Day 1 - Arrival
Riding: No riding.
Arrive in the afternoon and settle into your hotel in the beautiful medieval town of Carmona. In the evening you are joined by one of your hosts for a welcome dinner where you'll meet the rest of your group. After this friendly introduction you are free to spend the evening at your leisure.
Day 2 - Sevillian countryside and haciendas ride
Riding: 2 - 3 hours
This first day will be an easy one, allowing you the chance to get settled and ease yourself into the ride.
You will be collected from the hotel after breakfast and taken on a very short drive to the equestrian centre just outside Carmona. Here you will chat with your guide so that they can allocate you the correct horse for your ability. Mount up to go on a morning ride in the beautiful countryside around the farm - this is a lovely opportunity for everyone to get to know each other.
The ride takes you through tranquil, slightly rolling farmland, scattered with crops of cereals, olives, citrus and almond trees. It is a charming way to get to know this part of the region, filled with culture and peaceful landscapes. Throughout the ride, you will be passing several haciendas that produce delicious olive oil, many of which were built around the 16th Century.
Arrive back to the stables for a delicious, fresh, home-cooked lunch. After lunch, you are offered a complimentary transfer to Sevilla for a sightseeing or shopping opportunity. This is a unique city so a visit is highly recommended and really should not be missed.
If you would rather take it easy and would prefer to rest up in preparation for the adventure in Doñana, you can be transferred back to the Hotel for an easy afternoon instead.
Day 3 - Quema river and Aznalcollar forest
Riding: 4 - 6 hours
After an early breakfast, you will be transferred to the town of Villamanrique, the oldest town in the Doñana environment. You will arrive at a new stable, where you will meet the horses that will take you on this unforgettable adventure through Doñana.
Mount up and get to know your horse. There is a little “test ride” in the arena and as soon as everyone is feeling comfortable, you head off into the open country and begin the adventure! Today’s ride is loaded with the folklore and tradition of the area, as you cross the famous Quema river. This river is where pilgrims are baptised on their first pilgrimage to the village of El Rocío to show their respect and devotion to the Virgin Mary. You also pass the emblematic Virgen del Rocio monolith and ride through the famous pine forests of Alznalcollar.
This part of Doñana, with an extension of 30.000 acres, is famous for its majestic beauty. The forest is mostly made up of umbrella (stone) pine. This type of pine is native to the Mediterranean and is famous for its delicious pine nuts used to make many dishes, pastries and sweets in this region, since ancient times.
You also ride through the scrubland filled with Mediterranean shrubs such as rosemary, rockrose, heather and palm hearts. This vegetation provides the perfect habitat for wildlife, with many birds of prey in the area such as different types of eagles and black kites. Depending on the time of year, it will be very easy to see dozens of storks nesting in the treetops.
Lunch will be at a famous "venta", or bar, popularly frequented by the locals. Here you have the opportunity to taste the delights of the local cuisine of this Sevillian region. After lunch, ride back to Villamanrique.
You spend tonight at Ardea Purpurea lodge. This luxurious lodge is charmingly cosy. It has been designed and built using the materials and unique architectural style of the area, most strikingly, the thatched roofs.
Rest in your comfortable porched room or stroll through the extensive gardens before meeting the rest of the group for dinner in the lodge’s restaurant, famous for its exquisite dishes - it has been in the Michelin guide for eight consecutive years.
Day 4 - Pilgrims Path to El Rocio
Riding: 4 - 6 hours
Today’s ride allows you to discover the northern part of the heart of Doñana, which the locals call “El Coto”(the Reserve). You ride the same sandy tracks that pilgrims use on their religious journey to the Basilica church and village of El Rocio. They call this cross-country path through the heart of Doñana the "Raya Real" (Royal Strip).
These tracks and the whole area are mostly closed off from the general public as it is a wildlife preserve. Brotherhoods of pilgrims get special permission to use them on the week of the pilgrimage - held in May - and the rest of the year access is only possible by licensed operators and guides (such as the ones who operate this ride).
The scenery in this area is stunning. The ride takes you through wooded areas of stone pine and eucalyptus, and through scrubland formed by aromatic thickets that impregnate our path with delicious aromas such as rosemary, lavender, rockrose and heather. At the halfway point you arrive at the "Palacio del Rey", an ancient hunting estate that was used by Spanish kings and monarchs since it was built in the 13th century, and is the perfect place for a picnic. After a short break, you continue your way through grasslands and pastures dotted with cork oaks and mastic trees.
These oak groves are the ideal habitat for many birds. More than 80 species of vertebrates inhabit this area of the reserve and more than half are birds, such as the imperial eagle, short-toed eagle or "pito real" (woodpecker) . If you are lucky you may be able to spot the Iberian lynx, wild boar or foxes. It is very common to see several types of deer during this part of your journey too. Towards the end of your route, you cross the famous Ajolí bridge that takes you to the gates of the Village of El Rocio. Before the end of the day you will visit the marshes loaded with natural life such as flamingos, herons and other water birds followed by a glass of sherry or wine on horseback in the local style!
Overnight in one of the villages best hotels with views of the marshlands. Dinner in the hotel restaurant with the rest of the group and the guides to sample the local cuisine and wines.
Day 5 - El Rocio to the beaches of Donana
Riding: 4 - 6 hours
You are now riding entirely in the province of Huelva. This day's ride takes you south, from the village of El Rocio to the virgin beaches of Doñana. Pass through some of the most popular places in the park, such as the famous Rociana lagoon where the brotherhoods of pilgrims arriving from the western parts of Andalusia are baptised.
This area of great beauty and environmental richness is another perfect habitat for wildlife with species such as roe deer, red deer, and wild horses too. Halfway there, you make a stop to taste a typical country lunch, accompanied by wines from the Doñana county.
Finally, your path takes you to the Mazagón beaches. You spend the night in the Parador here, a luxurious hotel with ocean views and direct access to the beach. The hotel has an outdoor (non-heated) and indoor heated pool, sauna and massage service.
Dinner at the Parador as a group, together with the guides.
Day 6 - Dunes, view points and virgin beaches of Doñana
Riding: 3 hours
Today is a half-day ride, through the impressive and beautiful coast of Doñana, with its dunes, cliffs and beaches.
From the top of the Asperillo dune - the highest and most important in Doñana - you will have amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean. The line of fossil and mobile dunes that form the cliffs of Doñana are some of the most important in Europe.
Make your way down to the immense virgin beaches, and then it will be time for a long canter. The sound of the waves and the splashing of your horses in the water provides an immense sense of freedom, elevating your senses. This feeling is scarcely matched by any other. After this ride, you have to say goodbye to your horses, with a chance to take a few last-minute pictures.
Lunch is taken in a nearby restaurant in the fishing village of Mazagón, by the sea. After lunch, you are transferred back to your starting hotel in Carmona. The afternoon and evening in Carmona can be used to rest. The hotel offers a massage service (on request), and a salted outdoor pool. Or it can be used as an opportunity to visit this beautiful medieval town. Dinner will be at the hotel.
Day 7 - Departure
Riding: No riding.
After breakfast, there are complimentary transfers to the airport or train station at 8.00 and 11.00. If you want to arrange transfers outside these hours or the next day, we can organise a taxi service for you at extra cost.
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.