This is the perfect trail for fit riders and certainly not for the faint-hearted! 5-7 hours of riding per day covering a total of 170km over 4 days of riding. Enjoy long canters along the paths, plains and beaches of the Alt Empordà region combined with nights in Besalú and Sant Pere Pescador, sampling the nightlife after a day in the saddle.
This exciting long weekend was actually thought-up by past clients who were looking for a short, exciting getaway which offered more than the average trail. It's perfect chance to escape everyday life and be immersed in true Catalan culture aboard fit and forward-going Andalusian and cross horses, well schooled and ridden English style.
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 TN of Stockholm on 17/06/2022
DAY 1 Welcome to Can Grau
Arrive at the Can Grau farmhouse (or similar) at end of afternoon and be met by the Catalonia Horse Trails team who will discuss the week's program and the special characteristics. Riders will be able to discuss their riding skill level and preferences so as to enable each rider has the perfect mount. After the briefing the group settles down to enjoy the first night dinner with their riding companions.
DAY 2 Can Grau to Sant Marti D'Empuries
The journey starts by heading to Baix Empordà. This prosperous area maintains a traditional way of life. The absence of tarred roads and fences has resulted in numerous paths and bridleways to explore. The route is dotted with quaint villages, castles and churches. After passing the village of Sant Mori, the group stops for a picnic lunch in the Kermes Oak forest. The ride then heads toward the ' Gulf of Rosas' and the beachfront hotel in the Sant Marti de Empuriesthe region, the accommodation for the night.
DAY 3 The Beach of Rosas
Be prepared for a long day in the saddle starting with an exhilarating beach ride with plenty of galloping and trotting before arriving at Sant Pere Pescador. Today's lunch stop is at the Valverella lake and carries on towards Can Grau, tonight's stopover. After tending to the horses riders can freshen up before a relaxing dinner.
DAY 4 The medieval village of Besalú
After breakfast the ride heads out through secenery surrounded by Mediterranean forests and mountain creeks that offer amazing views of prairies and meadows. Pass country cottages and churches until reaching the Fluvià River before stopping for a picnic lunch in the grounds of an old Catalan farmhouse. The afternoon ride leads through fields and olive trees and passes the village of Crespia on the way to Besalú, a medieval walled village and ancient capital This jewel of Romanesque architecture is set between two rivers. On reaching Besalú, check into the Hotel La Martana (or similar) for the night.
DAY 5 BESALÚ - OLLERS – CAN GRAU
The trail leaves Besalú and its fantastic medieval bridge and travel through typical Meditteranean scenery toward the picnic spot for the day, thehermitage of Ollers where we have our picnic. The terrain become more hilly as it passes Sant Mer and Les Serres en-route to Can Grau. Say a fond farewell to the horses and the team before freshening up before being transferred to the airposrt
Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.
Please note: It may not be possible to gallop on the beach in the event of bad weather.
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 trail 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.
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 mixed breed (some have Spanish blood and are very strong, others have some Arabian blood resulting in fast horses with good long distance endurance). 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 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. Riders will be paired with a suitable horse based on their experience and preferences, but if for any reason after the first day anyone feels that they are not well matched, then just let the guide know and they 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. This rides is aimed at capable riders, who are also fit and ride regularly.
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.
The start point of the weekend is Can Grau (or similar), the host's base and where the horses are stabled. The guesthouse is surrounded by fields and forests and has an on-site swimming pool and large garden to relax in. This almost unknown corner of Spain offers the warmest climate of all the Pyrenean range, The hotels used on the ride are small and quiet, offering authentic Catalan cuisine and a friendly and welcoming environment. The meals are plentiful and contain many typically Catalan dishes as well as regular European fare. Breakfast is substantial, lunches are either saddle-bag picnics (extensive with quiche/salted cakes/chorizo/Catalan cured meat/fruit/cheese/ham/wine/biscuits/chocolate) or sit-down lunches at a table prepared by the back-up team (hot food/mixed salads/cheese/biscuits/fruit). 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.
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
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!
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.
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 part of most days. At the base the mobile reception is variable but there is free Wi-Fi.
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 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
This is a 5 day/4 night programme with 4 days riding available 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.
2023: 15 Mar; 12 (FULL) Apr; 3 May; 4 Jun; 18 (FULL) Sept; 16 Oct; 8 Nov.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2023||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||669|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2023||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||765|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2023||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||869|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2023||5d/4n||4||non-rider half board||8,979|
Ride specific: The Life of Dali, Miro or Picasso and the famous architect, Antoni Gaudi as all these artists originate from Catalonia. Also 'Victus - Barcelona 1714' - Albert Sánchez Piñol and 'Tirant Lo Blanc' - Ramon Llull. General reading: ‘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 such as herds of sheep and cattle as well as wild boar, deer and many species of birds. As you climb higher into the mountains you may be lucky to see mountain goats and eagles soaring. The flora is really special. Meadows of sweet smelling and colourful wild flowers such as, lavender, thyme and sunflowers. Walnut groves, beech and oak forests make for cool riding and provide perfect shade for a relaxing picnic.
It is possible for non-riders to join this trail and meet up with their riding companions every evening. Depending on where the chosen lunch spot is, they may also be able to join riders for lunch (if it is a 'saddlebag picnic' lunch that day then it will not be possible due to the riders being in an inaccessible location.)
Car-hire is recommended although there is also the option to travel with the back-up team. Please be aware however that the back-up team may take different routes due to logistical and geographical reasons and althought they love to have non-riders travelling with them, they will be busy setting up lunches/picking up luggage etc.
Please note that non-rider lunches are not included in the non-rider price.
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.