This is an exhilarating ride for confident riders wanting a bit of luxury and Catalan culture. Ride, relax and sunbathe on this horse riding holiday which starts off in Empordà with rolling foothills heavily forested with oak, cork and beech, and visits the most spectacular part of the Catalonian coast.
Canter and gallop your way through forests of rosemary and thyme by the river Fluviá and out of the rolling hills onto the plains to visit Sant Marti de Sesceres- an incredible XII century church and rectory on this good paced ride.
The Alvera wine region offers olive groves and vineyards with intense natural beauty and the obligatory sampling of the local vino at a charming bodega.
Ride through the Aiguamolls natural park, which is home to flamingos and exotic birds, before reaching Cap de Creus, with its spectacular views of the rugged coastal rocks and bays. Visit Talavera Bay, a former smugglers cove with a fantastic beach and crystal clear waters, and the lunar landscape of Cap de Creus which inspired Salvador Dali among others.
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 CR of Glasgow on 13/10/2017
DAY 1 WELCOME TO CAN GRAU
Transfer from airport and arrive at Can Grau, an exclusive guesthouse and equestrian centre located at the foot of the Pyrenees, facing the natural and wild reserve of the Illes Medes. This is the ideal place for a horse riding holiday and an original way of discovering the region. Before dinner we will go over the week's program and sample some of the full bodied local red wines. You will be told about the special characteristics of our Spanish 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 THE TRAIL BEGINS
After breakfast and tacking up we leave Can Grau following a ridge with spectacular views of forests of rosemary and thyme. Up to the river Fluviá, out of the rolling hills onto the plains, we canter and gallop through olive groves and fields of wheat, past country farmhouses and churches and into the foothills of the Empordà. We have our daily picnic at Masia La Palma. Our destination today is Vilanant, to Masia Mas Jonquer where you will enjoy a comforting diner and a deserved rest.
DAY 3 LA ALBERA NATURAL PARK AND THE COASTAL VINEYARDS
Today we leave the forests and prairies to roam through Albera’s wine region. Its open landscapes with vine and olive groves and the mountains in the horizon shape a beautiful natural area. After a restful picnic at Peralada, we will visit the town at coffee time. The afternoon’s route to Garriguella is characteristic for its vineyards. Once there, we can have option to taste the best local wines of Gelama winery. Even the French cross the border to buy wine here! Possibility of Spa and comforting massage.
DAY 4 SANT PERE DE RODES
Leaving Albera's natural park behind, our route through la Serra de Rodes will allow us to have a sight of the bay of Roses to the East. After having a picnic surrounded by these wonderful views, we will cross the gate of the Monastery and Castle of Sant Pere de Rodes. Then, we will descend through different tracks, some of which will be walking to Port de la Selva. This fishing town is located in a nice little bay. Close to the port, we will find our hotel, which has an excellent spa. Feel free to enjoy swimming in the sea before having a delicious dinner outdoors.
DAY 5 RIDING ON THE MOON
Today we ride further along the Cap-de-Creus, a peninsula of sculptured rock full of flowering shrubs; a truly lunar landscape. This is Salvador Dali country, the area inspired many of his paintings. This morning we will have spectacular views of the Mediterranean coast.
We lead our horses down to Caballera Bay, a smugglers cove and fantastic beach, where we have a picnic, a swim (without the horses!) and do some sunbathing. Following a lovely afternoon on the beach we ride on to the ridge above the village of Cadaqués, where we finish riding for the day. This village has in its time attracted Picasso, Man Ray, Thomas Mann and Salvador Dali. Salvador Dali and his wife lived nearly at Port Lligat where his house has been opened to the public. The House-Museum Salvador Dali is open from March to December.
DAY 6 CAP DE CREUS
We leave the fantastic village of Cadaqués through tiny mountains to reach Cap de Creus peninsula. This place offers impressive views, with kilometres of wild rocky coast, cliffs and small bays. Lunch will then take place near a lake, where it is possible to swim. To the south, we can appreciate the view of the 8km beach awaiting us for the long canter tomorrow. Then, we will leave the mountains in the afternoon through terraced vineyards. Our next destination is Castelló d’Empuries, dominated by its impressive cathedral. As the former capital of the region, far from the coast, it offered good defense against corsairs. In the hotel we will find a swimming pool, surrounded by a beautiful patio. You can also enjoy the town’s possibilities, such as shopping, tapas and nightlife.
DAY 7 AIGUAMOLLS NATURAL PARK
After an excellent breakfast on the magnificent roof-top terrace of the hotel overlooking the cathedral with the Mediterranean on one side and the gentle curve of the Pyrenees on the other, we saddle up again to continue our journey through the Aiguamolls, riding downhill to the Fluviá River and onto the sea. The Aiguamolls is a natural park, home to flamingos and other exotic birds.
In the afternoon, we will continue through l’Alt Emporda, with good cantering before reaching Saus. Today’s last part will take us through forests of thyme and rosemary until we reach Can Grau. Once we leave our horses to rest, we have time to enjoy the gardens and the pool. Cristina and Jaume will make sure we feel like at home and serve a wonderful dinner.
DAY 8 ADIÓS AMIGOS
Breakfast and departure and we hope to see each other again next year!
Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.
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 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 reasonably 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 fairly 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 minimum age for this ride is 14.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The start and end point of your trail is Can Grau, your hosts' base and where the horses are stabled. The guesthouse is surrounded by fields and forests and on-site is a swimming pool and large garden to relax in. It offers the warmest climate of all the Pyrenean range in an almost unknown corner of Spain.
All other accommodation along the trail has been carefully selected for character, charm, comfort and cuisine and includes several nights at small spa hotels. Definitely a cut above average for trails in Europe.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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 April to June and September to the beginning of November.
On this trail you could experience a variety of weather conditions and temperatues. From riding at Can Sort on the seafront to Sant Frutos inland and Camprodon in the Pyrenees there really be a range of weathers to keep everyone on their toes!
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.
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 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: Dates on request
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||819|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||929|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,105|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||10,225|
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 for Spain:
‘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.