In the mountains of northern Portugal, the Peneda Geres Park is home to one the last remaining breeds of wild horses in Europe; the Garrano. On this week long trail you will ride through this National Park and in the heart of the Mihno region, abundant in spectacular scenery and wildlife. Life in this area is very rural and you will feel as though you have stepped back in time as you pass through small towns and villages. You will also ride in the smaller adjacent natural park "Corno de Bico", landscaped with high rocky mountains and breath-taking panoramic views.

Riders are accommodated in either a traditional guesthouses located on the farm or in the National Parks or in lodges next to the stables. Meals are typical Portuguese delicacies made from local produce. The horses are a mixture of Arabian, Thoroughbred and Lusitanos and are well suited to the trails, being brave, strong and surefooted on varying terrain.

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 MK of Prague 4 on 26/11/2015

Ride Summary
Although the ride included galloping and the terrain was sometimes rough, not very experienced riders were able to participate
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Recommendation for improvement: lunch breaks were sometimes too long (and it means boring), little time for photographing
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
Recommendation for improvement: lunch breaks were sometimes too long (and it means boring), little time for photographing
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
5
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Although the ride included galloping and the terrain was sometimes rough, not very experienced riders were able to participate (e.g. a lady who cannot gallop).
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
There was one stressful thing regarding communication with Unicorn Trials sale staff: a short time before departure I still did not know whether anybody will be waiting for me at meeting point, although I asked for this information several times via email and phone. On the departure day (Saturday) I called again and fortunately I received this information but it was "last minute information" and it was stressful.
Unicorn comments: Hi Michaela, I think the problem was that the ride was booked very last minute: we sent you meeting information the day you booked (Wednesday), you sent us flight details with times on Thursday for Saturday arrival. Fortunately a phone call confirmed the pickup time for you :-) Glad you had a goo time. WH


Day 1
You can be met at the airport upon your arrival and transferred to the equestrian centre (approximately 1 hour from Porto) or you can take a bus from Porto Airport to Arcos de Valdevez which is a 5 minute drive from the stables. There will be a tour of the stables and a chance to meet the horses. During dinner each rider will be assigned a horse.

Day 2
Breakfast will be at 8am followed by preparation of your horse ready to depart at 10am. The trail will begin just above the medieval town of Arcos de Valdevez heading to the borders of Peneda-Geres National Park. You will first ride through the town to reach the tracks that lead you into the National Park. You will witness castles and mountains where wild horses live and amazing landscapes of traditional stone mountain villages. You will stop for lunch at a local mountain tavern. In the afternoon the trail will lead you to pre-historical remains of ancient civilizations before heading towards the National Park Information Centre, where park information can be found. The horses will rest here overnight, in the old forestry nursery fields. Following a transfer back to the stables you will enjoy dinner at a typical Portuguese restaurant in Arcos de Valdevez town.

Day 3
Breakfast will again be at 8am after which you will be transferred back to your horses. Once you have prepared your horse you will depart into the woods of the National Park, riding uphill to plains of old pasture fields and home of wild horses and the wildlife of Peneda-Geres National Park. You will ride all day through this scenery on trails between mountain villages at an altitude of 1000m. Lunch will be near a mountain lake and is followed by an afternoon ride that will take you down to the ancient Trail of the Deceased (used in ancient times to take mountain people back down to the bottom of the valley cemeteries, near the villages). You will arrive in the village of Ferreiros, where you will stable the horses in the old farmers houses and be transferred back to the equestrian centre. Dinner will be at a typical Portuguese restaurant in Arcos.

Day 4
After breakfast you will be transferred back to Ferreiros to be reunited with your horse. The ride will set off at 10am along the valley countryside, farming fields and oak forests, arriving to the Vez river shores. You will follow the river through fisherman trails back down to the historic town of Arcos. Lunch will be by the river and depending on the water level, it may be possible to cross with the horses (you will take a detour to the nearest old bridge if the water level is too high). Once you arrive back in Arcos de Valdevez you will explore the old town riding through the 17th century roads full of history and architecture before heading back to the equestrian centre.

Day 5
Today's journey begins in the woods above the stables, protected landscape of Corno de Bico. The trails are full of forest wildlife, wild horses, mountain cows, foxes, wild boars. You may even spot deer and wolf. Lunch will be in a local tavern in the heart of a small and wonderful village with only 6 houses and 16 habitants. After lunch the trail will continue uphill to a place where on a clear day you will see the Atlantic Coast. There will be a quick sightseeing stop at the post of the old forestry guard which was a surveillance spot in ancient times. Descending from the forest, you will take a trail which leads to the old villages in the vicinity of this forest park, where you will leave the horses in the fields of an ancient manor house where you will spend the night. Dinner will be in the town of Paredes de Coura and you may have the opportunity to taste the famous river Coura Trout.

Day 6
The landscape surrounding the manor house is full of amazing scenery. Today can be a non-riding day and you may enjoy the amenities of the grounds if you wish. For those who wish to join, there will be a tour inside the protected area of Corno de Bico. The trails are full of contrast and you will go in search of wild horses. Due to the remote nature of the ride today, the lunches are carried in saddle bags  and enjoyed in the forest. In the evening you will head back to the manor house where the owners will prepare a traditional Portuguese dinner and join you for the meal.

Day 7
After breakfast you will leave the manor house at around 10am and ride through the old forest guard trails. You will see the natural wild horse shelters, made up of groups of 50-60 trees planted in the woods to provide protection for the wildlife in harsh winters and hot summers. Along the way it is inevitable that you will meet wild horses as you head down the mountain to the small village of Grijo, where lunch will be enjoyed. After lunch the trail continues through the rural landscapes and through the woods and forests that are spread in between them. The trail will also pass through  an old Castle built on top of a Granit stone settlement, and in the 15th century served as a watch-post for preventing incoming invasions from Spanish borders. From here you will continue descending the hillside and back towards the stables.

Day 8
After breakfast you will be transferred to either back to the bus station or to Porto or Vigo Airport for your journey 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.

Horses & Riding

There are ten horses at the equestrian centre, a mixture of Arabian, Thoroughbred and Lusitanos. The horses are well suited to the trails, being brave, strong and surefooted on varying terrain. English saddles are used and the horses are ridden in a relaxed manner with long reins. This casual style of riding allows riders to enjoy the landscape fully.


Rider requirements

Riders must be comfortable in walk, trot and canter and have experience of riding outdoors. On some days riders will be in the saddle for up to 6 hours so good fitness is advised. On occasions it may be necessary to dismount and lead your horse for a short distance.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

5 nights are spent in lodge style accomodation or the traditional cosy guesthouse. The lodges have recently been fully reonovated and are right next to the stables and paddocks, the perfect place to relax after a long day in the saddle while watching the horse in their paddocks. In the cosy guesthouse you will find six charming bedrooms with air conditioning, private bathrooms, TV and radio. The living room, breakfast room and meeting area is shared with the other guests. The farm also has a nice pool (open summer months only) and tennis court, perfect for relaxing after a day in the saddle. Meals are typical of the local area (Portuguese delicacies). Dinners are served around 20:00 and lunches are enjoyed on the ride.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures

Passport and Visa 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 should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal


In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Portugal.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/portugal

Climate Summary

On the whole the north of Portugal has cooler temperatures than the south and sees significantly more rainfall. As you head east toward the Spanish border, winters become longer and summers hotter as the land as affected by the moderating Atlantic winds.

July is warmest month with an average temperature of 27 °C at noon. January is coldest with an average temperature of 6 °C at night. Northern Portugal has temperate cold and warm seasons, like winters and summers. The temperatures at night are cooler than during daytime.

In winter there may be some days it freezes, overall winters are mild in temperature, with the coldest month most often being January. July is on average the month with most sunshine. Rainfall and other precipitation peaks around December. The time around July is driest.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.

If you need to contact the emergency services in Portugal call 112.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Portugal and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity

In Portugal the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Film and Camera Equipment

You will be able to charge your camera at your overnight accommodation.

Packing List

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. A laundry service is available at the hotel.

• Riding Helmet - it is a requirement 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
• Sunhat
• Sunglasses
• 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
• Raincoat - always a good idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect 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

Programmes

This is a 8 days / 7 nights programme with 6 days riding available on set dates between February and November. Short Breaks are available on request when the full trail is not running. Beginners are welcome on short breaks, please enquire for details.

Departure Dates

2022: 17 Sept; 1, 15, 29 Oct; 12, 26 Nov.
2023: 4, 18 Feb; 4, 18 Mar; 1, 15, 29 Apr; 13, 27 May; 10, 24 Jun; 8, 22 Jul; 2, 16, 30 Sept; 14, 28 Oct; 11, 25 Nov.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20238d/7n6double pp1,375
20238d/7n6small group supplement (2-3 pax)83
20238d/7n6small group supplement for 1 rider379
20238d/7n6single supplement249
20238d/7n6non-rider1,099
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20238d/7n6double pp1,519
20238d/7n6small group supplement (2-3 pax)91
20238d/7n6small group supplement for 1 rider415
20238d/7n6single supplement275
20238d/7n6non-rider1,215
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20238d/7n6double pp1,745
20238d/7n6small group supplement (2-3 pax)105
20238d/7n6small group supplement for 1 rider479
20238d/7n6single supplement315
20238d/7n6non-rider1,399
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20238d/7n6double pp17,449
20238d/7n6small group supplement (2-3 pax)1,045
20238d/7n6small group supplement for 1 rider4,775
20238d/7n6single supplement3,135
20238d/7n6non-rider13,959
Other Activities

Other activities include hiking, cycling, wine tasting and tennis.

Wildlife

Typical wildlife of the area include wild horses (Garranos), wild cows, wolves, eagles, deer, fox and wild boar.

Other Country Information

Historically, the Portuguese have 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, quaint towns and a landscape wreathed in olive groves, vineyards and wheat fields. Portugal is dotted 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

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Porto Airport (OPO) (Portugal) or Vigo Airport (VGO) (Spain)
Transfer:
€165 each way per car from Airport (split by the number of clients, max 7 pax). There is a bus available from Porto Airport to Arcos de Valdevez for €16 each way.
Flight Guide:
London - Porto return from £70
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