The ride to the charming town of Salamanca with the oldest university in Spain, starts in Navarredonda de Gredos. You ride in the Sierra de Candelario and Sierra de Bejar, a very lush area with its microclimate, then follow the Tormes River further north. The predominant landscape is holm oak where you will see black bulls.

Your guide Emilio knows every stone along the path of the ride and is dedicated and enthusiastic about this trail. His warmth and care bring to life the contrasts and different landscapes during the week, all contributing to an all round experience.

You ride home-bred pure Andalucian and pure hispano arab horses born and brought up and trained by your guide. They are well loved and used to gentle English riding methods. The accommodation en route is of a very high standard with comfortable en suite rooms most nights and a hot shower and aperitif is never very far away. Typically Spanish food is cooked to a high standard with extensive warm lunches provided by a backup vehicle. All this makes for a very special and personal experience. 

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 GF of Shaftesbury on 16/06/2014

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
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Riding tour leader
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Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
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Knowledge of local Culture     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments
Only the 2 of us on the ride. We speak fluent Spanish and this really helped. It would have been a bit of an odd week otherwise as the hosts' English was mainly functional.
Horses and Tack
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Meals
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Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
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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?
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Any other comments:
Overall impression: A very good week, delightful guides, looked after very well.
Unicorn comments:

Day 1 MADRID-NAVARREDONDA DE GREDOS
Meet at Madrid Airport and transfer to Navarredonda de Gredos stopping off in Avila for a short town visit en route. Overnight in the Hotel Garabatos or similar where you will learn about the ride and region on the map followed by a welcome dinner.

Day 2 NAVARREDONDA DE GREDOS-NAVALPERAL DE TORMES
Distribution of horses. Follow the Tormes River at the bottom of the valley to the Charco de las Paredes. Lunch and a chance to swim. Short afternoon ride downhill to Navalperal de Tormes, night and dinner in a rural hotel.

Day 3 NAVALPERAL-BARCO DE AVILA-BECEDAS
Departure after breakfast. You will go through the cattle trail to Barco de Avila, to Sierra de Bejar. Finally you come to Becedas, the last village in Avila province where the horses spend the night. Riders are transferred to Candelario, one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, where you will spend two nights. Dinner and night at a charming rural inn in the centre of the town.

Day 4 BECEDAS-CANDELARIO 
A half day from Becedas to Candelario going through villages with peculiar features.
The afternoon is free to visit Candelario, the church, walk up the steep streets and walk along the channels that collect water from the mountains, magnificent examples of architecture.... Dinner and night at the same inn.

Day 5 CANDELARIO-NEILA DE SAN MIGUEL-GUIJO DE AVILA
Northward to Salamanca through Puerto de la Hoya. You arrive at Neila de San Miguel and stop for lunch at very special church. Afternoon landscape is open and flat and you will reach the Occidental Cañada Soriana, one of the main paths in Medieval Spain. You will spend the night at Guijo de Avila at a rural complex in very comfortable cabins with a nice views of the Tormes River.

Day 6 GUIJO DE AVILA – HORCAJO MEDIANERO 
You cross the Tormes River by Santa Teresa´s dam, a huge water reservoir. Ride all day through the Dehesas of Salamanca with holm oaks, bulls, black Iberian pigs. Lunch by a small river. Afternoon canters through the Dehesa and holm oaks to Horcajo Medianero. Night and dinner at a monastery.

Day 7 HORCAJO MEDIANERO – ALBA DE TORMES
The day begins with a long morning ride along the Eastern lands of the province with beautiful and clear horizons bathed by waters of the Tormes River.  The history of Alba de Tormes is linked to Santa Teresa´s life and death, where the body rests in one of the convents. This is the end of the ride. The horses spend the night in Alba de Tormes and travel back home by truck the next morning. While riders are transferred to Salamanca, a 20 min drive. In the afternoon you can walk along the streets of this historical town, dinner at a restaurant located at the Plaza Mayor, one of the most beautiful main squares in Spain. Night in the heart of Salamanca.

Day 8 SALAMANCA – MADRID
After breakfast walk along Salamanca to visit some important monuments. Departure from Salamanca at 12 pm for flights departing Madrid after 4pm. All riders will be transferred at the same time, so if any rider needs to arrive at Madrid before noon, all riders depart earlier or we can arrange a transfer at an extra cost.

Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: Gredos Salamanca Ride

Transfer
2019: If there are 3 or more riders transfer cost will be €50 per rider each way. If there are 2 riders transfer cost will be €75 per rider each way. Payable locally. Groups of 4 or more riders transfers included.

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

Homebred PRE and Pure Hispano-Arab horses with English saddles and tack are utilized. The horses are responsive, well behaved and good natured ranging from 15 - 16 hands. They are perfectly groomed and well shod.


The ride is at a moderate pace with walk, some trot and regular canters. The terrain has no drop offs although there are mountains all round.

Rider requirements

Riders should be able to walk, trot and canter confidently and have expereince of riding over varied terrain. It is an advantage to be able to mount and dismount unaided but not essential as help is usually at hand. There is a minimum age of 10 for children who must be competent riders.

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.

Rural hotels in very remote villages are part of this trail. All rooms are twin with extra beds available if arranged in advance. The hotels offer beautiful views in really peaceful locations and some with swimming pools.


Meals are of a Mediterranean flavour including paella, excellent Avilan beef, salads, fish, iberic ham, sheep's cheese and excellent red and white local wines and aperitifs included in the price with your meals.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

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.

General information:

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: commerce@ukinspain.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.

Climate Summary

The climate is dry continental weather. Spring's mild temperatures around 18ºc with sunny and cloudy days, an excellent time to ride. Summers are dry and sunny, the temperature during the day around 25º - 28ºc good for picnics beside the rivers and swimming.
Autumn usually Sept and Oct, are months with temperatures around 18ºc, sunny and cloudy, excellent time to ride in Gredos .
The temparatures in the night are lower in spring and autumn, but the hotels are comfortable with central heating.

Climate Chart

Health

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

Electricity

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

Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity in the hotel rooms and camera equipment can be recharged each night. Most towns and villages will sell some batteries and film.

Packing List

It is recommended to take a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly along with sunglasses on a string. There are a number of riding helmets available for use.
Riding trousers
Half chaps (recommended)
Short riding/ walking boots and trainers
Riding gloves
Jersey/fleece
Jacket
Shorts
Long trousers (evenings)
Long sleeve shirts (great for layers when riding)
T-shirts
Sarong or wrap
Swimsuit
Underwear/socks
Waterproofs
Sun block
Camera
Binoculars
On a practical level a bottle of water for refilling and the all essential loo paper (for outdoor emergencies only!) are handy.

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding on set dates.

Departure Dates

2019: 16-23 June; 08-15 (FULL) September.

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.


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

Gredos is a National Park where the Hispanic goat is the icon. You may also see royal (golden) and imperial Eagles, Red and black kite, black vulture, black stork, falcon.
Fox, wild boar, red squirrel, different types of deer, badger...
Flora depends on the different level of altitude. In the spring, a grand multicoloured carpet of thousands of flowers. At the highest level in the Gredos the yellow broom flowers with their very characteristic aroma can be experienced in the spring.

Other Information

Non-riders can travel in the support car and join the riders at meal times and join in any other activities. Or if they wish, they can rent a car in Avila and explore on their own and join the group for the evening meals.

Castilla y Leon is very historical region. Riders can visit, before or after the ride, very interesting towns like Toledo, Salamanca, Segovia, Avila... All are towns full of history.

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):
Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) at 15:00
Transfer:
2019: At 15:00, from €50 pp each way for less than 4 riders payable on site. Transfer time approx. 2.5 hours
Flight Guide:
Madrid - London return from £60. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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