Type of horses:
Hispano-Arab, Anglo Arab and Andalusian.
Nature of horses:
The horses are excellent quality, fun, spirited, well trained and very fit.
Height of horses:
Good quality English tack
Andalucia offers the chance to ride through some of the most unimaginable scenery, combining beautiful nature with the most ancient traditions. Covering the area to the West of Seville, these trails will offer riders the opportunity to witness the changing landscape as you move from the green and verdant country of the Andalucian plains, to the dramatic and rugged stretch of the Atlantic Coastline.
The area to the south-west of Seville is well known for its abundant and fertile farming land, studded with olive groves and orange trees, as well as being a famous religious pilgrimage or Romería during the second day of the Christian Pentecost. Every year since 1653, pilgrims from all over Seville and further afield in Andalucia have turned out on horseback to follow the Caminos to El Rocío - the roads to El Rocío. Considered an international horse village, all the houses here are painted white in homage to the sacred "Virgen del Rocío", each one featuring its own stables and every street, a sanded track. In recent years, the Romería has brought together roughly a million pilgrims and their horses - many of them highly prized Andalucian stallions.
However, the region is also famous for a very different reason. The Donana National Park is a vast protected marshland covering over 100,000 hectares between Seville and the south-western Atlantic Coast, following the course of the Guadalquivir river. Established as a nature reserve in 1969, the park boasts a level of biodiversity that is unique to any country in Europe. Due to the exceptional qualities of the park, there are a huge number of migratory European and African birds who call this place home, alongside a number of species of deer, wild boar, small mammals and endangered species such as the Spanish Eagle and Iberian Lynx.
Maria, your host, has arranged this ride in conjunction with Alfonso, a great horseman and guide who is also an expert in dressage and the traditional Doma Vaquera style of riding. Both he and Maria are at home with the customs, natural history and culture of the region and this makes her a wonderful travel companion throughout the holiday. They have been running trails in the region for many years, but have just this year received the exclusive rights to ride through the Donana National Park - the only riding tour operator to be granted such privileged rights. This has allowed them to put together trails which allow you to ride straight through the park to the Atlantic coast.
Accommodation and lodging on these trails has been selected for its high quality and fantastic, authentic character. The Cortijo de La Corbera, where your trails will begin and end, offers beautiful accommodation in a traditional Spanish Finca, with 8 charming bedrooms with all facilities. The Cortijo Ardea Purpurea (Purple Heron), nestled within the boundaries of the Doñana Park, has been built to reflect the regions more rural style, with character thatched roof and exposed wood beams inside. This place has the feeling of a comfortable country lodge. In the magical horse village of El Rocio, you will be accommodated at the Hotel Pato Malvasía. Originally one of the grand traditional houses of the area, it has now been restored to a wonderful and comfortable hotel of a very high class and offers some stunning views of the wildlife reserve and marshlands. On the final two nights you will stay at the luxurious Parador of Mazagón 4*. Situated right on the glorious Atlantic coastline the hotel offers some enviable views out across the ocean and direct access to the beach. This is the perfect location to relax, with a beautiful private garden, swimming pool and on-site spa - a great way to unwind after your ride.
**All hotels offer complimentary Wi-Fi.
A support vehicle will accompany rider throughout the trip, meeting the group for aperitifs, lunch stops and in the evenings. All your meals and aperitifs are included are of an excellent standard and finish. The local cuisine is delightful and much consideration is put into the preparation of each of your meals so that you get the best experience of what the area has to offer. Lunch is typically a picnic, with a full set table and chairs... a small feast each and every day! Some of your lunches may be cooked on the spot in front of you, and others will be prepared in the local village bars or restaurants. Dinner at each of the hotels will feature a variety of typical and seasonal dishes for you to try. Vegetarian and specialist diets can be catered for by prior notification.
Typically the schedule for meals will be as follows; Breakfast served at around 8:30am, aperitifs at 12.30pm, Lunch at 2pm and dinner in the evening at 9pm.
As this is a point-to-point trail ride, you will find that you will be riding for the majority of the day. Non-riders can be catered for and will be able to meet up with the riding group fir meals and in the evening. However, they will also need to be happy to entertain themselves through the rest of the day.
For riders, there is usually a chance in the evenings to talk a walk in the local area or take advantage of your hotels facilities.
If you are spending longer in Spain, then taking some time to visit Seville is certainly recommended. As the capital of Andalucia, the city is the largest and also one of the oldest in Spain, offering some truly impressive architecture dating back to the Moorish era, as well as some influences from the Gothic and Baroque periods. Situated right on the beautiful river Guadalquivir, the city was also one of Spain's most prolific ports and the Old Town is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Languages: English and Spanish.
Health requirements: Reasonable health & fitness required. Must be able to cope with long hours in the saddle.
Age limit: No under 18's.
Included: Accommodation, all meals, water, wine and beer with meals, horse riding, set time transfers from Seville airport and all luggage transport by support vehicle.
Not included: Transfers outside of set times, drinks outside of meals, travel insurance, tips and flights.
British Airways, EasyJet and RyanAir fly to Seville throughout the year from many of the major London airports. Otherwise, it is possible to connect from many other capital cities in Europe.
Riders will be collected by group transfer from Sevilla AVE Santa Justa Train Station at 4pm, or from Sevilla airport between 4:30-5pm on the first Sunday of the ride.
Leaving the south of Seville, you will ride through the olive groves and orange trees of this beautiful region, stopping at private haciendas along the Caminos to El Rocío. Eventually you will continue through the Doñana National Park, through hidden lagoons, past shrub forests and sand dunes until you reach the most south westerly coast of Spain and the never ending beaches of Doñana.
Day 1: Sevilla - Cortijo la Corbera
You will be met at the train station or airport in Seville according to your preferred meeting point and transferred to the Equestrian Centre la Corbera, just south of Seville. On arrival you will receive a short introduction to the horses and stables will give you a chance to experience this beautiful Cortijo on a traditional Andalucian Estate with a short ride (c.1.5-2 hours). Sundowner drinks will then be available upon your return.
You will enjoy a tasty dinner with the group before settling into your rooms for the night, overlooking the fields and horses.
Day 2: Hacienda la Corbera - Hacienda la Indiana
Today you will enjoy a short ride in order to get to know your horses a little better and for them to get to know you too. Riding through the area's fantastic agricultural land and pine woods, you will get a great snapshot of what this area has to offer. Towards the end of the morning you will stop for a rest and aperitifs in the country before remounting and enjoying some faster riding around Hacienda la Indiana. In the afternoon you will enjoy a picnic lunch near the woods and then ride back to la Corbera with time to relax before dinner.
Day 3: Hacienda Torrequemada - Villamanrique de la Condesa - Ardea Purpurea
Today your ride will begin from Torrequemada a 14th century Hacienda typical of Andalucia. After a brief tour of the farm, which is a traditional stop for those taking part in the Pilgrimage to El Rocío, along the Camino de Triana (also the starting point of your trail ride). Passing through the estate's charming olive groves, you will soon reach the pine forests beyond and a chance to stop for a refreshing aperitif. Riding along the Camino de Triana a little way further, you will reach a secluded spot at the Dehesa de Torneros where the support vehicle and your picnic lunch will be awaiting you.
Refreshed and well rested, you will saddle up for the afternoon of riding by first crossing the river Quema, a spot where the pilgrims are traditionally baptised! Eventually you will head towards Villamanrique de la Condesa and the beautiful Cortijo Ardea Purpurea.
You will enjoy dinner and overnight at this charming guesthouse, which is dedicated to the Purple Heron due to its perfect location for birdwatching in the Doñana boundaries.
Day 4: Villamanrique - Palacio del Rey - El Rocío
Riding through the pine forests and the Dehesa de Boyal - a forest of beautiful holm oaks and cork trees - you will follow the Camino de Pilas through this bountiful farming land. Late morning you will enjoy a refreshing aperitif, before continuing through green pastures and past stunning Andalucian breeding farms. Eventually you will reach the Raya Real - an impressive wide sandy avenue surrounded by woods of pine, cork and eucalyptus and the point at which all the Caminos to El Rocío converge.
You will enjoy a tasty lunch near the glorious Palacio del Rey, a stunning hunting lodge built for Alfonos XIII - king of Spain from 1886 to 1931. After a well deserved rest, you will continue along the Raya Real through the afternoon, until you reach El Rocío. You will stay at a traditional house in El Rocío which has been converted into a comfortable hotel with stunning views of the marshlands beyond.
Day 5: El Rocío
Today you will enjoy a half day ride in El Rocío itself, often considered to be the international village of the horse. A visit to the church Ermita de la Virgen del Rocío will complete the pilgrimage and give you a taste of the scale of events which take place here. This village is unique due to the fact that it is almost designed with horses in mind - each house has stables and the streets are nothing but sand tracks - perfect for cantering. You will enjoy an aperitif near the river Ajolí, on the edge of the town, before heading back into El Rocío for lunch at a local restaurant. You will enjoy a free afternoon before dinner and overnight back at the Hotel Pato Malvasía.
Day 6: Camino de Monguer - Doñana Nature Reserve - Cabezudos
Today you will follow the Camino de Moguer which winds along the banks of the stream of La Rocina. The stream is considered "la Madre" - the mother - as it's waters feed the marshlands of the Doñana National Park and is an impressive 40 km in length. The stream is the heart of the Doñana and a veritable menagerie of wildlife can be spotted drinking along the banks, including many different species of birds, deer, wild boar as well as a huge number of plant species! An aperitif stop in the countryside, surrounded by pine trees - a favourite rest stop for the pilgrims heading the El Rocío from Huelva.
You will stop for lunch near the banks of the Rivatehilos lagoon passing through forests of Savin trees and indigenous mastic shrub.
In the afternoon you will ride through the abandoned village of Cabezudos, where you will leave the horses for the night and transfer by road to the Hotel Parador of Mazagón 4*. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 7: Cabezudos - Atlantic Coast - Mazagón
Today you and the horses will ride to the most westerly end of the Doñana National park where the marshlands will make way to sand dunes. This is a little known section of the park that comprises a unique beauty, featuring secluded lagoons, diverse heaths of wild shrub, rock roses, mastic, as well as aromatic rosemary and thyme. You will be able to spot some spectacular wildflowers in the early spring. You will enjoy your aperitif by the Laguna de la Piedras.
Slowly you will move away from the woodlands until you reach the dunes and the petrified forests of the Doñana reserve. From here you will enjoy a delicious picnic lunch atop the dunes, with your first views of the Atlantic coast beyond. Winding through the dunes, you will descend until the beautiful and expansive beach, with some 7 kms to enjoy exhilarating canters. A tasty farewell dinner and overnight back at the Parador of Mazagón.
Day 8: Sevilla
After breakfast you will be transferred back to Seville - either the airport or train station depending on your preference.
|Accommodation:||During the trail, you will spend two nights at the Cortijo la Corbera, one night at Cortijo Ardea Purpurea, two nights at Hotel Pato Malvasia and two nights at the Parador de Mazagón 4*.|
|Minimum group size:||6|
|Maximum group size:||12|
|Ability description:||Riders should have some trail riding experience and be happy to control at a horse at all paces and handle the horse on the ground.|
|Type of ride:||Trail.|
|Total riding time:||4-6 hours per day.|
|Departure dates:||2017: 19-26 February, 5-12 March, 19-26 March, 2-9 April, 16-23 April, 22-29 October, 5-12 November, 19-26 November.|
£2359 per person
Single supplement £169 per person (to be paid in cash on arrival).
Price includes seven nights shared accommodation in comfortable and charming hotels including the luxurious Parador of Mazagón 4*, six days riding, all meals, beer and wine with meals, aperitifs, a support vehicle and group transfers from and to Seville airport or train station at set times.