Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Trails riding holiday in Portugal - Far and Ride
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Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Trails, Portugal





Reviews



Three afternoons and one full day of excellent riding on the most willing, well-trained, brave and sure-footed horses I think I've come across (and I've done a round up in Iceland and ridden up/down Mount Bogong in Australia!). Pedro was a fountain of knowledge - a fascinating guy! The house I shared was warm, clean and very modern. Anabela supplied all we needed for a good, healthy breakfast and the evening meals we ate at the local restaurant were tasty and excellent value for money. The horses were well-schooled and brave, perfect for the job they were doing. The tack was clean and sounds and the saddles very comfortable. Pedro looked after us - and his horses - well. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife. What more can you ask?

Jean M.
We had a great time. Pedro was an inspiring character and very patient. We would definitely do a trip with you again.

John
Accommodation was fab, food was excellent! Horses beautiful, well suited to riders, well looked after. Tack clean and well-fitted. Guides were outstanding. (Favourite memory?) Riding back up from the plateau, stopping and looking over the fantastic views of wild ponies on a fantastic horse and with "like minded" people!

Penny M.
My mother and I both enjoyed our time so much. The holiday was a good balance of riding and learning about the area. A visit to the Roman baths was also very special, as was time spent with the other guests during the week. My favourite memory is of the Garrano horses I rode, how sure-footed and willing to show me the country they were.

Michelle G.
We enjoyed the trip very much. The horses were lovely and very well behaved. It was nice because we were the only two people there that week as well and so things could be tailored to our different levels of ability. Pedro was very interesting and we learnt a lot about the area and the horses.

Helen T.
Enjoyable, relaxing, friendly and beautiful scenery.

Helen C.
I absolutely loved it. Really can't recommend it highly enough. The horses were excellent, Pedro is a wonderful guide who really knows what he's doing and is very entertaining to be around, and the landscape is simply gorgeous. Really had a great, relaxing time and learned a lot too.

Nicole K.
The views were magnificent and we were well looked after. We liked Pedro's ethos about his animals (who always come first) and of course the safety of his clients. The horses were great and Pedro made a good job of matching our personalities and ability to the horses. The accommodation was fantastic and warm - well located in the centre of the village. Cannot recommend the holiday enough as between them they are a great team offering a unique holiday. They are very good at looking after their clients. Thanks again for all your help, we had a great time.

Caron B.
Three afternoons and one full day of excellent riding on the most willing, well-trained, brave and sure-footed horses I think I've come across (and I've done a round up in Iceland and ridden up/down Mount Bogong in Australia!). Pedro was a fountain of knowledge - a fascinating guy! The house I shared was warm, clean and very modern. Anabela supplied all we needed for a good, healthy breakfast and the evening meals we ate at the local restaurant were tasty and excellent value for money. The horses were well-schooled and brave, perfect for the job they were doing. The tack was clean and sound and the saddles very comfortable. Pedro looked after us - and his horses - well. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife. What more can you ask?

Jean M.
A great holiday, fantastic scenery, friendly people and excellent, responsive horses of very good quality with comfortable, well-fitting tack. Pedro is an extremely experience horseman with a great love for the environment.

Frances & Winifred P.
It was so nice to escape the hustle and bustle of city life to the most untouched wilderness of Peneda Geres National Park. Pedro and Anabel are excellent hosts and their guesthouse is lovely, it's quiet and away from everything. This trip was a perfect way to unwind - riding in the wilderness by day and relaxing in the guesthouse in the evening... Pedro is an excellent guide. He is extremely knowledgable about both the national park and horsemanship... The horses are part of Pedro's family, so they are very well cared for. They are well trained and each has its own quirky personality, which Pedro matches to his riders... I can't fault this holiday - only that I could have stayed longer!

Kelly W.
After our second day riding in the mountains, we have concluded that Pedro, our host, is perhaps the wisest, most interesting man we have ever met. Pedro originally worked as a photojournalist until he pursued his passion for nature conservation and horses in the mountains of one of the most ecologically balanced and protected natural parks in the world. He now owns a large portion of land within Peneda Geres; a region full of wildlife, wildflowers, rivers, and seemingly endless mountains and valleys. Pedro is also famous for his conservation efforts and documentary of the Iberian wolf, as well as his conservation and love for the native Portuguese wild horse, known as the Garrano. Pedro understands the role of each and every organism in the park, as is demonstrated by the way he runs his beautiful ranch. His pack of dogs guide his brave horses through the mountains during our ride and to their lovely pastures at the end of the day, where they are free to roam and graze. He truly understands the spirit of the horse, and it is easy to see that his animals are well looked after, healthy, and happy. Pedro has been showing us little by little how to trust in nature, and how in doing so we can find peace, harmony and joy.

Natalie E. (2016)
Very Interesting. Pedro is a very good host, the scenery is beautiful and fascinating. The horses very well cared for and suitable for the task. I was lucky enough to ride a very good Lusitano stallion for the whole trip. But I wouldn't have minded riding any of Pedro's horses. (Favourite memory?) Meeting the very inquisitive herd of wild Garrano ponies.

Carey C.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Lusitanos and Garranos (both Portuguese breeds).

Nature of horses:

Fit, healthy and happy.

Height of horses:

13.2 - 16.2hh (the Garranos are at the smaller end and the Lusitanos at the bigger end).

Weight limit:

90kg / 198lbs

Tack type:

English.

 

Travel Advice



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

Ride Description

Close to the northern border between Portugal and Spain lies the Peneda-Geres National Park, a region of varied habitats which range from the high granite mountain landscapes to dense oak forests. Not only is this a beautiful, natural landscape but it is also the territory of a large predator, the magical Iberian Wolf, a species which the hosts here have studied closely for several years. In your exploration of this peaceful region you will explore the signs of the wolves' passage, visit fojos (ancient stone traps to catch the wolf) and will talk about the history and legends surrounding the species. You may be treated to one of the most enchanting sounds in nature - the howl of the wolf.

In addition to the wolf, the wild Garrano horse also roams this area freely. The rides often pass herds of these horses which is a wonderful sight to behold. Some of the riding horses used are also from the Garrano breed (the others used being Lusitanos, another Portuguese breed). The riding takes you through the oak woods and groves of birch, natural shelter for roe deer and wild boar, as well as patches of chestnut and holly trees which are inhabited by squirrels. Jays and orioles rest along the cliffs where you might also catch a glimpse of an eagle and some rare species of crow.

These riding holidays are designed for true nature enthusiasts who wish to enjoy the calm, contemplate the natural jewels of the Iberian peninsula and observe the landscapes in the company of a good horse. The landscapes feature the natural pools of the Laboreiro river, hot water thermal baths, ancient paths and of course one of the main peaks in the park, the Peneda Mountain. Guests stay in a beautiful guesthouse, ideally located in a wonderfully peaceful spot.

Your hosts here are both journalists with a passion for the environment and nature conservation. In 1999 they decided to broaden their horizons and began a long-term project to study a family of Iberian Wolves, eventually producing a documentary on the species for Portuguese television. They provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere and look forward to sharing their passion for this magnificent region with their guests.

NEW: A qualified therapist is now available to offer guests some extra activities and treatments when they are not in the saddle: meditation sessions, special pilates sessions to help you to relax from riding, different kinds of massages and workshops for 'facial rejuvenation'.

Holly from Far and Ride visited this destination in 2017 and would love to tell you more about it!

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Accommodation is provided in a private country guesthouse in the valley just below the historic village of Castro Laboreiro, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Built in the early 20th century and recently restored, the house maintains many of its original features. The house is also equipped with all the modern comforts required for a pleasant stay, such as central heating, wood burning fireplace, Wi-Fi, cable television and a fully equipped kitchen.

These holidays include full board, primarily with typical Portuguese cuisine. Guests receive a breakfast basket which has bread, croissants, ham, cheese, jams, biscuits, yoghurt, granola and fruit. There is also milk and juice and tea and coffee are readily available in the house kitchen.

Lunches are either a picnic eaten in the mountains or are served in a local restaurant. Dinners are served in your guesthouse with everybody eating together.

Your hosts try to use a lot of local produce and make their own jams and honey as well as growing some of their own vegetables. Vegetarians are easily accommodated for with prior notice.

 

Activities

Walking, cycling and swimming can all be arranged. A therapist is also available on hand and can offer meditation sessions, pilates, different kinds of massages and workshops for 'facial rejuvenation'.

 

Further Details

Languages: Portuguese, English.

Health requirements: No special requirements but fit and in good general health is recommended.

Age limit: None within reason.

Tuition: Yes, on the riding clinic.

Included: Porto airport transfers, accommodation, meals, riding and excursions as detailed in the itineraries.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, tips.

 

Travel Information

Porto airport transfers are included in the package prices (approx 2 - 3 hours each way). It is recommended that you try to land in Porto by 3pm on arrival day. On departure day, it is best to book a flight departing after midday.

Airport: Porto

 

Programmes


Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Programme



This ride is ideal for those who love nature and the environment but who can still appreciate a well-schooled horse. You ride in the mountains, exploring the territory of the Iberian Wolf and Garrano Horse who live wild here, before returning to the peaceful guesthouse each evening. This is a beautiful part of Portugal and your hosts, Pedro and Anabela, are extremely knowledgeable about the region and the habitats of the wildlife here as they have been studying them for a long time. You will ride a native horse of either the Lusitano or Garrano breed. 

There is the opportunity for dips in the natural pools of the Laboreiro river or hot water thermal baths and there are ancient paths of great beauty and ecological value that will lead you to discover the little treasures of the Peneda mountains. The itinerary can be adapted in accordance with weather or other local conditions but this particular programme is generally a mix of half day and full day rides. It is possible to have additional riding, riding lessons or hoof-trimming lessons (extra cost, payable locally) in place of the non-riding excursions. The following example itinerary is not exhaustive. 

Day by day itinerary:

Day 1 (Sunday):

Transfer from Porto airport to the village of Castro Laboreiro. A welcome dinner is served in the country house. 

Day 2 (Monday):

Today you will meet the horses and one will be allocated to you before your first ride on the beautiful paths of the Peneda Mountain. 

Lunch today is in a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the National Park's reception centre to learn more about the region and it's wonderful biodiversity. There will be a sunset ride this evening with the aim of tracking a wild Garrano Horse herd! 

Dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 3 (Tuesday):

Today you will ride for the border in the east of Portugal, looking for the Garrano horses and the amazing megalithic monuments there - these represent the largest megalithic necropolis in the Iberian Peninsula. 

Lunch today is a picnic eaten in the mountains. The ride continues with the possibility of some long canters. 

Dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 4 (Wednesday):

This morning's ride offers some gallops in the mountains and is followed by lunch in a local restaurant. 

This afternoon you will visit the old part of the historical village of Melgaço with its castle and old churches. You will stop at a centre for Alvarinho wine where you can sample this fresh, local white wine which has a richness of extreme rarity. This is a typical Portuguese wine, one of the most important varieties in the Tart Wine Region and also internationally prized, truly a wine of top quality.

Dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 5 (Thursday):

Today you leave behind the top of the mountain and will ride in the hills of the Monteiro area in the direction of the winter valley. The dramatic landscape with granite rocks will mark this day of incredible sightseeing. You will ride across beautiful old hamlets full of history and traditions before a picnic lunch in the mountains. 

On the ride home you will follow ancient transhumance trails (seasonal movement of livestock) and these were also used as a connection to Spain in old times. 

Dinner and overnight in the mountains. 

Day 6 (Friday):

During the morning you will visit the medieval castle of Castro Laboreiro and the Peneda Pilgrimage Sanctuary and village. This enormous, beautiful sanctuary lies in the middle of the mountain and was built during the 18th century.

Lunch today will be by the Laboreiro River, near to a natural pool with an extraordinary Roman bridge. It's possible to swim here in the pool too. This is followed by an afternoon ride.

Dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 7 (Saturday):

This last ride takes you towards the fabulous Valley of the Wolves, one of the most beautiful valleys of the mountain. Full of biodiversity, the area is rich in rare sightings of wild animals. Last but no less important, you can spot the best Garrano herds of all the region here in the valley. Picnic lunch in the mountains. 

Farewell dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 8 (Sunday):

Transfer to international airport of Porto city or elsewhere for your onward journey.



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: Intermediate and above. The ride is generally based around riders' ability to ride at all paces but please contact us if unsure. Good fitness is recommended as there are some long hours and you should be willing to dismount and walk and lead your horse on occasion.
Type of ride: Based stay.
Total riding time: As per itinerary (riding on 6 days if staying 7 nights, or 3 days if staying 4 nights).
Departure dates: 2018: Sundays to Sundays from April to November.

If you choose to do the 5-day tour then it is simply the first 5 days of the 8 day tour.
 
Pricing: 2018:

8 Days (6 Days Riding): £1316 per person.
Single Supplement: £169

INCLUDED: Porto airport transfers, 7 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day and riding as per the itinerary.

5 Days (3 Days Riding): £940 per person.
Single Supplement: £99

INCLUDED: Porto airport transfers, 4 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day and riding as per the itinerary.

VIP Discounts: If you are travelling on your 3rd trip through Far and Ride you receive a basket of gourmet local products including Alvarinho wine, traditional cheese, local smoked ham and local honey.



Riding Clinic



This is a seven-night beginners programme for those who want to learn quickly but with sensitivity. Your host, Pedro, is an experienced horseman who loves to teach people the joys of riding in a fun, fast and secure way. A wonderful introduction to the world of horses as well as a chance to explore this beautiful area! Guest will learn correct riding principles through a mixture of classic tuition, learning about horse behaviour, observing wild horses and enjoying relaxing rides amongst the nature of the Peneda-Geres National Park. This is very different to the strict methods used on some beginner courses - Pedro aims to introduce you to the lovely world of horses with careful and thoughtful steps.

Pedro was born in the Lusitano horse region in 1966 and entered the horse world at the age of three, encouraged by his father. He learned to ride from Portuguese riding masters and so his riding ability flourished as he and his horses grew up. As a horse lover Pedro wanted to see horses treated with respect and so he always tried to change the traditional methods which were often aggressive, causing the horses to become stressed. Pedro teaches his guests to ride with consideration, mixing the old knowledge of riding alongside the observation and handling of horses to learn respect for the animal. In 2004 he and his wife, Anabela, created their horse riding company which keeps ten horses primarily for riding into the Peneda Mountains.

Pedro says: "In the last ten years I needed to find the best way of teaching my guests who, sometimes despite not knowing anything about riding or horses, wanted to explore the region on horseback. My primary goal has always been to take them out on the trails feeling happy and secure and with this in mind, I created a teaching method that allows everyone to learn how to ride (on a basic level) in a fun, fast and secure way. In the last years, I have taught hundreds of riders and all of them left with the horse spirit forever in their hearts, returning every year to ride in the mountains."

In the colder months, Pedro will have the use of an indoor arena for teaching purposes. 

Itinerary

Day 1: 

Transfer from the airport with the evening to settle into your accommodation and find a nice place in town for dinner. 

Day 2: 

Morning - learning how the horses think and how you should behave around them (body language) to ensure safety. Viewing the horses as companions instead of slaves! You will start to learn about handling horses from the ground and about the tack (saddles and bridles) and how all the equipment works

Afternoon - your first riding experience. You will learn the importance of balance, body position and your hands, as well as how to use your legs and hands to drive the horses. 

Day 3:

Today you will ride outside at a walk to practice your learning from the first day and to become more comfortable in the saddle. 

Day 4:

Morning - you will start learning to trot.

Afternoon - a trail (at walk) to find and observe the behaviour of wild horses. 

Day 5:

Riding outside at walk and trot to practice what you have learnt so far. 

Day 6:

Morning - learning to canter. 

Afternoon - a free afternoon which can be spent in a hot Roman bath to relax and ease any sore muscles. 

Day 7:

A trail ride to the 'Wolf Valley' to practice and enjoy all the knowledge you have gained during the riding clinic. 

Day 8: 

Transfer to the airport for departure. 



Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: This programme is for beginners and novice riders who would like to improve their riding and horse management.
Type of ride: A based stay with tuition and rides out for beginners or novice riders.
Total riding time: 6 days as per itinerary.
Departure dates: 2018: Sunday to Sunday from April to November.
 
Pricing: 2018:

8 Days (6 Days Riding): £1316 per person.
Single Supplement: £169

INCLUDED: Porto airport transfers, 7 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day and riding as per the itinerary.




Eagle Eye Trail



The Peneda Gerês National Park is a beautiful region in the north of Portugal, lying on the border with Galicia in Spain. As one of the world's leading destinations in 2017, Portugal is an outstanding country for travellers, offering excellent touristic opportunities. The National Park is considered the "jewel of the crown" when speaking about nature or wild, stunning landscapes. Due to its unique characteristics and the value of its nature, the region has won the highest award that a green area can receive from UNESCO, the status of 'biosphere reserve'. 

In this mountain territory you can travel from the old oak forests in the valleys, full of creeks and old Roman bridges, up to the high peaks where the mountain landscape reveals wild horse herds grazing peacefully in natural pastures. During this tour you connect the two areas of the mountain and ride from the valley to the summit, travelling on ancient paths used for centuries by smugglers and shepherds who moved their cattle between winter and summer pastures.

This tour is only for good riders as it has more full riding days than the 'Gerês Wolf and Wild Horse Programme' that we also have available. At the end of each day you will return to the ancient stone hamlet to sleep in guesthouse restored by your hosts. These offer a calm, special environment where you will enjoy dinners during the week, sampling a collection of traditional Portuguese recipes accompanied by an excellent selection of Portuguese wine. 

Day to Day Itinerary (subject to change according to weather or local conditions):

Day 1 (Sunday): Transfer from Porto airport to the village of Castro Laboreiro. Dinner and overnight in the guesthouse. 

Day 2 (Monday): Today you will meet the horses and one will be allocated to you before your first ride on the beautiful paths of the Peneda Mountain. 

Lunch today is in a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the National Park's reception centre to learn more about the region and it's wonderful biodiversity. There will be a sunset ride this evening with the aim of tracking a wild Garrano Horse herd! 

Dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 3 (Tuesday): Starting at the top of the mountain where the horse stables are located, you will ride in the direction of the valley where the Laboreiro river was born. This is a wild valley that works as a cup at the top, concentrating a lot of small springs and water lines to start the main mountain river. Travelling to reach this valley you will pass by Rodeiro village, the highest village in the region and one very typical to this area. 

After reaching the beautiful valley you will then pass to the south side of the mountain and work your way down, passing by several old summer hamlets. You will cross the Laboreiro river, already a large mountain creek at this point, using an old and beautiful bridge which dates back to the XIII century. This is the last part of today's ride. 

Day 4 (Wednesday): This morning's ride is inside the winter valley. Surrounded by the oak forest, this route will lead you from hamlet to hamlet, riding on old Roman paths. These paths allow you to discover this truly fantastic region which is unique in its historical characteristics and the ways of life which mark each step of your journey. 

Lunch is in a local restaurant, after which there will be time to visit the old part of the historical Melgaço village with its castle and old churches. You will stop at a centre for Alvarinho wine where you can sample this fresh, local white wine which has a richness of extreme rarity. This is a typical Portuguese wine, one of the most important varieties in the Tart Wine Region and also internationally prized, truly a wine of top quality.

Dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 5 (Thursday): Today is the day to travel up. You will leave the winter valley and cross close to Barreiro lake in the direction of Castro Laboreiro village. This ride is full of super views over the mountains and the forest. After lunch your climb continues, once more presenting you with extraordinary landscapes. Using the thermals the birds of prey will accompany you on your way. 

Day 6 (Friday): Today you ride until the border in the East of Portugal. The herds of wild Garrano horses are your aim today, along with the monuments from the largest megalithic necropolis in the Iberian Peninsula. Lunch today is eaten in the mountains and you will need your energy - today has the possibility of riding long canters. 

Day 7 (Saturday): This last ride takes you towards the fabulous Valley of the Wolves, one of the most beautiful valleys of the mountain. Full of biodiversity, the area is rich in rare sightings of wild animals. Last but no less important, you can spot the best Garrano herds of all the region here in the valley. Picnic lunch in the mountains. 

Farewell dinner and overnight in the house. 

Day 8 (Sunday): Breakfast and transfer to the airport. 



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: Confident intermediate and above. The ride requires participants to be comfortable at all paces and able to ride full days. Good fitness is recommended as there are some long hours and you should be willing to dismount and walk and lead your horse on occasion.
Type of ride: You stay in the same accommodation each night.
Total riding time: 6 riding days as detailed in the programme.
Departure dates: 2018: 17 - 24 June, 15 - 22 July, 12 - 19 August, 9 - 16 September, 14 - 21 October.
 
Pricing: 2018:

Ride Price: £1316 per person.
Single Supplement: £169

INCLUDED: Porto airport transfers, 7 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day and riding as per the itinerary.