows of sweet smelling and colourful wild flowers such as rosemary, lavender, thyme and sunflowers. Walnut groves, beech and oak forests make for cool riding and provide perfect shade for a relaxing picnic.

Other Information

Your luggage will be transported by vehicle every day.

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):
Barcelona (BCN) or Gerona (GRO) Airport

Transfer:
2017: payable locally - €80 return from Barcelona (pick-up 18:00, drop-off 12:00, 2hrs) or Gerona (pick-up 19:30, drop-off 10:30, 45mins)
Flight Guide:
London - Girona or Barcelona from £50 return. Please see "getting there" for flight information.
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