This is an equestrian expedition that takes horseback riders through mountains, majestic landscapes, small mining towns with abandoned mines, typical Mexican villages, farms, forests, valleys, while enjoying traditional food and unique wildlife along the way. This horseback& trail is in the oldest part of Mexico, the Central Sierra, an unspoilt and protected area that is relatively unknown. The knowledgeable guides will lead you through these unexplored and long-abandoned, yet beautiful natural areas, encountering magical towns and the warm hospitality of the rural communities of the mountains, far off the beaten track.

Riders will cross the most bio-diverse area of the state of Guanajuato, the natural habitat of species like the puma, coyote, bobcat, deer, raccoons, armadillos, cacomixtles, red-tailed eagle, golden eagle, hawks, quail, wild turkey, among many others.

Accommodation is in hotels, camps and a mountain retreat, all set in areas once populated by the tribes Chichimecas, Guamares and Otomi.

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It is strongly recommended you arrive in Mexico the day before the start of the ride to avoid delays and missing transfers.

Day 1: Guanajuato Airport BJX to Hotel
Transfers can be arranged from Del Bajio Airport (BJX) or the bus station in León City or Guanajuato City. Upon arrival at the traditional Mexican Ranch, meet the team and fellow riders over a welcome cocktail on the terrace while discussing the details of the journey. Freshen up before enjoying a Ranchero barbecue dinner with Mexican music on the terrace. Accommodation: glamping at the ranch.

Day 2: Colomitos – Mountain of Peregrina
After breakfast and the allocation of the horses, the adventure begins from Colomitos towards the Peregrina mountain range, part of the Central Sierra massif. Pass a small, abandoned mining village that echoes the stories of this unique area, with some silver veins still visible on the ground. Ride along an old trail that borders a mountainous area and passes through a cave containing a spring of clear water, seeping through the mountains of Peregrina. The trail ascends through natural areas into the woodland, home of hundreds of species like mountain lions, coyotes, raccoons, armadillos, among others. Today's journey leads to the “valley of blue birds”, the campsite for tonight. Enjoy a ranch-style roast dinner, prepared by the guides. Accommodation: open-country camp.

Day 3: Peregrina Mountain - Guanajuto
Wake up to the sound of birds and the smell of fresh coffee! The guides prepare breakfast before setting out on the day's adventure, riding up to Guanajuato, a colonial city with beautiful buildings that reflect the influences of both Indian and Hispanic cultures. Protected by its inhabitants and government, Guanajuato is considered the most beautiful colonial city in Mexico and was declared by UNESCO site in1988. Enjoy dinner at a restaurant in one of the many plazas, where musicians entertain visitors each night. Accommodation in Hotel Socavono (or similar).

Day 4: Guanajuato - Santa Rosa
After breakfast, the trail leads through stunning natural landscapes while on the approach to the Santa Rosa Mountains, which reach heights of 2800m. Along the way, pass the ruins of colonial buildings, remnants of an era destroyed by time and treasure hunters who have searched the area for hidden riches over the years. See abandoned haciendas and mine shafts set against striking rock formations. Arrive at the village of Santa Rosa, a small settlement nestled in the heart of the Sierra. This area is known for its typical Mexican mountain landscape and cuisine based on natural products. In the afternoon, enjoy a tequila tasting at the mountain retreat saloon by the terrace, followed by a traditional meal. Mexico cuisine has been recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Accommodation: mountain retreat.

Day 5: Santa Rosa - Los Guamares Mountain
After breakfast, prepare for a day riding through the heart of central highlands, the most biodiverse area of the state, characterised by high mountains and forests of oak, pine and arbutus. Birdsong accompanies the riders to the next destination in the mountains of Guamares. Guamares is named after one of the Chichimeca tribes that inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. During the journey, pass by the old mine "El Molino" which was significant during the colonial era for its silver vein. Enjoy dinner at the camp. Accommodation: open-country camp.

Day 6: Los Guamares - Otomi Mountain
After breakfast, continue the ride through the central highlands. Today involves mountainside horse walking, crossing territories of pumas, coyotes and wildcats. The guides will point out the 'hidden barracks' of Pancho Villa from the Revolutionary War. Return to camp to enjoy dinner and an evening around the fire. Accommodation: open-country camp.

Day 7: Otomi Mountain - Spring Waters Ranch
After breakfast with views of the mountains, continue the journey by descending from the mountainous area to a semi-desert zone, surrounded by cacti and desert trees. Pass through small Mexican villages, each with its unique personality, reflecting the stereotypical 'Mexican' landscape seen in westerns. Arrive at the thermal waters of El Gallinero Ranch to spend the night. Enjoy a rich bath in its thermal waters before dinner. Accommodation: camp at the ranch.

Day 8: Spring Waters Ranch - Dolores Hidalgo
After breakfast and a final dip in the ranch's hot springs, transfer by car to the city of Dolores Hidalgo, one of the most important historical cities in Mexico, known as the "Cradle of Mexican Independence". Take a brief tour of the historic center, visiting some of the most emblematic buildings from the war for independence. Later in the day, visit the "Wine Museum", a real "Mexican Cantina", or simply explore the wide variety of stores. Enjoy dinner in a typical Mexican restaurant, located in the main garden of an old house dating back to the eighteenth century and known for its traditional dishes. Accommodation in Hotel Anber or similar.

Day 9: Farewell to Mexico
Breakfast at the hotel. Private transfer before 12:00 pm to the airport or bus station.

For groups of 6 or more, departure dates can be arranged on request subject to availability.

This ride can be confirmed for one rider for a supplement, this will be refunded if another rider books.

Additional sightseeing can be arranged - please enquire with your sales consultant.


Reading List
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.

Sons of the Shaking Earth - Eric Wolf. A wonderfully readable introduction to Mexican history.
The Maya (Ancient Peoples and Places) - Michael D Coe
Aztecs: An Interpretation - Inga Clendinnen. A fascinating, thought-provoking and vividly dramatic look into the heart of Aztec society.
Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans - Alan Riding, is an excellent guide to understanding modern Mexico and its love-hate relationship with the United States.
So Far So God: A Journey to Central America - Patrick Marnham. A vivid account of a trip from California, through Mexico to the badlands of Central America. The title comes from the saying 'Poor Mexico! So far from God, so close to the United States.'
Like Water For Chocolate - Laura Esquivel. This book created a huge interest in things Mexican when it was published in 1989. Set in rural Mexico at the time of the revolution, the novel manages to combine fantasy with recipes.
All the Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy. A poetic tale of three young latter-day cowboys riding south of the border.
European novelists have long been attracted by Mexico. Graham Greene's 1930s travelogue The Lawless Roads and his great novel The Power and the Glory; Aldous Huxley's Beyond the Mexique Bay and DH Lawrence's burdensome The Plumed Serpent, which is intent on asking all the big questions about Mexican life.
The Mango Orchard: The extraordinary true story of a family lost and found A young Englishman who travelled in Columbia, Guatemala and Mexico, in part to trace the fascinating story of his great grandfather's adventures in Central America a century ago. There is a great twist at the end, which we won't spoil.

Of course a mandatory copy of Lonely Plant Guide is invaluable.

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

The horses used on this trail are mainly Quarter horses and Mexican Criollo, they are fit, responsive and willing, ranging from 15hh - 16.2hh.

The tack utilised on trail is Mexican or Western as standard, although 2 English saddles are available on request.


Rider requirements

This trail requires a confident rider secure with all three paces (walk, trot and canter) as a minimum.

There are long hours in the saddle as riders will be covering 25-35km/day over 6-8 hours, so a reasonable fitness level is necessary. Depending on the group, gallops in open spaces may be proposed by the guide.

There will be some narrow paths to navigate both descending and climbing. Riders can, if they want, saddle and unsaddle their horse but this is optional and the guide is happy to do this.

The minimum age for this ride is 14 years.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

There are 3 nights in 3* hotels, 3 nights in camps and there is 1 night in a mountain retreat.

The hotels used for this trail have been chosen for their charm and quintessential Mexican atmosphere, from the colonial style architecture to the warm hospitality and excellent food. The mountain Retreat on night 3, with its simple decoration and old world charm, is located in the former mining village of Santa Rosa, an enclave in the heart of the mountainous area of Sierra Central. The retreat has 16 simple rooms, very comfortable, all with private bathrooms. In the lobby, the lodge features a fireplace and a spacious lounge.

The camps are set up in strategic sites that allow guests to enjoy the natural environment surrounding them. The tents have an awning in case of rain (2.7 x 2.7m - floor area of 7.5m2 and a centre height of 1.91m) with a capacity for 4 people but shared between 2 guests. There is also a dining gazebo with table of 4.00 x 2.75m and chairs for each rider, LED lighting for the perimeter of the camp and cooking utensils.

Meals are based on regional Mexican food and include: beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fruits, vegetables, cereals, rice, milk, coffee, natural fruit juices, purified bottled water. During the trail most of the food is prepared by the rural communities we visit, made with fresh ingredients and hygienically prepared. In many cases using pre-hispanic ancestral recipes, showcasing some unique flavours and textures.


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. 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.

General information:

At the time of going to print visas are not required for UK passport holders, check www.fco.gov.uk or call on 0207 008 0232/0233 for up to date travel advice.

In Mexico City the UK high commission is at Rio Lerma 71, Col Cuauhtemoc, 06500 Mexico City, Rio Lerma 71,Col Cuauhtémoc ,06500 México City. Tel: (52) (55) 5242 8500 Fax: (52) (55) 5242 8517.

The Mexican Embassy in the U.K is at 16 St George Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 1LX. Tel: 020 7499 8586 Fax: 020 7495 4035 Email: mexuk@easynet.co.uk.

Climate Summary

This ride can be done all year round. From January to March, cooler weather; April to June is drier and hot, from June to December, more humidity and temperate climate.
January to March: fresh (day: 17 to 23 ° C - night: 8 to 12 ° C), Rain (unlikely).
April to June: hot (Day: 25 to 40 ° C - night: from 23 to 28 ° C), Rain. Rare in June
June to September: average temperature (day: 17 to 25 ° C - night: from 12 to 20 ° C), Rainy season, rain common at the late evening
October to December: Mexican cold! (Day: 17 to 25 ° C - night: 5 to 10 ° C), Low chance of rain.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Health authorities have classified Mexico as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.

On arrival in Mexico City and other high altitude areas, you may feel a lack of energy, shortness of breath or headaches.

Drink only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Mexico and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Please take along sun cream and anti-allergy medicine for possible insect bites.

Health (ride specific)

There are no specific health requirements in the area of the ride although do remember sun block - the ride takes place at some altitude and the sun is always stringer the higher you are. Please see your doctor for the most up to date information.

Electricity

In Mexico the supply voltage is 127V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 127V).

Mobile, WiFi and charging

Film and camera equipment is widely available in Leon and other towns en route but we advise to take along plenty just in case. Digital camera's can be charged at the hotels overnight with suitable adaptors (US style).

Packing List

- Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384
- Gloves
- Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
- Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
- Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
- Hat
- Handkerchief or bandana (for neck)
- Sleeping bag (Comfort Zone -10°c to 10°c )
- Sweater
- Jacket
- Towel
- Sunglasses
- Sunscreen
- Lip Sunscreen
- Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent
- Chafing cream
- Refillable Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
- Camera, spare Batteries/Chargers - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
- Torch and batteries
- Small knife
- Tent (optional)
- Visa
- Recommended Currency: Dollars, U.S Dollars or Euros
- Travel Journal Guides
- Medical Cards

Programmes

9d / 8n programme with 6 riding days. Available on set dates throughout the year, dates on request for groups of 4 or more. Set date programmes can be privatised for groups of 6 or more riders, and can then be customised.

Departure Dates

2024: 19 - 27 Feb; 5 - 13 Aug; 16 - 24 Sept.
Other dates available on request for groups of 4 or more.

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20249d/8n6double pp1,775
20249d/8n6single supplement209
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20249d/8n6double pp2,115
20249d/8n6single supplement255
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20249d/8n6double pp2,405
20249d/8n6single supplement275
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20249d/8n6double pp24,969
20249d/8n6single supplement2,895
Recommended Reading

Sons of the Shaking Earth, by Eric Wolf, is a wonderfully readable introduction to Mexican history. Mexico and The Maya, by Michael D Coe, Aztecs, by Inga Clendinnen, is a fascinating, thought-provoking and vividly dramatic look into the heart of Aztec society. Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans, by Alan Riding, is an excellent guide to understanding modern Mexico and its love-hate relationship with the United States. So Far from God: A Journey to Central America, by Patrick Marnham, is a vivid account of a trip from California, through Mexico to the badlands of Central America. The title comes from the saying 'Poor Mexico! So far from God, so close to the United States.' Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate created a huge interest in things Mexican when it was published in 1989. Set in rural Mexico at the time of the revolution, the novel manages to combine fantasy with recipes. Cormac McCarthy's marvelous All the Pretty Horses is a poetic tale of three young latter-day cowboys riding south of the border. European novelists have long been attracted by Mexico Graham Greene's 1930s travelogue Lawless Roads and his great novel The Power and the Glory; Aldous Huxley's Beyond the Mexique Bay; and DH Lawrence's burdensome The Plumed Serpent, which is intent on asking all the big questions about Mexican life. Of course a mandatory copy of Lonely Planet guide is invaluable. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit


Other Activities

Enjoy good Mexican tequila and wine (!), reading, playing cards, listening to Mexican music.

Wildlife

Type of vegetation you can observe: Semi-desertic area, Valles of cactus, oak and madrone, forest, wetlands.

Type of animals you can observe: Cougars, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, foxes, ringtails, Hare, Armadillos, opossums, deer, snakes, pumas and more than 100 bird species.

How can you guarantee to see animals? We cannot guarantee that we´ll see animals in the forest because they get frightened hearing us arriving. But our staff are highly trained in animal observation, which gives us a lot of probability that we´ll see some. In addition, during our expedition we will show several of the tracks that animals leave in their walk, and some traces. To give an idea of richness and biodiversity we have in this region.

Other Country Information

Mexico is a vast country. The Sierra Madre and Rocky Mountains run south from the border with the US. The interior consists of an elevated plateau. Northern Mexico is dry and desert-like, while the south is mountainous jungle containing the ruins of ancient Mayan and Aztec city complexes. These indigenous civilizations are credited with many inventions including: building pyramid-temples, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, highly-accurate calendars, fine arts, intensive agriculture, engineering, an abacus calculation, a complex theology, and the wheel. Without any draft animals the wheel was used only as a toy. The only metals they apparently knew how to use were native copper and gold. The people of Mexico today are a mixture of descendants from Spanish and other immigrants, mainly Europeans, who settled in Mexico from the sixteenth century onwards, and mestizos - mixed European and indigenous ancestry, as well as the many indigenous groups. It is a nation where affluence, poverty, natural splendour and urban blight rub shoulders. It is also one of the worlds most bio-diverse countries with an incredible and colourful array of fauna and flora. Mexico is six to eight hours behind 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 is +52.


Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
At the Ranch
Transfer:
2024: Group: Private transfer (up to 8 people) approximately $ 95 each way. Payable on site.
Taxi to the meeting place (from 1 up to 4 people) approximately $ 65 each way Payable on site.
Private transfers available - Payable on site. (Subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London - Leon (BJX) from £750pp return
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