Come and enjoy the real Andalusia on this week which includes a trail across the Sierra Nevada mountains to Jatar. East of Malaga deep in the mountains the Parque Natural Sierra Tejeda, Almijara Y Alhama Competa we start our ride at a rural finca with 16 beautiful, well schooled and immaculately cared for Andalusian horses.
Here we relax for a few days getting used to our horses and exploring the area before setting off on a challenging trail to Jatar along steep routes across the mountains that have been used for centuries by muleteers to transport fresh goods from the coast to the interior. On arrival at Jatar we have a day to relax and enjoy the healing hot springs - or undertake more strenuous explorations - before returning via another spectacular route.
This is a very traditional part of Spain and travelling on a beautiful Andalusian in comfortable local saddles (or English if you prefer) is still undertaken as matter of routine by the friendly inhabitants. This is an amazing experience not to be missed.
Read the article in Ocio magazine about this ride.
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 RK of Kamloops, BC on 10/08/2016
Arrive and transfer. Settle in, meet other participants over dinner and discussion of programme with maps. This is a very historic route used by muleteers for centuries to bring fresh sea food, oranges and lemons to the interior.
Today we meet the horses and select our perfect match. There is an opportunity to ride in the arena before heading out for a mornings ride to see how you get on with your new partner. Return to the finca for lunch and after a rest on the terrace ride out again, on a different horse if you would like to change. About 4 hours of easy riding.
Today we have a full days ride with lunch out either as a picnic or at a taverna en route. A little longer and more challenging, today will be about 5-6 hours in the saddle.
Today we pack our saddlebags for our mini-trail and depart on our long trail to Jatar, across the mountain peaks on steep mule paths. The trail can still have snow at the highest points until the start of May and the riding can be challenging depending on the route chosen. We enjoy a picnic lunch en route with marvellous views and after a long afternoon we reach Jatar for a well deserved dinner. About 7 hours riding.
Today we mount our ever willing beautiful Andalusians and head back to Competa via another cross mountain mule route. Again the scenery is astounding and ever changing. We arrive back to the finca in time for another sumptous dinner and overnight.
Today is a free day at the finca to recover from the exertions of the previous two days.
Today we sleep late and then head off for a sunset ride in the afternoon.
Departure after breakfast.
Read the article in Ocio magazine about this ride.
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.
There are 16 beautiful Andalusians from 14.3hh to 16.3hh. Many are bigger and stronger than the average and this ride can comfortably cater for heavier riders. The horses are all lovingly looked after to the best English standards. They are fit and well fed, clipped and rugged in the winter, fed and inspected twice daily. They are all well schooled with no vices and ridden in curb bits with traditional saddles for comfort. English saddles are also available for those who prefer. Some of the horses are more lively and forward going, others are schoolmasters. All are very responsive making this an easy place to learn to ride. The horses all wear halters under the bridles and are used to standing tied at tavernas. A range of riding helmets is available on site and riders are encouraged to wear one although this is not compulsory. Saddles are equipped with small saddle bags to carry en route essentials such as sunscreen and water bottles.
We are always on the lookout for new horses to come and join the team and at any one time, we regularly have horses that we are working with and who are learning their job. As a result, there are a number of more spirited rides that guests can enjoy as well as our stalwart dependable schoolmasters! We really do have a horse for everyone!
This ride is suitable for riders for intermediate riders onwards. Fit and confident novices will also be able to cope with this ride as long as they can ride for up to 7 hrs in a day. Novice riders will be accommodated on separate dates and the route across the mountains will take the riding ability of the group into consideration. Some of the mountain paths, while wide enough, do have steep drops alongside and are not suitable for those with an extreme fear of heights. The minimum age for this trail is 12 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 224 lb/102 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
On nights 1,2,3, 6 and 7 riders will be accommodated either on the finca or at a nearby hotel. The beautiful Finca is set deep in the National Park and surrounded by nature. The original farm house is 500 years old and has been lovingly restored and consists of 2 double bedrooms and one small (child) single. This is suitable for 2 singles sharing the bathroom or a group of friends. There is also a one bedroom restored apartment containing a double and a single bed with bathroom; and a garden chalet apartment with room for 3 or 4 people sharing the bathroom. The views from the terrace to the ocean, peaceful terraced gardens and swimming pool make this a delightful retreat with horses on your doorstep. We have recently added a cocktail bar and dining room to our accommodation. This allows guests to both relax and dine together to eat and/or after riding help themselves to a glass of fizz or a cold beer. The Finca can be reached on a dirt road of 4 miles. Ricky, Donna or Jeff are happy to drop guests off at the beach, nearby villages or other activites and attractions when not riding and pick them up by arrangement.
The views from the terrace to the ocean, peaceful gardens and swimming pool make this a delightful retreat with horses on your doorstep. There is no TV at the Finca, and phone reception is unreliable although there is broadband connection. Riders can also stay in an upstairs apartment only a few steps away from the Finca. There are 2 separate beds and an en-suite bathroom. A local hotel located 4 miles away provides a comfortable stay strolling distance from the village of Canaillas de Albaida. This very traditional white washed village has many terraces and restaurants. The hotel offers twin or double rooms, a roof top jacuzzi, a good restaurant, convivial evening bar (often attended by locals who tie their horses outside) and terrace with spectacular sunset views. At Jatar accommodation is in a comfortable small hotel on the edge of the village with lovely views. There are 5 rooms of which all but one are en suite. Thus depending on the group size it may be necessary to share a bathroom. Most of the food is home grown organic with fresh eggs and vegetables daily. Donna was a chef at the Grosvenor Hotel in a previous life, so the food is outstanding.
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.
Spring and autumn is generally a good time to visit and the days are sunny and warm (25 Celsius). In the summer it can be very hot with temperatures exceeding 30 Celsius on a regular basis. Overnight thunderstorms are common in the mountain regions but are generally gone by morning.
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
There is electricity available on all nights at the Finca and hotel. Telephone reception is poor in the mountains although on the terrace at the Finca 2 bars of reception can be received. The hotel has good mobile reception. There is almost no internet reception although on special request wifi is available at a nearby cafe while enjoying a drink/coffee/meal.
Light summer clothing is need on most departure dates. You need a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly and sunglasses with string. 2 pairs of riding trousers (these can also be jeans or chinos as the local saddles are similar to Western saddles) half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey, warm jacket (Winter, Spring and Autumn), shorts, long sleeve shirts, T-shirts, sarong or wrap, swimsuit, 4 pairs of socks, raincoat (seasonal), sun block, camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt, binoculars, lightweight riding boots (can be sturdy shoes with tread and a heel) and a change of footwear - trainers or sandals.
A range of riding helmets is available on site.
Saddlebags are provided and for the mini-trail to Jatar you will be expected to pack your overnight belongings in these saddlebags.
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 5 days riding available on request throughout the year (excluding September).
All year round on request (excludes September)
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"Between Two Fires" is a book about the local area with interviews, highly recommended.
Eagles can often be seen soaring using the thermals from the mountains. There are wild boar in the area and may be seen in the evenings from the terrace at the Finca. Dedicated wildlife spotters may be lucky enough to see an ibex.
This particular part of Spain is very traditional and the present younger generation is far wealthier than their parents who can still tell vivid stories of Franco's time and their jobs as muleteers and fishermen. The mountain is criss-crossed with traditional mule routes which were in regular use until 25 years ago. Fresh produce such as fish, oranges and lemons were taken from coastal towns such as Torremolinos across the mountain range to inland cities such as Granda with corn and grain being returned. Mules are still used in the national park today as the best way to access the steep and rough back country.
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.