Head to Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, for this circular trail taking in beaches, wooded valleys and ancient history. You'll discover hidden villages, mountain trails, wine tasting and monasteries. There's also beach riding and the chance to swim with your horse in the sea all rounded off by delicious, fresh, Mediterranean meals.
In total, you'll cover around 120 kms and will enjoy spectacular views as you navigate some steep ascents and descents, riding for between 4-6 hours each day. You'll neeed to be a confident rider on the steep trails and be fit enough to handle almost 6 hours in the saddle on some days. Accommodation is in traditional guesthouses along the trail and you'll even have the chance to soak up some ancient culture, staying in a monastery.
This is an idyllic trail for confident riders who want to explore the island and enjoy some laid-back beach time as well as taking in some culture.
Please note this itinerary will change to a based stay programme in 2022.
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 MM of Okehampton on 04/11/2021
2021 Sample Itinerary:
Arrive on the sunny island of Rhodes and transfer to the ranch. Get settled in and meet your friendly hosts. Overnight at the local guesthouse which is close to the ranch.
After breakfast you'll head to the stables to meet the horses. You'll have a short lesson in Western riding before setting off on a 3 hour trail ride. During this time, you will get to know your chosen horse and will visit the famous Thari Monastery. Overnight at the guesthouse.
Today you'll be leaving the ranch and hitting the trail, the approximate riding time today is 5 and a half hours. You'll set off from the ranch, riding for around 10km until reaching Asklipeo, the birthplace of Asclepius (Aesculapius); the son of Apollo and the God of healing. Located in the square is one of the most remarkable churches on Rhodes. It was built in 1060 as a cross-domed church and in the 14th century it was expanded. The wall paintings show scenes of the Old Testament. In the Southern Cross arm of the church, a typical representation of the Apocalypse is shown, a seven-headed dragon, trumpeters and the four apocalyptic horsemen. When walking along the narrow streets of the town you'll glimpse Asklipeo Castle, built by knights in the 15th Century. After lunch, you'll head deeper into the countryside, riding through the valley, before venturing way up to a mountain village where you can admire panoramic views to the Aegean Sea. You'll stay in the Sain Filimonas monastery tonight and dinner will be a delicious variety of fresh Mediterranean dishes.
*Please note that in the unlikely event of difficult weather conditions (heavy rain or heat wave), the trail will follow a slightly different route, which does not include the visit to Asklipeo.
After breakfast you'll ride up to the top of the village, passing the 13th century chapel of Saint Nicolas, before heading down through the valley and to the beach where you and your horse can both enjoy a refreshing dip! After a rest, you'll ride along the coast until reaching the cliffs of Monolithos. The name means a huge single rock (in Greek "lithos"), on which the castle was built around the 14th Century in order to guard the sea in the Dodecanese. The charm of Monolithos comes mainly from its amphora form, the charming white stone houses with their tiled roofs and red geraniums, which grow around the hills of the medieval castle. In the evening, you can expect a wide selection of mezze (tapas) to satisfy your appetite! Riding time approx. 4.5h.
Today the horses will enjoy a day off and you'll use the time to discover the village, experience some of the culture or just relax at the beach. In the evening, you can try some wine in a little old wine cellar prior to having dinner. Overnight in Monolithos.
Today you'll enjoy panoramic views travelling along forgotten donkey and carriage paths to your destination; Aigios Isideros, a small mountain village 523m below the highest mountain in Rhodes, Ataviros. In the evening, the locals will welcome you at the village tavern and serve some delicious dishes for you to enjoy. You'll overnight at a hostel in the village. Riding time today is approximately 5.5 hours.
Those who have enough energy can hike up part of Mountain Ataviros, along an old goat path early in the morning. This is a 30 min hike covering 620m, with spectacular views from the top. After breakfast you're ready to ride home, enjoying the last few hours of riding. In the evening, depending on the weather, your hosts will put on a BBQ at the ranch or alternatively you'll go to the village tavern. Overnight at the local guesthouse close to the ranch. Riding time today is approximately 4.5 hours.
Departure after breakfast.
2022 Sample Itinerary:
Arrive on the sunny island of Rhodes and transfer to the ranch. Get settled in and meet your friendly hosts for a welcoming evening meal.
After breakfast you'll head to the stables to meet the horses. You'll have a short lesson in Western riding before setting off on a 3 hour trail ride to Mon Tharri. During this time, you will get to know your chosen horse and will visit the famous Thari Monastery.
Day ride to the beach for swimming with the horses. 6 hours riding.
Free day no riding. Spend the day relaxing at the ranch or your hosts will happily drop you at the beach or visit one of the beautiful local towns. Perhaps spend the day enjoying the beautiful town of Lindos, perhaps a day on the beach at beautiful St Paul's Bay and visit the ancient acropolis.
Full day ride to the village Aigios Isideros and visit a traditional Taverna for lunch. On your ride home you will have stunning views to the Agean and Mediterranean Seas. 5 hours riding.
Full day ride to the biggest dam in Rhodes where you can enjoy canoeing on the lake while the horses have a graze under the trees. 5 hours riding.
Enjoy a 4 hour ride on your final day of riding to Aigios Ingos through beautiful farmland and local villages.
Enjoy your final breakfast then depart for your flight home.
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 ranch is home to a variety of horses ranging from 14.2-16hh. A variety of breeds are used from Thoroughbreds up to crossbreeds between Arravani, Arab, Andalusian, Appaloosa and Haflinger. All the horses are trained in Western style riding. You will be given a short lesson before riding out on the first riding day so you can become accustomed to riding Western if you haven't done it before.
The riding is mainly on hilly terrain so there are around two or three trots and canters throughout the ride. You should be comfortable riding on reasonably steep trails. The horses have all been trained using natural horsemanship methods and are calm and responsive. You'll be riding in Western tack and steering your horse using neck-reining.
Riders must have a secure seat at walk, trot and canter for this ride and should be confident and fit enough to ride for up to 6 hours a day. Some of the terrain on this trail is steep and you should be comfortable making steep ascents and descents on horseback. You should preferably be able to mount and dismount unaided but assistance can be arranged if necessary. Riders are requested to help with grooming and saddling their own horse each day and will be given assistance if necessary. We advise you to wear a riding hat and if you do not want to wear one you will need to sign a form at the ranch to say that you do so at your own risk. Hats are available to borrow if you don't want to pack your own, although we recommend that you take your own to ensure a good fit.
The weight limit for this ride is 205 lb/93 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
You'll be staying in traditional, simple guesthouse rooms. For the first two nights and on your last night your rooms are located 1km from the ranch and 3km from the village of Laerma. This guesthouse is made up of 2 houses, each with 2 double or twin rooms and a family room which sleeps six is also available. Each room has a private bathroom, a fridge, kettle, stove and a fan. Bath towels are provided but you will need to bring your own beach towel if you want to hit the beach. The guesthouse also includes a breakfast room/lounge where meals are served each day and this room can also be used to relax, read a book or play cards. The guesthouse is just 200 metres from the famous Thari Monastery of Rhodes. The rooms are provided by the local church and the money generated from having guests goes towards the church's children's charity.
While out on the trail you will be staying at various guesthouses along the way. All offer comfortable double or twin rooms with private bathrooms. One night (Day 3) is spent at the Filimonas monastery where there are two bathrooms and one shower to share between the group.
All meals are included at this destination. You can expect home-cooked Mediterranean fare making wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine and meat. Other common ingredients include olives, pasta, cheese, lemon juice, herbs, bread and yogurt. On some evenings your hosts may take you out to a local taverna for dinner (included in price). Each meal includes one drink per person (beer, wine or soft drink). If you would like more than one drink these can be bought seperately. Meal timings vary according to the time of year but in general breakfast is around 7.30am, a light lunch at around 12pm or 1pm and dinner at around 8pm.
You'll be staying in traditional, simple whitewashed rooms, located 1km from the ranch and 3km from the village of Laerma. Transfer to/from the ranch each day is included. The guesthouse is made up of 2 houses, each with 2 double or twin rooms, a family room which sleeps six is also available. Each room has a private bathroom, a fridge, kettle, stove and a fan. Bath towels are provided but you will need to bring your own beach towel if you want to hit the beach.
The guesthouse also includes a breakfast room/lounge where meals are served each day and this room can also be used to relax, read a book or play cards. The guesthouse is just 200 metres from the famous Thari Monastery of Rhodes. The rooms are provided by the local church and the money generated from having guests goes towards the church's children's charity.
All meals are included at this destination. You can expect home-cooked Mediterranean fare making wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine and meat. Other common ingredients include olives, pasta, cheese, lemon juice, herbs, bread and yogurt. Meals are usually served in the breakfast room at your accommodation but some evenings your hosts may take you out to a local taverna for dinner instead (included in price). Each meal includes one drink per person (beer, wine or soft drink). If you would like more than one drink these can be bought from your hosts.
Meal timings vary according to the time of year but in general are breakfast around 7.30am, lunch at around 12 or 1 and dinner at around 8pm.
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 Embassy is at 1 Ploutarchou Street, 106 75 Athens. Tel: (30) 210 727 2600 Email: email@example.com.
The Greek Embassy in the U.K is at 1A Holland Park, London W11 3TP. Telephone: (020) 7229 3850. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer on the island begins during May and carries on right through until October. In the peak of summer during July and August, the barometer can peak at 35°C to 40°C. The temperature will often see days reaching above 30°C in the middle six months of the year.The heat in the height of summer can sometimes be oppressive, so if you like heat but don’t want to live in a dry sauna then plan to visit the island in May/June or September/October. The heat is not as stifling and there is the added benefit of lower prices.
May and June see average temperatures of 20°C and 24°C respectively, while July and August each see an averages of 26°C before falling to 23°C in September. Keep in mind that these averages are misleading as the island gets scorching in the day and is cooled in the evenings by the sea breeze. This evening sea breeze brings a welcome break from the sometimes unbearable summer highs. Sunshine levels are immense, peaking at 14 hours per day in July. May sees 10 and October seven – still very sunny.
Rain during the months of June to September is basically nonexistent, with only about 23 mm precipitation recorded across the four months. May and October see 21mm and 38 mm respectively.
No special health precautions are required for visits to Greece, 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
No specific health requirements - just bring plenty of suncream!
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.
Electricity is available each evening in your accommodation but there is no Wifi available.
Riding hat (available to borrow)
Long trousers for riding or jodhpurs.
Riding clothes - long sleeve shirts give good protection from the sun
Casual clothes for evening
This is an 8 day/7 night trail with 6 days of riding available on set dates between April and October. Please note this itinerary will change to a based stay programme in 2022.
2021: 19 Sept; 10, 24 Oct
2022: 20 Mar; 3, 24 Apr; 22 May; 25 Sept; 16 Oct
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We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Last Temptation and Zorba The Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis
The King Must Die and The Bull From The Sea - Mary Renault
Greece is located in south-eastern Europe bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Greece shares borders to the east with Turkey and to the north with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Albania. The climate is temperate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
Modern Greece, as an independent national entity, came into being in 1829 after a protracted independence struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Greece has been fighting for territory with Turkey ever since, continuing in their battle over the split island of Cyprus.
Ancient Greece has given the world democracy, the Olympic Games, theatre and a high literary culture through great works by Homer and some of the greatest philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato. However this was not just a world of sobriety and high academia. The Greek god of wine for example, Dionysus, was a hell raiser who encouraged the local townswomen to dance naked through the street in his honour. Hugely debauched festivals were held in his honour and some of that spirit has definitely been passed down through the generations and has found itself still celebrated in the tavernas across the country.
Greece is two hours 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 Greece is +30.