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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

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 9 riders per group
  • Average of 20 kilometres riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95kg / 210 lbs / 15 st.
    more info Slightly heavier riders may be possible on consultation with horse team - please enquire.

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 is 1 itinerary:

  • Faial Island Trail 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. Slightly heavier riders may be possible on consultation with horse team - please enquire.

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.

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

Meghan K., July 1, 2022

This riding holiday was amazing! The lodge was beautiful and had everything we needed. The riding itself was incredible. The team managed the riding very well, at points with numerous riders, the guides were very experienced and thoughtful and everything was geared around the safety of both riders and horses. The trails had a good variety of terrain (and always incredible views!) which made each day interesting. Overall I loved my experience and the people I met on the trail as well as all of the staff! My favourite memory was probably either cantering through the fields of Faial or getting to ride up around the volcano craters.


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

Jan. 8, 2023 - Jan. 15, 2023

Feb. 12, 2023 - Feb. 19, 2023

March 12, 2023 - March 19, 2023

At any time during: April 1, 2023 - Oct. 31, 2023  (Flexible arrivals/departures)

Nov. 12, 2023 - Nov. 19, 2023

Pricing

2023
Sharing, High Season (1 Jun - 30 Sept)
£1565 $1895 €1760
2023
Sharing, Mid Season (1 Apr - 31 May, 1-31 October)
£1520 $1840 €1710
2023
Sharing, Low Season (1 Jan - 31 Mar, 1 Nov - 31 Dec)
£1440 $1745 €1625
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

2023 - Accommodation Upgrade £80 $97 €90
Paid to Far and Ride
Upgrade to apartment with kitchenette, living room and private terrace, per person sharing per week.
2023 - Single Supplement; High Season (1 Jun - 30 Sept) £325 $395 €370
Paid to Far and Ride
* Must be paid by anyone travelling alone.
2023 - Single Supplement; Low Season (1 Jan - 31 Mar, 1 Nov - 31 Dec) £200 $240 €225
Paid to Far and Ride
* Must be paid by anyone travelling alone.
2023 - Single Supplement; Mid Season (1 Apr - 31 May, 1-31 October) £275 $335 €310
Paid to Far and Ride
* Must be paid by anyone travelling alone.
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.