The Camino de Santiago, or ‘Way of St. James’ is one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in history, and this holiday offers the chance to cover the most popular route from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela on horseback. Split into 4 one-week programmes covering the whole route, riders can choose to do one stage at a time or combine several weeks as thier schedule allows to complete the pilgrimage. With plenty of time in the saddle, each stage follows the traditional route through beautiful countryside, ancient villages and historical sites, beginning and ending at strategically important locations and staying in comfortable hotels and guesthouses along the route.
The first stage travels from Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees, across mountainous terrain and into the fertile plains of Rioja, finishing at Santo Domingo de la Calzada. As well as the stunning scenery, riders will also see many examples of masonry and architecture from medieval to Roman times and beyond. Highlights include the gothic “Puente de la Rabia” bridge, Irache monastery on the hillside and Santo Domingo de la Calzada, named for a monk who set up hotels, hospitals and even a bridge to ease the journey of pilgrims passing through.
The second stage leaves the mountains behind and travels into the plains of Castilla. The landscape opens out, dotted with medieval villages like Belorado, with its lovely 16th and 17th century churches. Pass ancient battle markers and the picturesque ruins of Convento de San Anton as the ride leads through fields of wheat, barley and sunflowers, to Leon and on to Burgo Ranero.
The third stage joins the famous regions of Castilla and Galicia together, riding from Burgo Ranero to O Cebreiro along open country tracks that are great for long canters and up challenging mountain paths around Irago. The route takes riders into Hospital de Orbigo via the restored stone bridge, through Astorga with its Palacio Episcopal, museum of Caminos and Santa Maria Cathedral, and to the beautiful stone village of Castrillo de los Polvazares. The ride finishes riding through mountains and hills with superb views of Galicia to O Cebreiro, 1300m above sea level.
The fourth and final stage passes some of the most significant locations of the Camino de Santiago as all routes start to converge in the approach to the cathedral. You will pass a Benedictine monastery, a pilgrim’s cemetery at Ligonde, and Monte do Gozo where pilgrims cry with happiness for finally seeing towers of Santiago Cathedral. Riding through forests, along country roads and small tracks which display the heart of Galicia you reach Santiago de Compostella, entering Obradoiro square on horseback, and complete the pilgrimage.
The horses are all Pure Spanish (PRE), forward-going and very responsive and ridden in Spanish style saddles. The food is typical of the region, lovingly prepared and freshly cooked. Your host on this route has bred these beautiful horses for many years and is knowledgeable and passionate about the history and culture of this area.
This Spanish horse riding holiday will appeal to riders who are interested in a combination of scenery and culture with comfortable hotels, good company and beautiful horses.
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 SF of Barkway on 04/05/2022
Stage 1: Pyrenean Stage
The group will be met Pamplona Airport and be transferred to Roncesvalles. Settle in to the overnight accommodation and get you know your fellow riders over dinner.
Roncesvalles – Burlada
Today starts the tour through one of the most beautiful sections of the whole Camino with alpine meadows and picturesque forest. After breakfast the group will start this mountainous ride by descending 950m from Roncesvalles and climb up again to Alto de Mezkiritz (922m) and Erro (801m). Continue the ride over 22 km until reaching Zubiri with its gothic “Puente de la Rabia” bridge over the Arga river, the perfect place for to enjoy lunch. After lunch, ride another 15km to the strategically important village of Trinidad de Arre or 2 km more to Burlada, Tonight's stop for diner and overnight accommdation.
Burlada – Puente la Reina
After breakfast and mounting up the journey takes riders to Pamplona, one of five province capitals on Camino de Santiago. Enter the town across a medieval Magdalena bridge and ride past the Cathedral, Portal de Francia and the Citadel. From the fertile basin of Pamplona the trail climbs 13 km to Alto del Perdon at nearly 800m where the unwary pilgrim may be tested by an offer of water in exchange for his faith. Be aware of the local demon! Better to ride down for next 4km to Uterga (500m) where and a stop for lunch and a guilt-free drink! After lunch, continue to decend another 7km to Puente la Reina, an emblematic town where two pathways meet; the Camino from Navarra and the Camino from Aragon. This is the stop for diner and overnight accommodation.
Puente la Reina – Villamayor de Monjardin
After breakfast the ride starts with a short but steep climb and continues through the hills and bridges to Villatuerta (19 km) today's stop for lunch. Continue for another 13km, passing villages that appear to have stopped in time, until reaching the beautiful town of Estella. The ascent continues slowly up past the monastery of Irache and the only fountain in the world that sometimes flows with wine! Finish for the day in Villamayor de Monjardin, a lovley village on the top of the hill that is the overnight stay for the night.
Villamayor de Monjardin - Viana
Today the ride sets out through open fields between the provinces of Navarra and Rioja. It is so rural here that you will not pass a village for nearly 20 km until reaching Torres del Rio where one of the most remarkable churches of Santo Sepulco is situated This is today;s lunch venue. In the afternoon, cross 11km of hills to Viana for diner and overnight stay.
Viana – Najera
After breakfast set off on a 10km ride to Logrono, the capital of Rioja, and continue through fertile hills and wine plantations for 13 km to Navarrete famous for its ceramics and vineyards. After having lunch the trail follows another 17km over the last hill, Alto de San Anton, and down to the old capital of Rioja, Najera, the overnight stop for day 6.
Najera – St, Domingo de Calzada
Today is a morning ride, trekking 22 km to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, home of an important figure of the Camino in Rioja who marked the road, took care of pilgrims and constructed churches and hospitals. Here the ride comes to an end, allowing the horses to rest and giving riders time to visit this splendid town before diner and overnight here.
St, Domingo de Calzada – Pamplona Airport
Transfer to Pamplona Airport
Stage 2: The Plains of Castilla
The grup will be met at Logrono Agoncillo Airport and transferred to St. Domingo de la Calzada (approx. 3h). Check in to the accommodation for the night and enjoy dinner with your fellow riders.
St. Domingo de la Calzada – Villafranca Montes de Oca
After breakfast ythe adventure starts in the beautiful town of St. Domingo de la Calzada, named after a monk whose devotion to the Camino was enormous. Continue through the outlying vineyards of Rioja, fertille valleys and hills on the way towards the plains of Castilla. After 23 km the group will stop for lunch in Belorado, a medieval village with lovely 16th and 17th century churches, and then continue another 12km to Villafranca Montes de Oca where for diner and overnight stay.
Villafranca Montes de Oca – Burgos
Today starts with a 24 km trek over the mountains of Orca, from 950m to 1150m at Alto de la Pedraja. The ride will pass the famous church of San Juan de Ortega and standing stones marking battle of 1054 between the King of Castilla y Leon, Fernando the first and the King of Navarra don Garcia. After stopping for lunch in Cardenuela Rio Pico, ride on 11km to Burgos. Leave the horses to rest here while riders are driven another 16 km by car to Tardajos for dinner and overnight stay.
Rabe de las Calzadas – Castrojeriz
After breakfast, meet up with the horses in the nearby village of Rabe de las Calzadas (just next to Tardajos). Enter the huge open space of Castilla y Leon and ride for 18 km through the fields of wheat, barley and sunflowers to Horitamas before stopping for lunch. Another 10 km riding, passing the picturesque ruins of Convento de San Anton along the way, brings riders to Castrojeriz where they stop for diner and spend the night. It is a beautifully situated village with ruins of a castle on the top of the hill and the 18th century Colegiata de Nuestra Señora del Manzano.
Castrojeriz – Carrion de los Condes
Today begins with a 29 km ride with an open horizon to Poblaion de Campos. The route includes a climb up Alto de Mostelares and crosses over the 11th century bridge “Puente Fitero” that spans the river Pisuerga into Palencia municipio. After lunch, ride 15km alongside the national road to Carrion de los Condes (a town with 12 churches and a stunning monastery) or Villalcazar de Sirga for dinner and overnight stay.
Carrion de los Condes - Sahagun
After breakfast, ride for 17 km along an old Roman road to the tiny village of Calzadilla de la Cueza. After lunch, the route crosses the municipal border into Leon and continues a further 22km to Sahagun, a town with strong Arab influences where the group stop for diner and stay overnight.
Sahagun – Burgo Ranero
Today is just an 19km morning ride from Sahagun for 18 km to witness “The poor Roman” architectural style where the buildings were made of cheap mud bricks instead of expensive red bricks. Arrive at the cozy El Burgo Ranero where the ride ends with a glass of homemade chupito. The group will have some time to explore the town before a final dinner and last night on this stage of the Camino.
Burgo Ranero – Logrono Agoncillo Airport
Transfer to Logrono Agoncillo Airport
Stage 3: Castillo to Galicia
The group will be met at León Airport and transferred to El Burgo Ranero (approximately 3h) and check-in to the accommodation for the night before enjoy dinner with the fellow riders.
El Burgo Ranero – Arcahueja (Leon)
After breakfast theadventure starts with a 19km ride from El Burgo Ranero, through the dry open landscape of Leon to Mansilla de las Mulas and a stop for lunch. A further 11km riding brings the group to Arcahueja, where to avoid a long stretch of concrete road, the horses are boxed up and riders travel by car to Virgen del Camino for diner and overnight stop.
Virgen del Camino – Hospital de Orbigo
Today’s ride sets out across 14 km of open fields that provide a good opportunity for some lovely canters to Villar de Mazarife. After lunch the rides continues for another 15km until you reach a stone bridge over the River Orbigo leading to Hospital de Orbigo where you stop for dinner and overnight.
Hospital de Orbigo – Castrillo de los Polvazares
After breakfast the trail starts out from Hospital de Orbigo and continues 17 km through small villages to the large town of Astorga with its Palacio Episcopal, museum of Caminos and Santa Maria Cathedral, today's lunch stop. After lunch, ride 6.5km to the beautiful stone village of Castrillo de los Polvazares which is great example of the local malagateria architectural style with characteristic round, heavy doors and ornamented locks. Relax here over diner and tonight's overnight stay.
Castrillo de los Polvazares – Foncebadon
Today's ride sets out from the big plains towards the mountains of Leon. Riders can enjoy the view of Picos de Europa for 16 km all the way to Rabanal de Camino. After lunch, the ride continues another 6km to Foncebadon, the highest village on Irago mountain, which is tonight's diner and overnight stop.
Foncebadon - Molinaseca
Today there is only a morning ride that passes the emblematic Cruz de Fierro where it is traditional for pilgrims to place a stone to symbolize their intention to walk the Camino and to ask for protection along the way. After the cross, the ride descends 19km through picturesque hills to the lovley Molinaseca where the group stops for lunch. followed by a 30 km drive to Villafranca del Bierzo for diner and overnight stay.
Villafranca del Bierzo – O Cebreiro
After breakfast the group crosses the Galician border and rides alongside the River Valcarce for 17 km to Vega de Valcacel and a stop for lunch. In the afternoon there is some serious climbing to do for another 12 km to O Cebreiro (1300m), a stone Galician village with stunning views to finish the ride. Dinner and overnight.
O Cebreiro – León Airport
Transfer to León Airport
Stage 4: Santiago De Compostella Finale
Riders are met at Santiago de Compostela Airport and transferred to O Cebreiro (approx. 4h) for check in at the accommodation and dinner with the fellow riders.
O Cebreiro – Samos
After breakfast the ride starts from the tiny but spectacular stone village of O Cebreiro at an altitude of 1300m. The first leg of the journey takes a 21 km route through lush green Galician hills with Oak and Chestnut trees, down to Tricastela where riders stop for lunch. After lunch, continue for 9 km along a beautiful path through a forest, enjoying the genuine Galicia with its variety of tracks and country roads.The ride then reaches the Camino to Samos, a villag famous for its 6th century Benedictine monastery, which is the stop for diner and overnight stay.
Samos – Portomarin
This morning follows a15 km ride past the town of Sarria to Barbadelo. After stopping for lunch the group will pass the significant “100km” point of the Camino where many people start their walk, and continue 18km to new Portomarin. Unfortunately the old original medieval village was flooded by the waters of an artificial lake in 1960. Dinner and overnight.
Portomarin – Palas de Rei
After breakfast the trail heads uphill for 16.5 km to Ligonde and a lunch stop. The well-preserved pilgrim cemetery that was linked to a nearby pilgrim hospita is testament to how tough a four-week pilgrimage was for medieval people . After lunch the trail continues another 8.5km to Palas de Rei for diner and overnight stop.
Palas de Rei - Arzuga
Today starts from Palas de Rei and covers 16 km, crossing to muncipio A-Coruña before arriving to the modern village of Melide, famous for its octopus dish. Lunch at the famous local Pulperia Ezequiel. before contnuing across the hills for 14 km to Arzua where the group stops for diner and stay overnight.
Arzua – Monte do Gozo
After breakfast, ride 20 km through forests and villages from Arzua to O Pino Pedrouzo before stopping for lunch. Ride the last 15 km before reaching Santiago de Compostella and crossing the River Amenal to arrivie at Monte do Gozo, where pilgrims cry with happiness for finally seeing towers of Santiago Cathedral. Diner and overnight at a nearby hotel.
Santiago de Compostella
On the last day the riders enter the Obradoiro square, the monumental centre of Santiago de Compostela. One must start early to be able to enter the Plaza Obradoiro on horse before the crowds of pilgrims appear. Ride through the city centre and through the cathedral square efore saying a fond farewell to the horses, which get loaded into the trucks and return home. Riders are free to enjoy the rest of the day lexploring Santiago de Compostella.
Santiago de Compostella – Santiago de Compostela Airport
Transfer to Santiago de Compostela Airport
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 owner breeds and competes Pure Spanish horses (PRE). The horses are Spanish, Arab X and some Andalusian X, There are 35 excellent riding horses to choose from ranging in height from 15hh-16.2hh with some ponies also available. They are all in excellent condition and are lovingly groomed on a daily basis and have traditional flowing manes, Horses are mainly kept stabled, shod all round and very well mannered.
Horses are ridden in traditional deep seated Spanish saddles with soft sheepskin covers and traditional big stirrups. The bridles are mainly curb bits and the horses are ridden loose reined and respond easily to weight shifts and subtle signals. This is a very easy and relaxing style of riding similar to Western, some instruction will be given if wanted. The horses are all experienced and sure footed trail horses with temperaments that vary from quiet and reliable through responsive to fiery and showy.
With 35 horses to choose from you are sure to find your ideal partner for the week. The riding is mainly at a walk due to varying terrain, but there are plenty of opportunities (4-6) for long and fast canters every day. The riding starts late morning, after 2-3 hours a break is made for lunch followed by a siesta and a similar length afternoon session to arrive late afternoon at your destination. All saddling and grooming is done for you although you are welcome to assist with your own horse.
Riders need to be able to walk, trot and canter. These horses are trained in the Spanish style and are used to being ridden with a loose rein when at walk and a light contact at canter. There are some large and strong horses, so there is a higher than usual weight limit of 105kg. Due to the long rides this ride is not suitable for children under 12 and all children should be competent riders. There is no need to saddle or clean your own horse on this ride unless you wish to. Assistance is available for mounting and dismounting and minimal walking next to your horses is required.
The weight limit for this ride is 231 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The hotels used en-route are all very comfortable with twin or double rooms and en-suite shower, toilet, bidet and basin in the bathrooms. They are always located in spots of particular interest and have a local character all of their own. The meals cover a range of local dishes and are always freshly prepared. Continental breakfasts, extensive lunches and 3 course dinners are the norm.
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.
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/spain
In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/spain
July is the hottest month in Galicia with an average temperature of 18°C (64°F) and the coldest is January at 7°C (45°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 8 in August. The wettest month is December with an average of 135mm of rain. Due to its exposed north-westerly location, the climate is still very cool by Spanish standards.
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.
Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Spain and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.
In Spain 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.
There is electricity in the hotel rooms and camera equipment can be recharged each night. Most towns and villages will sell some batteries and film.
We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may very according to how many stages of the Camino you are riding and your 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 to borrow 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
• 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
8 days / 7 nights and 6 days riding per stage on set dates for this programme. Other dates may be arranged for groups of 6 or more.
2023 Pyrenean Stage: 15 Apr; 23 Sept.
2023 Plains of Castilla: 22 Apr; 30 Sept.
2023 Castillo to Galicia: 29 Apr; 7 Oct.
2023 Santiago De Compostella Finale: 6 May; 14 Oct.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,645|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||single supplement||189|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||double pp single stage||1,905|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||single supplement||155|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||double pp four stages||6,845|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||single supplement||615|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||double pp three stages||5,025|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||single supplement||459|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||double pp two stages||3,429|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||single supplement||309|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,875|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||single supplement||215|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||double pp single stage||2,169|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||single supplement||175|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||double pp four stages||7,795|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||single supplement||699|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||double pp three stages||5,725|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||single supplement||525|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||double pp two stages||3,909|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||single supplement||349|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||double pp||1,995|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||single supplement||229|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||double pp single stage||2,395|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||single supplement||195|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||double pp four stages||8,605|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||single supplement||775|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||double pp three stages||6,319|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||single supplement||579|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||double pp two stages||4,315|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||single supplement||389|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||double pp||20,735|
|2022 - The French Route (Vida)||7d/6n||5||single supplement||2,379|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||double pp single stage||23,979|
|2023 Single Stage||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,935|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||double pp four stages||86,179|
|2023 Four Stages||29d/28n||24||single supplement||7,739|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||double pp three stages||63,305|
|2023 Three Stages||22d/21n||18||single supplement||5,805|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||double pp two stages||43,195|
|2023 Two Stages||15d/14n||12||single supplement||3,869|
`The New Spaniards’ –John Hooper, ‘Driving over Lemons’- Chris Stewart, ‘The Story of Spain’- Mark Williams, ‘South of Granada’ – Gerald Brenan, ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’ – Ernest Hemmingway, ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’- Laurie Lee and ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ – Miguel de Cervantes. 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.com
Non-riders are welcome to accompany the ride in the luggage transfer vehicle. Each night is spent in interesting local villages and hotels and there is plenty to do and see. The main cultural items are visited with your guide en route and non riders can join in here.
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.