Surveying the surf
Bareback riding along the beach
Beach gallop
Riding as the sun goes down
Fun in the surf
Through the cane
Horses enjoying the water
Planning at lunchtime
Beautiful horses
Horses grazing
Beautiful Besalu
Cam Pam - for New Years Eve
Bedroom at Cam Pam 3
Bedroom at Cam Pam 2
Bedroom at Cam Pam
Restaurant at Cam Pam
Cosy fire at Cam Pam
Mountains through the trees
Mountains above Emporda
The Bay of Roses
Emporda countryside
Celebrate New Year!
Picnic lunch
Restaurant at Hotel La Palma
Hotel La Palma 2
Hotel La Palma
River crossing in December Catalonia riding holiday
Riding below bridge in December in Catalonia
Canter in Catalonia in December
Families welcome in Catalonia for New Year
Andalusian horses grazing in December catalonia
Good canter in the sunshine in Catalonia riding holiday
Bedroom Pan Cam
Bedroom Can Sort
Can Pam
Acccommodation New year Catalonia Riding Holiday
Can Pam
Sotopalacios December Catalonia
Can Sort Catalonia riding holiday Christmas
Living room Can Pam Catalonia December
Riding in the sunshine in December Catalonia
Huge trees en route riding holiday Catalonia December
Stop to allow horses to graze en route riding holiday Catalonia December

Why not choose an exhilarating and unforgettable way to see in the New Year? Here we offer a getaway like no other; five days of riding through the beautiful Alt Empordan region with its medieval villages, castles and churches. Enjoy the rolling hills whilst riding fit and forward going Andalusian X horses and make new friends along the way. The Alt Empurdan region is just brimming with culture, history and natural diversity.

Great company, comfortable accommodation, regional cuisine and a fun New Year's Eve party make this horse riding holiday an exceptional trail for competent riders who like to ride fast. What better way to blow the Christmas cobwebs (and mince pies) away?

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 EG of Ft. Collins on 13/01/2017

Ride Summary
It was an excellent vacation with a great group of fellow riders, beautiful sites, willing and eager horses as well as fabulous hospitality!!
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments Petra went out of her way to help everyone with their requests throughout the trip! She was great!!
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response The unicorn trails website did a good job explaining the details of this vacation.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 8
Please explain why you scored it as you did Riders need a good working knowledge of how to groom, tack up and ride a horse. As described on the website, they should also be comfortable at the trot and canter for extended periods.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response Have recommended this site to fellow coworkers and friends!!
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments
Unicorn comments Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)
Day 1
You will arrive to Can Sort, a guesthouse located at the feet of the Pyrenees, facing the natural and wild reserve of the Medes Islands: the ideal place for a horse riding holiday and an original way of discovering the region. Before dinner you will be told about the special characteristics of the Spanish and crossed trail horses. You will be given an introduction to the week´s program 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
Today, after saddling the horses you are ready to leave on the 200 km route with lots of long canters and gallops through the Alt Empordà pine forests. The horses are fresh and ready for the adventure. Every hour you pass beautiful villages, castles, churches, arches, tunnels, old wooden doors with wrought iron knockers, and beautiful of the stonework of the past. As the afternoon draws on you can sense the proximity to the coast until you arrive at the Mediterranean, the beautiful gulf of Rosas stretching before you.

Day 3
After an early start, you trot 1 km down to the beach. The long curve of the bay of Rosas stretches before you, kilometers of golden sand. Here you can enjoy some excellent canters and gallops on the beach. After the beach ride, you head inland again following the river Fluviá, past a bird sanctuary where you can see flocks of migrating birds. The terrain is flat with lots of rice fields and peach, pear, and apple orchards. The pace today is lively. By lunchtime you arrive at Castelló d´Empúries for an amazing picnic. During the afternoon, you can explore Castelló d´Empúries and do some shopping. You also have the possibility to go to Figueres to visit the famous Dali-museum. Castelló d´Empúries is a lively cathedral town where you can enjoy some excellent tapas and cold drinks on one of the nice terraces and the local nightlife.

Day 4
Today is the last day of the year! After an excellent breakfast, you saddle up again to continue your journey back to Can Sort. You will start going down to Baix Empordà. Despite 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. At lunch time, the assistance team is waiting for you with a picnic in an evergreen oak forest. Tonight, you will enjoy a very special dinner to celebrate the last day of the year that will continue with a lively party and free bar during this emotional night!

Day 5
Maybe one of the best ways to start a new year! After a slightly later breakfast and tacking up, you leave Can Sort following a ridge with spectacular views, crossing forest and accompanied by scents of thyme and rosemary. Up to the Fluviá, out of the rolling hills onto the plains, you canter and gallop through olive groves and along recently cut wheat fields. Your destination is a charming small hotel, a past Catalan country farmhouse restored where you will enjoy a delicious home cooked dinner.

Day 6
Today you ride through typical Mediterranean brush wood forest, thick with bushes and calcareous soil. This is a rocky area with old buildings of traditional rural architecture like shelters for herders and small stone walls. From the village of Terrades, the route will take you to Sant Marti Sasseres for a picnic lunch. You then follow the north bank of the river Fluviá where you can enjoy the spectacular fluvial scenery with lots of different bird species. You will cover quite a distance in a short time in the wildness of Garrotxa through sunflower fields, open meadows and forest. Your destination for today is Besalú, a medieval walled village. This ancient capital is a jewel of Romanesque architecture set between two rivers. The squares, stone cut pillars and cool shady arched passageways are a wonder to behold. Not to mention the stained glass of its churches. You have some time to wander around and absorb the unique atmosphere of this ancient medieval village with its spectacular bridge and Romanesque architecture.

Day 7
In the morning you leave Besalú to ride into the forest and over the rolling hills around. You will cross Crespià, a village surrounded by large prairies and have a picnic lunch at Espinavessa. On the way, you will find country cottages and churches surrounded by olive groves and cereal fields. After lunch, you continue your journey into the Alt Empordà region alongside the Fluviá river and after some good canters you reach the village of Bàscara with its famous hippodrome. The day ends with a gentle ride following the river and into the village of Calabuig with it’s 15th century castle/church, built on a hill overlooking the Alt Empordà in every direction. The ride finishes back at Can Sort.

Day 8
Breakfast and departure…. Friends forever!!

Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.

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.

Horses & Riding

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 tack is English and trekking style and most horses are ridden in snaffles. Saddle bags are provided to carry items required during the day and for picnic lunches.


The trail is up to 200km long, slightly less (160-180) in case of bad weather or clients not being able to cope. So expect long hours / a faster pace than normal on a riding holiday. 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.

Rider requirements

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. All the rides are aimed at reasonably capable riders, who are also riding fit and riding regularly.

Participants are expected to have ridden 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.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The start point of the trail is Can Sort, your hosts' base and where the horses are stabled. The guesthouse is surrounded by fields and forests and there is a large garden to relax in. There is a swimming pool on-site, however there is no swimming through the winter months.



Accommodation list:

Can Sort - Vilaür

Mas Jonquer - Vilanant

Ca La Caputxeta - Castelló d'Empuries

Hotel La Martana - Besalú



The meals are plentiful and contain many typically Catalan dishes as well as regular European dishes. 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.

Climate Summary

The weather in late December will most likely be chilly (especially morning and night) but with hopefully some sunshine and blue skies. An average temperature in l'Emporda is minimum 7C, maximum 13C.

Climate Chart

Film and Camera Equipment

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 and there is free Wifi at the farmhouse base.

Packing List

We recommend wearing jodhpurs, as these protect your legs from soreness.

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 for the spa!

Programmes

There is one set departure per year.

Departure Dates

2017: 28 Dec
2018: 28 Dec

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20178d/7n6double pp1,385
20178d/7n6single supplement185
20178d/7n6non-rider half board825
20188d/7n6double pp1,405
20188d/7n6single supplement195
20188d/7n6non-rider half board839
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20178d/7n6double pp1,535
20178d/7n6single supplement199
20178d/7n6non-rider half board915
20188d/7n6double pp1,555
20188d/7n6single supplement215
20188d/7n6non-rider half board929
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
20178d/7n6double pp1,819
20178d/7n6single supplement239
20178d/7n6non-rider half board1,085
20188d/7n6double pp1,839
20188d/7n6single supplement255
20188d/7n6non-rider half board1,099
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20178d/7n6double pp15,225
20178d/7n6single supplement1,989
20178d/7n6non-rider half board9,075
20188d/7n6double pp15,419
20188d/7n6single supplement2,129
20188d/7n6non-rider half board9,225
Wildlife

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 and thyme and you may be lucky enough to see fields of sunflowers in all their glory. Walnut groves, beech and oak forests make for cool riding and provide perfect shade for a relaxing picnic.

Other Information

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.

Other Country Information

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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Barcelona (BCN) or Girona (GRO) Airports
Transfer:
2017: payable locally - €80 return from Barcelona (18:00 pick-up, 12:00 drop-off, 2hrs), €50 return from Girona (19:30 pick-up, 10:30 drop-off, 45min).
2018: payable locally - €90 return from Barcelona (18:00 pick-up, 11:30 drop-off, 2hrs), €60 return from Girona (19:30 pick-up, 10:30 drop-off, 45min).
Flight Guide:
London - Girona or Barcelona from £50 return. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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