Gauja National Park riding holiday in Latvia - Far and Ride
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Gauja National Park, Latvia




Programme


• Trail Programme

 

Horses



Type of horses:

Primarily Latvian horses but some other breeds are also used.

Nature of horses:

Good endurance and stamina with natural suitability for long distance riding through countryside.

Height of horses:

14.3 - 16.2hh

Weight limit:

95kg / 210lbs

Tack type:

Mostly Trail saddles, but English and Western tack is also used.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

This beautiful destination offers a trail ride through the Gauja National Park, a route which covers forest riverbeds and delightful landscapes. Guests can enjoy swimming with the horses and wade through rivers such as Amata, Ligatne, Strikupe, Gauja and others. These make up the Gauja valley. The riding route leads you along cliffs and rocky outcrops to places where you can drink freely from the clear water of natural springs. On your way, you may meet a variety of different wild animals before spending your evenings visiting medieval old towns and castles.

The Gauja National Park is characterised by a high level of biodiversity as well as the historical and cultural monuments which originate from different centuries. The old valley of the Gauja River is protected but can be used for nature tourism and outdoor recreation, allowing guests to explore nature's secrets and to view the wild animals peacefully.

This riding holiday is organised through our Latvian tour operator whose staff have more than 30 years experience. They use their own horses and guides for all of their routes, transporting the horses to different Latvian destinations in order to offer different programmes (available on other pages of our site). Their riding holidays are designed to show you the beauty of the Baltic States, away from the tourist rush and stressful everyday lives. Any route can be altered or shortened to create your perfect trip or to accommodate the less experienced riders.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Acoomdmoatuin is provided in different guesthouses or hotels each night, all offer the same level of comfort in shared double, twin or triple rooms.

Some are 3* such as this country hotel: http://karlamuiza.lv/en/
Others are wooden cabins like so: http://www.briedisi-ak.lv/

There are three meals served each day with some lunches taken as outdoor picnics during the rides. Each meal is usually 2 or 3 courses and there are often specially selected menus where guests can have a limited choice or 2 out of 3 courses. National dishes are usually included for some of the meals.

Vegetarians are regular guests here and can expect meals such as tasty salads, risotto with vegetables and parmesan or apple strudel with vanilla ice cream.

 

Activities

There is plenty to see and do when not horse riding. 47% of the Gauja National Park is covered by forests and there are almost 900 plant species, 149 bird species and 48 mammal species found in the territory. Visitors are attracted to the unique landscapes with Devonion rock outcrops, sandstone precipices, rocks and caves as well as monuments of culture and history, many of which are linked to legends. There are over 500 cultural and historical monuments in the national park including hill forts, stone castles, churches, manors, water and windmills as well as points of archaeological, architectural and artistic interest.

Other places to visit:

- Ligatne natural trails cover more than 5km and run along the banks of the Gauja River. The walk will take you approximately 2 - 2.5 hours and you can watch the wild animals and birds typical of the area. The forest animals found here are brought from all different regions of Latvia - many were young animals that were wounded when found or could not survive without human intervention.

- Cesis Castle is a Livonian castle whose ruins are some of the most majestic in the Baltic States. Once the most important castle of the Livonion Order, it was an official residence for the masters of the order. It was partly destroyed during the Great Northern War.

- Turaida castle was constructed in 1214 in the brick gothic style under Albert who was the archbishop of Riga. It lies on the site of a destroyed wooden castle which had belonged to a Livonian leader. Development of the castle continued in the 17th century.

- Sigulda is an area situated on a picturesque stretch of the Gauja River valley. The area is sometimes called the "Switzerland of Vidzeme" due to the reddish Devonian sandstone which forms the rocks and caves by the river. After the restoration of Latvian independence in 1991, an emphasis was placed on conserving Sigulda's monuments.

- Gutmanis Cave lies between Sigulda Castle and Turaida Castle with a small stream flowing from it. It is the largest cave in the Baltics and still features inscriptions from as early as the 17th century. Drinking the water is said to be healthy and to increase one's lifespan. From the cave, you can climb into the hills and take a cable car over the river valley.

- Aerodium is a vertical wind tunnel, a free flight simulator. This was the first vertical wind tunnel in Eastern Europe and breaks the rules of gravity to offer you a fun experience.

- Secret Soviet bunker - Within the territory of the rehabilitation centre 'Ligatne' lies a well-equipped Soviet bunker. The bunker is located 9m underground and was only declassified in 2003. Constructed in the 1980s, the bunker was designed to meet the needs of the political elite and for governing the state in the event of nuclear war. The bunker was designed as a secret hiding placed for the first secretaries of the Soviet Communist Party - comrades Voss and Pugo. The original underground equipment has been preserved in its entirety and a canteen with a typical menu from the Soviet era is open to visitors!

Non-riders are welcome to join these rides but should be prepared to hire a car as no alternative activities will be offered during the week.

 

Further Details

Languages: English, Latvian.

Health requirements: General good health recommended.

Age limit: 18+

Tuition: Can be organised separately and at additional cost, if required.

Included: Transfer from Riga airport (or port, train or bus station), all inland transfers, accommodation, meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), guided riding as per itinerary and use of horses and equipment.

Not included: Flights or travel to Latvia, travel insurance, additional meals or snacks not mentioned, alcoholic drinks, entrance fees to museums (unless specifically mentioned as being included) and extra services not described.

 

Travel Information

Guests should travel to Riga for this destination. Transfers are included in the price from and to Riga airport, port, train or bus stations.

If travelling from the UK there are a range of airlines flying to Riga regularly. These include Wizz Air, Ryanair and Air Baltic.

The starting point is approximately 90km from Riga.

Airport: Riga

 

Programme


Trail Programme



A picturesque six-night trail ride following river routes in the Gauja National Park. The Gauja valley and its rivers provide a fairytale setting for a horse riding holiday with sandstone cliffs, magical forests and cantering along riverbanks. You may even get the chance to swim with the horses in the crystal clear water. History lovers will enjoy visiting old medieval towns and a castle.

Day by Day Programme

Day 1 - Arrival and Introduction:

Transfer from Riga airport to your guesthouse within Gauja national park. You will have the chance to settle into the guesthouse before a group safety briefing with your guide. Time permitting, you may also be able to visit the stables and meet the horses. 

Dinner and overnight at the guesthouse.

Day 2 - Crossing the Gauja river:

The route takes you along the beautiful riverbanks of Gauja, through the wild and untouched forests of the national park, with gorgeous trails worthy of a fairy story. Late morning you will continue the trek by crossing over the Gauja river on a historical wooden ferry, operated by a sophisticated pulley system. Your horses are quite used to the trip and will cross just none or two at a time, but it can be quite novel for guests! 

Safely on the other side, you will stop for a picnic lunch and then continue your ride through the afternoon along the forest tracks on the other side of the Gauja river. Dinner and overnight.

Riding c. 27km

Day 3 - Kvepene Hill Fort :

After breakfast, you will ride on the Kvepene Hill fort surrounded by a fairytale landscape. You might get to see an impressive giant tree - a Kvepene Oak that is symbolically shown on the 5 lats banknote of the local currency. 

After a picnic lunch in the Kvepene forest, the route will continue on to the Cirulishu trails. The path you will follow was created to show the formation of the area from the ice age to present day. You can enjoy the landscapes with cliffs and crystal clear water.

After dinner, you can visit the old town of Cesis.

Riding c. 32km

Day 4 - Amata and Ligatne River Route:

Today's ride is dedicated to discovering the beauty of one of the deepest and most unusual river valleys in Vidzeme. The Amata river is one of the fastest flowing and most beautiful in Latvia, characterised by its picturesque banks red Devonian sandstone cliffs, fierce rapids and tall rock formations. On your way along the Gauja river, you will see Kuku rock - the tallest rock outcrop with a height of 43m and caverns cut into the base; well worth visiting. Picnic lunch near the rock.

If you are a fan of exciting rides then you will enjoy the ups and downs of the wild banks of the Gauja river until reaching Ratnieki. Here you will come upon Zvartes rock, which is one of the most famous rocks near Amata due to its estimated age of over 350 million years, its beauty and its associated folklore. According to legend, Zvartes rock was a meeting point for witches and on celebration days they would rush to Zvartes rock on their broomsticks from the surrounding forest.

Riding c. 35km

Day 5 - Strikupe River Route:

following breakfast, you will spend the day riding down into the riverbed of River Strike. This river has very steep and sandy banks making for a beautiful riding experience. Following a picnic lunch, you will pass the afternoon on the forest trails of Gauja National Park and benefit from the soothing effects of the spring water on the way - it's sure to be a day of adventure.

Riding c. 25km

Day 6 - Gauja River Route :

After breakfast, the riding route today continues along Gauja's riverbanks, exploring the sandy beaches, forest paths and beautiful meadows which bring the perfect conditions for relaxed riding. Today's picnic will be taken near Sietiniezis which is a 500m long sandstone cliff on the banks of the river Gauja. It is considered to be an exceptionally beautiful spot.

The riding route continues on to Valmiera which is the final destination of this route. From there you will be transferred to Sigulda for the night. This town has a beautiful view of the Gauja valley and a medieval castle.

Riding c. 31km

Day 7 - Departure Day:

Today you will be transferred to the airport or point of departure. If preferred then you can add a night on in nearby Alderi and transfer to the airport the next day instead. 

NB. Programme is subject to change due to weather or unforeseen circumstances. 



Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: Intermediate and above. Riders should be capable at all paces but do not necessarily need to ride regularly or to be overly confident. There is some tricky terrain here and there. Days can be altered to suit less experienced riders.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: Six days of riding (arrival day riding will depend on arrival time) with up to 30km per day.
Departure dates: 2018: Dates available to suit for a minimum of 4 riders.

If you are travelling alone then please contact the office as we may have other riders also interested in your preferred dates.
 
Pricing: 2018:

£1455 per person.

Price includes 6 nights of accommodation (shared room), all meals, riding as per itinerary and Riga airport transfers. It also includes an evening in a traditional Latvian sauna and the entrance fee for the Ligatne nature trails.

Single rooms may be available on request and at additional cost.