cattle crossing river
Riding along the trail
Cattle in the forest
cattle on the road
cowboy
end of day
en route
graze along the road
Descent in green forest
grooming my horse
high pyrenean
holding spot for cattle
horses tied at lunch stop
Looking for cattle on a misty morning
on the road
overnight camp
saving a calf
start of the day
stopping for a drink
walk break
walking behind the cattle
horses tied for lunch
map pf cattle herding route 2015
well deserved swim
riding in the high Pyrenean
Camprodon - the end of the road

A real horseback cattle drive in Europe - a true equestrian adventure! Get ready for some intense days filled with nature, team work and interacting with our horses, dogs and, of course, cows. We move a herd of cattle from the coast high into the Pyrenean summer pastures on a one way trail. Here they can enjoy an ideal environment and good weather conditions.

This is a horseback riding vacation that is filled with challenges typical of any cattle drive, and therefore everyone has to be prepared to collaborate and to work as a team. This is not just a simple tourist trek through the mountains. We have a goal: to get the herd to their destination totally intact and this will require problem-solving and everybody’s best effort. Some of the difficulties may be crossing roads with traffic, dense woodlands, small rivers and unpredictable weather. We will encounter valleys, high mountains and paths so small that you may think you cannot go along them with a herd. You will enjoy places to rest, take in the view and have a breath of fresh air, all while attending to animals - a brand new experience every day! This special trek only takes place once a year.

Accommodation is a mix of hotels (where available) and a few nights camping.

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 CS of Edinburgh on 20/06/2023

Ride Summary
Fantastic, a lovely adventure.
Shared with friends old and new
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Read description of trail beforehand . Good information . I expected it to be a hands on experience .
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
All information given was comprehensive and correct. The only thing I would emphasise is a warm sleeping bag and clothing for camping. I did take a 2season sleeping bag. Which looking at temperature I thought would be OK. You do say warm sleeping bag, so my mistake.
What could we do to improve this ride?
For me nothing. I really enjoyed it as if was.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
9
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Although the pace wasn’t fast, I think it should be emphasised that it is for confident, proficient riders who are able to physically cope with long hours in the saddle, and be able and prepared to look after, tack up and help out with the horses.
Some of the terrain was challenging would be scared for less experienced riders .
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Excellent organisation ,quick to respond to any queries. Easy to book, and knowledgeable about destinations.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Look forward to next adventure
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1 
The farmhouse serves as a gateway to the delightful region of l'Empordà and the start of a unique cattle herding experience. Before dinner, riders will be told about the special characteristics of our Arabian crossed and Paint trail horses and after a welcome dinner, will be introduced the week’s program with an opportunity for a one-to-one conversation aimed at matching riders with the perfect horse.

Please bring a sleeping bag and a mat for camping nights and try to bring only the bare necessities (apart from proper riding gear including clothes for wet conditions). Above all, come prepared for a great time and in good shape to withstand 6 hours of daily trekking.

Day 2 
After breakfast and tacking up, the group leave the farmhouse following a ridge with spectacular views of forests and fields of rosemary and thyme, up to the River Fluviá, out of the rolling hills, onto the plains where the horses can enjoy an invigorating canter and gallop, Continue through Olive groves and wheat field, past country farmhouses and churches, finally reaching the foothills of the Empordà. Check into the hotel where the strategy for the cattle drive is planned and discussed, before relaxing over a delicious meal.

Day 3 
After breakfast and collecting the horses, the group prepares to begin our journey. The cattle will have started on the trail a few hours earlier with a herder from a local farm. The first stop on the trail is in Sant Llorenç de la Muga to join the cattle before continuing through typical Mediterranean brush wood forest, thick with bushes and calcareous soil. This rocky area is dotted with old stone buildings and shelters of the herders with tell-tale small stone walls.
The vegetation changes completely at St. Quirze d’Olmells shrine, and becomes mainly Mediterranean forest which continues to the plains of Palau Surroca and the castle of La Roca. En-route to Terrades the group can rest at the shrine of Sant Sebastià before continuing along a path that runs parallel to the main road until reaching Sant Llorens de La Muga village for a lunch stop.
After a two-hour break the journey with the cattle continues down to Albanyà and the Bassegoda Camp Site, where the horses spend the night in a local fields and riders enjoy dinner and spend the night in simple, but comfortable, wooden bungalows. This is the doorway to the wild and for the next 48 hours there is little chance of encountering anyone else in landscape inhabited by some 11th and 12th century chapels and a few ruins. Note that there is no phone signal during this section of the ride.

DAY 4 
After breakfast the group prepares the horses for the following two days. The cattle would have hit the trail some hours before and ride heads out through breathtaking views to join them by lunch time. After rounding up any cattle that may have wandered, the trail leaves civilization as it heads toward the Massif of Bassegoda (895m/2936.351ft) that dominates the entire valley and follows the "torrent of Píncaro", a tributary of the Muga River.
This leads toward the Coll de Bassegoda and the Coll del Principi (1172m/3845.114ft) and vast plains of Red Pine woodlands before continuing to the “¨Comella” house, where the cattle spends the night. Riders continue to the ‘Morato’ to set up camp for the night and enjoy a welcome meal around the campfire.
The cultural value of this valley is of great importance. There are about 15 sanctuaries, shrines and monasteries, all dating between the years 980ad and 1200ad, the most important being Sant Pere de Albanyà, Sant Bartomeu del Pincaró, Sant Miquel de Bassegoda and Sant Julià de Ribelles.

DAY 5  
After breakfast and saddling up the group joins the cattle at la 'Comella' where they spent the night. The ride starts with a zig-zag descent before following and crossing the Cormella river and heading past St. Julià de Ribelles. The route heads  towards the plains of Morató where the cattle spends the night and riders enjoy a picnic and, weather permitting, a refreshing swim.

DAY 6 
After an authentic cowboy breakfast and rounding up the cattle, riders tack-up the horses and start to make their way along a very narrow path surrounded by dense woods and through a thick forest where the group have to protect themselves against branches while ensuring the cattle don't wander off. To the left of the trail Pic de les Bruixes (the Witches’ Peak).
A precipice leads toward the Coll de les Falgueres which seems to magically appear in a clearing in the middle of the forest. As the trail crosses the border into France, the trail becomes wider and a little easier. and continues down to the river to the the village of La Manère before heading back up the other side toward Coll del Malrem, crossing the border into Spain once again, this time back into Spain. The group then steers the cattle through dense Beech and Oak forests until passing the Coll de Malrem. After a gentle decent into Can França the group stops for a picnic lunch, the party continues to the village of Rocabruna for an overnight stop in a rural tourist hostel.

DAY 7
After breakfast the riders prepare for their last day's ride. After meeting up with the cattle, the team leads the herd towards the Rocabruna road and continuing  to a village called Font-Rubí. The final decent through the Coll Pregon leads to the village of Camprodon, and its cattle path that passes directly through the middle of the village. The route then leads to Setcases and the last stop at Moixa farm. Say farewell to the cattle and the horses before heading to the Hotel Bamprodon (or similar) to relax before a farewell dinner and recap of the week's ride.

DAY 8 
Breakfast and transfer from the hotel to the airport. Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.

It is not possible for non-riders to join this trail.

 

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 mixed breed (some have Spanish blood and are very strong, others have some Arabian blood resulting in fast horses with good long distance endurance) and pure or crossbred Paint. 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.


Rider requirements

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.

The pace of the trail is varied with around 60% of the trail at a walk (when with the cattle), 30% trot and 10% canter.

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. A small selection of hard hats are available although we recommend you bring your own for fit and comfort. The minimum age for this ride is 14 years.

Weight Limit

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 on-site is a swimming pool and large garden to relax in.



This trail has a mix of hotels where available (see list below) and scenic camping locations, carefully chosen to add to the experience of the Cattle Drive. They are all well located and offer friendly teams of staff who are ready to help.



For the 2 nights of camping, small tents are used for 1, 2 or 3 riders. You will need to supply your own mat (preferably insulated) and sleeping bag as it could still be cold in June. Riders will wash in a nearby river. Please note there are no toilet tents but there are many trees surrounding your campsite (toilet roll is provided). The logistical team prepares hot food such as eggs and bacon for breakfast, tea, coffee, grilled meat and vegetables, soups, beans, home made cakes, fruits and nuts. Riders are expected to help with the erection and dismantling of tents.



At the various hotels 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!



Hotel List (please note this is for guidance only and hotels may be changed with no notice):

Can Sort www.canSort.com (or similar)

Mas Pau www.maspau.cat (or similar)

Camping Bassegoda Park www.bassegodapark.com (or similar)

Can Soler www.rourevell.com (or similar)

Hotel Camprodon www.hotelcamprodon.com (or similar)


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

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

Climate Summary

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.
May/June can still get cold at night which is why it is recommended to take a good sleeping bag and an insulated camping mat with you on this holiday.

Climate Chart

Health

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.

Electricity



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


Mobile, WiFi and charging

Good quality film is widely available for purchase as well as batteries (normal, alkaline and lithium). There is electricity available on 5 of the 7 nights to recharge cameras and batteries. There is some mobile phone reception.

Packing List

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.

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.

Comfortable shoes are a good idea for when not riding and plastic shoes/flip-flops are very useful for wearing in the river and to the toilet when camping.

Lightweight riding gloves are useful, as is a "bum bag" to contain your camera and any other items you may need during your ride.

Other items:
A good sleeping bag
A camping mat (preferably insulated)
A pillowcase is a good idea as it can be stuffed with clothes to make a pillow
A pocket knife is useful to have but by no means essential.
A small lamp/torch to use while camping
Tissues
Fresh towels for camping - including a hand towel
Hand wash/soap for camping
Plastic bags for wet/dirty clothes.

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.

Your quide will carry a First Aid kit but please take along your personal medication.

Last, but not least: do not forget your bathing suit!

Programmes

This programme is 8 days/7 nights with 6 days riding on a set departure date in spring.

Departure Dates

2024: 1-8 June (Full)

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20248d/7n6double pp1,579
20248d/7n6single supplement225
20248d/7n6non-rider half board1,109
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20248d/7n6double pp1,805
20248d/7n6single supplement255
20248d/7n6non-rider half board1,265
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20248d/7n6double pp1,979
20248d/7n6single supplement279
20248d/7n6non-rider half board1,389
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20248d/7n6double pp21,209
20248d/7n6single supplement2,989
20248d/7n6non-rider half board14,879
Recommended 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 also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com


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, wild horses, 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 rosemary, lavender, thyme and sunflowers. Walnut groves, beech and oak forests make for cool riding and provide perfect shade for a relaxing picnic.

Other Information

Your luggage will be transported by vehicle every day and riders are asked to have a smaller piece of luggage for the 2 nights camping.

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:
Payable locally - €100 pp return from Barcelona (18:00 pick-up, 11:30 drop-off, 2hrs) or €100pp from Girona (19:30 pick-up, 10:00 drop-off, 45min).

2024: payable locally - €120 pp return from Barcelona (18:00 pick-up, 12:00 drop-off, or from Girona €120 pp return(19:3 0 pick-up, 10:00 drop-off, 45 min).
Flight Guide:
London - Girona or Barcelona from £50 return. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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