Type of horses:
Lusitano, Garrano, Sorraia and Portuguese cross-breeds
Nature of horses:
Kind, sociable, relaxed
Height of horses:
14 - 16hh
150kg / 23 stone (Only one horse can carry this weight)
This horseback ride explores the area in and around Ponte de Lima, the oldest town in Portugal, situated alongside the Lima river. The town is full of historic buildings and monuments, including the statues of 24 life-sized soldiers guarding the river. The area is famous wine-making country as well, producing a light, sparkling, dry white wine called Vino Verde as well as the more well-known tipple - Port.
The well-loved horses are a mixture of different breeds, including the infamous Lusitano as well as the less common Garrano which is a small breed which still lives wild in some parts of northern Portugal. All are polite and kind trail horses which are suitable for different abilities of rider.
There are two different trails to choose from - one being a week long and the other only four nights and therefore perfect for a short-break or for extending a holiday within Portugal. The shorter trail explores the sandy trails alongside the Lima river which are only open to walkers, cyclists and horses and are therefore perfect for riding on. The longer trail ventures further afield into the nearby mountains to pass through historic villages and vineyards.
The equestrian centre itself also has a stable of beautifully schooled Lusitano dressage horses and so it's possible to stay and take dressage lessons instead, or to add a lesson to the end of your trail if time allows.
Most guests stay at Cerquido Village (www.cerquidovillage.com) which is a complex of four separate houses. Some of the houses are small whereas others are larger but all are clean and comfortable. The resort can sleep up to 20 people in total and the exact house used will depend on the number of riders in the group.
There is a spa, TV and Wi-Fi at Cerquido Village. Singles are generally not charged a supplement if they end up in their own room, but if a group wish to book individual single rooms then supplements may be payable as extra houses may be required.
If you prefer luxury accommodation then it is possible to upgrade to the five star Carmo's Boutique Hotel (www.carmosboutiquehotel.com) which has 12 prestige double rooms and three luxury suites, together with a spa.
All meals are included. Lunch is usually a picnic on riding days. Dinner will include three courses. There is always plenty of food available which generally comprises traditional Portuguese food.
Special diets can be accommodated with advance notice.
There are plenty of activities available in the area to suit non-riding companions. If you have booked a trail ride then non-riders can transfer between accommodation in the back-up vehicle, but would benefit from hiring a car to get the best experience.
If you have hired a car then you may wish to explore the many cultural sites in the area, such as Ponte de Lima, Guimaraes, Braga, Viana do Castelo etc.
There are golf courses in the area and a number of adventure sports - all of which are payable locally.
This is a wine producing area and so wine-tours are also possible and can be booked for you locally (at extra cost).
There are also spa treatments available at a nearby hotel.
Languages: English, Portuguese
Health requirements: General good health
Age limit: Riders can be accepted from 12 years upwards. Children aged 12-16 are entitled to a discount on the rate.
Tuition: Depends on programme
Included: Accommodation, all meals, water and some drinks with meals, airport transfers
Not included: Flights, alcoholic and additional drinks outside of meals, travel insurance
There are many flights into Oporto / Porto airport (airport code OPO) including low cost airlines.
You are collected from the airport and transferred to your accommodation - a journey of c. 45 minutes. Transfers are included provided all guests arrive at similar times.
Airport: Oporto Airport
Ride through the rolling hills and mountains of Serra d'Arga, passing through vineyards and forests until eventually reaching the sea at Moledo. Discover the cultural sites of the area as well as beautiful waterfalls and landscapes. You can choose between spending your nights in clean, comfortable guesthouses, or of staying in a 5 star boutique hotel.
You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your accommodation in Ponte de Lima. Depending on your time of arrival you may be able to meet the horses and familiarise yourself with the area.
Your first full day of riding takes you through the protected lagoon area of "Lagoas de Sao Pedro D'Arcos e Bertiandos" and then onto Cerquido village.
Cerquido is situated on the south-eastern slopes of the Serra D'Arga, on a flattened area at c. 400m. In this unique basin of well-defined stone, it is flanked by the river valley of Estoraos and is protected by the rocky granite massif of the Serra D'Arga escarpment. Cerquido has been populated since at least the Middle Ages, and clay tiles called tegulas have been found in the area, which were introduced to the Iberian peninsula during Roman times.
Follow the Cerquido path from the fertile plain to Santa Justa at an altitude of 450m. From here you can see the Lima river valley and will be able to see the four types of landscape on these mountains: firstly, the plains on the banks of the river, where irrigated crops grow; secondly, the permanent crops such as vines or olive groves; thirdly, the forests containing pines and eucalyptus; and finally, and area above the forest line where only a few sparse bushes grow.
Your destination is the old barracks in Santa Justa which are linked to a popular tale of the martyrdom of two sisters - Justa and Rufina.
No riding today. You are free to explore the surrounding area, people watch in the local restaurants or simply relax beside the natural swimming pool and enjoy the views.
Today you follow the Pedra Alcada trail, which although only 11.5km does include a degree of difficulty. The trail leads you to the highest point in the area - Alcada Stone at 742m above sea level. From here you have magnificent views towards the sea and the mouths of the Minho and Coura rivers. Along the route you will also see the Monastery of St John d'Arga as well as some waterfalls and natural landscapes, and the typical village of Sao Joao d'Arga.
An easy riding today as you follow the trail of Cha da Franqueira, discovering more waterfalls and agricultural terraces and learning more about the history and natural heritage of the area.
Leave the mountains behind and head towards the sea. Depart through the walls to Alto da Espiga where you have great views across the estuary of Minho and Coura river. Continue riding with magnificent views down the valley and follow the landmark of Cobertorinho. Eventually you cross a road and reach the beach of Moledo.
Depending on the time of your flight you may be able to spend some time at the equestrian centre watching the Lusitano's work or perhaps treat yourself to a lesson in dressage or working equitation.
|Minimum group size:||2|
|Maximum group size:||10|
|Ability description:||You need to be comfortable riding outdoors across varied terrain and be able to walk, trot and canter.|
|Type of ride:||Trail|
|Total riding time:||8 days / 7 nights / 5 days riding|
|Departure dates:||2017: 26 March-2 April; 7-14 May; 25 June-2 July; 23-30 July; 6-13 August; 3-10 September; 22-29 October.|
£1585 per person sharing in local guesthouses
£3429 per person sharing in boutique 5 star hotel
No single supplement in guesthouse accommodation if willing to share. Please enquire for single supplement in boutique hotel.
You will be transferred from the airport to your accommodation in Ponte de Lima. Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to meet the horses before dinner.
After horse allocation you set off riding through the protected area of the lagoons - Lagoas de Sao Pedro D'Arcos e Bertiandos. You ride on Eco Trails - nice, shady paths alongside small streams and the Lima river which are only accessible to horses, walkers or cyclists.
Your destination is Ponte de Lima, the oldest village in Portugal, which you will reach by crossing the 3rd century Roman bridge just past the Nautical Club.
Depart across the Roman bridge again and continue riding upstream. Along the way you will pass the chapel of St John which is on the banks of the Lima river. You ride along a path which follows the left bank of the Lima river and links the urban centres of two localities in Minho - Ponte de Lima and Ponte da Barca. Some of the route is ancient, whereas other parts are more recent and you will cross the tributaries of the river many times - sometimes on bridges. There are picnic spots along the route as well as a water mill.
Again you start beside the Roman and Medieval bridge in Ponte de Lima but this time you cross and turn right before the church where you find a metal bridge over the river Labruja. Follow the trail which runs parallel to the north bank of the river and connects Ponte de Lima with the parish of Refoios of Lima. Pass the theme park Arnado and follow the trail for another 5kms along the waters edge to the wharf of Garrida in Refoios of Lima.
Depending on the time of your flight you may be able to spend some time discovering the city of Ponte de Lima, or simply relaxing at the equestrian centre whilst watching the horses work in the arena. You may wish to book a lesson (at extra cost) too. You will then be transferred to the airport for your flight.
|Minimum group size:||2|
|Maximum group size:||10|
|Ability description:||You should be comfortable in walk, trot and canter outdoors.|
|Type of ride:||Centre based trail|
|Total riding time:||5 days / 4 nights / 3 days of riding|
|Departure dates:||2017: 6-10 March; 17-21 April; 5-9 June; 17-21 July; 31 July-4 August; 28 Aug-1 September; 16-20 October; 3-7 December.|
£984 per person sharing in guesthouse
£1909 per person sharing in 5 star boutique hotel
No single supplement if willing to share in guesthouse accommodation.