Horse Riding Holiday: Pyrenees Mountains to Mediterranean Sea
This fantastic trail ride begins at 1,600 m high in the Pyrenees and goes steadily downhill during the week to reach sea level on a Mediterranean beach. The ride begins at Girona Pyrenees which has a commanding view of the Garrotxa forest below, that we’ll enter on the second day. From leafy forest the trail leads on to the Empurdà vineyards and olive groves. From here it’s a short distance to the beach and a point where we can ride into the salt-water.
An un-anticipated aspect of this horse riding holiday is the food: Catalonia has a wealth of home produced delicacies and fresh produce. Every evening the hostess produces local food cooked in traditional ways, and don’t forget the seafood on the coast and the wonderful local wine, making this a journey of gastronomical discovery!
But the real treat is the breed of horse we will be riding, the Andalusian. Muscular, athletic and sensitive, this breed is the foundation stock for many of the breeds in Europe and the Americas. It is used for everything from dressage to cattle herding with driving and show jumping in between. It’s the breed that our own thoroghbred and the American Quarter Horse have been derived from. It’s even the breed favoured by Hollywood for fantasy epics and romantic blockbusters!
Horse Riding in the Spain’s Pyrenees Mountains – Ride summary
The ride begins in mountain meadows then enters the national park rising up to the Pyrennees Mountains; max altitude is 1,200 metres above sea level. Thre are some river crossings and several opportunities to swim with your horse in lakes. There are frequent level sections with smooth trails for a faster pace. Riders should be happy to get over natural obstacles such as rivers, gullies and dips but there is no jumping during this ride.
Pace: walk 60%; trot 25%; canter/gallop 10%, 5% leading horses down steep descents.
Horse Breed: Andalusian and Andalusian cross.
Tack: English and trekking saddles
Rider’s involvement: groom and tack your horse; untack during breaks. Guides available to advise and assist if necessary.
This horse riding holiday takes place in Catalonia which is in the extreme north east of Spain, right up against the French border. The horses are well-mannered Andalusian stock. Nights are spent in “casa rurales” which is best translated as farmhouse B&B or rural guesthouse. We explore some pristine Pyrennean wilderness and have several opportunities to swim, sometimes (where access allows) with your horse.
Day 1. Welcome to Catalonia
The closest airport to the farm is Girona, but Barcelona works too. Give us a call to arrange the flight which can depart from your local airport. We can also arrange the airport transfer in Spain.
From the airport it’s 45 mins to reach Masa Catalana in the Pyrenees, a typical, small Catalan village in the middle of the mountains with traditional stone houses. When you book this ride we ask you to fill in a form which describes your riding experience and the type of horse you like to ride; this information is sent out to the stable owner and this evening you can discuss the form together and match up with the right horse for you.
At dinnertime we’ll go over the week’s ride and talk about the special characteristics of our Andalusian trail horses. Then, you can enjoy a fantastic dinner!
Day 2. Mediterranean “jungle”
6-8 hours riding
This morning head out towards the famous oak forests which are hundreds of years old. We lose a little height and follow secluded paths to reach a pool in the middle of the “jungle” (it’s really a forest of oak and pine trees!) where we can swim with the horses. Take a swim and stop for a picnic lunch, carried in the saddlebags (which are supplied).
After lunch the trail ascends and leads to an old school-house on the edge of the Pyrenees, where we stay for the night. There is a pool here where you can take a late afternoon dip (not the horses this time!)
Day 3. Up to the highest Peaks
6-8 hours riding
Today is all about the mountains, unlike yesterday which was all about the forests. With long canters we ride through the valley of the River Fluvia and rise into the Pyrenees to reach a natural pool on the mountain stream, the Manol. Here you can swim, but it’s not suitable for the horses. After picnic lunch we continue to ascend and cross a pass which gives a fantastic view of the high Pyrenees. We stay overnight close to a beautiful mountain village on the edge of the River Muga – excellent home-cooked meals!
Day 4. The turquois pool
6-7 hours riding
This area is a national park called the Garrotxa. It is famous for its fantastic forest scenery and the amazing limestone formations. The water in the mountain streams is crystal clear and forms a deep turquois pool, surrounded by boulders, another ideal spot for a dip. From these high paths we get the first view of the Mediterranean far below. After the picnic we enter a new vegetation zone, cork oak and chestnut trees. High in the mountains we reach Can Roquet where we overnight, dining with a panoramic view of the mountains.
Day 5. The Sandy Lake
6-8 hours riding
The trail begins to descend and the earth becomes more sandy. We reach another natural lake with a gently sloping, sandy shore, another great place to swim with the horses.
After a picnic and siesta we trot and canter through the vast plain of the Empordà. Our accommodation for the night is a family-run guesthouse in a cosy medieval village.
Day 6. Reaching the Med’!
6-7 hours riding
After breakfast we ride down towards the beach; the trail leads through ancient olive trees and vineyards as we near the coastal mountains of Rodas. The light in this wild and fascinating countryside is impressive which is probably what attracted Salvador Dali.
Our strong Andalusian horses manage the mountains easily and in the afternoon we descend to a picturesque fishermen’s bay. We have reached salt water and can have a swim in the sea! On the terrace of the hotel we conclude the wonderful trail with good wine and a delicious meal.
Day 7. Departure
Breakfast and we can arrange onward travel or transfer back to the airport.
Included in the price
6 nights; twin share rooms; some with shared facilities
5 days riding (Half board)
Luggage transported each day from farmhouse to farmhouse
Not included in the price
Airport transfers (which we can arrange at Barcelona or Girona 150 Euro return)
Alcoholic drinks and beverages
Restaurant & Catering services during the ride: 80,- Euro (payable locally at the first dinner)
Entrance fees to museums and monuments
Accommodation (Based on twin share;) Family run farmhouse B&B 6 nights
Cross-cultural awareness: The Catalans are proud of their heritage and language. They are Catalans first, and Spanish second! The food, language and customs are quite distinct from other parts of Spain.
Rider’s weight: (max) 95kg. Heavier riders please call us.
Guides: an English speaking professional guide accompanies the group throughout.
See also: riding holiday near Malaga