The traditional Spanish Cortijo, Finca Alcadeisa, is situated 20 minutes drive away from Gibraltar in a large private estate. Formerly a royal hunting lodge, the beautifully restored main house is set in 3200 acres of natural cork forests, an area ideal for riding with many sandy tracks. This will be the base from which you will ride a mini-trail down the coast to the seaside town of Tarifa. En route you and your horse will discover beaches (in season), castles and white Moorish villages all connected by miles and miles of riding tracks through natural forests.
This destination offers fast riding, high service levels and beautiful, historic accommodation. The owners ride endurance and have a stable of fit, forward-going yet good-natured horses who obviously love their jobs. A couple of nights at the finca allows you to get to know your horse as well as get the muscles used to long hours in the saddle! Then it's off on trail for a few nights riding across varied landscapes from undulating meadows to dense natural forests. Accommodation along the way is in stylish and often historical properties with excellent food. Lunches are often picnics with a Spanish theme. This is the perfect riding holiday for strong intermediate riders onwards who are looking for a fast paced, cultural adventure in rural Spain.
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 BC of Anchorage , AK on 25/10/2017
Day 1. Arrival day
Please aim to arrive around 4pm. From the airport you will be transferred by car to Finca Alcaidesa and our stables. You will have time to settle in to your spacious room. This afternoon the group will go over the holiday’s programme. You´ll be told about the special characteristics of your horses with time for a one to one conversation designed to find every rider their perfect horse. You have the opportunity to ride two hours today and get to know your “holiday - partners”. Overnight and dinner in Finca Alcaidesa
Day 2. Finca Alcaidesa
Depending on your preferences today will be a longer ride where you can really see what your horse can do! You can ride in the Finca Alcaidesa estate which is one of the area´s best keep secrets. It has an impressive surface area of 1.500 Hectares with wild olive trees, cork oak trees and pine trees. You can ride through the ancient pine forest and stop in the oak forest for a picnic. Or you can visit “Sierra del Arca”, a seven hundred metre high “table” mountain with stunning views over the bay of Algeciras, Gibraltar rock, Africa and de Mediterranean. It is also possible to ride to a vast grassland where horses and cattle are grazing quietly. It is an amazing opportunity for exhilarating canters, experiencing total freedom in the saddle, combined with the beauty of nature. Overnight and dinner in Cortijo “Finca Alcaidesa”.
Day 3. Finca Alcaidesa – Castellar Castle (25 km riding)
Today is the beginning of our trail adventure! You will ride cross- country, enjoying a picnic lunch near the River in Montenegraluntil, and finally reaching a 13th century medieval fortress which you will enter by means of the old Roman road. Within the walls of the charming Andalusian town you will find incredible views over Africa and the Gibraltar area. Dinner tonight is in a local restaurant with a magical view over the surrounding countryside. Overnight in the Castle.
Day 4. Castellar Castle – Almoraima (12 km riding)
After breakfast there is time to visit the Castellar fortress. Today we will ride down the mountain to visit a beautiful lake - here we have the opportunity to go canoeing! Dinner tonight is in a local restaurant with organic and delicious food. Overnight in Castellar castle. For an additional fee guests can visit the “Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art” in Jerez, famous for demonstrating the majesty and precision of the horse's movements. This will replace approx. 3 hours of the days riding (€100 supplement applies, payable on site).
Day 5. Castellar Castle – Majadillas Arab Stud (22 km riding)
Today we will ride into the Oak Natural Park, one of the largest oak forest in the world. We will ride up and cross the mountains to the golden beaches of Tarifa, just 14 km off the coast of Africa. This is the natural habitat of wildlife such as foxes, roe deer and wild boar. In autumn and spring, it is an ideal place to observe the migration of birds between the two continents. Overnight and dinner in “Las Majadillas” Arab-Stud.
Day 6 Majadillas - Facinas (27 km riding)
The trail continues through the Oak Natural Park till we reach a beautiful abandoned farmhouse where we can tie up the horses and have lunch. We continue past the lake to Facinas from where we can see the Atlantic coast. Overnight and dinner in “Arte y vida”
Day 7 Facinas – Bolonia Beach (25 km)
We ride to the virgin beach of Bolonia, one of the best beaches in Cadiz. Two elements make it unique, well preserved ruins of the Roman town of Baelo Claudia and a breathtaking 30 metre high dune. We visit the ruins, ride on the beach and visit Tarifa town before heading back to base. Dinner in Tarifa town. Overnight in Cortijo “La Alcaidesa” or the beach-side hotel.
Day 8 Departure day - 1 hour riding
There is time to relax; Depending on the time you have to depart and you preferences we will choose with you one of the different rides we have close to our park and you can enjoy the different activities we have in Finca Alcaidesa or the surroundings. Before your flight we´ll transfer you to the airport.
Between Easter and September it is forbidden to ride on Spanish beaches so we substitute this ride with another special “experience” like a “sunrise ride” to enjoy the best of nature as it awakens or a magical moonlight hack.
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 8 horses to choose from including Spanish Horses, Arabs, polocross, an Achal-Teke and a beautiful Palomino Lusitano, many are competing in endurance and all are very fit. They range in size from 14.2-16.2hh and are light-boned warm-blooded. Breeds include Arab and X, Andalusian and X and several polo ponies. 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. The riding is available on the arrival and departure day too and can be taken as day rides or half days, more riding can be arranged on site. General tuition is included in the programme and for an additional cost specialist dressage or show jumping tuition can be arranged at the nearby Hippica Soto Grande where full facilities are available.
This ride is for strong intermediate riders only as the horses are lively and forward-going endurance horses. Riders need to be comfortable and in control at all paces for this ride and happy to spend several hours in the saddle on some days. Riders must also be prepared for long trots and canters. The minimum age for this ride is 10 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
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. There are 2 courtyards, tiled floors throughout and antique furniture. There are 2 suites with double beds, 2 rooms with twin/double and 1 apartment with 2 rooms: a double and bunk beds. The meals are freshly prepared onsite and served in the courtyard or dining room. Meals follow a format typical of the region with an apperative, a first plate, a second plate and desert followed by coffee.
The Castlellar de la Fontera
The accommodation here is located inside a beautiful and unique XIII century fortress. Its stone walls without ornamentation breathe an atmosphere of peace and serenity full of history. The hotel rooms are distributed within the Alcazar Castle. There are nine spacious bedrooms, spartanly furnished but all are comfortable. All the bedrooms and the top terrace have incredible views of Africa, the Strait of Gibraltar, the Oak Forest Natural Park and Algeciras bay. Facilities; tapas bar, roof solarium, WIFI.
Las Majadillas – Arab stud (Los Barrios) Working Cortijo (traditional farm house), Breeding stud for Arab horses, 10 beautiful stallions in loose boxes and a herd of mares with foals. They also breed cows. Big botanic garden with barbecue and living room with fireplace. Seven double rooms with bathroom and one quadruple.
Arte y vida (Tarifa) Spectacular relaxation is the only way to describe a stay in this front beach hotel. 11 rooms which spill out onto a never-ending landscape of beach, sea, sky and are immersed in a unique light. Double bedrooms and twins rooms with the taste of the real “Tarifa experience”. Chill out area, wonderful restaurant with terrace and of course surf centre. It is possible to order a massage after riding (price not included)
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: email@example.com www.ukinspain.com.
The Spanish Embassy in the U.K can be found at 39 Chesham Place, London SW1X 8SB. Tel: (020) 7235 5555.
The ride takes place further inland and the hills mean it is a little cooler than Gibraltar which has a Mediterranean climate (details below).
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
Be sure to take some sunscreen.
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 each night, wifi at most hotels (although of variable speed and accessibility) and mobile phone reception in most places.
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 an 8 day/7 night programme with 7 or 8 days riding depending on departure time available on any start date throughout the year except from 9 July to 31 August.
2021: Departure dates upon request - between 2 Jan - 1 Jun and 1 Sept - 22 Dec.
No beach riding between 15 Jun - 5 Sept.
Low season November - February (excluding Xmas and New Year)
If the group has non-riders or people interested to combine riding holidays with a deeper understanding of Andalusian culture or sightseeing in the area there are a multitude of possibilities here.
There is a swimming pool on site for relaxation and many self-guided walks are available on the alrge estate. On site (for an extra cost) you can enjoy archery, kayaking and rock climbing. Nearby there is excellent kite surfing available in Tarifa and polo at the neighbouring Soto Grande complex. The best beaches of both the Mediterranean and Atlantic are within easy distance of the finca (10-30min) as are 8 of the best golf courses in Spain e.g. Valderrama, Alcaidesa, Sotogrande, Almenara - all less than 15min drive.
Culturally the typical Moorish villages and towns of Tarifa (30min drive), Casares, (30min drive) and Ronda (55mindrive) are all nearby and make for a fascinating afternoon or day.
Day trips to Algiers in Morocco are very easy to arrange too.
The old roman towns of “Baelo Claudia” and “Carteia” are also less than an hour away as are the Moorish Castles of Castellar and Jimena.
This is an ideal base for exploring Andalusia with in depth advice and help in arranging trips from your knowledgeable hosts.
Species list for the finca grounds and the nearby 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)
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.