Why not choose an exhilarating and unforgettable way to see in the New Year? Here we offer a getaway like no other; six 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 SS of on 15/01/2019
Day 1 You will arrive to Can Grau, 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!
Today, after breakfast, short briefing with your guide and saddling the horses, we are ready to leave. The horses are fresh, and we enjoy long canters through the Alt Empordà pine forests. Every hour we pass another beautiful village, castle, churches, arches, tunnel, old wooden doors with wrought iron knockers, the beauty of the stonework of the past. As the afternoon draws on, you can sense the proximity to the coast and at last we arrive at the Mediterranean large gulf of Roses. The assitance team is waiting for us and has prepare everything for the rest of our horses.
After an earliest start, we trot our horses 1 km down to the beach. The long curve of the bay of Rosas stretches before us, kilometers 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 fields and peach, pears, and apple orchards. The pace today is lively! We continue our journey back to the equestrian farmhouse of Can Sort after our daily picnic in an evergreen oak forest.
After an excellent breakfast, we saddle up again and we will start going in West direction, back to Vilafreser. Despite being a prosperous area, the Empordá region 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. After the ride, we will meet all the groups at Can Grau to enjoy a very special dinner to celebrate the last day of the year. We will continue with a lively party, music in live and free bar during this emotional night!
Maybe one of the best ways to start a new year! After breakfast, a little bit later today, we will join our horses and tack up again for the ride. We leave Vilafreser crossing oak forest, accompanied by scents of thyme and rosemary. Our destination for today is Besalú, a medieval walled village. This ancient capital is a jewel of Romanesque architecture set between two rivers. We cover many miles in the wildness Garrotxa through fields, open meadows and forest. Our hotel is in front of the spectacular medieval bridge and you have some time to wander around and absorb the unique atmosphere of this special village.
In the morning we leave from Besalú into the forest and over the rolling hills around. We 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. Up to the Fluviá, out of the rolling hills onto the plains, we canter and gallop through olive groves and along wheat fields. Our destination is a charming small hotel, a past Catalan country farmhouse restored where you will enjoy a delicious home cooked dinner.
After breakfast, we tack up and leave the hotel South direction through Mediterranean Catalan scenery, crossing the small villages of Galliner and Vilamarí. We enjoy spectacular views over the coast plains and the foothills of the Empordà region. Crossing pine and oak forest, we stop for a rest and to have our daily picnic. For the last part of today, a gentle ride to finally join again Can Grau, where we can shower our horses and enjoy a delicious dinner.
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.
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.
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.
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 trail is Can Grau, 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.
Can Grau - 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.
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.
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.
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 part of most days and there is free Wifi at the farmhouse base.
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!
There is one set departure per year.
2020: 28 Dec
2021: 28 Dec
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||865|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||889|
|2021||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||889|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||929|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||955|
|2021||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||955|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,159|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,195|
|2021||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,195|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||9,915|
|2020||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||10,180|
|2021||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||10,180|
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 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.
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.