Magic of Istria riding holiday in Croatia - Far and Ride
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Magic of Istria, Croatia




Programmes


• Land and Sea Trail

 

Reviews



I was very surprised at how beautiful and unspoilt Istria is. The countryside is wonderful for horseriding. Your guide Petar is an experienced horseman and knows the area well. The horses are well trained by him and perfect for trail riding. The accommodation and food are first class.

Sue W
His humour, love of horses and curiosity make him a fun and welcoming host.

Emma: Far and Ride, Read review
Beautiful riding through unspoilt countryside, good company (we had a lot of fun) and plenty of tasty food - every meal was different. This is one that I would recommend others to take.

Caroline W.
We had a great time with lovely rides through amazing countryside. I had a perfect horse and found the old trail saddles surprisingly comfy! Looking forward to the next time!

Jill B.
This is a holiday with lasting memories of beautiful sights, great riding and new-found friends.

Emma T., Far and Ride, Read review
We all had a fantastic time, really enjoyed the riding week. We have been going on these riding breaks for several years now, and think we can honestly say this was the best so far. Accommodation was excellent, food was delicious, and riding and horses were wonderful. I think what we enjoyed most, and what made it different from other holidays we have had is partly the family run business, all worked really hard to make our holiday a success, and also the riding really showed us that area of Croatia, including visiting historical sites and lovely hilltop towns. We are seriously considering going back next year!!

Hilary T.
An excellent value trip. Charming accommodation which is nice and clean and in good order. I received a terrific welcome from the family and there is an excellent standard of home cooking. The routes on the trail are great, pacing is good. My horse was a stubborn brute but Petar made me lead for 3 days which was great. I certainly felt it helped my riding. Petar is a really sociable guy with his local friends which is fun and he has a good range of locations to stop at. A highly recommended trip.

David H.
Wonderfully varied trail on responsive horses, well organised with friendly hosts and good hearty food. Favourite memory? Riding Arabs/Thoroughbreds down the side of a river with plenty of canters and lovely scenery. Both guides were great, know the trails well and kept an eye on everybody. Clearly proud of the Istrian culture.

Kate G.
Fabulous. Extremely well planned - lots of things of interest plus nature/culture. Wild flowers and beautiful countryside, lovely food and accommodation was very good.

Barbara A.
I LOVED IT! Very well organised from start to finish. Fantastic trail and lovely horses - the ride description of forward-going but safe is a perfect way to describe these beautiful and sensitive horses. Totally fell in love. The trail itself was very varied terrain but more importantly in the full five days of the trail I reckon 10 cars passed us the whole time. Quiet and safe roads, tracks and open grassland - a perfect destination for a city girl! Excellent accommodation and the food was very tasty and plentiful. Slept like a log which for me isn't normal! All of the horses were very well trained, alert and yes, forward-going. I rode Andalucia and I still can't look at her photo without my bottom lip twitching! I hope that the staff never lose their genuine enjoyment of running the trails. This is not just a business, it is personal and they get so much from those around them, as we did from them.

Christine W.
This was an excellent first riding holiday - lovely place, people and horses.

Mirren K.
I found the holiday to be a total and utter joy: it was my first taste of a real riding holiday and I am hooked! Overall I would describe the holiday as hot, scenic, fun, varied and the best holiday I have had in my life so far.

Debra L.
Absolutely superb. Lovely horses, excellent food and beautiful surroundings.

Rebecca C.
Fast. Beautiful, Enjoyable and fun - 7 of us like-minded people ate, drank, played, ride and learnt a lot. All riders were good and some were excellent... Being guided completely changed the emphasis from map reading to enjoying the countryside and also quickened the ride pace too.Food was great throughout as was the coffee and the wine and chasers. Petar is a skilled horseman with a love of his horses beyond all else. He ate with us and showed us his youngsters and generally was great fun.

Anna S.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Arab crosses, English full blood crosses, draft crosses, local breeds and Appaloosa.

Nature of horses:

Well trained, forward going but safe.

Height of horses:

Average of 14.3 hh - 16.1 hh

Weight limit:

90kg

Tack type:

Trail saddles. Saddle bags provided.

 

Travel Advice



Please ensure you read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice before you travel.
 

Ride Description

Located in the north-west of Croatia, this friendly, family-run riding establishment is the ideal place from which to experience the charming Istrian countryside on horseback. Istria is a large peninsula shared by Croatia, Slovenia and Italy and is considered the largest green oasis in the Northern Adriatic. The region features a wonderland of impressive landscapes which offer varied riding terrain and the locals are known for being warm-hearted and welcoming, so you can expect to see many smiling faces! This is a beautiful land rich in history, dotted with Roman ruins, picturesque villages and hill-top towns, whilst the mild Mediterranean climate means warm, dry summers and mild, pleasant winters. The emphasis here is on exploring the area's natural beauties but cultural and historical points of interest are incorporated into the rides.

Your guides, Zeljko & Vanja, are experienced local horse-people with a herd of around fifteen horses to offer guests. The horses are a mixture of breeds and are specifically trained for the trails.

The ranch specialises in catering to small groups in order to ensure a quality riding experience and personal attention to each guest. During the rides you will journey across lush meadows and plateaus, exploring vineyards, olive groves and hidden valleys. The Istrian coast is veiled in enchanting pine woods whilst clear streams meander their way through mountain peaks to the crystal waters of the Adriatic Sea. It's no wonder that the Italians call Istria 'Terra Magica'.

If you're looking to ride in unspoilt, quiet countryside and enjoy a laid-back atmosphere, this destination could be the one for you. The accommodation is extremely comfortable and you will be well fed, enjoying the typical food and wine of the region. Far and Ride staff have been and sampled the incredible hospitality, not to mention the riding (of course!), and it comes highly recommended. We can also arrange self-catering accommodation if you wish to continue your holiday in this magical area!

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Accommodation varies during the week but most rooms are decorated in a traditional, rustic style but with more modern conveniences. All rooms have private bathrooms with showers and can be heated if necessary.

The first and last two nights are spent in apartments in Hrboki - there are three fully equipped apartments with double beds, plus a single. The rooms are spacious and heated. There is a courtyard garden, traditional style tavern with fireplace and a roofed patio dining area with BBQ facilities. The apartments are in the centre of Hrboki village but feel quite remote.

When in Karnevali you will stay in carefully decorated rooms with private bathrooms (with shower or bathtub). There is a swimming pool and a large living room with fireplace. Bedrooms are heated. Accommodation in Karojba is in rooms in a new, small, family-run hotel surrounded by nature. All rooms have private bathrooms with showers and can be heated. Kolinasi offers a rustic experience and you will sleep in a small hamlet with only a few houses. These are comfortable rooms with private bathrooms. Grasisce has more stylish rooms but with a touch of old times - you stay in a stone house in the centre of town. Rooms also have heating and private bathrooms.

Food plays an important part in Istrian culture and you can rest assured that you will be well-fed with wholesome, tasty ingredients. Meals here are traditionally made and created using local produce so as to leave you with a lasting impression of the region's countryside. The food is fresh and many products are grown on the farm or provided by the neighbours, such as fresh eggs. Despite Istrians being keen meat eaters, vegetarians can be taken care of for with prior notice. The local food is wholesome and often consists of home made thick soups (based on a variety of beans, herbs and potatoes), thin soups, meat stews (wild boar, beef, venison, rabbit, chicken) served with local varieties of pasta. Barbecues are also very popular and, weather permitting, an evening is planned with an outdoor bbq dinner. Locally made prsut (proscuitto) and cheese are very common. Local drinks include red and white wine and a variety of strong drinks, grappa, walnut brandy and biska (mistletoe liquor).

The meals are generally as follows:
Breakfast: fresh bread/rolls, ham, cheese, jam, eggs on request, seasonal fruit, tea and coffee.
Lunch: generally a picnic lunch of fresh sandwiches or perhaps a light snack in a local tavern, with water and homemade iced tea included.
Dinner: usually a hearty affair consisting of local specialties - the BBQ and the truffle dinner are particularly good! Some table wine is included.

 

Activities

This beautiful area offers an idyllic setting for hiking and biking around the local area. If relaxation is your preference then you can take it easy around the farm or take part in farm activities (depending on the season). If you are interested in hunting (game or birds) then excursions can be arranged and you can maybe even catch your own dinner, depending on the season.

Car hire is highly recommended on the stationary programme to explore the beauty and magic of the local area or to cross over the borders to Slovenia and Italy.

 

Further Details

Languages: English, German, Croatian, Italian, Spanish and some French is also spoken by the host.

Health requirements: Fit, healthy and able to withstand long hours in the saddle.

Age limit: 12+

Tuition: No.

Included: Accommodation, meals, some drinks with meals, horse riding, Pula airport transfers and activities/excursions mentioned in the programme.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, Trieste airport transfers, tips and extra drinks or services.

 

Travel Information

We highly recommend flights to Pula - Ryanair fly there from Stansted from 1st April and airport transfers are included. If you are flying to Trieste we would like to encourage guests to hire a car and we will provide direction assistance.

Low cost flights (may be seasonal) include:
Ryanair - Bristol to Trieste
Ryanair - Stansted to Pula and Trieste

Trieste airport transfers cost €200 round trip per car or €250 round trip per van.

OCTOBER: by October time the cheap flights in Pula have stopped running. In this case we recommend Ryanair flights from Stansted to Trieste and either car hire from there or a group transfer at additional cost.

Airport: Pula

Alternative Airport: Trieste (Ronchi)

 

Programmes


Land and Sea Trail



This is a magical trail programme with riding across unspoilt countryside and a visit to the coast. Rolling hills, open meadows, secret valleys, ancient towns and even a chance to swim with the horses are all included! You can expect warm hospitality, comfortable accommodation and traditional, local dishes to round off each fantastic day. The programme is primarily based out of the same accommodation but you will spend two nights staying elsewhere, getting a real taste of the local culture and exploring further afield. 

Day to Day Description

Day One: 

After arrival at the airport you will be met and transferred to the ranch. You will settle into your accommodations in the small village of Hrboki, approximately 25km from Pula. Dinner is served with the group and you will have a chance to meet your fellow riders and hosts and to hear the riding plan for the week. If there is time then you might visit the stables for a quick look around. 

Day Two: 

After a traditional breakfast of fresh bread, ham, cheese and homemade preserves you will head to the ranch where you will be allocated a suitable horse. Today is an easy riding day through open countryside, a chance to check that you are suited to and happy with your mount.

The first stop today, mid to late morning, is at the small but fascinating caves at Festinsko Kraljevstvo. These were discovered by accident in the 1930's, lying beneath a vineyard, and are now open to the public for viewing. A 20 minute visit (entrance fee included) in this 'Kingdom of Festini' is a chance to see how the foundations of the Istrian Peninsula were formed. You will be treated to a complimentary Medica (honey-flavoured grappa) which helps to enhance the experience! After a tasty picnic lunch you will mount up and continue the day's leisurely ride heading south. The route brings some incredible views of the peninsula, especially when you stop at a pilgrimage cross near the village of Orihi - on a clear day you can see the sea both east and west. The surrounding landscapes provide an array of the season's colours as you explore the rural back roads, heading for a horse ranch in the village of Karnevali. You will stop here for dinner and overnight with a chance to use the pool for those that wish. 

Day Three: 

This morning after a good rest and a delicious homemade breakfast you will traverse central Istria, exploring its charming countryside along ancient stone walls, the rich red soil adding to the colour and offering contrast to the karst rock formations. Country roads lead you to the ancient town of Dvigrad. After a rest you can walk through the ruins of this medieval town and enjoy a picnic lunch. Then it's time to mount up again and ride through the fields of a valley which was once covered by the sea. Riding along these winding roads towards Karojba you can enjoy the surrounding nature before starting to climb to Tinjan. 

Today your ride finishes at Rafo Ranch near Karojba where the horses will spend the night. From here it is a 5 minute drive to a typical 'konoba' (tavern) for a traditional dinner with high quality truffles picked from the Motovun woods. The owner of Rafo Ranch is a knowledgeable trainer of truffle-hunting dogs so you can rest assured that the mushrooms you eat for dinner have been locally picked. After dinner you will head to your accommodation for the night at Cassa Rossa, approximately 5 minutes in the car. 

Day Four: 

After breakfast at your hotel you will be driven to the horses at the ranch. You'll saddle up and head off for the day to explore more of the beautiful Istria region - today brings magnificent views of the biggest acropolis town in the region, Motovun. This is truly a historical destination, situated on a hill at 277m overlooking the river, the village of Livade and woods rich with truffles. You will ride in the foothills to reach the Mirna river which will lead you to Butoniga lake. This is your picnic spot for today and after a lunch and a short rest you will start to climb uphill.

The path this afternoon leads you through vineyards, fields and small villages. The day is full of beautiful sightseeing points and great photo opportunities. You reach the top of the peak and then start your descent to the small village of Kotli which is famous for its old stone mill on the river. Upon reaching Kotli and passing a bridge you will see if you are lucky to see rushing water beneath you. Alternatively you will see the stony river bed with small falls and characteristic 'kotli' - this means dips in the stones which the water crafted, forming small pools like natural little jacuzzis, great for summertime enjoyment! The water level here is very depending on the quantity of rain. 

The horses will start their well-deserved rest as you are drive 5 minutes to dinner at a local tavern in Kolinasi, again featuring locally-produced ingredients and accompanied by wine and famous mistletoe grappa, medica or another fruit/herb schnapps of your choosing. You will also have the privilege to taste 'krostule', a sweet pastry made according to an ancient recipe passed down through generations. Tonight you will sleep nearby in rustic apartments.

Day Five: 

Yesterday you left red Istria and entered grey Istria. The clay which gives the land its colour is visible in the little streams and the surroundings are spotted with dune like forms that give this area its mystical appearance. You are now close to the town of Roc with its five towers, situated on the foothills of the mountain, which is famous for its traditional instrument the 'Triestina' (a type of accordion). The biggest town nearby is Buzet with history dating back to prehistoric times. 

Riding on you are heading towards Draguc, passing through a part of the Glagolitic Alley - this is a 7km long monumental road leading from Roc to Hum that has ten monuments dedicated to the Glagolitic alphabet. At the end of the path there is Hum which has the title of the smallest city in the world! It has a rich history dating from the 11th century. 

From here you are starting to make your way back towards the start point of your trail, although there is still plenty left to see. On your way to Gracisce you will ride past Draguc, a little town in the middle of the nowhere which will take your breath away. It is known as 'Istrian Hollywood' as numerous projects have been filmed here. Draguc overlooks beautiful valleys and woods from where you can see lake Butoniga and part of a trail you rode the previous day. Not only is the town famous for its filming but it is also a place of exceptional historical importance, home to many churches, frescoes, chapels and stone houses. Taking the picnic lunch break here will give you time to rest up and admire the untouched nature, surrounding views offering sights of little hamlets, churches and villages on small peaks in the distance. You'll continue on to Gracisce through beautiful vineyards, finding a paddock to park the horses so that you can head for your wine-tasting. Wine-tasting at the Bazon vineyard is a great chance to try the high quality products made locally - the wine is accompanied by homemade prosciutto and cheese. 

Tonight you will head into town for dinner in a tavern and accommodation in beautiful rooms, decorated in a rustic style. The little town is paved with stone and a lot of the architecture features this crafted stone too. Gracisce lays on a bluff overlooking Cepic field which was a former lake and now has very fertile soil. From here you can see Mt Ucka, the Dolomites and the Julian Alps. Sometimes the whole town opens up for wine-tastings and is open to the public who want to sample local produce. Your hosts suggest that you take a walk through the town before going to bed. 

Day Six: 

Today you head into white Istria. You can enjoy more scenic views as you descend into Rasa valley, where you will follow Rasa River and ride along its banks to the sea. You'll need to dismount at the beginning of the descent and walk for approximately one kilometre, leading your horse, before you ride again. You will pass by some more historical little towns like Pican that has architecture from the 14th century. The flora and fauna changes as you descend into the valley and when you reach the banks of the river and have eaten your picnic, you will have the opportunity to canter your horses on the soft, flat ground, taking you downstream in the direction of the sea. 

This region of Istria built its industry around mining and is home to the youngest Istrian town, Rasa, which was built in 1937. It took 547 days to build as part of Mussolini's project to create 12 foundation industrial cities. Whilst it is built around a mine and architecturally designed to accommodate workers and their families, it is now a sleeping town which started to deteriorate when the last mine in Labin was closed. By contrast, Labin itself has many historical parts and offers you a contrast between its old buildings and the new structures of Rasa. 

Tonight you will stop at a paddock near the river, leaving your horses and taking a journey by car (approximately 15 minutes) to Hrboki for dinner and overnight. 

Day Seven: 

This is your last riding day. You will take a leisurely morning ride, finally reaching the sea! The path will take you through the rich fields of alfalfa and along small canals which are full of fish, frogs and wild ducks. You will witness the Rasa River blending its power with that of the ocean as you reach the shore. You will ride near the sea, following the coastline onto a path taking you uphill through narrow passages into woods. This path used to be a main road for the villagers to go with their cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys to their meadows and to access the fresh spring water. These days it is hard to imagine that the thick forest was one pasture and a hay meadow! 

You will leave this area behind you and ride on to the highlight of the day - a beach where you will hopefully have the opportunity to swim with the horses (weather permitting!). You pass close to Barban, a small town which is known for the 'Race of the Ring' - this ancient tradition is still cherished to this day and it is a great honour to be able to take part in the race. Before you see the sea again you will stop for a rest and a picnic lunch. You will then mount up again and head into the Bay of Blaz for a swim with your horse, provided that the weather is warm enough. After this special experience you will ride back to Hrboki - don't forget to notice the wonderful smell of the rich pine trees on the way back. On arrival in the village you will enjoy a BBQ dinner in the garden and can share your experiences of the week. 

Day Eight: 

Breakfast and departure. 



Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: Intermediate - Advanced. Riders should be comfortable riding at all paces with experience of riding in open countryside. Good fitness is required.
Type of ride: Trail ride.
Total riding time: Riding on 6 days.
Departure dates: 2019: 21-28 April, 5-12 May, 19-26 May, 2-9 June, 9-16 June, 15-22 September, 22-29 September, 6-13 October, 13-20 October.
 
Pricing: 2019:
Twin/double room: £989 per person
Single supplement: £180

*EARLY BIRD SPECIAL* - book your 2019 trail by 31.12.2018 and receive a £90 discount per person (shared room).

Price includes return transfer from/to Pula or a local point in the area (on request), 7 nights of accommodation based on shared double/twin room with private facilities, daily breakfast, daily picnic lunch, daily 3 course dinner with 1/2 litre table wine per person, entry fee into the caves, local visits and wine tasting as specified in the description and riding as described.