Picturesque Catalan villages, varied scenery and the gallop of your life on a deserted beach through crystal surf.
Experience an exhilarating mountain to coast trail with a variety of scenery through the Alt Emporda region with its beautiful villages, castles and churches. Discover unspoilt little medieval villages like Besalu, Crespia and Bascara.
Continue along rolling hills and fields of wheat, poppies and sunflowers with opportunities for faster riding to the coastal plains and on to the beach. The Alt Empurda region is just brimming with culture, history and natural diversity.
Good company, great riding, Andalusian X horses, comfortable accommodation and regional cuisine; this horse riding holiday has the classic formula for an unbelievable and unforgettable ride for competent riders who like many fast canters.
This ride also has a special New Year programme. 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 MH of Murchison on 29/07/2017
In the early evening you will be transferred into the foothills of the Pyrenees, to your starting point for the week's trail. This beautiful rural farm, Can Sort, is situated in the hills with views typical of the area that you will be enjoying throughout the week ahead! You will meet with the rest of your group and be taken through the programme for the week. You will learn a little more about the wonderful trail horses and there is the opportunity to discuss the kind of horse you would like to ride in order to match you to the ideal mount for the week ahead. Finally, it is time for a fantastic dinner of delicious Catalan cuisine, served in the comfortable atmosphere of the beautiful old farm.
After meeting your horse and saddling up you are ready to leave, with 200 km of fun and varied riding ahead. The horses are fresh and ready for the adventure.
During the morning you will begin to explore the Alt Emporda region, with canters and gallops in the pine forests and rolling hills. You will pass through old towns and tiny villages, with churches and castles, and plenty of beautiful stonework from the past.
As the afternoon draws on, you will notice the proximity of the coast - and the horses do too! At last you will reach your hotel for the night, right on the beach. The Gulf of Rosas and the Mediterranean Sea stretch before you and you can rest well before a new adventure tomorrow.
An early start this morning, but well worth it as you trot the short distance to the beach. The curve of the Bay of Rosas stretches invitingly before you; kilometres of golden sand... Here you can enjoy canters and gallops along the sands.
After enjoying the beach, you will turn inland following the River Fluvia, passing a bird sanctuary where you can see flocks of migrating birds. The flat terrain is filled with orchards, perfect for more canters, so the pace remains lively for the rest of the day. By lunchtime you will arrive at today's destination, Castelló d'Empuries. From here the beach is close by, as is Figueres, with the Dalí museum, or you can explore Castellon d'Empurias, a lively cathedral town where we can enjoy some excellent tapas and cold drinks on one of the nice terraces and the local nightlife.
It is a long day in the saddle today, with around 40km to cover. After an excellent breakfast on the rooftop terrace with gorgeous views over the town, cathedral and Mediterranean Sea, with the Pyrenees rising on the opposite side. Then you will saddle up and set off back up into the mountains.
Today the riding is again at a lively pace, trotting and cantering across the plains, through fields, meadows and Mediterranean woodland filled with the scents of wild herbs and flowers. In the afternoon you ride through olive groves and vineyards, and past the lake of Boadella, on the edge of which is your accommodation for the night. Here you can enjoy a haven of peace and tranquility, perfect after long days in the saddle.
Today after saddling the horses we are enter he most isolated are of the whole trail. Get ready for flora, wildlife and nature as we enter the wildeness. During the morning we ride through rolling hills and pine and oak forests. When we get to the river la Muga, we stop to take a bath under a medieval bridge. We continue through scenery where it is very likely to meet herds of sheep or wild boar. At dusk we arrive at our destination, Sant Marti Saserres, with its famous church and where we will leave our horses to graze and rest. Today the backup team transfers us by car to the Hotel Masia La Palma in Espinavesse. It is a house dedicated to rural tourism where rooms are rented without loosing the charm of the place and where Tonia and Andres are the perfect hosts.
Today we follow the north bank of the river Fluvia where we can enjoy the spectacular fluvial scenery with lots of different bird species. We cover many miles in a short time through sunflower fields, open meadows and forests.
We stop in Besalú where we have a delicious picnic lunch. Besalú is a medieval walled village, the ancient capital, and 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. Our destination for today is the Hotel Masia La Palma, where we stayed yesterday. The house dates back to the seventeenth century and has been carefully restored. The swimming pool and the living room are all at our disposal and there is the possibility to enjoy a private Spa. In the restaurant they serve a traditional cuisine based on old family recipes and the the finest local ingredients.
In the morning we leave from Vilert and ride into the forest and over the rolling hills around the village of Ollers, with its church dominating the area. Here you find some majestic farmhouses built by the nobility in the XVIIth century.
With amazing views of the Pyrenees behind us, we enter the historic village of Galliners with some fine examples of Catalan architecture. We travel through forests full of aromatic herbs and wild flowers and we stop for an excellent lunch surrounded by rosemary bushes. After lunch we continue our journey into the Alt Empordan region and after some good canters we hit the town of Bascara, alongside the river Fluvia. For the last part of today we will enjoy a gentle ride along the river and into the village of Calabuig where we can see the XVth century castle/church, built on a hill overlooking the Alt Empurdan region all around us.
Our destination for today is Can Sort. Once we arrive, you can relax in the gardens or have a swim in the swimming pool. Cristina and Jaume will make sure that we feel at home and serve us an excellent home cooked meal.
Breakfast, then departure for the journey home - and you can begin planning to ride in Catalonia again!
Please note the hotels named in this itinerary are subject to change without notice for another hotel of similar standard.
NEW YEAR RIDE
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Breakfast and departure…. Friends forever!!
Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Mountain to Sea Trail
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 having less than 4 riders at the time of departure, an alternative trail 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.
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. 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.
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 minimum age for this ride is 14 years.
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 your weekend is Can Sort, 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, an almost unknown corner of Spain. 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.
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. Especially recommended are March and April as well as November!
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 have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may vary 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, beach/pool towel, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect 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 ride available 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.
2017: 19* Mar; 2*, 30** Apr; 14** May; 11**, 11**, 25** Jun; 16** Jul; 3**, 24** Sept; 8*, 22* Oct; 5, 19 Nov; 28** Dec. (New Year Trail). Other dates on request (* denotes mid season, ** denotes high season).
2018: 18* Mar; 15**, 29** Apr; 13** May; 24** Jun; 15** Jul; 2**, 16**, 30** Sept; 21* Oct; 4 Nov; 28** Dec (New Year Trail). Other dates on request (* denotes mid season, ** denotes high season).
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,175|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||179|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||759|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,239|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||179|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||825|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,079|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||179|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||665|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,205|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||195|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||775|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,109|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||195|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||679|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,399|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||single supplement||195|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||839|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,305|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||199|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||845|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,375|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||199|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||915|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,199|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||199|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||739|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,335|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||215|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||859|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,229|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||215|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||755|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,555|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||single supplement||215|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||929|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,595|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||245|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,029|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,679|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||245|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,115|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,465|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||245|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||905|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,629|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||265|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,049|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,499|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||265|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||919|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,899|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||single supplement||265|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||1,135|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||12,679|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,949|
|2017 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||8,209|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||double pp||13,359|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,949|
|2017 High season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||8,889|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||11,659|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||1,949|
|2017 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||7,189|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||12,969|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,089|
|2018 Mid season||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||8,355|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||11,949|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,089|
|2018 Low season||8d/7n||6||non-rider, half board||7,335|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||double pp||15,109|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,089|
|2017/18 New Year Trail||8d/7n||6||non-rider half board||9,035|
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.). Non-riders book on a half-board basis which includes breakfast and dinner.
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.