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This is a point-to-point equestrian trail, staying overnight in carefully selected haciendas and hotels. The host, Juan-Alfonso, has lived in the area all his life and is well acquainted with all the surrounding haciendas. This horseback ride is a great way to see the real Mexico; family-run working cattle hacienda's, exploring the local scenery, heading through the mountains on horseback, and stopping en-route in small historic towns and villages. Expect a fun atmosphere, with ample tequila, excellent Mexican food and superb horseback riding!

The horses are Mexican Criollo and Quarter Horses; all well-mannered, sturdy and strong. There is a horse for everyone, from laid-back to sporty and forward-going. Horseback riders must be at least at an intermediate level and be fit enough to handle a full days ride each day. A more luxurious version of this ride is available on request (staying overnight at more upmarket hacienda's and hotels).

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 FT of Preston on 04/06/2021

Ride Summary
Very much enjoyed the riding, the stays at the old haciendas with their gracias hosts, meeting and sharing adventures with locals, and being immersed in the rich horse culture that is there. The pre-trip itinerary did not always match what we did but what we did was often better.
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Horses and Tack

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5
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Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1
Meet at the airport before transferring to Hacienda San Cirilo. The Hacienda and Equestrian Centre is owned by Pancho and Lena Serrano. It has been tastefully refurbished and offers comfortable rooms with a horse theme. Enjoy a welcome meal followed by a short ride in the afternoon to get acquainted with the horses. There is an onsite saddler workshop making quality leather products like Chaps, Belts, saddles, etc. and it is interesting to watch the leather artists at work. Feel the mood of Mexico over dinner, complete with a Tequila Testing. Overnight in San Cirilo.

Day 2
After breakfast the group leaves on horseback and follows the canal, passing the village of Primero de Mayo before reaching the Hacienda San Nicolas in time for lunch. San Nicolas is unique in that it has the only private bullring in the state. The owners are renowned in the area for their cuisine, using trending local produce in a variety of memorable dishes. Ride back to San Cirilo though the alfalfa fields where riders and horses can enjoy a nice canter. In the afternoon the group can see how Lena works with the horses using natural horsemanship techniques. Dinner and overnight in San Cirilo.

Day 3
After breakfast, the group leave on horseback for the La Puerta del Coche Ranch, a nice hotel with spacious and comfortable rooms where the group will spend the night. Ride along in trails lined with trees and pause to enjoy the spectacular view. Pass the Hacienda La Estancia, one of the largest in the region, before riding through a dairy aras. (3.5hr riding). On arrival at the Hotel La Puerta del Coche, riders can relax in the pool followed by an lunch of authentic Mexican dishes washed down with Tequila. Explore the trails and pastures of the ranch on a 2hr ride. A light dinner is served in the restaurant at around 8pm. Accommodation: Hotel La Puerta del Coche (or similar).

Day 4
After breakfast, saddle the horses for a 2.5hr ride to the 1200 hectare Sabindas Cattle Ranch that belongs to Ernesto Serrano and family. Ride along the trails and paths of this ranch for approx. 3 hrs, visiting the Sabindas dam. There is a path that surrounds the dam that offers a nice view of the Oaks and rocky formations. This semi-arid property has lots of Cactus, Nopales, Garanbuyos and Desert Palms. It is a cross-country trail best suited to good riders because of the rocky trails. Lunch in the ranch with other riders, cowboys, horseman and the Serrano Family. The ranch is known for its delicious pork carnitas. Make your own taco with a range of salsa to choose from, all washed down with a cold beer and, of course, a good Tequila. After a lengthy lunch, ride back through the early evening to the Puerta del Coche (or similar) for dinner and overnight.

Day 5
After breakfast, saddle horses and ride to Hacienda Tlalixcoyan; this Hacienda has been in the Gomez Portugal family for more than 400 years. Arrive to a warm welcome from Pablo, the owner. Enjoy a lunch in this hacienda made from special family recipes by Pablo's wife, Horalia. Free evening and riders can relax or enjoy the hacienda's trail by the river, perfect for bird watching. Dinner around a bonfire enjoying the starry sky.

Day 6
Breakfast at the hacienda before setting out on today's ride. Follow the path next to the irrigation canal of the Cuarenta dam and an opportunity to gallop. Enjoy the weather while riding the muleteer trails through the alfalfa and corn fields. After 2.5hrs, arrive in the village of San Miguel del Cuarenta and continue along a wooded path next to a creek to La Soledad Casa Rural, where we have lunch and try a local 'speciality', Carajillos. Enjoy a pleasant afternoon ride back to overnight and dinner in the Hacienda Tlalixcoyan (or similar).

Day 7
Leave the luggage at the hotel and set out on the first part of the journey after breakfast. Ride through open alfalfa fields (main ingredient of a local drink called agua de alfalfa, also its a premium cattle and horse feed), and along the Lagos River. Canter in the shade of the trees before reaching Camino Real, the Silver Route, with its old brick bridges and sections flanked by adobe brick. Pass the deserted Hacienda Cienguilla, a popular place for photos. After 3.5 hours the group will reach the Hotel Hacienda Sepulveda & SPA, one of the best in the region. Dinner in the Mamalena restaurant. Overnight in a suite in Sepulveda (or similar).

Day 8
Breakfast in the Hacienda garden. Set out on the horses for the Hacienda San Cayetano. Ride along a rural road to the Canyon of the Alcazar, take a cross-country ride with lots of up's and down's as the trail ascents and descents through the hills and landscapes dotted with numerous cattle. Arrive at the ranch and be welcomed with a cocktail and snacks by the hosts, Pita and Juan Alcazar, known for their hospitality and excellent food. Pita will demonstrate Equinotherapy, which she has practiced for 20 years. Juan will give a demonstration of handling the horse with the charra rein. After having spent time with this friendly family, return to the horses for the ride back to the Hotel Hacienda Sepulveda. Say goodbye to the horses before a free evening to enjoy hotel facilities such as the swimming pool or hot tub, or maybe a nice relaxing massage in the SPA. Celebrate the adventure with a special farewell dinner in the restaurant. Overnight in a comfortable suite.

Day 9
Breakfast in the Restaurant Mamalena; enjoy the morning in the Hacienda, Transfer to the Airport

This itinerary is to your guidance and may be subject to change.

New Year Ride

Day 1
Arrive in the morning and transfer from the airport to Hacienda Jaramillo. Meet the horses and ride from Hacienda Jaramillo to Comanja. Visit Hacienda La Ferreria and enjoy dinner at Hacienda Los Caballos. Overnight at Cañada Verde, with the evening free to relax.

Day 2
Ride from Cañada Verde to the mine of Horcon, then continue to Comanja Viejo and stay overnight at an eco-lodge.

Day 3
From the eco-lodge, ride to Sierra Alta Las Antenas for lunch. Return to the same eco-lodge for the evening.

Day 4
Ride to Sierra Alta and stop for lunch, then continue to Hacienda Vergel de la Sierra.

Day 5
From Vergel de la Sierra, ride to El Cantil for some wine/mezcal-tasting. Ride back to Vergel de la Sierra for the evening.

Day 6
Ride from Vergel de la Sierra to Comanja, where the horses are loaded into the trailer. Drive to Hotel Hacienda Sepulveda for the evening.

Day 7
Ride out from Hacienda Sepulveda to Hacienda San Cayetano, returning for a special New Year’s dinner.

Day 8
Ride from Hacienda Sepulveda to La Herencia equestrian center. Leave the horses here and visit the town of Lagos de Moreno. Look around the shops before returning to Hacienda Sepulveda for the evening.

Day 9
Transfer to airport and fly home.

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 mainly Mexican although there are 2 Western and 2 English saddles available too upon request. Mexican Charro saddles differ slightly from Western as they have wider horns at the front and 2 grips at the back which were traditional used to help the Charro riders hold on during Charreadas (rodeos). The rides tend to start at 10am with a break for lunch after around 3 or 4 hours. In the afternoon there is then 2 or 3 hours of riding. There is 1 guide to 5 riders. Minimum age 14.


Rider requirements

This trail is suited to intermediate riders who are happy and secure in walk, trot and canter. Experience over rough terrain is also beneficial, as is controlling a horse in open spaces. Riders should be fit and ready for the 4-6 hours of riding per day.

Riders are not required to groom and tack-up their horse and help with feeding etc but can do so if they wish.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 264 lb/120 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The hotels and B&B's used have been chosen for their charm and quintessential Mexican atmosphere, from the colonial style architecture to the warm hospitality and excellent food. On several nights riders will be hosted by the owners of the hacienda's, giving a real insight into true Mexico and making them feel part of the family. Bedrooms throughout the trail have twin or double beds with private bathrooms. Other facilities include sitting rooms and verandahs and there are swimming pools on some nights.



Breakfast is a big occasion in Mexico and guests are invited to help prepare their own breakfasts if they like, such as 'Chilaquiles' which are tortilla chips with tomato sauce, cheese and sour cream or 'Molletas' which is bread with beans, ham and cheese. You will also find eggs cooked to your liking, bacon, cake and a selection of juices such as orange, lime, watermelon, carrot, pear, papaya and pineapple.



Lunches may be a saddlebag picnic depending on your chosen activity and there is often a BBQ lunch or dinner with a variety of grilled meats as well as fresh salads and vegetables. Drinks during meals can be put onto a tab and paid at the end of the day or holiday.



Meal timings are roughly based on the following: Breakfast; 7:30 to 9:30am, lunch 2:30 to 4:30pm and dinner, 8:00 to 10:00pm.


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 boasts year-round good weather with an average of around 22 celsius in the daytime. January and December can be chilly in the early mornings and evenings. The rainy season is July to September with the rain mostly coming at night and it can be humid at this time of year.

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!

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/batteries and camera equipment are available in Lagos de Moreno but we advise to take along plenty just in case. Digital camera's can be charged overnight with suitable adaptors (US style). There is mobile phone reception at Hacienda Supluveda but there are parts of the trail where there is none.
There is free internet access at Hacienda Supulveda.

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
- Visa
- Recommended Currency: Dollars, U.S Dollars or Euros
- Travel Journal Guides
- Medical Cards

Programmes

9d / 8n programme with 7 riding days. Available year-round, dates on request for 2 or more.

Departure Dates

2024 9 day fixed date rides: 19 Jan; 16 Feb; 7 Mar; 19 Apr; 9, 31 May; 21 Jun; 5 Jul; 2, 23 Aug; 20 Sep; 10 Oct; 8, 29 Nov; 12 Dec.
Other dates on request for groups of 4 upward.

Pricing
Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
20249d/8n7double pp1,689
20249d/8n7single supplement375
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7double pp1,519
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7single supplement339
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
20249d/8n7double pp2,009
20249d/8n7single supplement449
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7double pp1,809
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7single supplement405
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
20249d/8n7double pp2,295
20249d/8n7single supplement509
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7double pp2,065
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7single supplement459
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
20249d/8n7double pp23,769
20249d/8n7single supplement5,295
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7double pp21,389
2024 2-10 Aug 10% Special9d/8n7single supplement4,765
Recommended Reading

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.


Other Activities

Other activities arranged on some of the hacienda's: fishing, bird watching, hiking, games, painting and pottery. There is always something else to take part in in addition to the riding!

Wildlife

Wildlife which may be spotted during the trail: deer, coyote, wild cats, raccoon and armadillo. Local flora includes, amongst others: cacti, nopal, organo, bisnaga, mezquite, pirul, encinos, robles, pine and oaks.

Other Information

Horses are a big industry in the area of Lagos de Moreno; it is known as being the capital of the Quarter Horse in Mexico and is a very important region with around 700 horses in training. The Charreada, a competition similar to that of a rodeo and Mexico's national sport first began in Lagos and it is said that the first Vaqueros (cowboys) who travelled to California were from Lagos.

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):
Leon Airport (BJX), Aguascalientes (AGU) or Guadalajara (GDL)
Transfer:
Included from Leon Airport, extra cost from Guadalajara (GDL)
Flight Guide:
London - Leon return from £750pp
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