Type of horses:
Arab crosses, English full blood crosses, draft crosses, local breeds and Appaloosa.
Nature of horses:
Well trained, forward going but safe.
Height of horses:
Average of 14.3 hh - 16.1 hh
Located in the north-west of Croatia, this friendly, family-run riding establishment is the ideal place from which to experience the charming Istrian countryside on horseback. Istria is a large peninsula shared by Croatia, Slovenia and Italy and is considered the largest green oasis in the Northern Adriatic. The region features a wonderland of impressive landscapes which offer varied riding terrain and the locals are known for being warm-hearted and welcoming, so you can expect to see many smiling faces! This is a beautiful land rich in history, dotted with Roman ruins, picturesque villages and hill-top towns, whilst the mild Mediterranean climate means warm, dry summers and mild, pleasant winters. The emphasis here is on exploring the area's natural beauties but cultural and historical points of interest are incorporated into the rides.
Your host Petar is an experienced local horseman with a herd of around twenty horses to offer his guests. The horses are mainly Arab crosses, English TB crosses, draft crosses, local balkan breeds and Appaloosa.
The ranch specialises in catering to small groups in order to ensure a quality riding experience and personal attention to each guest. During the rides you will journey across lush meadows and plateaus, exploring vineyards, olive groves and hidden valleys. The Istrian coast is veiled in enchanting pine woods whilst clear streams meander their way through mountain peaks to the crystal waters of the Adriatic Sea. It's no wonder that the Italians call Istria 'Terra Magica'.
If you're looking to ride in unspoilt, quiet countryside and enjoy a laid back atmosphere, this destination could be the one for you. The accommodation is extremely comfortable and you will be well fed, enjoying the typical food and wine of the region. Far and Ride staff have been and sampled the incredible hospitality, not to mention the riding (of course!), and it comes highly recommended. We can also arrange self catering accommodation if you wish to continue your holiday in this magical area!
These rides are based from the small, family-run farm in the village of Karnevali, a lovely place to relax when not out riding. The farm is made up of several buildings lying in a U-shape around a courtyard, all built from stone with red tiled roofs as is the traditional Istrian style.
There are four guest rooms, each with private bathroom facilities and central heating for those chilly mornings in early spring or late autumn. Three of these are twin rooms and one room has a double bed plus a single. The rooms are well furnished in pleasant colours and feature solid, rustic furniture and good wood flooring. Bathrooms have either a large shower or a bathtub and all are spacious.
On one side of the building there is a common room for guests with a kitchen, living/dining room and an open fire for use during cooler times of year. There is also a covered patio with barbecue, perfect for outdoor meals. A newly built swimming pool will welcome you back from along day of riding.
During nights out on the trail guests are accommodated in comfortable guesthouses according to the itinerary.
Food plays an important part in Istrian culture and you can rest assured that you will be well-fed with wholesome, tasty ingredients. Meals here are traditionally made and created using local produce so as to leave you with a lasting impression of the region's countryside. The food is fresh and many products are grown on the farm or provided by the neighbours, such as fresh eggs. Despite Istrians being keen meat eaters, vegetarians can be provided for with prior notice.
The meals are generally as follows:
Breakfast: fresh bread/rolls, ham, cheese, jam, eggs on request, seasonal fruit, tea and coffee.
Lunch: generally a picnic lunch of fresh sandwiches or perhaps a light snack in a local tavern, with water and homemade iced tea included.
Dinner: this is a three course affair consisting of local specialties. Half a litre of table wine per person, water and iced tea are included.
Istrian food is heavily influenced by Italy so pasta is often a prominent feature, alongside homemade soups (featuring beans, herbs and potatoes) and meat stews of wild boar, beef, venison, rabbit and chicken. Wild game is popular, as is prsut (prosciutto) and cheese. Barbecues are also a popular past time during good whether and the 2014 programme includes a BBQ dinner at the stables so that you can enjoy the company of the horses for an extra evening.
Another popular dish which guests will get to taste is meat and potatoes cooked in a 'cripnja', a pot/tray which is covered with a lid and then submerged under the hot embers of a fire. The food cooks in its own juices and the taste is considered superior to any roast cooked in a normal oven.
Local drinks include red and white wine and a variety of strong drinks such as grappa, walnut brandy, biska (mistletoe liqueur) and more!
This beautiful area offers an idyllic setting for hiking and biking around the local area. If relaxation is your preference then you can take it easy around the farm or take part in farm activities (depending on the season).
If you are interested in hunting (game or birds) then excursions can be arranged and you can maybe even catch your own dinner, depending on the season.
Car hire is highly recommended on the stationary programme to explore the beauty and magic of the local area or to cross over the borders to Slovenia and Italy. We could also link this tour to a stay at the Lipizzaner dressage stud in Slovenia. Please ask the office for further details.
Languages: English, German, Croatian, Italian, Spanish and some French is also spoken by the host.
Health requirements: Fit, healthy and able to withstand long hours in the saddle.
Age limit: 12+
Included: Accommodation, meals, drinks with meals, horse riding, Pula airport transfers and activities/excursions mentioned in the programme.
Not included: Flights, travel insurance, Trieste airport transfers, tips and extra drinks or services.
We highly recommend flights to Pula - Ryanair fly there from Stansted from 1st April and airport transfers are included. If you are flying to Trieste we would like to encourage guests to hire a car and we will provide direction assistance.
Low cost flights (may be seasonal) include:
Ryanair - Bristol to Trieste
Ryanair - Stansted to Pula and Trieste
Trieste airport transfers cost €200 round trip per car or €250 round trip per van.
OCTOBER: by October time the cheap flights in Pula have stopped running. In this case we recommend Ryanair flights from Stansted to Trieste and either car hire from there or a group transfer at additional cost.
Alternative Airport: Trieste (Ronchi)
This is a magical trail programme with riding across unspoilt countryside and a visit to the coast. Rolling hills, open meadows, secret valleys, ancient towns and even a chance to swim with the horses are all included! You can expect warm hospitality, comfortable accommodation and traditional, local dishes to round off each fantastic day. The programme is primarily based out of the same accommodation but you will spend two nights out elsewhere, getting a real taste of the local culture and exploring further afield.
Day One - Arrival: Transfer from the airport to the farm/ranch or arrive by car. You will have time to settle into your accommodation, based in the small village of Karnevali which is 4km from the market town of Zminj. After time to look around and find your bearings, you will enjoy your first dinner and will be introduced to the host family and your new riding companions for the week. Depending on the schedule there may be time to visit the stables and look around the ranch.
Day Two - Caves of Festinkso Kraljevstvo: After breakfast of fresh bread, hams, cheeses and homemade jams, the group will head to the stables and each rider will be partnered with a suitable horse. Today is the first day of riding and so the group will take it easy, heading through open countryside, vineyards and olive groves. This is a chance to make sure that you are well suited to your horse and that you are happy with them.
The first stop in today's riding will take place mid to late morning, when you will visit the small but fascinating caves at Festinsko Kraljevstvo. These were discovered by accident in the 1930's, lying beneath a vineyard, and are now open to the public for viewing. A 20 minute visit (entrance fee included) in this 'Kingdom of Festini' is a chance to see how the foundations of the Istrian Peninsula were formed. You will be treated to a complimentary Medica (honey-flavoured grappa) which helps to enhance the experience!
After a tasty picnic lunch you will mount up and continue the day's leisurely ride heading south. The route brings some incredible views of the peninsula, especially when you stop at a pilgrimage cross near the village of Orihi - on a clear day you can see the sea both east and west. The surrounding landscapes provide an array of the season's colours as you explore the rural back roads, heading for a horse ranch in the village of Manjadvorci. This is your dinner stop for the night and you will leave the horses here for a well-deserved rest, travelling back to your accommodation in Karnevali by car (20 minutes drive).
Day Three - Bay of Blaz: After breakfast you will be taken to meet the horses who are rested and ready for another day. Today's ride leads you to the Bay of Blaz where you will spend time riding and swimming in the water with the horses! This is a wonderful experience. Afterwards you will have a picnic lunch and spend some time enjoying the peace and tranquility of this quiet bay.
Leaving the seashore you will ride uphill towards Barban, a medieval town located on a windy plateau and famous for its traditional horse race for a ring. The horses will be washed in town before you continue on to your overnight accommodation dinner at the Stefanija agritourismo in the village of Draguzeti.
Day Four - Rasa Valley and Gologoricki Dol: Today's ride brings you into new landscapes and offers varied riding terrain. You will be riding east into the heart of the Istrian peninsula, though the Cere Forest, known for its seasonal mushrooms, then through open fields and villages. The peninsula will open up to you, showing its variety of flora and fauna. Upon reaching the end of this plateau it will be time to begin your 3km descent into the Rasa Valley where you will enjoy a picnic lunch on the river bank and will have a chance to rest.
The ride this afternoon will be easy going along the soft, green river banks with plenty of opportunities to gallop and enjoy the fresh air. By late afternoon you will reach the family hamlet of Gologoricki Dol which lies in a peaceful, verdant ravine, far from any sizeable population and the ideal place to relax for the night. You will enjoy a special meal cooking in the traditional method - a ceramic pot (cripnja) under the open fire. You will also visit the family wine cellar to taste their magnificent home-produced wines! The perfect end to a great day in the saddle.
Day Five - Beram and Rafo's Ranch: This morning begins with another energising breakfast before you saddle up the horses and start your ride. There are beautiful views of the Istrian countryside and surrounding vineyards as you roam the landscapes, admiring the charming hilltop villages and lonely churches which are holding off the ravages of time. By lunchtime you will reach the town of Beram for a typical Istrian lunch in the local tavern and a chance to visit the local church.
Later in the afternoon you will reach Rafo's ranch which will provide a resting place for the horses. Here you will tuck into a delicious local dinner including a taste of truffles which are typical to this region. This area is very different to the surrounding karst region and has a moist soil with different wildlife. The most common tree living here is the English or Brown Oak - a number of these have created the Motovun Forest, home to the rare and expensive fungus truffle. It grows underground and is harvested using trained dogs or pigs who can smell them.
The horses will stay at the ranch tonight but the riders will be taken back to Karnevali by car (30 minutes drive).
Day Six - Tinjan and the Lim Valley: This morning it's time to ride the horses on a homeward journey, covering enchanting countryside and following along ancient stone walls on your way back to Karnevali. Country roads will lead you to the village of Tinjan from where you will take a forest track down and up the Lim Valley, before reaching your lunch stop at Horse Club Sokol. After a picnic (and a rest!) you will wind your way through fields and vineyards towards Karnevali. This peaceful journey is the perfect time to reflect and feel at one with nature. Overnight back in Karnevali.
Day Seven - Svetvincenat and the Grimani Castle: This last day involves a leisurely morning riding, taking the group across the former border area between the Hapsburg and the Venetian Empires and on to the medieval town of Svetvincenat. The town, now peaceful, is dominated by Grimani Castle which would once have been the first defensive point on the Venetian side of the border. There is a charming church overlooking the square where many events are held... including a competition for the most beautiful goat! The castle attracts some of the biggest names in Croatia to come and perform in this otherwise sleepy settlement. After a coffee break you will return home to the farm for lunch, following forest trails.
Lunch is followed by an afternoon excursion to Rovinj by car or van. Rovinj is Istria's most picturesque coastal town and is better known as the St. Tropez of the Adriatic. The architecture has a Venetian influence and you will have a chance to visit the impressive church of St Euphemia and enjoy it's views of the archipelago and coastline. There is free time to explore the streets of this delightful down, visit the harbour or maybe even have a swim. Dinner and overnight back at the farm.
Day 8 - Departure: After a final breakfast it's time to say farewell and be transferred back to the airport for your departure.
NB. Please note that the order of the itinerary may vary subject to local circumstances.
|Minimum group size:||4|
|Maximum group size:||6|
|Ability description:||Intermediate - Advanced. Riders should be comfortable riding at all paces with experience of riding in open countryside. Good fitness is required.|
|Type of ride:||Primarily based with two nights out on the trail.|
|Total riding time:||Five and a half days of riding (4 - 7 riding hours each riding day). 145km covered during the week.|
|Departure dates:||2015: 18,25 April, 2,9,16,23 May, 6,13,27 June, 4,11,25 July, 5,12,19 September, 3,10 October|
£670 per person.
£63 per person single supplement (available on request and if space permits).
Price includes return transfer from/to Pula or a local point in the area (on request), 7 nights of accommodation based on shared double/twin room with private facilities, daily breakfast, daily picnic lunch, daily 3 course dinner with 1/2 litre table wine per person, entry fee into the caves, local visits and wine tasting as specified in the description, afternoon excursion to Rovinj by car and five and a half days of horse riding as described.