This is the perfect trail for fit riders and certainly not for the faint-hearted! Here we can offer 5-7 hours of riding per day covering a total of 170km over 4 days of riding. Enjoy long canters along the paths, plains and beaches of the Alt Empordà region combined with nights in Besalú and Sant Pere Pescador, sampling the nightlife after a day in the saddle.
This exciting long weekend was actually thought-up by past clients who were looking for a short, exciting getaway which offered more than the average trail. It's perfect chance to escape everyday life and be immersed in true Catalan culture aboard fit and forward-going Andalusian and cross horses, well schooled and ridden English style.
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 RG of Zurich on 11/06/2018
DAY 1 WELCOME AT CAN GRAU
You will arrive at the farmhouse at end of afternoon and you will meet Catalonia Horse Trails team. After dinner we will go over the week's program. You will be told about the special characteristics of our Arabian and crossed Anglo Arabian trail horses, fit for “endurance”. You will be given an opportunity for a one-to-one conversation designed to find every rider their perfect horse. Then, you can enjoy a fantastic and cheerful dinner!
DAY 2 CAN GRAU TO SANT MARTI D'EMPURIES
We will start our trail going down to Baix Empordà. In spite of being a prosperous area, it still conserves the traditional rural and village way of life. The paths and tracks have not been asphalted nor has the countryside been fenced off so there is an unlimited combination of paths and bridleways to explore. Every hour we pass another beautiful village, castle, church, arches, tunnels, old wooden doors with wrought iron knockers. After passing the village of Sant Mori, we will have our daily picnic in a kermes oak forest. Then we will continue toward the Gulf of Roses to end up at our hotel in Sant Marti de Empuries which is situated right at the beach. Here a fabulous paëlla is waiting for you.
DAY 3 THE BEACH OF ROSES
Today is nice day in the saddle. The long beach ride awaits us, plenty of galloping and trotting before arriving to Sant Pere Pescador. We will have our lunch stop at the Valverella lake and later carry on towards Can Grau, our destination for today. After showering the horses we leave them in their paddocks for their well deserved rest.
DAY 4 TO BESALÚ, MEDIEVAL VILLAGE
After breakfast and preparing our horses, we leave can Grau through tracks surrounded by Mediterranean forest. The mountain creeks offer amazing views of prairies and meadows. We will then reach the Fluvià River and on our way we will find country cottages and churches. Then, we stop for our picnic in the gardens of an restaured antic Catalan farmhouse. In the afternoon we ride our horses through fields and olive trees, we pass the village of Crespia and head towards Besalú, a medieval walled village, the ancient capital, a jewel of Romanesque architecture, set between two rivers. Once in Besalú, we will spend the night at the nice Hotel La Martana.
DAY 5 BESALÚ - OLLERS – CAN GRAU
For our last day riding, we leave Besalú and its fantastic medieval bridge and where the squares, stone cut pillars and cool shady arched passageways are a wonder to be hold. The atmosphere of this ancient medieval village is unique with its spectacular bridge and Romanesque architecture. On different tracks than the day before, we will head towards the hermitage of Ollers where we have our picnic. Now it becomes a bit more hillie and passing through Sant Mer and Les Serres we arrive back at Can Grau.
Farewells and goodbyes before leaving for the airport…. ¡Hasta pronto amigos!
Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.
Please note: It may not be possible to gallop on the beach in the event of bad weather.
We think our hosts in Catalonia are some of the best in the business! They offer a range of rides and in the unusual event of a ride not confirming ie. there are 3 or less riders, an alternative trail or based ride will be offered and the difference in price refunded so you can book your flights with confidence.
On this horse riding holiday, you will need to dismount and walk next to your horse over short distances so good walking boots are required.
Transfers:2020/21: payable locally - €90 return from Barcelona (18:00 pick-up, 19:30 drop-off, 2hrs), €60 return from Girona (19:30 pick-up, 18:15 drop-off, 45min). Private transfers available on request.
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.
The horses used for rides are well schooled pure or crossbred Andalusians. 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 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. You will be paired with a suitable horse based on your experience and preferences, but if for any reason after the first day you feel that you are not well matched then just let your guide know and you will be given another horse.
To participate in this trip you must be a 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. This rides is aimed at capable riders, who are also fit and ride regularly.
Participants are expected to ride regularly in the months before they go to ensure they can cope with the hours in the saddle. 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. The minimum age for this ride is 14 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The start point of your weekend is Can Grau, your hosts' base and where the horses are stabled. The guesthouse is surrounded by fields and forests and on-site is a swimming pool and large garden to relax in. It offers the warmest climate of all the Pyrenean range, an almost unknown corner of Spain. The hotels are small and quiet offering authentic Catalan cuisine and a friendly and welcoming environment. 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.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas, health and vaccinations, legal issues and emergency issues. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk
The British Consulate in Madrid is at the Calle de Fernando el Santo 16, 28010 Madrid. Tel: +34 91 7008200. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.ukinspain.com.
The Spanish Embassy in the U.K can be found at 39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB. Tel: (020) 7235 5555.
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. Especially recommended are February, March and April as well as November!
No special health precautions are required for visits to Spain, for further details please see your local doctor. We do advise taking plenty of sunscreen!
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org
Voltage is the same as in the UK and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.
230V 50HZ with a two pronged round pin plug
Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium). There is electricity available each night to recharge cameras and batteries. There is good mobile reception in some part of most days. At the base the mobile reception is variable but there is free Wi-Fi.
We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may very according to your programme and preferences.
• Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384. Helmets are available at the stables if you do not have your own
• Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
• Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
• Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
• T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
• Fleece - Although the weather is generally very warm, the evenings can be a bit cooler
• Warm layers - At times the evening temperature drops significantly
• Casual Clothes - for when out of the saddle
• Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
• Raincoat - it is always a wise idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket!
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take inset repellent and plenty of sun cream
• Camera and Spare Batteries/Charger - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
• A copy of your passport
This is a 5 day/4 night programme with 4 days riding available on 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.
2020: 7, 21 Oct; 4, 18 Nov
2021: 3, 14 Mar; 7, 28 Apr; 19 May; 16 Jun; 22 Sept; 6, 20 Oct; 3, 17 Nov.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2020||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||509|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2020||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||555|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2020||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||659|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2020||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||5,945|
Ride specific: The Life of Dali, Miro or Picasso and the famous architect, Antoni Gaudi as all these artists originate from Catalonia. Also 'Victus - Barcelona 1714' - Albert Sánchez Piñol and 'Tirant Lo Blanc' - Ramon Llull. General reading: ‘The New Spaniards’ –John Hooper, ‘Driving over Lemons’- Chris Stewart, ‘The Story of Spain’- Mark Williams, ‘South of Granada’ – Gerald Brenan, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ – Ernest Hemmingway, ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’- Laurie Lee and ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ – Miguel de Cervantes. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com. Another fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
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, 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, lavender, thyme and sunflowers. Walnut groves, beech and oak forests make for cool riding and provide perfect shade for a relaxing picnic.
It is possible for non-riders to join this trail and meet up with their riding companions every evening. Depending on where the chosen lunch spot is, they may also be able to join riders for lunch (if it is a 'saddlebag picnic' lunch that day then it will not be possible due to the riders being in an inaccessible location.)
Car-hire is recommended although there is also the option to travel with the back-up team. Please be aware however that the back-up team may take different routes due to logistical and geographical reasons and althought they love to have non-riders travelling with them, they will be busy setting up lunches/picking up luggage etc.
Please note that non-rider lunches are not included in the non-rider price.
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.