Get away for a short break with lots of horseback riding, some at faster paces and just 20min from Gibraltar. Highlights include horseback riding through the Parc Natural Los Acornocales to the historic fortress of Castellar and spending a night in the traditional white-washed Andalusian village of Jimena.
This is an ideal equestrian vacation for those wishing to pack the maximum horseback riding into a short time along carefully thought out routes to historic locations. Stay in a range of comfortable accommodations with good food on this is high quality break with lots of riding for experienced and reasonably fit riders. There is also the option to combine this trail with a Finca Based ride to stay in a renovated castle and enjoy more time in the saddle.
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 AN of Greve on 31/03/2023
Itineraries are dependent on the length of your stay and can change due to adverse conditions. The following is given as a guideline only. Sample Itinerary (4 days / 3 nights / 4 days riding):
Day 1: Sotogrande – Castellar (25 km riding)
Guests will be transferred from the airport by car. The stables are located 20min from Gibraltar airport (transfer is included). A morning flight is recommended. On arrival there is an opportunity to relax and have lunch before getting changed and meeting the horses. Set off cross-country through the Parque Natural Los Acornocales with its shady cork forests and sandy tracks, ideal for riding, until reaching 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 the Castellar fortress and wander through the narrow cobbled streets of the medieval village within its walls. Start the ride late morning, following the river up the narrowing fertile valley towards the traditional white Andalusian village of Jimena (23 km). The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times and cave paintings are still to be seen at the archaeological site of La Laja. Stop to eat in a traditional “Venta” and enjoy typical Spanish food. After lunch there is a short ride before reaching Jimena. On arrival, 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 – Sotogrande (30 km riding)
Today is a long, fast day. The way back from Jimena heads down to the river Hozgarganta to meet to 'The Americans’ road, a dirt road that is ideal for fast riding, until reaching a mountainous area where the trail follows cow-tracks back to the park. Lunch is a picnic followed by cantering across sunny meadows. For those wishing for a slightly longer ride, they can drop off their saddle bags and head off for a good gallop. Arrive tired and satisfied at a restored hunting lodge for a 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, oak 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 it is possible to ride on a wonderful sandy beach instead.
Between 15 June and 5 Sept it is forbidden to ride on Spanish beaches and the ride is not available.
A supplement of €70 per person (minimum 3 riders) 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.
There are 6 horses to choose from including Spanish Horses, Arabs, polocross, an Achal-Teke and a beautiful Palomino Lusitano. Many compete in endurance and all are very fit. They range in size from 15-16.2hh and are light-boned warm-blooded, 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.
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 all paces 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.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The accommodation on this trail is very comfortable, in historic locations, beautifully restored and offer 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 en suite rooms over three floors, all of them fully equipped and with wonderful views over the town and the countryside. Guests can make use of the splendid solarium, situated in the terrace of the hotel, with fantastic views over the Roman-Arabic castle of Jimena. There is a terraced Cafe/Bar de tapas.
Night 3: Hotel Vento Manolo - a small guest house located in San Enrique de Guadiaro, a 10 minute drive from Torreguadiario’s beaches. It has a garden, free Wi-Fi and an à la carte restaurant. Each simply decorated room at Hostal Venta Manolo has a small terrace. All rooms have heating, air conditioning, a TV and a private bathroom. The Venta Manolo is set next to San Enrique’s polo pitches and a selection of golf courses can be found within 15 minutes’ drive. La Línea de la Concepción and Gibraltar are approximately 25 minutes’ drive from the guest house. Algeciras is 19.9 miles away.
An upgrade to Hotel Patricia (right on the beach with magnificanet views of the Straight of Gibraltar and Africa from your private balcony) is also available, recommended if you are staying a few nights.
Meals on this ride are of a good standard. On the first night the group usually eat out a very special restaurant (Stevie's place). The meals are typical of the region with an apperative, a first course, a main course, and desert followed by coffee.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.
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
The ride takes place further inland and the hills mean it is a little cooler than Gibraltar which has a Mediterranean climate.
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.
Be sure to take some sunscreen.
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.
There is electricity available each night, wifi at most hotels (although of variable speed and accessibility) and mobile phone reception in most places. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.
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 3 or 4 days riding available departing every Sunday (excludes Easter, Christmas and New Year). Other dates available on request for groups of 3 or more, please enquire.
2023: Departure every Sunday. Stables closed: 24 Dec - 2 Jan, 24 Feb - 7 Mar, 1 Jul - 31 Aug.
2024: Departure every Sunday. Stables closed: 23 - 30 Mar; 23 June - 01 Sep; 22 Dec - 6 Jan 2025
No beach riding between 15 Jun - 5 Sept.
Low season November - February (excluding Xmas and New Year)
High Season March-June, Sep, Oct.
Non-rider prices and additional nights available on request. Please contact your travel consultant.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||825|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement pp 4th day riding||135|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||96|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||849|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement for 4th day riding||135|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||96|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||909|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement pp 4th day riding||149|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||105|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||939|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement for 4th day riding||149|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||105|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||1,089|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement pp 4th day riding||179|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||125|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||1,125|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement for 4th day riding||179|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||125|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||10,819|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement pp 4th day riding||1,785|
|2023 Low Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||1,249|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||double pp 3 days riding||11,175|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||supplement for 4th day riding||1,785|
|2023 High Season 4d/3n||4d/3n||3||single supplement||1,249|
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)
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.
Your hosts design their horse riding holidays to share with clients the least known and best preserved Andalusian landscapes, culture and traditions.
Apart from tailor-made riding holidays they also offer the possibility for people from abroad to participate in endurance, with their own horses or with one of the stables.
Ferdy Coopman. (Holland 1965) Certified guide by The Royal Spanish Equestrian Federation.
More than thirty years of experience working with horses (Polo horses in Argentina and Belgium, race horses in Mijas, endurance horses in Estepona and Sotogrande.
Experienced teacher for beginners. Competes in endurance.
Fluent in English, German, Dutch and Spanish.
Daniel Rojas. (Spain 1983). Specialist in Spanish Country Dressage.
More than twenty years of experience working with horses.
Cristina Sempere. (Spain 1971)
She takes care that our clients have a “real Spanish experience” and chooses for you the best places to stay and eat. She can arrange all special requests to make your holiday unique.
Speaks English and Spanish.
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.