typical riding terrain for fast canters
view from horseback
horse and castle
view from the castle on horseback
room at the castle
riding down from the castle
view from the castle
countryside and flowers
lovely horses
Ferdy and wine
casa henrietta
getting ready
river crossing to Jimena
river crossing
riding to Jimena
View of lake from castle Castellar
View of Gibraltar from Castellar day 1
Sunset at Stevie's place day 1
start of the ride day 4
Finca La Alcadeisa day 3
Bedroom finca Alcadeisa day 3
Finca Alcadeisa day 3
casts in castellar day 2
castellar view from top terrace day 1
View through top terrace Castellar day 1
Castille hotel top terrace view day 1
Castellar Moorish fortress day 1
Castellar courtyard day 1
Casa Henrietta, Jimena, roof terrace
Casa henrietta bedroom day 2
Day 1 on the road to Castellar

Get away for a short break with lots of fast riding! We start only 20min from Gibraltar and ride 25km on the arrival day. Riding from a secluded valley on responsive endurance trained Andalusian and Arab X horses, we ride through the Parc Natural Los Acornocales to the historic fortress of Castellar. We overnight in the beautifully restored castle which is perched high above the lake with breath-taking views over the surrounding countryside. The following day we continue north to the traditional white-washed Andalusian village of Jimena, redolent with history of the Moorish occupation. We overnight in the centre of the village in a restored trading merchant's house with fascinating tile work. The third day is a long, fast day back south finishing at an historic hunting lodge, Finca Alcadeisa. On the last day we ride for 2 hrs before departing to the nearby Gibraltar airport.

This is an ideal break for those wishing to pack the maximum riding into a short time along carefully thought out routes to historic locations. With luxurious accommodation and excellent food, this is a high quality break with lots of riding for experienced and reasonably fit riders.

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 SS of on 05/12/2016

Ride Summary
Very pleased I chose this trip - the riding or the horses could not have been better.
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Brilliant - absolutely loved it.
Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments Ferdy was fantastic, a very good guide and very conscientious about his horses and the area in which we rode. Despite the freak poor weather when we went, never once did he complain or get phased by the fact that we had to change routes or had very wet clients! He tailored the ride to what we wanted to do & there was certainly no watching the clock as to the amount of time we spent in the saddle (very flexible).
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments The horses are slim, I can see others have commented on this, as did the other ladies I rode with on this trip, however I think they are ideal and we are too used to fat horses in the UK! The tack is comfortable for long days. The horses are very forward going, even in walk and are a joy to ride, you can tell they love it. They are very fit and don't show any sign of tiring. There is flexibility in riding different horses if desired.
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other ride staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Weather     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (X) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response Sadly, despite no rain for the past 8 months we had 3 out of 4 days of torrential rain! Ferdy had never seen this in a dozen years of living in the area though so I think we can say it was rather unlucky. It meant the route had to be changed slightly (from a trail to a more centre-based ride for the last days of riding) as the river we should have crossed was too flooded.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
What could we do to improve this ride? Nothing. The hotels were pleasant and well chosen. The food was good & plentiful.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 8
Please explain why you scored it as you did Lots of long canters, it is fast paced and the terrain is sometimes a bit tricky, although the horses manage it very well. Plenty of hours in the saddle so need to be relatively riding-fit.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments Very pleased I chose this trip - the riding or the horses could not have been better. Shame about the weather but hopefully I will return and it will be more typical. Thank you Ferdy & Christina.
Unicorn comments Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1: Finca Alcaidesa – Castellar (25 km riding)

From the airport you will be transferred by car to the stables which are located 20min from Gibraltar airport and the transfer is included. We suggest a morning flight. On arrival there is an opportunity to relax and have lunch before getting changed and meeting the horses. We set off cross-country through the Parque Natural Los Acornocales with its shady cork forests and sandy tracks, ideal for riding, until we reach the 13th century medieval fortress of Castellar and enter the castle by means of the old Roman road. Within the walls is a charming Andalusian town and incredible views of Morocco and Gibraltar peninsula. Overnight in the Castle (or similar) and dinner.

Day 2: Castellar – Jimena (23 km riding)

After breakfast there is time to visit Castellar fortress and wander through the narrow cobbled streets of the medieval village within its walls. Late morning we start our ride again, turning north we start to follow the river up the narrowing fertile valley towards the traditional white Andalusian village of Jimena (23 km). The area has had human occupation since prehistoric times and cave paintings are still to be seen at the archaeological site of La Laja. We´ll stop to eat in a traditional “Venta” where we will enjoy typical Spanish food. After lunch we have a short ride before we reach Jimena. When we arrive Jimena there is a chance to visit the 8th century Moorish castle built on newly excavated Byzantine roman foundations. Overnight and dinner in Casa Henrietta (or similar).

Day 3: Jimena – Finca Alcaidesa (30 km riding)

Today is a long day and we don't hang about! On the way back from Jimena we ride down to the river Hozgarganta to meet to “The Americans’ road”, a dirt road where we can speed up our riding till get to a more mountainous area where we follow the cow-tracks back to our park. The lunch today will be a picnic in this beautiful countryside. Then we canter across sunny meadows and for those wishing for a slightly longer ride, you may drop off your saddle bags and head off for a good gallop. We arrive tired and satisfied at a restored hunting lodge for another extensive dinner. Overnight and dinner in Cortijo “La Alcaidesa” (or similar).

Day 4: departure
An early start this morning in order to enjoy a 2hr ride in the surrounding countryside with its rolling hills, Acorn Forests and sandy tracks before a late breakfast and departure to Gibraltar airport in time for a lunch time flight. In season (September to mid June) for a small supplement we can ride on a wonderful sandy beach instead.

For clients who cannot arrive in the morning on Day 1 or depart in the afternoon on Day 4, there is an option for a 5 day/4 night/3 days riding itinerary. Riding would start on Day 2 and there would be no ride on the final morning.

Between 15 June and 1 Sept it is forbidden to ride in Spanish beaches.

A supplement of €50 per person is payable on-site for the beach rides. This covers transporting the horses and riders to the beach.

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

There are 12 horses to choose from, many are competing in endurance and all are very fit. They range in size from 15-16.2hh and are light-boned warm-blooded. They are very responsive and forward going, some more so than others. They all come back to hand easily and don't have any vices. They are ridden in English tack, mostly with snaffle bits. The ride leader carries saddle bags with water and refreshments.

The riding is at all paces and the ground is mostly sandy tracks, in and out of shady forests with minimal road work (only to cross the occasional road and ride into villages). The countryside is rolling, there are no drop offs and the terrain is ideal for long canters and some gallops. There are stops for refreshments and long traditional Spanish lunches in the middle of the day.

Rider requirements

Rides should be competent at all paces to get the best out of this ride. A reasonable level of riding fitness is required and some confidence as you will be riding at a good pace from the arrival day. You will have the opportunity to try your horses in the arena before setting off on the trail.
This trail is not recommended for children under 13.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The accommodation is well above average on this trail with historic locations, beautifully restored and with a warm welcome. In the unlikely event the exact hotels below are not available locations of a similar standard and historic nature are used.

Night one: Castile de Castellar The 12-15th century castle hotel has a magnificent setting atop a fortified hill with it's own walled village. This Moorish fortress is now a Parador government owned historic hotel with beautiful rooms, all individually decorated. Due to the thick walls the complimentary wifi is difficult to use.

Night two: Casa Henrietta Casa Henrietta in a refurbished town house into a boutique hotel which is known locally as "La Casa del Doctor Don Juan Marina" . Offering 12 charming and exclusive on suite rooms, in three floors, all of them fully equipped and with wonderful views over the town and the countryside. You can make use of the splendid solarium, situated in the terrace of the hotel, from where you can enjoy the fantastic views over the Roman-Arabic castle of Jimena. There is a terraced Cafe/Bar de tapas.

Night 3: Finca La Alcadeisa An 18th century ducal hunting lodge and estate which is now a government owned natural park and rural hotel. The estate has an impressive surface area of 1,500 hectares with wild olive trees, cork oak trees and pine trees, this natural habitat is ideal for wild goats, deer and boar that inhabit the area. Visitors will find a fully-restored Andalusian country house on offer as rural accommodation of the highest standard with 5 suites.

Meals on this ride are of a very high standard. On the first night we eat out a very special restaurants (Stevie's place). The meals are typical of the region with a apperatives, a first plate, a second plate and desert followed by coffee.

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

Climate Summary

The ride takes place further inland and the hills mean it is a little cooler than Gibraltar which has a Mediterranean climate.

Climate Chart

Gibraltat Climate Chart












Health (ride specific)

Be sure to take some sunscreen.

Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity available each night, wifi at most hotels (although of variable speed and accessibility) and mobile phone reception in most places.

Packing List

Nothing specific is needed for this ride, dress in the evenings is casual.
Light summer clothing is needed on most departure dates. You need a riding helmet or broad rimmed hat which must stay on firmly and sunglasses with string. Riding trousers and half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey, warm jacket (Winter, Spring and Autumn), shorts, long sleeve shirts, T-shirts, sarong or wrap, swimsuit, socks, raincoat (seasonal), sun block, camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt, binoculars, lightweight riding boots with a tread for grip and a change of footwear - trainers or sandals.
A range of riding helmets are available on site. You may not have a saddle bag on your horse but the guide will carry one with water etc and the vehicle is available at lunch times.


This is a 4 day/3 night programme with 4 days riding available on request all year round (excludes July-August).

Departure Dates

2017: departure dates on request between 1 Jan to 11 Jul; 1 Sept to 31 Dec (no beach riding 15 Jun to 1 Sept). Low season: November to February (excluding 23 Dec to 6 Jan).

2018: departure dates on request between 1 Jan to 11 Jul; 1 Sept to 31 Dec (no beach riding 15 Jun to 1 Sept). Low season: November to February (excluding 23 Dec to 6 Jan).
2017 Confirmed dates: 4, 12, 27 May; 23 October

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   
Riding days Product item description £
2017 High season4d/3n4double pp715
2017 High season4d/3n4single supplement82
2017 High season4d/3n4additional night (half board)60
2017 Low season4d/3n4double pp659
2017 Low season4d/3n4single supplement82
2017 Low season4d/3n4non rider (half board)179
2017 Low season4d/3n4additional night (half board) 60
No of   
Riding days Product item description
2017 High season4d/3n4double pp785
2017 High season4d/3n4single supplement90
2017 High season4d/3n4additional night (half board)65
2017 Low season4d/3n4double pp725
2017 Low season4d/3n4single supplement90
2017 Low season4d/3n4non rider (half board)195
2017 Low season4d/3n4additional night (half board) 65
No of   
Riding days Product item description $
2017 High season4d/3n4double pp939
2017 High season4d/3n4single supplement109
2017 High season4d/3n4additional night (half board)78
2017 Low season4d/3n4double pp865
2017 Low season4d/3n4single supplement109
2017 Low season4d/3n4non rider (half board)235
2017 Low season4d/3n4additional night (half board) 78
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
2017 High season4d/3n4double pp7,629
2017 High season4d/3n4single supplement875
2017 High season4d/3n4additional night (half board)635
2017 Low season4d/3n4double pp7,019
2017 Low season4d/3n4single supplement875
2017 Low season4d/3n4non rider (half board)1,895
2017 Low season4d/3n4additional night (half board) 635

Species list for the PArque Natural Los Acornocales:
Storks (white, Ciconia ciconia; black, Ciconia nigra)
Kites (black-winged, Elanus caeruleus; red, Milvus milvus; black, Milvus migrans)
Buzzards (Buteo buteo)
Spanish imperial eagles (Aquila adalberti)
Vultures (Eurasian black, Aegypius monachus; griffon, Gyps fulvus; Egyptian, Neophron percnopterus)
Egyptian mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon)
Common genets (Genetta genetta)
European otters (Lutra lutra)
European polecats (Mustela putorius)
Wildcats (Felis silvestris)
Weasels (Mustela nivalis)
Iberian lynxes (Lynx pardina)
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Fallow deer (Dama dama)

Other Information

Los Alcornocales Natural Park (in Spanish, Parque natural de Los Alcornocales) is a natural park located in the south of Spain, in the autonomous community of Andalusia; it is shared between the provinces of Cádiz and Málaga. The natural park occupies a territory spanning seventeen municipalities with a total population of about 380,000. "Los Alcornocales" means "the cork oak groves".

Nearly all of the uninhabited land in the park is covered by Mediterranean native forest. While some of the land has been cleared for cattle ranches, much of the human activity in the park is devoted to exploitation of the forest's resources: hunting wild game, collecting wild mushrooms, and foraging for good specimens of tree heath. The tree heath (Erica arborea, called "brezos" in Spanish) is a small evergreen shrub, rarely more than two or three meters high; it is the source of the reddish briar-root wood used in making tobacco pipes, and its wood is excellent raw material for making charcoal.

Above all, however, the park's forests are exploited for the production of cork. The cork oak (Quercus suber) is a tree with a spongy layer of material lying between the outer surface of its bark and the underlying living layer called the phloem (which, in turn, encloses the non-living woody stem.) Cork is generated by a specialized layer of tissue called cork cambium. Properly done, harvesting cork from a given tree can be undertaken every ten to twelve years without damaging the tree; the cork cambium simply regenerates it. Cork has many commercial uses, including wine-bottle stoppers, bulletin boards, coasters, insulation, sealing material for jar lids, flooring, gaskets for engines, fishing bobbers, handles for fishing rods and tennis rackets, etc.

Jimena de la Frontera is a village in the province of Cádiz which is in Andalusia in southern Spain. Officially declared of Historical and Artistic Importance in 1983. Its narrow cobbled streets and typical white Andalusian houses and it's beautiful surroundings of unspoilt landscapes makes it a very picturesque place to visit. Locals in the village are very friendly and enjoy interacting with passing visitors. There are plenty of charming and authentic tapas bars. The popuation of Jimena is aprox 4500.

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):
Gibraltar Airport (GIB)
2017/2018: Included from meeting point and takes 20min. Also available from Malaga or Jerez airports at a cost of €45 per person each way (payable on site).
Flight Guide:
London - Gibraltar from £70 return
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Arriving into camp
Namibia, Namib Desert Trail
Challenging 400km trail across the Namib desert finishing on...Read more >
from $4,939
France Carcassonne Pyrenean Short Break
France, Carcassonne Pyrenean Short Break
Situated in the rugged countryside near the Spanish border t...Read more >
from $645
Beach Gallop
Morocco, Agadir Beach Ranch
A fantastic based stay at a Hacienda style ranch just 300 me...Read more >
from $935