Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Trails riding holiday in Portugal - Far and Ride
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Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Trails, Portugal





Reviews



Three afternoons and one full day of excellent riding on the most willing, well-trained, brave and sure-footed horses I think I've come across (and I've done a round up in Iceland and ridden up/down Mount Bogong in Australia!). Pedro was a fountain of knowledge - a fascinating guy! The house I shared was warm, clean and very modern. Anabela supplied all we needed for a good, healthy breakfast and the evening meals we ate at the local restaurant were tasty and excellent value for money. The horses were well-schooled and brave, perfect for the job they were doing. The tack was clean and sounds and the saddles very comfortable. Pedro looked after us - and his horses - well. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife. What more can you ask?

Jean M.
We had a great time. Pedro was an inspiring character and very patient. We would definitely do a trip with you again.

John
Accommodation was fab, food was excellent! Horses beautiful, well suited to riders, well looked after. Tack clean and well-fitted. Guides were outstanding. (Favourite memory?) Riding back up from the plateau, stopping and looking over the fantastic views of wild ponies on a fantastic horse and with "like minded" people!

Penny M.
My mother and I both enjoyed our time so much. The holiday was a good balance of riding and learning about the area. A visit to the Roman baths was also very special, as was time spent with the other guests during the week. My favourite memory is of the Garrano horses I rode, how sure-footed and willing to show me the country they were.

Michelle G.
We enjoyed the trip very much. The horses were lovely and very well behaved. It was nice because we were the only two people there that week as well and so things could be tailored to our different levels of ability. Pedro was very interesting and we learnt a lot about the area and the horses.

Helen T.
Enjoyable, relaxing, friendly and beautiful scenery.

Helen C.
I absolutely loved it. Really can't recommend it highly enough. The horses were excellent, Pedro is a wonderful guide who really knows what he's doing and is very entertaining to be around, and the landscape is simply gorgeous. Really had a great, relaxing time and learned a lot too.

Nicole K.
The views were magnificent and we were well looked after. We liked Pedro's ethos about his animals (who always come first) and of course the safety of his clients. The horses were great and Pedro made a good job of matching our personalities and ability to the horses. The accommodation was fantastic and warm - well located in the centre of the village. Cannot recommend the holiday enough as between them they are a great team offering a unique holiday. They are very good at looking after their clients. Thanks again for all your help, we had a great time.

Caron B.
Three afternoons and one full day of excellent riding on the most willing, well-trained, brave and sure-footed horses I think I've come across (and I've done a round up in Iceland and ridden up/down Mount Bogong in Australia!). Pedro was a fountain of knowledge - a fascinating guy! The house I shared was warm, clean and very modern. Anabela supplied all we needed for a good, healthy breakfast and the evening meals we ate at the local restaurant were tasty and excellent value for money. The horses were well-schooled and brave, perfect for the job they were doing. The tack was clean and sound and the saddles very comfortable. Pedro looked after us - and his horses - well. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife. What more can you ask?

Jean M.
A great holiday, fantastic scenery, friendly people and excellent, responsive horses of very good quality with comfortable, well-fitting tack. Pedro is an extremely experience horseman with a great love for the environment.

Frances & Winifred P.
It was so nice to escape the hustle and bustle of city life to the most untouched wilderness of Peneda Geres National Park. Pedro and Anabel are excellent hosts and their guesthouse is lovely, it's quiet and away from everything. This trip was a perfect way to unwind - riding in the wilderness by day and relaxing in the guesthouse in the evening... Pedro is an excellent guide. He is extremely knowledgable about both the national park and horsemanship... The horses are part of Pedro's family, so they are very well cared for. They are well trained and each has its own quirky personality, which Pedro matches to his riders... I can't fault this holiday - only that I could have stayed longer!

Kelly W.
After our second day riding in the mountains, we have concluded that Pedro, our host, is perhaps the wisest, most interesting man we have ever met. Pedro originally worked as a photojournalist until he pursued his passion for nature conservation and horses in the mountains of one of the most ecologically balanced and protected natural parks in the world. He now owns a large portion of land within Peneda Geres; a region full of wildlife, wildflowers, rivers, and seemingly endless mountains and valleys. Pedro is also famous for his conservation efforts and documentary of the Iberian wolf, as well as his conservation and love for the native Portuguese wild horse, known as the Garrano. Pedro understands the role of each and every organism in the park, as is demonstrated by the way he runs his beautiful ranch. His pack of dogs guide his brave horses through the mountains during our ride and to their lovely pastures at the end of the day, where they are free to roam and graze. He truly understands the spirit of the horse, and it is easy to see that his animals are well looked after, healthy, and happy. Pedro has been showing us little by little how to trust in nature, and how in doing so we can find peace, harmony and joy.

Natalie E. (2016)
Very Interesting. Pedro is a very good host, the scenery is beautiful and fascinating. The horses very well cared for and suitable for the task. I was lucky enough to ride a very good Lusitano stallion for the whole trip. But I wouldn't have minded riding any of Pedro's horses. (Favourite memory?) Meeting the very inquisitive herd of wild Garrano ponies.

Carey C.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Lusitanos and local Garranos (both Portuguese breeds).

Nature of horses:

Fit, healthy and happy.

Height of horses:

13.2 - 16.3hh (the Garranos are at the smaller end and the Lusitanos at the bigger end).

Weight limit:

100kg but over 90kg guests must still be fit and in good health, able to mount and dismount unaided.

Tack type:

English.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Close to the northern border between Portugal and Spain lies the Peneda-Geres National Park, a region of varied habitats which range from the high granite mountain landscapes to dense oak forests. Not only is this a beautiful, natural landscape but it is also the territory of a large predator, the magical Iberian Wolf, a species which the hosts here have studied closely for several years. In your exploration of this peaceful region you will explore the signs of the wolves' passage, visit fojos (ancient stone traps to catch the wolf) and will talk about the history and legends surrounding the species. You may be treated to one of the most enchanting sounds in nature - the howl of the wolf.

In addition to the wolf, the wild Garrano horse also roams this area freely. The rides often pass herds of these horses which is a wonderful sight to behold. Some of the riding horses used are also from the Garrano breed (the others used being Lusitanos, another Portuguese breed). The riding takes you through the oak woods and groves of birch, natural shelter for roe deer and wild boar, as well as patches of chestnut and holly trees which are inhabited by squirrels. Jays and orioles rest along the cliffs where you might also catch a glimpse of an eagle and some rare species of crow.

These riding holidays are designed for true nature enthusiasts who wish to enjoy the calm, contemplate the natural jewels of the Iberian peninsula and observe the landscapes in the company of a good horse. The landscapes feature the natural pools of the Laboreiro river, hot water thermal baths, ancient paths and of course one of the main peaks in the park, the Peneda Mountain. For maximum comfort guests stay in small tourist houses in the local village, choosing from the delightful restaurants each dinnertime. Picnic lunches are provided during your riding days.

Your hosts here are both journalists with a passion for the environment and nature conservation. In 1999 they decided to broaden their horizons and began a long-term project to study a family of Iberian Wolves, eventually producing a documentary on the species for Portuguese television. They provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere and look forward to sharing their passion for this magnificent region with their guests.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Accommodation is provided in a private country guesthouse in the valley just below the historic village of Castro Laboreiro, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Built in the early 20th century and recently restored, the house maintains many of its original features. The house is also equipped with all the modern comforts required for a pleasant stay, such as central heating, wood burning fireplace, Wi-Fi, cable television and a fully equipped kitchen.

Traditional Portuguese fare. At dinner time the guests walk to the local restaurants which serve local food and Portuguese wine. During lunch times the group all eat together, sometimes around a table or sometimes a picnic. Picnics for example might feature sandwiches, fruit, juice and coffee. Often some local products are included for you to try. Your hosts are vegetarian so vegetarian food can be provided.

 

Activities

Walking, cycling and swimming can all be arranged.

 

Further Details

Languages: Portuguese, English.

Health requirements: No special requirements but fit and in good general health is recommended.

Age limit: None within reason.

Tuition: No.

Included: Accommodation, breakfasts, lunches and riding as per itinerary.

Not included: Flights, transfers, travel insurance, dinners and extras.

 

Travel Information

Fly into Porto. From here we can arrange your transfer (extra cost) or you can hire a car if preferred. It is recommended that you try to land in Porto by 3pm on arrival day. On departure day, it is best to book a flight departing after midday.

Transfer from and to Porto airport (approximately 2 - 3 hours each way) - 100 euros per person (which includes both ways). For groups of 4 or 5 guests, a reduced cost may be arranged.

Airport: Porto

 

Programmes


Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Programme



A programme of 8 days (7 nights) from Sunday to Sunday or 5 days (4 nights) from Sunday to Thursday, during which you ride through the mountains in the territory of the Iberian Wolf and the wild Garrano Horses. This is a holiday for those seeking to escape routine, enjoy the calm, relax and contemplate the natural jewels of the last sanctuaries of the Iberian peninsula. The wild horses watch you as you explore the land and you may hear the wolves howling in the night. It is a beautiful way to explore Portugal and some of the delights it can offer visitors. 

There is the opportunity for dips in the natural pools of the Laboreiro river or hot water thermal baths. There are ancient paths of great beauty and ecological value that will lead you to discover the little treasures of the Peneda mountains. You will learn about the habitats of the wolves and wild horses from your hosts, who have been studying the animals for a long time, and will enjoy the untouched nature of the area.

Day by day itinerary:

Day 1 (Sunday):

Transfer from the international airport of Porto city or elsewhere to the town. Then you will settle into your guesthouse. Dinner tonight will be cooked for you by your hosts and will include typical local dishes for you to try.

Day 2 (Monday):

09:00 - Meet the horses and be matched with one suitable for your size and ability.

10:30 - First ride with lunch in the mountains. 

16:00 - Visit the exhibition in the National Park office/reception to know more about the region.

Day 3 (Tuesday):

09:00 - Ride to the border east of the plateau. Your hosts hope to show you the herds of wild Garrano horses as well as some megalithic monuments - these make up the largest megalithic necropolis in the Iberian Peninsula. This ride brings the chance for some long canters. 

Day 4 (Wednesday):

09:00 - Morning ride in the mountains until around noon.

12:30 - Lunch at the Laboreiro river. 

14:00 - A visit (non-riding) to the villages of Lindoso and Ponte de Lima. These are historic towns from the medieval period. You will also visit a local craftsman who makes horse tack and equipment. 

21:00 - Typical dinner in Galicia, Spain (cost of dinner not included). 

Day 5 (Thursday):

09:00 - Ride into the hills of the Monteiro area in the direction of Castro Laboreiro's castle. You will visit the castle before returning using that path of the ancient transhumance (moving of livestock). This used to be a route used as a connection to Spain. 

Evening - From August to October you will go on a 'night howl' excursion to hear the wolves howling (hopefully!). 

Day 6 (Friday):

09:00 - Riding to the mountain until around noon.

13:00 - Lunch at the Roman bridge of Dorna, before a walk through the winter valley until reaching the deserted village of Pontes. During warmer times of year it is possible to swim in the stream. 

Day 7 (Saturday):

09:00 - Ride towards the Valley of the Wolves with lunch out on the mountain. 

Your hosts will again be cooking dinner for you this evening and will showcase typical dishes from the region.

Day 8 (Sunday):

Transfer to international airport of Porto city or elsewhere for your onward journey.



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: Intermediate +. Groups of very different abilities are not mixed unless the group are all friends. There are places in the mountains where riding can include all paces if the riders are capable.
Type of ride: Based stay.
Total riding time: As per itinerary (riding on 6 days if staying 7 nights, or 3 days if staying 4 nights).
Departure dates: 2017: Sundays to Sundays from April to November.

If you choose to do the 5 day tour then it is simply the first 5 days of the 8 day tour.
 
Pricing: 2017:

8 Days (6 Days Riding): £1011 per person.
Single Supplement: £159

INCLUDED: 7 nights of shared room accommodation with breakfasts and 6 days of horse riding with lunches.

5 Days (3 Days Riding): £674 per person.
Single Supplement: £93

INCLUDED: 4 nights of shared room accommodation with breakfasts and 3 days of horse riding with lunches.

Group Discounts: Groups of 6 guests only pay for 5 persons.

VIP Discounts: If you are travelling on your 3rd trip through Far and Ride you receive a basket of gourmet local products including Alvarinho wine, traditional cheese, local smoked ham and local honey.



Riding Clinic



This is a seven night beginners programme for those want to learn quickly but with sensitivity. Your host, Pedro, is an experienced horseman who loves to teach people the joys of riding in a fun, fast and secure way. A wonderful introduction to the world of horses as well as a chance to explore this beautiful area! Guest will learn correct riding principles through a mixture of classic tuition, learning about horse behaviour, observing wild horses and enjoying relaxing rides amongst the nature of the Peneda-Geres National Park. This is very different to the strict methods used on some beginner courses - Pedro aims to introduce you to the lovely world of horses with careful and thoughtful steps.

Pedro was born in the Lusitano horse region in 1966 and entered the horse world at the age of three, encouraged by his father. He learned to ride from Portuguese riding masters and so his riding ability flourished as he and his horses grew up. As a horse lover Pedro wanted to see horses treated with respect and so he always tried to change the traditional methods which were often aggressive, causing the horses to become stressed. Pedro teaches his guests to ride with consideration, mixing the old knowledge of riding alongside the observation and handling of horses to learn respect for the animal. In 2004 he and his wife, Anabela, created their horse riding company which keeps ten horses primarily for riding into the Peneda Mountains.

Pedro says: "In the last ten years I needed to find the best way of teaching my guests who, sometimes despite not knowing anything about riding or horses, wanted to explore the region on horseback. My primary goal has always been to take them out on the trails feeling happy and secure and with this in mind, I created a teaching method that allows everyone to learn how to ride (on a basic level) in a fun, fast and secure way. In the last years I have taught hundreds of riders and all of them left with the horse spirit forever in their hearts, returning every year to ride in the mountains."

In the colder months Pedro will have the use of an indoor arena for teaching purposes. 

Itinerary

Day 1: 

Transfer from the airport with the evening to settle into your accommodation and find a nice place in town for dinner. 

Day 2: 

Morning - learning how the horses think and how you should behave around them (body language) to ensure safety. Viewing the horses as companions instead of slaves! You will start to learn about handling horses from the ground and about the tack (saddles and bridles) and how all the equipment works

Afternoon - your first riding experience. You will learn the important of balance, body position and your hands, as well as how to use your legs and hands to drive the horses. 

Day 3:

Today you will ride outside at a walk to practice your learning from the first day and to become more comfortable in the saddle. 

Day 4:

Morning - you will start learning to trot.

Afternoon - a trail (at walk) to find and observe the behaviour of wild horses. 

Day 5:

Riding outside at walk and trot to practice what you have learnt so far. 

Day 6:

Morning - learning to canter. 

Afternoon - a free afternoon which can be spent in a hot Roman bath to relax and ease any sore muscles. 

Day 7:

A trail ride to the 'Wolf Valley' to practice and enjoy all the knowledge you have gained during the riding clinic. 

Day 8: 

Transfer to the airport for departure. 



Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: This programme is for beginners and novice riders who would like to improve their riding and horse management.
Type of ride: A based stay with tuition and rides out for beginners or novice riders.
Total riding time: 6 days as per itinerary.
Departure dates: 2017: Sunday to Sunday from April to November.
 
Pricing: 2017:

8 Days (6 Days Riding): £1011 per person.
Single Supplement: £159

INCLUDED: 7 nights of shared room accommodation with breakfasts and 6 days of horse riding with lunches.

VIP Discounts: If you are travelling on your 3rd trip through Far and Ride you receive a basket of gourmet local products including Alvarinho wine, traditional cheese, local smoked ham and local honey.