On arrival at the airport we knew we were in for an extreme week, having stepped off the plane into 40+ degree heat! Having found our transfer (after a short delay) we were on our way to the ranch and reached our final destination in just over an hour, having admired the sea view and stunning coastal roads along the way. First impressions of the ranch were lovely; its location is nestled in the mountains beside the twin peak rocks and is so peaceful (apart from the occasional neighing horse!).
On reaching the hotel we were welcomed warmly and shown to our room with complementary cocktails and fruits, which were very welcome after the long journey from England. The rooms are simply furnished but very clean and – most importantly – have an excellent air conditioning system which offers relief from the baking sun. The facilities at the ranch were very good, with a lovely pool, which even in high summer wasn’t crowded, and everything you could wish for is provided. Equally the food is very good, with the chance to sample some Turkish dishes and you certainly won’t go hungry with five different courses!
Now to the most important aspect – the horses. The stables are clean and tidy and the horses are friendly, if a little nervous. Most of the horses there are Arab types, as was my horse for the week, Ozan. Ozan was so sweet and I absolutely fell in love with him during the week! He was very responsive, very forward going and happy to soften to your hand. The riding was some of the best (and the most exciting) I have ever experienced, it’s certainly not for the faint hearted as my first ride out proved – following a quick trial in the ménage to ensure both rider and horse were happy – myself and Metin (the wonderful guide) headed out into the mountains where we galloped flat out up the mountain side, ‘chasing’ the quad bikes that also head out into the mountains. When we finally pulled up I was breathless and invigorated, having realised this would be a holiday to remember. And so I spent the next few days riding out with Metin on my own or sometimes with other guests but the biggest group I ever went out in was five which was brilliant as it meant the riding was tailored to my ability and desires. (And equally for those who wished to go slower there were alternative rides). One of the other guides commented to me that it was ‘extreme riding’ and I had to agree with him as we climbed steep rock faces, dived in and out of shrubs and galloped up stony mountain sides with a rock face to one side of you and a sheer drop to the other – I have to say it’s a moment I will remember (and cherish) forever.
On one day our guide took myself and a French lady to the beach to swim with the horses, which was absolutely amazing. We were up and ready to ride out a 6am and having threaded our way down the mountain side we finally reached our destination where we had breakfast on the beach followed by riding the horses bareback into the sea. It was an absolute highlight of the trip and the gallop back up the mountain was almost as good!
The guides – Metin especially – made a real effort to show me different things such as the mountain cave we visited one evening. Metin also taught me how to ask the horse to rear on his hind legs which was such fun (although I don’t think I’ll be trying it on the horses back home!).
The people in Turkey generally are very friendly, although it’s certainly not a place to visit if you expect to meet lots of other English guests and to be spoken to in perfect English. We were the only English guests at the ranch but the staff always made an effort to speak English although for many of them it’s very basic. The location of the ranch although isolated in a sense that you can’t walk anywhere, is only a 10 minute car journey to the town of Kemer and the beach (note: it is a pebble beach so a top tip is to wear your flip-flops into the water as the pebbles get very hot and we – and our burnt feet – learnt the hard way!) There is also free ranch shuttle bus to the town and beach daily which is very useful. There’s also lots to do in Kemer such as boat rides, shopping, quad bikes and jeep safari (which I would definitely recommend, it was a brilliant day out). However this holiday’s greatest attraction has to be the riding and fantastic guides which made it a truly wonderful week. I would definitely encourage anyone to visit here and doubt you could fail to fall in love with the horses and the people. If I have one regret it’s that one week was not enough!
Read more about this ride here: Ranch Hotel, Turkey.