In the Langada area of Crete there is unlimited space for horse riding. Each day we set out on a different track, through beautiful landscapes, meeting no traffic. We take lunch with us in saddlebags which we enjoy in a quiet spot under the olive trees.
Accommodation is in a lovely hotel next to the stables with an infinity swimming pool and stunning views over the Lagada Valley. This active holiday combines all the good things of Cretan life; relax on the beach or swim in the pool, visit an ancient site, meet the friendly locals and enjoy the Greek food. Ride along a land dotted with olive groves and ancient sites holding timeless myths, take amazing paths way up into the rough mountains enjoying breath-taking views on the way.
During the summer months of July and August, the Sun and Riding itinerary is available because it is too hot for the Village Rides itinerary. Beginners can also enjoy the Sun and Riding programme and experienced riders are separated.
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 CS of Winnipeg on 11/10/2018
This riding holiday includes 6 riding trails with a total of 23 riding hours. As there is not a standard arrival day for this holiday, the riding days below will be offered in a random order and not necessarily in the order set out below.
Arrival, a welcome tour through the stables and evening dinner.
Ancient Lyttos Ride. We ride up to visit the archaeological site of the ancient city of Lyttos giving an excellent view over the valley of Kastelli. The city of Lyttos (meaning high, tall), was a strong town and a rival of Knossos. The army of the city joined the Trojan War and the city was already mentioned by Homer as Lyktos. During the roman period Lyttos was an autonomous city with great fame. It had an aqueduct, theatre and acropolis, nowadays little can be seen of this as excavations of the site has not been done yet. The site has 2 churches. After the visit we ride along the remains of this roman aqueduct. (4 hours riding and a visit to Lyttos)
Olive Ride. We make an active trip north, riding up the hills of Sfendili. We cross the Byzantine church of Avdou and ride quickly over the plateau of Mochos. Here we have an excellent view to the Psiloritis Mountains, the highest peaks of the island (2.4 km). (4 hours horse riding)
Lake Aposelemis Ride. In the winter of 2015 the Langada Valley, closed by a manmade dam, filled with water creating a 3km long lake. The water attracts all kind of birds and animals creating a very special biotope. We follow the edge of the lake and ride along the abandoned village of Sfendily, which is now half sunken into the surface of the water. (4 hours in the saddle).
Red rock ride. A spectacular climb up the mountain giving an excellent view over the stables and the Langada valley. We ride through Kerm Oak forest to visit the mysterious Church of the Saint Fotini which is hidden deep in a cave. (2.5 hours riding and visit to the cave)
Vulture gorge ride. We ride through the gorge of Gonies to start our spectacular climb to the Greek village of Kera at 800m. Here we have a lunch break at Restaurant Niki, before we start our descent along the springs of Kera. (5 hours riding)
Cypress Ride. The last day we ride out through a very quiet beautiful valley full of olive groves, we ride along a small cypress forest and make some steep descents with the horses which we now fully trust. (3 hours horse riding)
Breakfast and departure.
The accommodation is in a small hotel with:
• 12 large and comfortable rooms
• a restaurant with panoramic view
• a bar with Mediterranean terrace & free wifi
• a large swimming pool, unheated, open all year
• its own equestrian centre
The estate is 3,5 hectare large and located in the country side of the village Avdou, in the province of Heraklion, on the island of Crete in Greece. Avdou is situated 9 miles from the sea and the lively holiday centre Chersonissos. Here you can find all the modern facilities you might need e.g. banks, a private medical centre, water sports and souvenir shops. In the Bay of Chersonissos there are several small sandy beaches. The wide sandy beach lies on the west side of Chersonissos reachable by bike, scooter or car. The beaches are child friendly and some have coast guards.
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.
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 stable has two Arabs, one Berber, two Thoroughbreds, four Dutch warm bloods, four Greek warm bloods, and one Hanoverian for the guide. For the children there is a Welsh pony (section B). The warmbloods and thoroughbreds have good breath and rarely tire so are therefore suitable for long distance riding. They are cool headed, courageous and strong and in excellent condition having been trained in the mountains. Their sizes vary from 14hh to 16hh. The riding style is English and the horses are generally ridden with a relaxed, long rein. The pace of the riding is dictated by the terrain, steady on steep mountainous areas, faster on the flat. Due to the small character of the stables, with a maximum of 10 riders a week, your hosts are able to maintain a close and personal contact with their guests. The stables are built with natural stone like the hotel but above all they are designed to be horse friendly to be as close as possible to the physical needs of horses. The facilities include: - 14 stables with connected behind turnout paddocks giving the horses themselves the choice to go inside or outside. - Outdoor arena, 42 x 20m with an all-weather proof floor and a small tribune. - Outdoor arena, 15 x 12m, for lunging. - Tack room - A horse shower - Bathroom/changing-room and toilets for the guests Space, outside air and contact with other horses that is what gives our horses’ joy, health and peace! That is why not only do the horses enjoy a large stable with an open turnout paddock but they also have the possibility for social contact. Most of the horses are stabled in pairs in 1 large stable of 6, 20 x 3, 20 m. The roof all around is open giving the horses a constant flow of fresh air.
Riders should be comfortable at walk, trot, canter and have some experience in rough terrain. This ride is ideally suited to intermediate or experienced riders. The minimum riding age for this holiday is 12 years. There is a 'Children's Fun Week' available for children 8-11 years, please enquire for more details.
The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The small, friendly hotel is well suited to its surrounding as it is built with real natural stone collected from the land it stands on, giving it a robust and natural look. The hotel has a neo-classic style creating a romantic atmosphere for long summer nights. The main building houses the reception and a cafe with a large balcony where you can enjoy your Greek coffee or Rakí. In the main building you also find the restaurant with its large terrace overlooking the outside menage and the valley. The restaurant serves Cretan cuisine which is famous for being healthy with its use of olive oil. The olive oil is made from olives from the estate. The restaurant serves fresh home cooked food with organically grown vegetables and fruit from its own gardens and makes use of local products from nearby farmers. The 12 hotel rooms are grouped into 2 bungalows each housing 6 rooms. The bungalows lay quietly, separate from the main activities. The rooms are large and comfortable and all have a tremendous view over the valley. Each room has a large bathroom with bathtub. The rooms have central heating and air conditioning (both included in the price), a fridge, a flat screen tv with international channels, a hairdryer, a large glass door of 2m and a private balcony or terrace. Most rooms are equipped with a wood stove (the wood is not included in the price). Next to the main building lies the naturally formed large swimming pool (unheated and open all year) of 100 m2 (130 – 160 m. deep) with a separate, lower situated, children’s pool of 11m2 (40 cm deep). The sun beds are free to use. There is a free WIFI internet connection in the main building and on the terrace. Check-in at the hotel is all day but please be aware that your room will be ready from 14:00. On departure day, guests are required to vacate their room by 10:30, however they are welcome to spend the day at the hotel until their flight home. The price of the holiday includes all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8, however meals outside of this time can be purchased on-site from the restaurant. You can expect a continental breakfast with coffee, tea or hot chocolate, fresh bread, butter, jams, cheese, ham and orange juice. Picnic lunches are prepared by your hosts for you to take along in your saddle bags each day. It is recommended you bring a water bottle to take with you. Dinner includes a starter, main dish and a salad. Vegetarians can be catered for with advance notice, any other dietary requirements need to be checked before booking.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Greek Embassy in the U.K is at 1A Holland Park, London W11 3TP. Telephone: (020) 7229 3850. Email: email@example.com.
Crete has 300 days of sunshine a year and very mild winters and hot summers. Be prepared for cold and snow in the mountains in the winter time although this is unlikely.
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.
Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium). There is free WiFi throughout the building and a computer and printer available to use.
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 light waterproof/ windproof jacket and also light waterproof trousers in the winter!
• 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
The itinerary can start on any day of the week and runs throughout the year apart from July and August and when a guided Lasithi Trail is running. Programme runs for 8 days / 7 nights / 6 riding days.
2019: Available throughout the year apart from 15 Jan to 15 Feb and 2 July to 1 Sept; and when the Lasithi Trail is running (High Season 17 March - 3 November and 15 December to 8 January 2020)
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||855|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||165|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||489|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||luxury room upgrade||165|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||369|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||189|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||229|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||919|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||165|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||555|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||429|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||255|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||295|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||919|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||175|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||525|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||luxury room upgrade||175|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||395|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||205|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||245|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||989|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||175|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||595|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||465|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||275|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||315|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,099|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||209|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||629|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||luxury room upgrade||209|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||475|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||245|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||295|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,185|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||209|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||709|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||555|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||329|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||375|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||9,875|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,879|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||5,635|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||luxury room upgrade||1,879|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||4,239|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||2,199|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||2,629|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||10,629|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,879|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider||6,389|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||Child 8-12 riding 'Fun Week' (sharing with 2 adults)||4,995|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 4-7 years||2,955|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non riding child 8-11 years||3,385|
‘Winds of Crete’ by David MacNeill Doren ,Douglas Bullis' The Chania Town News’ , Nikos Kazantzakis, ‘The Last Temptation’ and ‘Zorba the Greek’ and Mary Renault's ‘The King Must Die’ and ‘The Bull from the Sea’. For a broad selection of equestrian travel books, many previously unavailable visit www.HorseTravelBooks.com - inspiring adventure!
In the area are sandy beaches, water sports, an 18 hole golf course, para-gliding, shops and caving; all within 10 miles. From the hotel and stables, there is mountain biking and hiking.
Avdou is situated 9 miles from the sea and the lively holiday centre Chersonissos. Here you can find all the modern facilities you might need e.g. banks; a private medical centre, water sports and souvenir shops. In the Bay of Chersonissos there are several small sandy beaches. The wide sandy beach lies on the west side of Chersonissos reachable by bike, scooter or car. The beaches are child friendly and some have coast guards.
The moment you arrive on the hillside you experience the serene quietness and the tremendous panoramic view. Beneath you stretches the Langada Valley with the Apposelemis River crossing through and above are the red coloured peaks of the Dikti Mountains. Birds of prey, like the Griffon Vulture, glide along these peaks. The estate is surrounded by protected Kerm Oak forest and olive groves stretching down to the valley. On the estate many protected trees and flowers can be found, such as different types of beautiful orchids.
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.