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Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Trails

Overview

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 …

Highlights

  • Learn all about the Iberian Wolf and local wildlife
  • Ride native Lusitanos and Garranos
  • Accommodation in a remote, peaceful guesthouse
  • Enjoy Anabela's delicious home-cooking and local wine
  • Visit lesser-known historical sites

Essential Facts

  • 3 itineraries available
  • Max 6 riders per group
  • Average of 3 - 4 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198lbs / 14 stone 1 lb

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. The stables are a very simple affair but ideally located for easy access to a range of beautiful trails in the mountains. The horses are definitely the stars of the show, beautifully schooled and well loved. You should be prepared to meet many dogs at the stables too!

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.

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

Horses & Riding

Tack

English.

Horses

Lusitanos and Garranos (both Portuguese breeds).

Riding

There are 3 itineraries:

  • Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Programme is a based ride
  • Riding Clinic is a based ride
  • Riding & Yoga Retreat is a based ride

Ages

No age limit within reason.

Health

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

Weight

90kg / 198lbs / 14 stone 1 lb

Food & Accommodation

Food

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. Vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free diets are easily accommodated for with prior notice.

Snacks and additional drinks (including wine) are available via an honesty bar system.

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.

Itineraries

Geres Wolf and Wild Horse Programme Standard accommodation.

Riding Clinic Standard accommodation.

Riding & Yoga Retreat Standard accommodation.

Other 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'.

Travel

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.

Transport is only provided from and to the airport (not the main city).

Testimonials

Zoe, Nov. 6, 2019

A very laid back riding holiday with fairly short riding days in a beautiful and remote corner of Portugal. a chance to get away from the tourists and be at one with nature and clean mountain air.


Eva, Sept. 25, 2019

Great location, super -comfy guesthouse, spectacular views, lovely and responsive horses and ponies who are well-cared for, kind, knowledgeable and very personal hosts, good food (Anabella is a very gifted cook) good weather and as a bonus a lovely group of co-riders!


Leslie B. (Eagle Eye Trail), Sept. 13, 2018

Relaxing, perfectly paced, exceptional scenery and wild horses!! Very happy with the horses and equipment, in particular how the horses' comfort was important as well as the riders'. We had fly spray, brushing boots etc... Pedro was so kind and knowledgeable. I wish he had shared and talked a little more. The accommodations were clean, modern and well appointed. (Favourite memory?) Riding near to the wild horses and observing their behaviour. Also loved the pilates and massages!


Debbie R (Eagle Eye Trail), Sept. 13, 2018

The Holiday was fabulous. Beautiful country, amazing scenery, everyone we met was so kind. (Guide?) Truly cannot say enough positive thoughts. Very impressed with the level of care and commitment to the horses as they should be first. Attentive to all questions and safety of the riders was a prime importance. Also was very concerned that we enjoyed all aspects of the ride. The tour was beautiful and varied. (Accommodation?) Very quaint and comfortable; really added to the ambience of the entire trip; food was outstanding; felt much effort was put into it; made me feel quite welcome. (Favourite memory?) It’s difficult to sum it up. Everything was a memory, from the wonderful hosts to the relationship with the horses and the gorgeous views.


Carey C., Oct. 11, 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.


Natalie W., Aug. 9, 2016

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.


Kelly W., Oct. 7, 2015

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!


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Saturday

Riding: No riding.

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

Day 2 - Sunday

Riding: 4 hours

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. The stables (where Pedro and Anabela live) are approximately 10 minutes by car from the accommodation and you will be collected each day.

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!

Day 3 - Monday

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

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.

Day 4 - Tuesday

Riding: 3 hours

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.

Day 5 - Wednesday

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

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.

Day 6 - Thursday

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

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.

Day 7 - Friday

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

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.

Day 8 - Saturday

Riding: No riding.

Transfer to Porto airport.

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.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate and above, able to ride at all paces and to mount/dismount without help. Good fitness is recommended as there are some long hours and you should be willing to walk and lead your horse on occasion.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 5
Departure windows

At any time during: April 3, 2021 - Nov. 27, 2021

Pricing

2021
5 Days/4 nights (3 Days Riding) Sharing
£965 $1340 €1150
2021
8 Days/7 nights (6 Days Riding) Sharing
£1320 $1830 €1570
Included Porto airport transfers, 7 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, 6 days of riding as per the itinerary, a meditation class and a yoga class.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, extra drinks or snacks, tips and personal expenses.

Extras

2021 - Single Supplement (5 day/4 nights) £84 $117 €100
Paid to Far and Ride
2021 - Single Supplement (8 day/7 nights) £148 $200 €175
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.

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

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

Day 2

Riding: 1 - 2 hours

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

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

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

Riding: 2 - 4 hours

Morning - you will start learning to trot.

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

Day 5

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

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

Day 6

Riding: 1 - 2 hours

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

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

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

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

Transfer to the airport for departure.

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.

Experience Beginner

This programme is for beginners and novice riders who would like to improve their riding and horse management.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 5
Departure windows

At any time during: April 3, 2021 - Nov. 27, 2021  (Trips run Saturday to Saturday. If you choose to do the 5-day option then it is simply the first 5 days of the 8 day programme.)

Pricing

2021
5 Days/4 nights (3 Days Riding) sharing
£965 $1340 €1150
2021
8 Days/7 nights (6 Days Riding) sharing
£1320 $1830 €1570
Included Porto airport transfers, 7 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, riding as per the itinerary, a meditation class and a yoga class.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, extra drinks or snacks, tips and personal expenses.

Extras

2021 - Single Supplement £148 $200 €175
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.

Day 1 - Saturday

Riding: No riding.

Transfer from the airport to the village of Castro Laboreiro. Welcome dinner in the guesthouse.

Day 2 - Sunday

Riding: No riding.

07:45: Optional pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation.
08:15: Yoga to awaken the body and improve your riding.
09:00: Breakfast.
10:15: Yoga with horses, focusing on building trust between the horse and the rider. This includes pranayama exercises to achieve union with the horses as well as horseback yoga.
13:00: Picnic lunch.
14:15: Visit to the reception centre of the national park to better understand the region and biodiversity of the area.
17:00: Yoga class.
18:15: Free time.
20:00 Dinner in the guesthouse.

Days 3 to 4 - Monday and Tuesday

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

07:45: Optional pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation.
08:15: Yoga to awaken the body and improve your riding.
09:00: Breakfast.
10:15: Yoga with horses, focusing on building trust between the horse and the rider. This includes pranayama exercises to achieve union with the horses as well as horseback yoga.
13:00: Picnic lunch.
14:15: Afternoon ride.
17:00: Yoga class.
18:15: Free time.
20:00 Dinner in the guesthouse.

Day 5 - Wednesday

Riding: No riding.

07:45: Optional pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation.
08:15: Yoga to awaken the body and improve your riding.
09:00: Breakfast.
10:15: Nature walk with meditation.
13:00: Picnic lunch by the river.
14:15: Free afternoon.
17:00: Yoga class.
18:15: Free time.
20:00 Dinner in the guesthouse.

Day 6 - Thursday

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

07:45: Optional pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation.
08:15: Yoga to awaken the body and improve your riding.
09:00: Breakfast.
10:15: Yoga with horses, focusing on building trust between the horse and the rider. This includes pranayama exercises to achieve union with the horses as well as horseback yoga.
13:00: Picnic lunch.
14:15: Afternoon ride for tracking and following a wild Garrano Horse herd.
17:00: Yoga class.
18:15: Free time.
20:00 Dinner in the guesthouse.

Day 7 - Friday

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

08:15: Optional pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation.
09:00: Breakfast.
10:15: Ride towards the fabulous Valley of the Wolves. This last ride of the week takes you in the direction of one of the most beautiful valleys of the mountain - full of biodiversity, the area brings the chance of rare sightings of wild animals. Here you can also spot the best wild herds of Garranos Horses in the region. Lunch is eaten on the mountain.
17:30: Restorative yoga class.
18:30: Free time.
20:00 Dinner in the guesthouse.

Day 8 - Saturday

Riding: 1 hours

Transfer to the airport after breakfast.

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.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate and above. The ride is generally based around riders' ability to ride at all paces but please contact us if unsure. You should be willing to dismount and walk and lead your horse on occasion.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 6
Departure windows

At any time during: April 3, 2021 - Nov. 27, 2021  (Saturday arrivals and departures)

Pricing

2021
Sharing
£1320 $1830 €1570
Included Porto airport transfers, 7 nights of shared room accommodation, all meals from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day, riding as per the itinerary, a meditation class and a yoga class.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, extra drinks or snacks, tips and personal expenses.

Extras

2021 - Single Supplement £148 $200 €175
Paid to Far and Ride
*The 'Butterfly Room' is available without payment of a single supplement on a first come, first served basis.
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.