Day 1 on the road to Castellar
jimena
Finca Alcadeisa day 3
river crossing to Jimena
river crossing
Milla de Plata bedroom
Sunset at Stevie's place day 1
View of Gibraltar from Castellar day 1
riding to Jimena
Stables
oblisco
view from the castle
picnic
horse and castle
view from the castle on horseback
View through top terrace Castellar day 1
Castellar courtyard day 1

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 SB of on 30/05/2024

Ride Summary
Lovely short break, beautiful scenery and a wonderful and knowledgeable tour guide.
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Perhaps clearer that there is no visit to see the cave paintings mentioned in the description
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
Our main suggestion for improvement would be evening meal related. During the trip on the first and last night, a restaurant was booked for us and dishes pre-ordered. This didn't work for us very well as the dishes weren't always to our tastes or preferences. There may have also been confusion as both times, only one dessert and coffee came out at the end of the meal - for a table of 3! Therefore we think the option should be given beforehand to either have the tour guides book and order for you, OR you have a budget for the night and can order yourself. This does not include the caste stay - we are aware that was a specific arrangement and we were notified in advance.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
6
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
In general the terrain was not difficult, only a few steep sections and no dismounting for uphill / downhill required. Cantering in nice open quiet stretches and lanes.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
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?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. We will discuss the needed updates with Cristina and Ferdy ASAP. We are glad the ride went well! :)

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 (5 days / 4 nights / 3 days riding):

Day 1

Arrival, transfer and overnight Torreguadiaro: You will be met from Gibraltar airport and transferred to the hotel (55 minutes from Malaga / 20 minutes from Gibraltar). During the trip the programme is discussed. Stay overnight in Milla de Plata, a lovely boutique hotel overhanging the sea and within walking distance of the beach and Sotogrande Harbour and Marina. The village is well known for its wonderful tapas restaurants.

Day 2
Sotogrande – Castellar (approx. 25 km riding): Breakfast at 8am. After breakfast meet at reception with your luggage and transfer to the stables. From the stables ride across countryside to the 12th Century medieval fortress and enter the castle via the old Roman road. Enjoy incredible views across Gibraltar and stop for a picnic lunch. Overnight in the Castle. 

Day 3
Castellar – Jimena (Approx. 23 km riding): After breakfast there is time to visit the Castellar fortress and the village within its walls. Start the ride late morning, following the river up the 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 for lunch in a traditional “Venta”. 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 4
Jimena – Sotogrande (Approx. 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. A picnic lunch is followed by cantering across sunny meadows. For those wishing for a slightly longer ride, they can leave their saddle bags and head off for a good gallop. Arrive at a restored hunting lodge for a dinner. Overnight and dinner in Cortijo “La Alcaidesa” (or similar).

Day 5
Departure: After breakfast, enjoy a walk along the beach and the marina before departure to Gibraltar airport in time for a lunch time/afternoon flight.

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 6 horses to choose from including Spanish Horses, Arabs, polocross, an Akhal-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.


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 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.

Weight Limit

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: Milla de Plata, a boutique hotel in a very quiet area, with spectacular views of the sea and a unique charm and glamour. All rooms are fully air-conditioned , with TV and full bathroom. The hotel has a guest lounge and cocktail bar and a restaurant serving delicious mediterranean food.



Night two: 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 three: Casa Henrietta. Casa Henrietta is 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 four:  Back at Milla de Plata. This is a boutique hotel in a very quiet place, extending over the sea.



Hotel Patricia, right on the beach with magnificent views of the Straight of Gibraltar and Africa from your private balcony, is also available for the last night and recommended if you are staying a minimum of 2 nights (before or after the ride).



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 aperitive, 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.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

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

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

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.

Health (ride specific)

Be sure to take some sunscreen.

Electricity



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


Mobile, WiFi and charging

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.

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. A range of riding helmets are available on site.
Riding trousers and half chaps are recommended, riding gloves,
Lightweight riding boots with a tread for grip and a change of footwear - trainers or sandals.
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,

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.

Programmes

This is a 5 day/ 4 night programme with 3 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.

Departure Dates

2024: Departure every Sunday.
Low season: November - February (excluding Xmas and New Year)
High Season: March - June, Sep, Oct.
Stables closed: 23 - 30 Mar; 23 June - 01 Sep; 22 Dec - 6 Jan 2025

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.

Non-rider prices and additional nights available on request. Please contact your travel consultant.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board989
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, half-board955
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement159
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board1,045
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement159
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board1,135
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, half-board1,095
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement179
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board1,195
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement179
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board1,305
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, half-board1,259
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement209
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board1,369
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement209
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board13,279
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, half-board12,815
2024 Low Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement2,109
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3double pp, full-board13,985
2024 High Season 5d/4n5d/4n3single supplement2,109
Recommended Reading


Wildlife

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.

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.

Instructor;
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.

Assistant;
Daniel Rojas. (Spain 1983). Specialist in Spanish Country Dressage.
More than twenty years of experience working with horses.

Logistics;
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.

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)
Transfer:
2024: Included from meeting point (Gibraltar airport) and takes 20min.
Also available from Malaga or Jerez airports at a cost of €55 per person each way (payable on site).
Flight Guide:
London - Gibraltar from £90pp return
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