The Alentejo area of Portugal is home to two of the National Portuguese stud farms and is the largest breeding area for fighting bulls in Portugal.
This is wonderful horse country with soft trails through pleasant countryside. You will stay in beautifully renovated private estates who's previous inhabitants were noblemen. Beautiful antique furniture and art create a special atmosphere that makes these accommodations a highlight of this trail.
This ride takes you over hilly meadows without any fences or roads to Lake Maranhão. You cross several bridges, many of which were built by the Romans, until you reach Alter do Chão. Here you will visit one of the headquarters of the two National Portuguese Stud Farms, which will be a highlight for lovers of Portuguese horse breeds. Hundreds of mares and their foals graze on large meadows, while the stallions can be viewed in the spectacular barns.
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 Patchway on 23/04/2016
Arrival in Lisbon and transfer at 5.30pm. You will travel north‐east to the town of Figueira e Barros, approximately 150kms. For your first night you stay in a renovated farmhouse, the Monte do Padrão. This is lovely historic accommodation with a very welcoming host who may invite you to enjoy some of the wines from his cellar. Overnight and dinner at Monte do Padrão.
Meet your horses and ride over hilly meadows with few obstacles and down to a river, where you stop for lunch. Most of the stone bridges over the numerous rivers date back to the Romans.
For lunch, a delicious picnic will be prepared with grilled meats or fish with salad accompanied by fresh bread and local wine. In the afternoon you continue along the banks of the river – it may be necessary to dismount and lead your horse over some particularly rocky sections.
The day ends at Monte dos Aroeirais where you can spend the evening and dinner in the beautiful garden by the pool. Dinner and overnight at Monte dos Aroeirais.
Today you ride from Monte dos Aroeirais to the town of Alter do Chão, through meadows where they raise wild bulls. After a picnic lunch and siesta you arrive at the Alter Real stud farm where the horses are stabled. Dinner and overnight at the comfortable 4‐star Estalagem ‐Varandas de Alter.
This morning you will ride through the vast flower‐filled meadows on the lands of the stud farm.
After lunch at the hotel, you will visit Alter do Chão, the stud and breeding farm. Horses bred here are very famous and traded under the name 'Alter'. In this idyllic location, hundreds of mares and their foals graze on large meadows filled with flowers. You should also get the opportunity to see some of the stallions and young horses.
Return to the town of Alter where, time allowing, we stop at a Portuguese tack shop where you can buy local riding products such as leather chaps, boots or belts. Dinner and overnight at Varandas de Alter.
Today, leaving the stud farm behind, you will ride to Ribeira da Seda through large meadows with only one remote farmhouse to remind you of the presence of people. The horses will stay in Monte do Padrão and you will make the short journey to the manor of Monte dos Aroeirais. Dinner and overnight at Monte dos Aroeirais.
Today you ride through the fields of the 3000 hectare farm of Monte do Padrão, exploring the great plains of the upper Alentejo, which are home to extensive fruit and olive orchards. Dinner and overnight at Monte dos Aroeirais.
Today you ride from Monte do Padrão towards Lake Maranhão through the private hunting grounds of the Calatrava, consisting of open fields and cork forests. There is lots of opportunity for long trots and canters. You enjoy lunch on the banks of the dam before returning to the farm by a similar route. Farewell dinner and overnight at Monte do Padrão.
After breakfast, transfer back to Lisbon and departure.
Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: Alentejo Estate Ride
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 are all pure bred Lusitanos in fit condition. These horses are about 16hh, light boned, warm blooded and responsive. They have a naturally proud head carriage and are well schooled. Military saddles well covered with seat savers and sheepskin are utilised on this ride and make for a comfortable ride. The bridles are English.
• Comfortable spending up to six hours a day in the saddle.
• The riding is at all paces depending on riding ability. There are many opportunities to trot, canter and also to gallop.
• Must be over 12 years of age and be capable of controlling a horse at a walk, trot and canter.
Weight limit: 188lb (85 kg).
Please note that there may be a very small amount of walking on foot and also it may be necessary for you to help with grooming and tacking up your horse. Someone is always on hand to help out.
The weight limit for this ride is 13 st/188 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
There are a wonderful variety of accommodations and meals on this ride as each night is spent in a different location. Your accommodation includes a historic pousada, you then enjoy excellent hotels in the heart of the country and near the coastline by the Lagoon of Santo Andre. Each lodging has a different character. The pousadas are Portugals traditional manor houses and as well as offering very comfortable, even luxurious, accommodation, they give an insight into the history of Portugal. Here your hosts can provide an introduction to Portuguese life and have many interesting tales of the culture and history of the Pousada and region. The hotels are very comfortable and well located. All have en suite bathrooms and on nights 2,3,4 and 5 there is a swimming pool available. The food on the ride is above average. Dinners start with an aperitif, followed by at least a three course meal. The cuisine is selected to ensure an introduction to many Portuguese specialties. Your hosts usually join you round the table. Lunches are extensive picnics brought to the lunch area by vehicle and eaten at a table. Vegetarians and special dietary requests can be catered for with prior arrangement.
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.
A valid passport is required for travel to Portugal. Visas are not required for U.K. or other European nationals. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on
0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk
The British Consulate in Lisbon is at Rua de Sao Bernardo 33, 1249 –082, Lisboa. Tel 351 21 392 4040. email: Consular@Lisbon.mail.fco.gov.uk
The best time to take part in the trek is between March and October. The climate is temperate. The average temperatures and rainfall are indicated on the chart.
No special health precautions are required for visits to Portugal, for further details please see your local doctor.
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.
We do advise taking plenty of sunscreen!
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 2 pronged adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.
There will be an opportunity to recharge digital cameras and video equipment in the evenings with appropriate adaptors.
Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium).
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.
• 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
• A bum bag or saddlebags (these are not provided)
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates.
2019: 14, 21 April; 5, 12 May
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The Portuguese: The Land and its People by Marion Kaplan.
Rose Macaulay's ‘They Went to Portugal’
You could also pack the Landscapes of Portugal series by Brian & Eileen Andersen, which features both car tours and treks in various regions, and the more detailed Walking in Portugal by Bethan Davies and Ben Cole.
For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.
Cultural and walking.
It is possible to see wild pigs and foxes. Flora includes forests of Cork and Pine trees, eucalyptus and an abundance of wild flowers.
The Portuguese have historically been the intrepid explorers of the world. In the 15th Century they discovered the sea route to India, via the Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498 and Pedro Cabral, trying to reach India, discovered Brazil two years later (1500). Other Portuguese explorers reached the Far East, China and Japan. The first circumnavigation of the globe was led by Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan.
Portugal has a rich seafaring past, superb beach resorts, wistful towns and a landscape wreathed in olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields. Littered with UNESCO World Heritage sites and graced by one of Europe's most relaxed and attractive capitals.
Savouring life slowly is a Portuguese passion, and much of the best is humble - traditional folk festivals; simple, honest food drowning in olive oil; music that pulls at the heart strings, recalling past love and glories; and markets overflowing with fish, fruit and flowers.
Portugal is in the GMT time zone 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 is +351
If you are hiring a car, you will need to know about how to pay any toll fees as these are done automatically and not on the road. This is a new system from January 2012 and the method for how to pay this will change throughout the year. Please check this website for current information: http://www.amoita.com/node/1414