Doñana National Park riding holiday in Spain - Far and Ride
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Doñana National Park, Spain





Horses



Type of horses:

Andalucian and Hispanic cross-breeds.

Nature of horses:

Well-trained, responsive and sure-footed.

Height of horses:

15-16.2 hh

Weight limit:

100 kg

Tack type:

Traditional Spanish saddles and tack.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

The Doñana national park is a paradise for horses and horse lovers. As one of the most important wetlands of continental Europe, the region is well conserved and steeped in rich cultural heritage. Situated between the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cadiz, Doñana is now a labyrinth of tracks and waterways which have shaped marshes, ponds and streams, interspersed with native pine forests, sand dunes, beaches and spectacular cliffs too. This range of habits offers a diverse home for many rare and endangered species of bird life. All this ends in miles of beautiful and pristine white sand beaches stretching between Matalascanas and the mouth of the Guadalquivir river. However, above all this is a place where the horse is still king! Within the park boundary there are still over a thousand wild horses living free - the native Marismeña breed; the ancient ancestor of the horses first taken to the new world by Spanish conquistadors, as well as being one of the founding breeds of the modern Andalucian horse.

These trails are led by experienced guide Manolo who also operates our trails in Almeria and the Sierra Nevada. Manolo has over 25 years experience in the equestrian tourism industry of southern Spain, an experience which has taught him about all aspects of the trade, from teaching children and adults, to appreciating a good horse, delicious food, nice accommodation and the best features of Spanish equestrianism. He has spent years researching and setting up the existing routes for his trails, often opening up once again many forgotten paths in the area. Manolo's love of people, horses and nature are evidenced in each of his trips, offering guests a wonderful holiday where they can immerse themselves in Spanish culture, ride a beautiful Andalusian horse and most importantly, enjoy themselves. Manolo is both a skilled horseman and a kind, caring and attentive host who brings the trip together for guests.

The horses used on these trails are working Andalucian and Hispano-Arab stock from stables local to El Rocio. They have a slight build and some have docked tails, but they are all very nimble, sturdy and hard working with good minds for the trail. As the horses are from working cattle and horse farms in the region they do mostly wear the traditional saddles and bridles typical of the Spanish riding style.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Accommodation during the trail is provided in comfortable guesthouses and hotels along the trail route. The accommodations have been selected for their charm and situation, some are 4*.

The first, second and last nights of the trail are spent in a quaint guesthouse named "El Toruño" near to the town of El Rocio. The third and fourth nights at a 4* hotel in Villamanrique which has a more modern twist. The other nights are spent at a charming hotel in Almonte, on the Camino del Mar and at a hotel close to the beach in Magazón.

Rooms are generally double or twin, but single rooms are possible at an additional cost.

The food on this trail ride will be typical Spanish fare, with plenty of opportunities for guests to enjoy traditional local dishes at meal times. Even the picnic lunches will be in the Andalucian style - no packed lunch sandwiches here!

Dishes at lunch and dinner are mostly centred around pork, fish and vegetables. Breakfast is traditionally a simple meal in Spain, but in the hotels and guesthouses, these are altered somewhat in order to suit visiting guests tastes. Lunch will also be fairly simple but offer a variety of meze style dishes for guests to sample. The evening meal is considered the most important meal of the day in Spanish culture - generally eaten late, it is usually a grand affair with multiple courses and accompanied by plenty of tasty local wine!

Vegetarian and other speciality diets can be accommodated by prior notice.

 

Activities

Although the riding trails are not marketed towards non-riders, partners and family who wish to join the trail and not ride a horse can do so on an accommodation and board only basis. However, please note that they must be prepared to hire a car, as no alternative activities will be offered during the day.

The regions of El Rocio and the Doñana National Park are superb for those interested in outdoor pursuits. The parks offer miles of tracks and trails perfect for hiking and cycling. For lovers of nature, the Doñana national park has been recognised as one of the most biodiverse areas in southern Spain, with an abundant bird, insect, amphibian and fish life to discover.

 

Further Details

Languages: English and Spanish

Health requirements: All riders must be relatively fit for this trail. It is advised that you are either riding or exercising regularly prior to taking part in this trail ride. The region can be very hot and dry, especially in the summer months of April to Septemebr.

Age limit: 14+ for the trail. Please note that there are no ponies, so all younger guests must be comfortable to ride horses.

Tuition: None.

Included: Accommodation, meals, drinking water and wine or beer with meals, riding, Sevilla airport transfers.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, extra drinks, personal expenses not mentioned above and transfers outside of the set times.

 

Travel Information

Group transfers from Seville airport are included in the cost of the stay, provided you are ready in the arrivals hall of the airport by 6 pm at the latest on arrival day. The transfer time from Seville to your first night's accommodation is approx. 1,5 hours.

Transfer from Malaga can also be organised at an additional cost of 250€ for a car of up to 4 pax. Transfer time from here is approx. 3,5 hours.

Airport: Seville

Alternative Airport: Malaga

 

Programmes


El Rocio to Doñana Trail



This beautiful trail ride will take you through the land where the horse is still king. Beginning in the historic town of El Rocio - site of the annual pilgrimage of Andalucia mares, "La Saca de las Yeguas" - you will head into the Donana National Park riding through salt marshes, pine forests and agricultural land which has all played part in the shaping of the pursuit of equestrianism in Spain.

Please note: the following itinerary may be subject to change, without warning, due to circumstances beyond the organiser's control.

Day 1: El Rocio

On arrival at Seville airport, you will be met by the driver by 6 pm at the very latest and transferred the 1,5 h to El Rocio. Once settled into your accommodation there will be a chance to meet with your guide and companions to go over the itinerary for the week, cover any safety aspects which you might need to consider and to enjoy a delicious first typical Spanish dinner.

Overnight in hotel Toruño.

Day 2: Where the Horse is King

Following breakfast this morning, you will meet with your horses and begin to head out towards Los Taranjales. The region is very well known for its horses - a cradle for some of the most excellent examples. Here can be found some of the country's greatest breeders of fine P.R.E. (Pura Raza Espana) and Anglo Arabians horses.

During the ride, you will use some of the routes often used by "Los Yegūerizos" - the name given to the horsemen who care for the mares - during the famous "Saca de las Yeguas" - the drifting and sorting of all the mares of the region held in the centre of El Rocio at the beginning of each summer.

Dinner and overnight will be back in El Rocio tonight.

Riding time c. 4,5 hours.

Day 3: Pilgrimage of the Noble Courts

Today you will set off from El Rocio following one of the pilgrimage routes from Seville which is used by the holy during the festival of the Virgin of the Dew (Virgen del Rocio). The road is named "Le Raya Real" - the royal strip - and stretches between El Rocio and Seville via Vilamanrique. The road is almost straight and is covered in sand, traditionally ridden down by the kings and his court with their horses and cattle during the festival.

On the way, you will pass the "Palacio del Rey" - the palace of the king - a beautiful old lodge building where the king's court would assemble for the great hunts and entertainment organised in the national park. As you venture closer to Villamnrique, the land space will change to flat open, lush pasture; the perfect breeding ground for horses and cattle. You may well spot the local "Vaqueros" or "Yeguarizos" tending to their herds in the traditional manner, on horseback.

Dinner and overnight in Villamanrique.

Riding time c. 5,5 hours.

Day 4: Land of Horses and Bulls

Today's ride will take you across the heartland of the Spanish "Doma Vequera" - here is the region known for the best horse riders, the bravest horses and the best bulls. The region has been the birthplace of some of Spain's greatest competitive riders in a broad variety of disciplines.

During the ride, you will pass farms well know for breeding Iberian horses and fields of free-roaming "Torros Bravos" - the brave bulls.

Dinner and overnight back in Villamanrique.

Riding time c. 5-5,5 hours.

Day 5: Salt Marshes and Winelands

Today's ride will see you head through the borderlands between the agricultural landscape of the region and the tangled salt marshes which mark the distinction between the wilderness of the Doñana reserve. On this day you will appreciate how the taming of horses allowed the local people to cultivate this land and make use of it's rich resources by farming, grapes for wine, olives for oil and cereal crops for food and for their strong cattle. The day will end in the heart of the Doñana national park, in the town of Almonte and tonight you will dine in an old winery considered to be one of the finest producers of wines and cognacs in the region.

Overnight in Almonte.

Riding time c. 5,5 hours.

Day 6: The Wild Dońana

Today will be your first venture into the truly wild heart of the Doñana national park. Along the way, you will witness the herds of freely grazing Marismeño horses and Mostrenca cattle, as well as a whole host of native and migratory bird species. Halfway you will stop in the historic forest village of Cabezudos for a brief rest before continuing all the way to the Atlantic coast. On arriving at Mazagon beach you will have some time to spend near the water's edge and to admire the view out to sea from the old watchtower "Torre Vigia del Loro" - a place from where once pillaging pirate ships would have been sighted.

Dinner and overnight in Mazagón.

Riding time c. 5,5 hours.

Day 7: Pilgrimage to El Rocio

Today will offer you a shorter ride as you follow the old pilgrimage routes joining the coast to the town of El Rocio, from where you began your journey five days ago. You will ride along firebreaks in the national park and join the sanded roads leading all the way back to the town.

Some free time in the afternoon can see you enjoying a well-deserved rest, some shopping, or to take a tour of the town. 

Dinner and overnight will be back here in El Rocio.

Riding time c. 3,5 hours.

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Seville airport to coincide with the flight time of the earliest departing guest.



Accommodation: Nights 1, 2 & 7: Hotel Toruño (El Rocio)
Nights 3 & 4: Guesthouse Andrea Purpurea 4* (Villamanrique)
Night 5: Apart Hotel Camino del Mar (or similar in Almonte)
Night 6: Hotel Mazagonia (or similar in Mazagón)
Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: Intermediate and above: all riders on this trail should be comfortable riding at a walk, trot and canter on forward going and fit Spanish bred horses.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: 3.5 - 5.5 hours riding each day.
Departure dates: 2018: 18-25 March, 2-9 September, 30 September-7 October & 4-11 November.
 
Pricing: 2018:

£1187 per person

Price includes 7 nights twin/double room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, water, wine or beer with meals, 6 days of riding as per the itinerary, as well as return group Seville airport transfers at set-times.

Supplement for a guaranteed single room: 180€ (EUR) to be paid on arrival.



Jerez Festival of the Horse



This programme will give guests the chance to enjoy a short trail in the Huelva region of southern Andalucia and through the beautiful Doñana National Park, often considered to be the birthplace of the modern-day P.R.E horse breed. This unique itinerary will combine the glorious landscape and nature of the national park with the splendour and vibrancy of the famous Horse Fair in Jerez, as well as offering guests the chance to attend an evening performance at the Jerez School of Equestrian Art.

The festival in Jerez has been established here for over 500 years, dating back to the times when locals would bring their horses and cattle to the town in order to sell and trade under the rule of King Alfonso X El Sabio (King Alfonso the wise). The festival now runs in May each year, offering locals the chance to show-off their fine horses and skill of horse training. Both the festival and Jerez have become synonymous with the Spanish horse, Flamenco and Sherry, each year attracting crowds by the thousands to marvel at the regions best horses and riders as they parade around the town.

The first half of the week will see you riding from El Rocio and through the Doñana national park to learn - firsthand - all about the ancestry of these marvellous horses and their brave riders.

* Please note that the following itinerary may be subject to change, without prior warning, due to circumstances beyond our and the trail organisers control.

May 6th: El Rocio

Guests will be met at Seville airport and transferred as a group to El Rocio. You will need to have landed and come through security before 6 pm at the very latest, so please plan flights accordingly.

You will be transferred the 1,5 hours to El Rocio where you will have the chance to settle into your accommodation before joining your host, guide and other guests for a short pre-ride briefing to go over the week's itinerary, receive any safety instructions and discuss any questions you might have before setting off. Following this, you will be able to enjoy your first delicious typical Spanish dinner.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in El Rocio.

May 7th: Where the Horse is King

Today you will mount up your horses and enjoy a ride through the region surrounding El Rocio. This area has become famous as one of the best places to find quality P.R.E (Pura Raza Espana) and Anglo Arabian horses in the whole of Spain. During the ride you will follow tracks used by the "Yeguerizos" - the local herdsmen - who care for and gather the mares for the famous annual "Saca de las Yeguas"; the Andalucian horse drift at the beginning of each summer that gives local people the chance to check and sort the mares in preparation for the summer sales.

Dinner and overnight back in El Rocio.

Riding time c. 4,5 hours.

May 8th: Pilgrimage of the Noble Courts

Today you will depart from El Rocio and follow the "Raya Real" - the royal strip - which stretches between El Rocio and Seville via Vilamanrique. This is one of the main pilgrimage routes from Seville which is used by the holy during the festival of the Virgin of the Dew (Virgen del Rocio). The road is almost straight and is covered in sand, historically used by the old kings of Spain the royal court accompanied by their horses and cattle-drawn carts during the lead-up to the festival.

You will pass the "Palacio del Rey" - the palace of the king - a beautiful old lodge building where the king's court would assemble for the great hunts and entertainment they would organise in the Doñana national park. As you move closer to Villamanrique, the scenery will change to flat, open, lush pasture; the perfect breeding ground for horses and cattle. You may well spot the local "Vaqueros" (or "Yeguerizos") who will be tending to their herds in the traditional manner, on horseback.

Dinner and overnight in Villamanrique.

Riding time c. 5,5 hours.

May 9th: Salt Marshes and Winelands

Today you will leave Villamanrique behind and begin heading toward the coastal town of Almonte. You will head through the borderlands between the agricultural landscape of the region and the tangled salt marshes which mark the distinction between the wilderness of the Doñana reserve. On this day you will learn about and begin to appreciate how the taming of indigenous wild horses allowed the local people to cultivate this land and make use of its rich resources by farming; grapes for wine, olives for oil and cereal crops for food and for their strong cattle. The day will end in the heart of the Doñana national park, in the town of Almonte and tonight you will dine in an old winery considered to be one of the finest producers of wines and cognacs in the region.

Overnight in Almonte.

Riding time c. 5,5 hours.

May 10th: The Wild Doñana

Today's ride will mark your first venture into the truly wild heart of the Doñana national park. You may be fortunate enough to spot the herds of freely grazing Marismeño horses and Mostrenca cattle, as well as a whole host of native and migratory bird species. Around midday, you will stop in the historic forest village of Cabezudos for a brief rest and a picnic lunch before continuing all the way to the Atlantic coast. On arriving at Mazagón beach you will have some time to spend near the water's edge and to admire the view out to sea from the old watchtower "Torre del Loro" - a place from where once pillaging pirate ships would have been sighted.

Dinner and overnight in Mazagón.

Riding time c. 5,5 hours.

May 11th: Manzanilla and the Equestrian Art

After breakfast, you will transfer by road to your accommodation during the festival, the hotel Arizón Palace 4* in San Lucar. It is estimated you will reach here by 1 pm and have some time to settle your bags before a late lunch in San Lucar de Barrameda, in front of the beach. This particular stretch of coastline is famous for beach horse racing and the town is well know for Manzanilla (a specific type of sherry). You will have some free time in the afternoon to look around the town or spend on the beach.

At approx. 7 pm, you will meet your guide and transfer to Jerez to attend a tasting dinner of "New Andalusian" cuisine. This will be followed by an evening performance at the School or Equestrian Art in Jerez at approx. 10 pm.

Transfer back to your hotel at approx. 12 midnight.

May 12th: The Jerez Horse Fair

Breakfast at your hotel in San Lucar followed by a group transfer to Jerez and your first taste of the festival atmosphere. This morning you will take a tour around the town in horse-drawn carriages - the perfect way to see the town during the festival.

You will join one of the local horse breeders in their "Caseta" - private home for the duration of the fair - for a light lunch. The afternoon will be free to watch some of the horses and riders, as well as browse the stalls of seemingly endless Spanish boots, tack and other leather goods and sample some of the tasty street food.

You will meet up with your guide and fellow guests for an evening dinner and fabulous flamenco show in the heart of the city - a great way to end a great week!

Transfer back to the hotel at approx. 12 midnight.

May 13th: Departure

Following breakfast this morning, you will take a group transfer back to Seville airport in accordance with the flight time of the earliest departing guest (no earlier than 7 am).



Accommodation: Nights 1 & 2: Hotel Toruño (El Rocio)
Night 3: Guesthouse Andrea Purpurea 4* (Villamanrique)
Night 4: Apart Hotel Camino del Mar (or similar in Almonte)
Night 5: Hotel Mazagonia (or similar in Mazagón)
Nights 6 & 7: Hotel Palacio Arizon 4* in San Lucar de Barrameda.
Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: Intermediate and above: all riders on this trail should be comfortable riding at a walk, trot and canter on forward going and fit Spanish bred horses.
Type of ride: Trail.
Total riding time: 3,5 - 5,5 hours per day for 4 days.
Departure dates: 2018: 6-13 May
 
Pricing: 2018:

£1275 per person

Price includes 7 nights twin/double room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, water and wine or beer with meals, 4 days of riding as per the itinerary, as well as return group Seville airport transfers at set-times. During the days at the festival in Jerez, you will attend an evening performance at the School of Equestrian Art with pre-show tasting dinner, enjoy a carriage ride through the streets of Jerez, as well as a dinner and Flamenco show.

Single room supplement of 180€ (EUR) payable directly for those who do not wish to share a room.