The Catalan Culture and Beach Trail is the perfect way to discover the Catalan coast, with beautiful scenery, a rich medieval history and a great artistic heritage. This region was voted one of the "Best of the World Destinations 2012" by National Geographic Traveller Magazine and deservedly so. Gallop through surf on unspoilt sandy beaches, ride through old villages, passing Romanesque churches on this fast exhilarating point to point riding trail.
As well as the long sandy beaches you will also discover a nature reserve, the Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l'Emporda. This Park has been designated as both a RAMSAR site and an Important Bird Area. The Park is built on marshy land and shelters predominantly aquatic birds. More than 300 different species have been sighted here. Riding through the magnificent rivermouth "La Gola", which is a protected natural area, will give you a view of the coastal plant life and the fauna of maritime-land areas of Costa Brava.
This ride has it all: fit and forward going Andalusian horses, beaches, sand, natural dunes, precious villages, castles and churches. Discover small medieval sites such Peretallada and Torroella de Montgrí. Experience the most exciting gallop on the fringe of the sea and overnight in small friendly hotels and guesthouses sampling the fine cuisine of the region. A bottle of local wine or cava is never far away of course!
Read a personal ride review of this ride.
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 ML of Hawick on 09/10/2019
DAY 1: WELCOME
You will arrive to Can Grau, a rural farmhouse located at the foot of the Pyrenees, facing the natural and wild reserve of the Medes Island, where you will discover the l'Empordà region, ideal for a horse riding holiday. Before dinner you will be told about the special characteristics of our Andalusian trail horses. You will be given an introduction to the week´s programme with an opportunity for a one-to-one conversation designed to find every rider their perfect horse. Then, you can enjoy a fantastic dinner!
DAY 2: FROM THE LAND TO THE SEA
Today is a nice day in the saddle, with lots of long canters and gallops through the Alt Empordà pine forests and rolling hills. As the afternoon draws on you can sense the proximity to the coast and at last we arrive to the Riomar Hotel in Sant Marti d’Empuries, a scenic little world set in one of the most beautiful bays in the Mediterranean, el Gulf of Rosas. Surrounded by areas of authentic natural beauty Sant Marti d’Empuries is located near the famous ruins of the same name; the first Iberian Peninsula Greek city, keeping a perfect balance between land and sea, between the greens and yellows of its orchards and the blue and gold of the village´s extensive beaches and historic past..
DAY 3: THE FIRST BEACH
After an early start we trot our horses 1km down to the beach. The long curve of the bay of Rosas stretches before us, kilometres of golden sand. Here we enjoy some excellent canters and gallops on the beach. After the beach ride we head inland again following the river Fluviá, past a bird sanctuary where we can see flocks of migrating birds. The terrain is flat with lots of rice plantations and peach, pear and apple orchards. The pace today is lively. Our destination is Castelló d’Empuries, a lovely medieval village, aparted from the sea front to protect better his inhabitants from the corsair intrusions at XVIth and XVIIth century.
DAY 4: MEDIEVAL VILLAGES
We will start our trail down to Baix Empordà. In spite of it being a prosperous area, it still conserves the traditional rural and village way of life. The paths and tracks have not been asphalted nor has the countryside been fenced off so there is an unlimited combination of paths and bridleways to explore. Every hour we pass another beautiful village, castle, churche, archway, tunnel and old wooden doors with wrought iron knockers, the beauty of the stonework of the past. At lunch time we will have our daily picnic in an evergreen oak forest. In the afternoon, we will arrive back at Can Grau where we started 3 days ago.
DAY 5: THROUGH THE MEADOWS
We start from Can Grau but today in the opposite direction to the first day. Heading south to the river Ter, watching the Castillo de Montgri outline which is located at the top of the mountain mass where it got its name. We will arrive to the river Ter riding in routes and paths in the middle of forests and meadows and at the end along rice fields, to arrive at the mouth of the river and the sandy beach of Pals. This beach is 8km long, with a view of the Medas Islands in the distance. Our hotel is in front of the beach.
DAY 6: THE SECOND BEACH
After an early start, we trot our horses down to the beach. Here we enjoy some excellent landscape on our second beach in this trail. On Fonollera beach, the river forms a lagoon and then enters fully into the sea, in front of the Medes Islands. Riding your horse through the natural spaces of La Gola del Ter, La Platera or El Ter Vell will give you a view of the coastal plant life and the fauna of maritime-land areas. After the beach, we ride along meadows and rice fields to arrive at Peratallada. This lovely village is carved of stone from the moat which surrounds Peratallada. Indeed its name means 'carved stone'. Defensive walls surround parts of the village and there is also a stone castle. It was one of the best fortified medieval villages in Spain.
DAY 7: A MOSAIC COUNTRYSIDE
The entire route goes through a countryside that combines fields of crops, which sinuously cut into the clearings of Mediterranean woods, with small scattered human settlements that are integrated into the territory. We ride through mosaic countryside, enjoying some excellent canters and gallops. We enjoy our lunch near a natural well, some welcome refreshment for us and the horses. Back on our horses for the last part of today, a gentle ride following the path leads us to Can Sort
DAY 8: ADIÓS AMIGOS
Breakfast and departure and we hope to see each other again soon (or why not continue for another week trail up to the mountains?).
Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.
Private taxi transfers can be arranged and paid on site if you are not catching the group transfer. For non-group transfers, the private taxi transfers are €60-€70 one-way from Girona and €200-€250 one-way from Barcelona. These prices are subject to change depending on the taxi company and time of transfer.
We think our hosts in Catalonia are some of the best in the business! They offer a range of rides and in the unusual event of a ride not confirming ie. there are 3 or less riders, an alternative rail or based ride will be offered and the difference in price refunded so you can book your flights with confidence.
On this horse riding holiday, you will need to dismount and walk next to your horse over short distances so good walking boots are required.
Transfers: 2019: payable locally - €90 pp return from Barcelona (18:00 pick-up, 11:30 drop-off, 2hrs), €60 pp return from Girona (19:30 pick-up, 10:30 drop-off, 45min).
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 used for rides are well schooled pure or crossbred Andalusians. They have all been carefully chosen and most are between 14.2hh (150cm) and 16hh (165cm) and are of a medium build. They are sure-footed, fit, forward going, responsive to ride and well adapted to the requirements of the sometimes rough terrain.
The horses are all trained using natural horsemanship techniques which helps to create an enthusiastic, good natured horse that is keen to collaborate with its rider and really enjoys its work. The tack is English and trekking style and most horses are ridden in snaffles. English saddles and trekking saddles are utilised.
Saddle bags are provided to carry items required during the day and for picnic lunches. You will be paired with a suitable horse based on your experience and preferences, but if for any reason after the first day you feel that you are not well matched then just let your guide know and you will be given another horse.
To participate in this trip you must be a competent rider (English style). You should be well balanced, comfortable and secure in the saddle and able to control a well-schooled horse outside at all paces. Riders are expected to be able to cope with a variety of different going and different types of terrain. It would be beneficial to be a fit and regular rider.
Participants are expected to ride regularly in the months before they go, to ensure they can cope with the hours in the saddle. There are also places on the rides where you will need to dismount and lead your horse - if the ground gets rough or steep, and for a short time to warm the horses up and cool them down each day. Riders are expected to groom and tack up their own horse each day in preparation for rides.
Your guide will go over the week's programme when you first arrive (usually at dinner on the first night), explaining the special characteristics of the Andalusian trail horse and of the tack used, then discussing each rider's ability, experience and their preference as to the kind of horse they would like to ride. The minimum age for this ride is 14 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Can Grau is a large farmhouse and the 'logistical' home to the Catalonia Trails team and their horses. It is situated on the slopes of a hill overlooking the extensive plains of the Ampurdán and the Bahia de Rosas. The snowy peaks of the Pyrenees can also been seen in the distance. The atmosphere at Can Grau is tranquil and relaxing; enjoy the large swimming pool, the extensive gardens, the friendly staff and of course the traditional Catalan cuisine! Bedrooms are spacious with en-suite bathrooms and some have terraces or open out directly onto the garden. The horses are turned-out in the large green meadows surrounding the farmhouse and the stables are on your doorstep.
Accommodation list: (subject to change) Sunday night: Can Grau - Vilaür Monday night: Hotel Riomar or Can Grau - St. Marti d'empuries/Vilaür Tuesday night: Hotel Canet - Castelló d'Empuries Wednesday night: Can Grau - Vilaür Thursday night: Hotel La Gola - Torroella de Montgrí Friday night: Can Casadella - Serra d’Aró Saturday night: Can Grau - Vilaür.
The meals are plentiful and contain many typically Catalan dishes as well as regular European dishes. Breakfast is substantial and lunches are saddle-bag picnics (extensive with quiche/salted cakes/chorizo/Catalan cured meat/fruit/cheese/ham/wine/biscuits/chocolate). Dinners are 3-4 course and accompanied by good local wines. A bottle of local cava is never far away and the atmosphere is very welcoming.
The team always tries to showcase their regional and Catalan products resulting in beautifully prepared meals for all to enjoy!
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 Consulate in Madrid is at the Calle de Fernando el Santo 16, 28010 Madrid. Tel: +34 91 7008200. Email: email@example.com www.ukinspain.com.
The Spanish Embassy in the U.K can be found at 39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB. Tel: (020) 7235 5555.
Due to the interaction of Mediterranean and mountain climate in this region, you will find ideal conditions for horse back riding the whole year round. In spring the climate is mild, summer is not too hot, the autumn pleasantly warm and winter with its clear air, not too cold.
Especially recommended are February, March and April as well as November!
No special health precautions are required for visits to Spain, 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
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.
230V 50HZ with a two pronged round pin plug
Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium). There is electricity available each night to recharge cameras and batteries. There is good mobile reception in some parts of most days. At the base, the mobile reception is variable but there is free wifi.
We recommend wearing jodhpurs, as these protect your legs from soreness, and you will find a light-weight, cotton pair, more comfortable during the summer months. You may need two pairs if you are on one of the longer rides.
Your riding boots should have a sole with tread and be comfortable for walking, as you are certain to lead your horse on some occasions. Jodhpur boots and half-chaps are a more flexible combination for comfort and leg protection than long riding boots.
A long-sleeved shirt is recommended for protection against the sun and against scratches when riding through undergrowth.
Lightweight riding gloves are useful, as is a "bum bag" to contain your camera and any other items you may need during your ride.
We strongly recommend taking a water-bottle, especially on trail rides, which can be refilled en-route; these can be carried in the saddle-bags provided.
A light cotton scarf can help to avoid breathing in too much dust in dry areas.
Bring sunglasses, also to protect your eyes from dust.
Suncream and lip balm are also recommended.
It is essential that you bring good wet weather gear. Although it rains very little, when it does it is normally a heavy downpour, consequently a jacket or cape and waterproof trousers are a good idea.
Please bring a photocopy of your travel insurance certificate with you.
Last, but not least: do not forget your bathing suit!
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding on set dates which can be confirmed online. Please let us know if you wish to book another date, we can confirm new dates on request for 4 or more riders between February and November.
2019: 22** Sept; 27 Oct; 10 Nov. (** denotes high season) Other dates on request
2020: 15, 29 Mar; 12 Apr; 3, 17 May; 7 Jun; 20 Sept; 18 Oct; 1, 15 Nov
Special rate for March and November departures, please see Dates & Pricing
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,099|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||185|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||729|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,159|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||185|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||789|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,015|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||185|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||645|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,125|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||185|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||815|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,295|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||215|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||859|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,365|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||215|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||929|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,189|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||215|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||755|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,319|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||215|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||955|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,539|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||255|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,019|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,619|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||255|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,105|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,415|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||255|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||899|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,569|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||255|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,135|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||13,805|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,289|
|2019 Mid Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||9,165|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||14,549|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,289|
|2019 High Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||9,915|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||double pp||12,685|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,289|
|2019 Low Season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||8,045|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||double pp||14,069|
|2020 March/November Special Offer||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,289|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||10,179|
‘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. Another fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
The flora and fauna in this region is plentiful and varied. On the plains you'll come across plenty of livestock.
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.