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Cristo Rey Pilgrimage

Overview

The Cristo Rey Pilgrimage Cavalcade is an opportunity to join in with a tradition going back more than 50 years. Thousands of Mexican riders will turn out for the 3-day pilgrimage that sees them gather at the foot of the monument to Cristo Rey (Christ the King). Sitting atop the hill of Cubilete, t…

Highlights

  • Experience a tradition going back more than 50 years
  • Join thousands of Mexican riders on the pilgrimage
  • Ride on rural roads, through mountains and villages
  • Reach the monument to Christ the King at Cubilete
  • Enjoy fabulous horses and Mexican cuisine

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 14 riders per group
  • Average of 6 - 7 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 110 kg

Description

The Cristo Rey Pilgrimage Cavalcade is an opportunity to join in with a tradition going back more than 50 years. Thousands of Mexican riders will turn out for the 3-day pilgrimage that sees them gather at the foot of the monument to Cristo Rey (Christ the King). Sitting atop the hill of Cubilete, this spot is considered to be the geographical centre of Mexico. This traditional horseback pilgrimage and the Cristero War were inspirations behind the Hollywood film "For Greater Glory".

The Cristero War - known as La Cristiada - took place between 1926 and 1929 following the introduction of anti-Catholic provisions in the 1917 Constitution of Mexico. The civil war began when newly elected Mexican president Plutarco Elías Calles began a violent crackdown against the Catholic faithful. Churches were sacked and reduced to rubble, priests and worshippers alike were hunted down and executed for the simple crime of their faith. The Cristeros ("soldiers for Christ") were a rebel group who rose up to fight against Calles his army. They were known for their battle cry "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King"). The civil war and fighting continued for 3 years, with losses on both sides until, in 1929, agreements were made to restore religious freedoms in Mexico. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI beatified a number of the martyrs of this religious persecution.

Started in 1956, the horseback pilgrimage takes place every year in the month of January as a sign of faith and devotion. Almost 4000 Mexican riders will come from the 46 municipalities of the state of Guanajuato, as well as from other parts of Mexico such as Querétaro, Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosí. This tradition has now begun to attract the attention of riders all over the world and our partners have created a wonderful opportunity to join in this spectacular cavalcade.

During the ride, you will join local riders and form a procession to the mount of Cristo Rey. You will share with them their traditions, their gastronomy, their music and their beliefs, all on horseback through the rural roads, mountains and villages.

Horses & Riding

Tack

The tack used is mostly traditional Mexican-western style Charro saddles, but some American western saddles are also used. Bridles are usually simple western headstalls with shank bits or bosals.

Horses

The horses used for this ride are mostly Azteca, Quarter Horses and Mexican Creole, ranging in height between 15hh-16hh. They are responsive, forward going and well trained, as well as being fit and able to cover the long hours required on this route.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Cristo Rey Pilgrimage is a trail ride

Ages

Riders aged 14 and over can be accepted for this ride. Minors aged 14-18 should be accompanied by an adult, or have written permission from a parent or guardian.

Health

Fit and healthy

Weight

110 kg

Food & Accommodation

Food

During the ride, all of your meals will be included from dinner on the day of arrival until breakfast on your day of departure. Only lunch on the final free day in Leon Guanacaste is not included.

You will enjoy a veritable feast of traditional Mexican dishes; often simple spreads, but packed with plenty of flavour and fresh ingredients. Vegetarian diets may be accommodated with advance notice.

Accommodation

Each night except 1 is spent in comfortable and authentic local haciendas and hotels along the trail route. For one of the nights on the pilgrimage, you will stay in "glamping" tents with all facilities available for you. Rooms and tents are available on a sharing basis. Single rooms may be available on request and at an extra cost, but cannot be guaranteed.

Itineraries

Cristo Rey Pilgrimage Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

During the 3 day pilgrimage, there will not be much opportunity to take part in other activities besides riding. However, in the evenings you will be able to enjoy time spent with local people and the atmosphere of celebration. The final day of the pilgrimage will include a huge mass on horseback - a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future - and is often ended with a large fiesta through the evening!

On the rest of the riding days, you will pass through small rural communities filled with history and will be able to learn more about the Cristeros and the important role they played for the people of this area. You will also spot abundant and rare wildlife including Coopers's hawk, peregrine falcon, horned owl, puma, coyotes, raccoons, armadillo and many others.

The final day of the programme is a free day to explore the city of Leon Guanajuato - discover the fabulous leather market where you can purchase not only beautiful bags and shoes but also saddles and traditional charro outfits as well. There are also a great many fascinating museums and historic buildings to look around. For those who are in no rush to journey home, we would highly recommend planning to spend an extra day or two in the city in order to make the most of your time there.

Travel

The nearest airport for this ride is Leon (BJX) in the state of Guanajuato. There are limited direct flights to Leon from Europe and so you may need to take a connecting flight via Mexico City.

The meeting point for the trail is in the lobby of the Hotsson hotel in the city of Leon Guanajuato, strictly at 15:00 hours on day 1.

The transfers from this meeting point in the city to the start point of the trail are included in the ride price. However, transfers from the airport are NOT included. Local taxis are cheap and easy to book, with costs for a one-way trip from the airport to the city costing around the equivalent of c.GB£20,

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - 3rd January

Riding: No riding.

The meeting point will be at 12:30 hours in the city of León Guanajuato, in the lobby of the Hotsson hotel. From there you will be taken to a local saddlery shop which sells traditional clothing in case you wish to dress up for the pilgrimage. After browsing you are transferred c. 2 hours to a former Jesuit Hacienda located between the mountainous area of Sierra de Lobos. This comprises of 2650 hectares of beautiful landscape with more than three million native oak trees of the region. Some are over 500 years old.  Here you will enjoy a rich welcome  dinner and a comfortable bed for the night.

Dinner included

Day 2 - 4th January

Riding: 8 hours

After a delicious breakfast at the Hacienda, you will be transferred to the community of El Salto del Ahogado where your horses are waiting for you. You will join a group of riders from El Torreón and together you all depart in the direction of Nuevo Valle de Moreno. This day you will ride for 8 hours through ancient roads in the mountainous area of Santa Barbara, accompanied by a contingent of Mexican riders until you reach the community of Nuevo Valle de Moreno where you will stay overnight. You'll have dinner with a local family who will open their doors to you, and spend the night camping.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 3 - 5th January

Riding: 6 hours

After a quick and early breakfast (c. 5am) you will be on horseback by 6am to head out together with the glinting spurs and accoutrements of hundreds of Mexican riders. You will watch the sky turn pink as the sun rises and then you'll be amazed by the numbers of riders heading in the same direction, moved by their faith. On reaching Tuna Mansa on the slopes of Cubilete mountain (considered the geographical centre of Mexico) you'll stop for lunch, prepared by your support team.

In the afternoon you can marvel at the strength of your horses as they ascend 657m over 7.6km to reach the summit of Cubilete where the monument to Cristo Rey is located. Here you will gather amongst a melee of horsemen and horses who have travelled from different parts of Mexico to reach this spot. You will witness the hospitality of Mexicans and receive invitations to different campsites to enjoy food and drinks. Later you are transferred to your comfortable accommodation - the Parador Sangre de Cristo or similar (shared rooms but split for males/females).

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 4 - 6th January

Riding: 6 hours

After a delicious breakfast at the Parador, you will attend the celebration of Holy Mass on horseback with the presence of the Archbishop and with more than 2,500 horses and riders. Today you will spend much of the day enjoying the traditions and sharing the culture with the riders from different parts of Mexico, as well as from difference countries.  Lunch will be delicious typical food of the region served by a recognised traditional cook from the Sangre de Cristo area.

After lunch you are transferred to Hacienda Jesus Maria, a charming hotel located in a historic place and part of a sustainable tourist complex of the Sangre de Cristo community along with Caminos D'vinos vineyards.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 5 - 7th January

Riding: 6 hours

After breakfast in the hacienda and having concluded the pilgrimage together with local riders, you will continue your adventure.

The journey on horseback takes you through what is known as the "The Mystery Villages".  It is about three old communities where you will see the history of firstly, the Chichimeca indigenous people, secondly the Cristero region (the old Cristero War) that has inspired Hollywood and lastly silver mining. The communities are Sangre de Cristo, Mineral de la Luz  and San Ignacio. These three communities are the oldest in the state of Guanajuato and are of great historical and cultural value. This was one of the most prosperous mining enclaves in the region. Even in the 19th century, the inhabitants of the area were in the thousands and had, for example, their own bullring, tobacco factory and profitable farms. At the end the 19th century, the three villages became ghost towns. In 1929 this territory was reincorporated into the municipality of Guanajuato and today has about only 300 inhabitants. Accommodation is at Hacienda Jesus Maria or similar.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 6 - 8th January

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

After a delicious breakfast in the hotel, you will continue to ride your horses in the direction of "El Varal", a nature reserve that is a location in the north of the state of Guanajuato.  It adjoins the rural communities of Joya de Lobos, Santa Rosa, La Concepción and Los Mexicans. The Encino Forest has many native species including the Madroño and Pinguica.  It is also a natural habitat for mammals such as the white-tailed deer, wildcat, cacomixtle (ring-tailed cat), skunk and long-nosed bat. There are also over 170 species of birds including Coopers's hawk, the peregrine falcon and the horned owl. Today's journey takes you to the valley of the blue birds, where you will set up camp and enjoy the night camping in this magnificent setting. It is a true natural paradise where you will have the opportunity to enjoy a safari style camp and where you can enjoy the a night of ranchera barbecue, campfire and guitars.  Accommodation is camping.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.

Day 7 - 9th January

Riding: 6 hours

After breakfast in the camp accompanied by the singing of birds and the spectacular view of the magnificent natural setting, you will continue on your last day on horseback to the rural community of Santa Rosa. You will ride beside the spring's ancient path which borders a mountainous area and passes through a cavern that houses a spring of crystalline water which filters through the Peregrina mountains. You will continue ascending and descending through natural landscapes of the forest and which is home to hundreds of animal species, such as the puma, the coyote, raccoons, armadillo and many others. You will eventually reach Santa Rosa where your adventure on horseback ends.  Say farewell to your horses and transfer to Guanajuato to overnight at the Hotel Posada or similar.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Day 8 - 10th January

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast at the hotel you set out on a walking tour to discover the unique city of Guanajuato. The first know inhabitants were the prehispanic indigenous Otomi, later displaced by the Chichimeca and then then Purepacha. The oldest known name for the area is Moo-o-ti which means 'place of metals'. Later it was called Paxtitlan by the Aztecs, meaning 'place of straw'. The current name of Guanajuato comes from the Purepecha "Quanax huato" which means 'hilly place of frogs'.

Mining has been conducted in this area long before the Spanish arrived and the Aztecs had a presence here specifically to look for metals to make ornamental objects. Some stories from this time state that the area was so rich in minerals that nuggets of gold could be picked up from the ground.

A farewell dinner will be taken at a traditional thematic cantina, where you can enjoy Mariachi music and an authentic Mexican party. Accommodation is at the Posada Guanajuato or similar.

Breakfast, farewell dinner included.

Day 9 - 11th January

Riding: No riding.

Enjoy your last breakfast at the hotel.

Accommodation

Each night is spent in comfortable local hotels and guesthouses, apart from 2 nights when you will be camping. Some nights are spent in Posada's or similar.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Riders should be at least of an intermediate riding level, confident at all paces, spending long hours in the saddle and riding in a large group. At points you will be alongside hundreds of other mounted riders and so should feel confident in this situation.

Minimum group size 6
Maximum group size 14
Departure windows

Jan. 3, 2023 - Jan. 11, 2023

Pricing

2023
Rider, Sharing
£2820 $3150 €3215
Single rooms cannot be guaranteed, so you should be willing to share.
Included 8 nights accommodation in shared rooms/camps, all meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day (except lunch on day 8), water with meals, 6 days of riding as per the itinerary and transfers from the meeting point in Leon Guanajuato city.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport transfers, lunch in Guanajuato on day 8, drinks other than water, entrance fees to museums and tourist sites, sleeping bags, tips and other personal expenses.

Extras

2023 - Private Transfer $165
Paid locally
Cost payable for additional transfers should you not be able to get to the meeting point at the arranged time (due to flight delays, etc).
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.