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Azores - Faial Island Trails

Overview

This welcoming quinta, based on the island of Faial in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, offers a choice of trails. Guests are accommodated in a comfortable lodge or guesthouse whilst on the trail, sampling local Azorean cuisine and riding a beautiful Lusitano or cro…

Highlights

  • Flexible packages and choice of trails
  • Fabulous new lodge with great Atlantic views
  • Well schooled, sure footed horses including Lusitano
  • Host of other activities including whale watching

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 9 riders per group
  • Average of 20 kilometres riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95kg / 210 lbs / 15 st

Description

This welcoming quinta, based on the island of Faial in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, offers a choice of trails. Guests are accommodated in a comfortable lodge or guesthouse whilst on the trail, sampling local Azorean cuisine and riding a beautiful Lusitano or crossbreed around the island. Faial is famed for the beautiful hydrangeas which bloom across the land and it offers magnificent scenery from the blue ocean to the bright green meadows and black basalt beaches. The Azores are also one of the best places for whale/dolphin watching as the large marine mammals migrate past the islands - if you are lucky you may see them from the clifftops whilst riding - or you can book a whale-watching boat trip for closer sightings.

The week-long trails that circumnavigate the island and these are on offer all year round with no set arrival day. During the trail rides, the horses are stationed at paddocks or stables along the riding route each evening, whilst riders return to the guesthouse. The trails are primarily suited towards intermediate riders and above but less experienced riders may be accommodated by prior arrangement.

Faial is a wonderful island to explore and can offer a host of other activities such as diving, hiking, golf, sailing, swimming, water sports and even whale watching! This makes it a great choice for couples or families who may have different interests. You can also do a bit of 'island hopping' and visit Pico and Sao Jorge nearby. The climate is warm and mild (though humid) with temperatures suitable for riding all year long.

Horses & Riding

Tack

The horses are all ridden in purpose-made Prestige trekking saddles, which are incredibly comfortable for long hours of riding. Some of the horses are ridden in bitless bridles and all are accustomed to a loose rein. Saddlebags and Australian raincoats are available for guests to use.

Horses

The horses are all Lusitanos and Lusitano Crosses (Cruzado). The horses are calm, well-mannered, fit for the trails and able to cope with the hilly and varied terrain. They live out together all year long in the meadows or in a large open barn if a shelter is needed during the wettest winter weather.

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Faial Island Trail is a based ride
  • New Year Ride is a based ride

Ages

Riders must be 16 or older (please request if you child is younger).

Health

General good health recommended.

Weight

95kg / 210 lbs / 15 st

Food & Accommodation

Food

The quinta serves delicious organic meals with most of the ingredients being produced on the island. Everything is fresh, natural and healthy, such as juice from Faial's fruit, milk from the local farmer, warm bread from the village bakery and homemade marmalades and yoghurt.Lunch is often a picnic carried in saddlebags, consisting of typical Azorean snacks.

Dinners are cooked by the quinta's chef and are accompanied by local wines. Ingredients include high quality fish and meat alongside fresh vegetables and salad grown in their own garden. Dessert is usually fruit or a sweet made by according to a traditional recipe. Portuguese coffee is served afterwards.

Accommodation

Accommodation is in a new lodge which has been designed using local materials in a traditional style. There are five rooms with wonderful views of the Atlantic and the three neighbouring islands as well as a lovely garden to relax in. This is a great place to admire the marvellous views.

Itineraries

Faial Island Trail Standard accommodation.

New Year Ride Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

Diving, hiking, whale watching, sailing, cycling, golf, walking, mountain climbing, fishing. There is plenty for non riders and it is possible for bikers to join the horse riders for a picnic lunch.

Travel

Faial is located in the central group of the Azores archipelago. You can arrive only by plane. There are direct flights with SATA-Air Azores between Lisbon and Faial (Horta Airport). Transfers are included at the start and end of the riding programmes.

FlyTap (Air Portugal) also offer code-share flights to Horta so you can add your UK-Lisbon flight with no layover.

It is also possible to get to Pico Island with SATA from Lisbon and then take a ferryboard to Faial (30 minutes)

Testimonials

Kate M., Jan. 25, 2019

An incredible experience - beautiful place, lovely people, stunning views, amazing rides and loved the horses! Couldn't fault the horses at all! Equipment was more than adequate - was surprised at how comfortable the saddles were. (Favourite memory?) The canters down these beautiful paths and the bond you build with your horse. The holiday was perfect - nothing to improve.


Malcolm T., Oct. 9, 2015

Horses and tack were perfect. Guides perfect and friendly. (Favourite memory?) The superb scenery.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

Arrive on one of the most attractive Azorean islands into Horta airport. You will be transferred by land rover to your accommodation at the lodge. You can meet the horses and have a brief introduction about the trail for the week ahead before enjoying a typical Azorean dinner at the Quinta.

Day 2 - History of Whales

Riding: 20 kilometres

Today starts by learning about whales and their history on the island of Faial. You are then introduced to your horse and your equipment before setting out on the trail. Start on gently rising meadow paths and after a short time, you begin the first trot and canter. Your destination is a whale watching point, where with a little luck and when the sea is calm, you can see whales and dolphins. Return to the lodge along the steep coast where a delicious lunch is waiting for you.

In the afternoon you ride to two small whaling harbours. If the weather is good, you can swim here. Leave the horses for the night in a small hamlet and transfer back to the lodge for a drink at the bar before dinner.

Day 3 - Lighthouse Trail and Horta

Riding: 14 kilometres

Today you can learn about the impact of the 1998 earthquake on Faial. You are transferred to the horses early in the morning and start your trail by riding along the coast through blue hydrangea hedges. Reach the island's former lighthouse, which was destroyed in the earthquake - the nearby village still has a crumbling church that testifies to the power of the earthquake. Around noon you reach the horses rest area where there is time for a saddlebag picnic.

You are then transferred to the town of Horta. You will be able to discover this colourful and cosmopolitan port town on foot, take a walk along the sailing harbour and find secluded spots in the town. Maybe stop for a gin and tonic in the famous Peter Café Sport Bar?

In high season (April-October) you will have the option to meet a team of marine biologists and set out with them to the ocean in a powerfully motorised zodiac boat. More than 30 different whales and dolphins can be encountered in the ocean surrounding Faial. It is a wonderful experience to be so close to the largest mammals in the world. (Extra costs paid locally for this).

In the evening you are transferred back to the lodge, where dinner is waiting for you.

Day 4 - Caldeira of Faial

Riding: 30 kilometres

Another early start today as you head to one of the top highlights of the Azores, Faial’s crater, the Caldeira. It is located at an altitude of over 1,000m in the centre of the island and is a real challenge for rider and horse. Sometimes you will meet farmers along the way with their cows. The Heather trees along your route look like giant broccoli and the Atlantic Ocean glitters in the sun. You slowly ride up to the crater rim via switchback tracks until eventually reaching the 400m deep and 2,500m wide crater. (If you want to extend your trail vacation, you can descend into the depths of the crater with a nature park guide on a different day and at extra cost).

After the saddlebag picnic you ride through the lonely and wild landscape of the high mountains. Your trail leads over farm roads and down to a small volcano whose inner crater you can reach on foot through a small tunnel. A very special atmosphere awaits you in this tunnel.

In the late afternoon you arrive at the Jungle Camp where you leave the horses. The transfer to the lodge is already waiting for you and you return to well-earned dinner.

Day 5 - Faja Bay

Riding: 17 kilometres

Faja-Bay is a hidden bay where the islanders have grown wine and fruit for 500 years. On your way there you pass small adegas, which are local wine houses with their vineyards. Riding through dense jungle you reach the black lava beach of Fajã Bay - a magical, romantic world of its own. Small lava stone houses, well-tended gardens and a wild sea await you and your saddlebag picnic area is right by the sea.

A wonderful canter takes you back to the jungle camp in the afternoon. Today, like every evening, there is a thematic dinner that allows you to sample the tasty cuisine of the Azores.

Day 6 - Capelinhos Volcano

Riding: 20 kilometres

Today the trail leads through a mystical jungle landscape where you can enjoy fantastic canters close to the coastline. Extensive vineyards, but also small adegas line your way as you follow narrow tracks close to the shore. Eventually you reach another top highlight of the Azores, the volcano of Capelinhos, which erupted in 1957. Desert-like solitude awaits you with an old whaling village covered with the ash from the volcano. Hidden under the buried lighthouse is the modern interpretation centre that reports on the volcanism of the Azores and the eruption of the volcano. You combine your saddlebag picnic with a visit to this attraction.

After lunch you ride over parts of the volcano to reach the Jungle Camp in the late afternoon. The transfer back to the lodge is already waiting here.

Day 7 - Canyon Trail

Riding: 17 kilometres

Today is the last day of the trail as you cross the island from the dry south to the green north with magnificent views over terraced pastures down to the blue ocean. Extended canters lead to the highest village on the island, Ribeira Funda. A typical Azorean picnic is waiting for you directly above the 300m deep canyon. Let the sun warm you, listen to the wind and the wild cries of the buzzards circling over the deep gorge.

In the afternoon the route takes you along yam fields and through a small, wild and romantic valley to return to the lodge. A big farewell dinner with wine tasting heralds the end of this fascinating trail week.

Day 8 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight. With the early flight from Faial back to Lisbon you should be able to connect with an afternoon flight home. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay on the island to explore further - please ask for details.

Accommodation

Each night is spent at the newly renovated lodge with 5 guest rooms which offer views over the Atlantic ocean.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate onwards, capable of riding at all paces over a variety of different terrain.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 9
Departure windows

At any time during: April 1, 2021 - Oct. 31, 2021  (Flexible arrivals/departures)

Nov. 14, 2021 - Nov. 21, 2021

Jan. 9, 2022 - Jan. 16, 2022

Feb. 13, 2022 - Feb. 20, 2022

March 13, 2022 - March 20, 2022

At any time during: April 1, 2022 - Oct. 31, 2022  (Flexible arrivals/departures)

Nov. 13, 2022 - Nov. 20, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
Low Season (November - March); Sharing
£1280 $1750 €1495
2021/2022
High Season (April - October); Sharing
£1365 $1870 €1595
Included 7 nights accommodation in a double bedroom, all transfers during the programme, airport transfers, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, house wine and soft drinks with picnic lunch, 6 days riding with an experienced trail guide and activities as described in the itinerary.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, other drinks, extra activities, tips and personal expenses.

Extras

2021/2022 - Accommodation Upgrade £86 $117 €100
Paid to Far and Ride
Upgrade to apartment with kitchenette, living room and private terrace, per person sharing per week.
2021/2022 - Single Supplement, High Season (April-October) £270 $365 €315
Paid to Far and Ride
* Must be paid by anyone travelling alone.
2021/2022 - Single Supplement, Low Season (November-March) £196 $265 €225
Paid to Far and Ride
* Must be paid by anyone travelling alone.
2021 - Group booking discount 15% discount for groups of 4 or more travelling together.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your accommodation at Patio Lodge. In the evening there is a welcome dinner with your group.

Day 2 - The trail to the old lighthouse

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Today you will have your first experience of this beautiful landscape surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. You will arrive at the forest park Cabouco, where a typical Azorean picnic is waiting for you. Canter through meadows surrounded by hedges full of Hydrangea flowers and arrive at the old Lighthouse Farol da Riberinha. From here the view of the Pico volcano is stunning. The day ends with a nice dinner back at the lodge.

Day 3 - The trail to Capelo

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

This morning you will ride up a mountain ridge and canter along with great views of the island forests. In the village of Ribeira Funda, you stop for a delicious lunch in a small island tavern. In the afternoon green fields will take you to the mysterious zone of Capelo, where you will ride through the jungle like trails towards the paddock for the evening. Dinner will be served for you at the end of the day back at the lodge

Day 4 - The volcano trail

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Today the trail leads you to the impressive landscape of the Capelinhos volcano. You will see the lighthouse made famous by the pictures of the 1957-58 eruption and also ride past the ruins of buildings covered by the eruption. There is also an award winning underground Volcano Museum. After a lunch break and a drink, you will have a long canter around the green volcano, Canbeço Verde. The horses will settle to their paddock for the night and you to be able to return to the lodge to unwind and enjoy a wonderful evening meal with typical Azorean products.

Day 5 - Horta and New Year

Riding: No riding.

Today the horses will have a rest day and you will visit the port town of Horta. There will be a chance for a sight-seeing tour and to walk through the streets, visit the harbour and then take lunch near the beach of Porto Pim. As a conclusion to the tour, you can enjoy a gin & tonic in the world-famous sailing club "Peter Café Sport". In the early afternoon, you will drive back to the lodge. Time to relax. In the evening you go back to the city ready to enjoy the Azorean New Year's Eve menu in a cosy restaurant. Just before midnight, the New Year fireworks in the harbour light up with music and sparkling wine. During this special night, you are looking forward to 2021 with a view of the endless ocean.

Day 6 - Brunch and New Year ride

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

This morning after being served brunch you will ride out to the black sand beach of Fajã. The area is surrounded by both tropical gardens and vineyards. Afterwards, you will ride back to the lodge in time for dinner.

Day 7 - The mountain village of Ribeira Funda

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

Today is the last part of your trail. You will cross the island from the dry south to the green north, enjoying views over terraced meadows down to the blue ocean. At lunchtime you will arrive in the highest located village on the island; Ribeira Funda. Here you will enjoy a picnic at the Miradouro viewpoint. Sitting on a stone bench warmed-up by the sun, you will listen to the wind and to the buzzards. After a stop at the old Whale-Watching-Point of Vigia Dos Cedros, you will ride back to the lodge for a delicious farewell meal.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

In the morning you will have one last breakfast before heading on to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

Each night is spent at the newly renovated lodge with 5 guest rooms which offer views over the Atlantic ocean.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate onwards, capable of riding at all paces over a variety of different terrain.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 9
Departure windows

Dec. 26, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022

Dec. 27, 2022 - Jan. 3, 2023

Pricing

2021
Sharing
£1280 $1750 €1495
Included 7 nights accommodation, 5 days of riding, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, a drink with meals, activities as described, airport transfers.
Not included Flights, additional drinks, extra activities, insurance, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2021 - Single Supplement £196 $265 €225
Paid to Far and Ride
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.