The Alpujarra Trail Ride
Malaga is the gateway to reach “Las Alpujarras” where this horse riding holiday in Spain takes place. Explore the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and follow old Moorish mule paths and valleys where oxen still pull the plough and harvest the crops. Each day the ride passes through different terrain; pine forests and alpine meadows, wooded valleys, gorges and groves of almonds, olives and oranges.
This one week can begin on any Saturday, throughout the year, but there will be snow on the higher slopes in the mid-winter months.
Here is an opportunity not only to discover spectacular landscapes and inspiring scenery, but to experience a culture where tradition remains very much part of everyday life. And the real bonus is that it’s all done aboard a well-mannered, forward-going Andalusian!
Horse riding holiday Spain
Day 1: Saturday
The flight is not included with this itinerary, but we can arrange flights and regional UK departures. On arrival in Malaga or Granada we can arrange a transfer (to meet any flight) to the tiny spa town of Lanjaron in the foothills of the Alpujarras. Welcome to your horse riding holiday in Spain! If you plan to self-drive we will supply detailed route notes. Settle in to the farmhouse accommodationa and meet your hostess Ann. Dinner will be prepared using home produced ingrediants and locally sourced supplies. Overnight at the casa.
Day 2: Sunday
Today we will meet our guides and the horses. The stable is 10 minutes’ drive higher up the mountain at 700 m above sea level (asl). There are trial rides to match horse and rider, and an outdoor school to have a “test drive” before we set off on the horse riding holiday Spain. We begin the ride by heading north, climbing up above the Lanjaron River gorge through ancient oak forests towards the summit of the Pico del Caballo, reaching over 2,000 m asl before descending via logging trails in the pine forests to reach Puente Palo for a picnic lunch.
In the afternoon head east to an idyllic spot high on the slopes of the Poqueria valley, to reach a remote mountain cottage retreat. Views extend across the Poqueria valley to the white-washed mountain villages of Capileira, Bubion and Pampaniera, the “Puebla Blanco”.
Day 3: Monday
Follow the Poqueria valley, climbing gradually, along a little known path through almost silent cattle meadows and farmland, climbing steadily towards the peak of Mulhacen, 3,479m the highest peak in Spain. The views are spectacular with Mulhacen forming the dramatic backdrop to this hidden-away valley. After a picnic lunch at the remote refugio we take the Acequia trail which dates from Moorish times, back to our cottage high in the mountains.
Day 4: Tuesday
Today we head south descending through mountain meadows on old mule tracks that were once the main route to Greece. There’s plenty of time to pause along the way at Los Llanos, a mountain pub, for a sharpener or bracing shot of coffee. We make our way through the olive groves of Padre Eterno for a picnic lunch. Our overnight stop tonight is a short ride away above the tiny town of Tijola, below the tiny chapel on the hillside overlooking el Rio Guadalfeo. Here we have a feast and a chance for a cool dip in the reservoir. Alternatively, there is time to drop off the saddlebags and go for a short and fast pre-supper gallop.
Day 5: Wednesday
Down through the olive groves of Cerro Negro, to the small white washed towns of Tijola and Orgiva where we dismount for a stroll around the local market. The market offers a wide range of local produce and artisan products as well as clothes, farming tools and souvenirs. After the market we have a faster ride over the firmer ground on the valley floor before stopping for a picnic on the hillside overlooking mount Lugar and the impressive mountains of the Sierra de la Contraviesa. The final leg is to ride up above the town to reach our cottage for the night.
Day 6: Thursday
A lovely long trail ride as we head up cobbled mule paths through an ancient chestnut forest to the waterfalls of the Rio de Lanjaron. West towards the La Valle de Lecrin, with awesome views across the plains to Granada as we sit under an ancient chestnut tree for a picnic. After lunch we follow the old moorish water channels down into the town of Lanjaron and stop for refreshment in the town, before heading up narrow bridle paths to the Casa where is all began. Time for a dip in the pool and a farmhouse supper.
Day 7: Friday
The final day of your horse riding holiday in Spain takes uyou along old Roman and Moorish bridle paths to the valley of Beneficio, where you reach the the immense riverbed of the Rio Guadalfeo heading towards the nearby sea. The horses stop for a splash and a drink, before we cross the valley, picnicking under olive trees before a fast climb back up to the Ranch.
Day 8: Saturday
A fond farewell and we transfer back to the airport for the flight home; or your onward travel.
Duration: 8 days (7 nights)
Days in-the-saddle: 6 days
Total distance ridden: 215 km
Average time per day in saddle: 5 ½ hours
Getting there: From London to either Malaga or Granada and transfer by road 1.5 hours to Lanjaron stables.
Weather: The average temperature for Spring and Autumn daytime is 28°C to 30°C with night time temp falling to 20°C. October will more likely be on average 26°C during the day and 17°C at night. Extremes are possible and in the mountains it can drop to 13°C at night. It is unlikely to rain but there is always the possibility of autumn showers.
Terrain: The trails are mostly well established but uneven in places. The route is mountainous with some steep slopes which may either unnerve or exhilarate! There are plenty of opportunities to canter or gallop, but occasionally we will have to lead our horses downhill when the terrain is too steep. There are river crossings but the water level will be monitored and assessed before crossing.
Pace: Walk 70%; Trot 15%; Canter/Gallop 15%
Horse Breeds: The stable has 25 horses which are mostly purebred Andalucians; Some Arab x Andalucian (Hispano-arab) – a fantastic mix! One very large pure bred Appaloosa (17’1); Several cob Percheron / Breton x Andalucian; some Breton, Asturcon and pure bred Arab.
Tack: The saddle styles are mainly English with a couple of Western saddles. The bits are mostly snaffles with some happy mouth pelhams and vulcanite pelhams.
Rider’s involvement: on this horse riding holiday in Spain it’s left up to each rider; you can get involved with the grooming and tacking of your horse as much or as little as you wish. Help and advice will always be close at hand.
Rider’s weight: 85 Kg max
Best season for ride: Spring and Autumn
Accommodation is based on twin share. Please ask for details about single room accommodation.
Distance from urban areas: Day 2 and 3’s are 45 minutes’ drive from the nearest village. The other accommodation is within 7km of the nearest small village.
Guide: Sarah has been riding for 35 years, loves taking on problem horses and working hard to turn them around. She has schooled all the horses at the Ranch and is very proud of her beautiful, willing team herd. The horses are part of the family. Sarah is married with 2 children and fosters/re-homes stray dogs and cats making it quite the menagerie at the farm!