Andalusia is famous for its colourful festivals. Throughout the year, but particularly in the spring and summer, every local village will stage a "Feria". Each feria also has a "Romeria" which is the mounted display. Horses are beautifully turned out, their traditional tack is gleaming and everyone puts on their party clothes - black trousers and white shirts with traditional hats for men, or colourful ruffled dresses for the ladies.
These very special rides offer an opportunity to participate in local festivals on horseback, preparing the horses the day before, riding to (or boxing if further away) the horses to the villages and taking part in the displays. There is a carnival atmosphere and anyone on a horse is especially welcome!
There are 16 beautiful, well schooled and immaculately cared for Andalusians, to choose from at the finca sure to be admired in the fiesta. The traditional finca offers riding for all levels, but to participate in the parade it is necessary to have complete control over your horse. Accompanying beginners or non riders can participate on foot in Ferias and share in the atmosphere while riding on other days if wished.
The finca has been restored to create a mountain retreat sure to charm riders or non riders. Extensive gardens with shady orange & lemon trees, indigenous plants and hammocks with views across the swimming pool all the way to the coast are perfect for lazy afternoons. The warm welcome extended by Donna, Jeff and Ricky ensures that everyone returns for another visit.
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 BS of Newport on 22/10/2019
Arrive and transfer. Settle in, meet other participants over dinner and discussion of programme.
Today we meet the horses and select our perfect match. There is an opportunity to ride in the arena before heading out for a mornings ride to see how you get on with your new partner. Return to the finca for lunch and after a rest on the terrace ride out again, on a different horse if you would like to change. About 4 hours of easy riding.
Today is devoted to getting our horses ready for the feria as well as the saddles and any costumes. If there is time we may go for a very short ride but as tomorrow will be a very long day both for us and the horses, we generally don't ride.
A very early start. We either ride to the feria if it is one of the local villages, or we box the horses if it is further away. Donna and Jeff are with you all day. Most of the day is on horseback socialising, watching other parades and of course taking part in the horse parade. We tie our horses for breaks at the local tavernas and lunch. At the end of a long day we head back to the finca again, either on horseback or by vehicle. This may well be after dinner!
We sleep late to recover from yesterdays exertions with a late brunch. Later in the afternoon we head off for an afternon ride culminating at sunset on a high spot with marvellous views and enjoying a drink while watching the sun set over this very special part of Spain.
Departure after breakfast.
The beautiful Finca is set deep in the National Park and surrounded by nature. The original farm house is 500 years old and has been lovingly restored and consists of 2 double bedrooms and one small (child) single. This is suitable for 2 singles sharing the bathroom or a group of friends. There is also a one bedroom restored apartment containing a double and a single bed with bathroom; and a garden chalet apartment with room for 3 or 4 people sharing the bathroom. The views from the terrace to the ocean, peaceful terraced gardens and swimming pool make this a delightful retreat with horses on your doorstep. The Finca can be reached on a dirt road of 4 miles. Ricky, Donna or Jeff are happy to drop guests off at the beach, nearby villages or other activites and attractions when not riding and pick them up by arrangement.
Alternatively for those looking for a more lively evening set up, a local hotel located 4 miles away provides a comfortable stay strolling distance from the village of Canillas de Albaida. This very traditional white washed village has many terraces and restaurants. The hotel offers twin and double rooms, a good restaurant across the square, convivial evening bar (often attended by locals who tie their horses outside) and terrace wtih spectacular sunset views. Many local activites can also be arranged by the hotel.
Horses and Riding
The 16 Andalusian horses give a choice of mount for all levels of rider. Beginners can have some tuition in a school area before heading into the mountains. The traditional saddles are easy to ride in and the horses respond easily to light directions, making this an ideal place to learn/try riding. It is not uncommon to meet locals on their horses in this very traditional part of Spain. Horses are welcome in all the villages and most tavernas have a place to tie your horse. For more experienced riders there are good tracks for some faster riding and more challenging lively Andalusians. English saddles are available if wanted. Some routes are also steeper and technically challenging.
Non riders can participate in the festival on foot. Before and after the romeria there are numerous other activities available for non riders, all bookable on site.
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Forest and Beach, Andalusia - Spain
A traditional finca, run by an English family, situated at a small coastal village between Barbate and Conil in Southern Spain, close to some of the most beautiful unspoilt beaches in Europe.
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.
There are 16 beautiful Andalusians from 14.3hh to 16.3hh. Many are bigger and stronger than the average and this ride can comfortably cater for heavier riders. The horses are all lovingly looked after to the best English standards. They are fit and well fed, clipped and rugged in the winter, fed and inspected twice daily. They are all well schooled with no vices and ridden in curb bits with traditional saddles for comfort. English saddles are also available for those who prefer. Some of the horses are more showy and forward going, others are schoolmasters. All are very responsive making this an easy place to learn to ride. The horses all wear halters under the bridles and are all experienced at participating in parades. A range of riding helmets is available on site and riders are encouraged to wear one although this is not compulsory. Saddles are equipped with small saddle bags to carry en route essentials such as sunscreen and water bottles.
We are always on the lookout for new horses to come and join the team and at any one time, we regularly have horses that we are working with and who are learning their job. As a result, there are a number of more spirited rides that guests can enjoy as well as our stalwart dependable schoolmasters! We really do have a horse for everyone!
Although the every day riding can be tailored to all abilities, only riders fully in control of their horses can participate in the parade.
The weight limit for this ride is 224 lb/102 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The beautiful Finca is set deep in the National Park and surrounded by nature. The original farm house is 500 years old and has been lovingly restored and consists of 2 double bedrooms and one small (child) single. This is suitable for 2 singles sharing the bathroom or a group of friends. There is also a one bedroom restored apartment containing a double and a single bed with bathroom; and a garden chalet apartment with room for 3 or 4 people sharing the bathroom. The views from the terrace to the ocean, peaceful terraced gardens and swimming pool make this a delightful retreat with horses on your doorstep. We have recently added a cocktail bar and dining room to our accommodation. This allows guests to both relax and dine together to eat and/or after riding help themselves to a glass of fizz or a cold beer. The Finca can be reached on a dirt road of 4 miles. Ricky, Donna or Jeff are happy to drop guests off at the beach, nearby villages or other activites and attractions when not riding and pick them up by arrangement.
The views from the terrace to the ocean, peaceful gardens and swimming pool make this a delightful retreat with horses on your doorstep. The first floor apartment is just a few steps away from the Finca and consists of 3 separate beds with en-suite bathroom. There is no TV at the Finca, and phone reception is unreliable although there is broadband connection. The Finca can be reached on a dirt road of 4 miles. Ricky, Donna or Jeff are happy to drop guests off at the beach, nearby villages or other activites and attractions when not riding and pick them up by arrangement. Alternatively for those looking for a more lively evening set up, a local hotel located 4 miles away provides a comfortable stay in the village of Canillas de Albaida. This very traditional white washed village has many terraces and restaurants. The hotel offers twin or double rooms, a roof-top sunterrace with jacuzzi, a good restaurant a short stroll away, convivial evening bar (often attended by locals who tie their horses outside) and terrace with spectacular sunset views. Many local activites can also be arranged by the hotel. Most of the food at the Finca is home grown organic with fresh eggs and vegetables daily. Donna was a chef at the Grovesnor Hotel in a previous life, so the food is outstanding.
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: email@example.com www.ukinspain.com.
The Spanish Embassy in the U.K can be found at 39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB. Tel: (020) 7235 5555.
Spring and autumn is generally a good time to visit and the days are sunny and warm (25 Celsius). In the summer it can be very hot with temperatures exceeding 30 Celsius on a regular basis. Overnight thunderstorms are common in the mountain regions but are generally gone by morning.
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
There is electricity available on all nights at the Finca and hotel. Telephone reception is poor in the mountains although on the terrace at the Finca 2 bars of reception can be received. The hotel has good mobile reception. There is almost no internet reception although on special request wifi is available at a nearby cafe while enjoying a drink/coffee/meal.
Light summer clothing is need on most departure dates. You need a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly and sunglasses with string. 2 pairs of riding trousers (these can also be jeans or chinos as the local saddles are similar to Western saddles) half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey, warm jacket (Winter, Spring and Autumn), shorts, long sleeve shirts, T-shirts, sarong or wrap, swimsuit, 4 pairs of socks, raincoat (seasonal), sun block, camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt, binoculars, lightweight riding boots (can be sturdy shoes with tread and a heel) and a change of footwear - trainers or sandals.
A range of riding helmets is available on site.
For the fiestas a pair of black trousers and nice white shirt with broad brimmed hat will ensure you fit right in.
Set dates based around the dates of the Ferias are offered. The exact day of the parade are liable to change slightly if the town hall deems it necessary.
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"Between Two Fires" is a book about the local area with interviews, highly recommended.
Eagles can often be seen soaring using the thermals from the mountains. There are wild boar in the area and may be seen in the evenings from the terrace at the Finca. Dedicated wildlife spotters may be lucky enough to see an ibex.
This particular part of Spain is very traditional and the present younger generation is far wealthier than their parents who can still tell vivid stories of Franco's time and their jobs as muleteers and fishermen. The mountain is criss-crossed with traditional mule routes which were in regular use until 25 years ago. Fresh produce such as fish, oranges and lemons were taken from coastal towns such as Torremolinos across the mountain range to inland cities such as Granada with corn and grain being returned. Mules are still used in the national park today as the best way to access the steep and rough back country.
Fiestas are still very much a way of life and absolutely everyone turns out to participate, usually in their best traditional dress. They are very inclusive and visitors are warmly welcomed, especially if on a horse!
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.