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Join Odysseia Stables for a week-long horse riding holiday in Greece, on the island of Crete! This intensive program teaches the new rider the English riding style in a very direct approach. At the end of the course, the rider will be able to walk and trot independently, feeling secure on and around the horse, make an easy outside trip, tack the horse independently, and make a start with the canter.
The Country Hotel Velani is perched high on a hillside overlooking the Lake Aposelemis in the foothills of the Dikti Mountains. It is a secret haven hidden in a rocky wilderness of ancient stone and protected Kermes oak forest. It is these oak trees with their evergreen leaves and "Velani" fruits that gave the hotel its name.
A charming hotel in a serene quietness with spacious and comfortable rooms. All rooms have a breathtaking view and give you a feeling of relaxing with nature on your doorstep. The owners of this family-run hotel, Sabine and Manolis Fragkakis, welcome you with personal warmth and Greek hospitality.
The Country Hotel, with its four-hectare estate, has next-to-the-field for the horses to roam, also various gardens for fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers as well as an olive grove for the production of their own olive oil. The Velani restaurant uses its own fruit and vegetables to prepare the famous healthy Cretan diet; the kitchen utilizes our home-grown produce as well as that of the local farms and surrounding villages.
Try typically Greek dishes with extra virgin olive oil, Cretan wine made from ancient grape species, meat and cheese from the free-ranging sheep and goats of the neighbors, honey from the local beekeeper, and eggs from their own free-ranging chickens.
The hotel has 12 rooms, grouped into two bungalows. The bungalows lay quietly separate from the main activities and are surrounded by nature. The rooms are large and comfortable and all have a tremendous view over the Langada Valley with lake Aposelemis.
Personalized wellness experience in the intimacy of your own room.
Personalized wellness experience in the intimacy of your own room and relaxing in your private garden.
This intensive program teaches the new rider the English riding style in a very direct approach. At the end of the course, the rider is able to walk and trot independently, feeling secure on and around the horse, able to make an easy outside trip, tack the horse independently, and you've made a start with the canter. From experience, they know that sportive riders even learn to canter independently.
Arrival, a welcome at Country Hotel Velani, a dive in the pool, and evening diner at the Restaurant Velani. There will be a briefing about the trail route.
Have a private lesson on the lunge without a saddle but with a blanket, the rider holds a vaulting band. The lesson concentrates on finding balance, rider position, and sitting trot. If the rider has a good balance, also a few strides canter are practiced.
Have a private lesson on the lunge with a saddle. Learning the body position with stirrups, sitting trot without holding hands on the saddle, and learning the rising trot. Altogether, have a lesson in tacking and brushing the horse.
Have a group lesson with the other starters, for the first time, independent riding. Learning how to hold the reins, steer, and stop the horse. Practice the use of the lacks as learned before on the lunge. Learning to brush and tack the horse, each rider prepares their own horse with the help of the instructor.
Have a group lesson confirming the learned skills of the last day and more trot. In this lesson, do some games like slalom race, mounting race, etc., to practice the learned skills and to make the pushing lacks more effective. Everybody takes their own horse out of the stable, brushes it, and tack it; the teacher will be correcting mistakes.
The first careful outside hack with a walk and some short trots, sometimes even a small canter (1.5 hours). Children continue inside with a one-hour group lesson or a 30-minute private lesson.
Another outside trip, this time with some longer trots (1.5 hours). Children continue inside with a one-hour group lesson or 30-minute private lesson.
Have breakfast before departure.
The Odysseia Stables is a professional equestrian center located on site of the Country Hotel Velani in Crete. The Stable organizes different horse-riding treks for riders with different riding levels, horse riding lessons for all riding levels, and complete horse-riding holiday weeks.
The Odysseia Stables gives home to 20 beautiful horses. Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, and Arabic horses who are well trained through a logical system of classical dressage giving responsive and willing horses. The horses are kept in horse-friendly stables with lots of space and open-air, social contact with each other, and plenty of raw food for fulfilling the grazing need. This makes our horses healthy and happy travel companions. Odysseia Stables understands that a happy horse makes a happy rider.
In the rural Cretan countryside is plenty of space for horse riding. The dirt roads used when harvesting the abundant olive trees are perfect riding paths and spreading out in all directions. You trot through fertile valleys, canter up the hills, and ride through Greek villages. You will meet the friendly locals, visit the ancient site of Lyttos or ride along the Aposelemis Lake.
Due to the small character of Odysseia, with a maximum of 12 horse riders a week, they can maintain close and personal contact with the guests. The stables have high standards for the horses, facilities, and equipment. They use English saddles.
Space, outside air, and contact with other horses are what give the horses joy, health, and peace!
You will ride on Arabics, Thoroughbreds, and warmblood horses. These breeds have a long breath and a never-tiring will for long-distance riding. They are beautiful and well-trained holiday horses. Always eager to go and very relaxed in the mind. Sure-footed in the mountains and human orientated.
Especially for the novice rider, the stables will use reliable and easy horses, to give them the trust and safety that they need. For the children, the stables have a Welsh B pony, a real children’s pony, very sweat, safe, and with speed. All of them are friendly, well cared for, good fed, regularly trained and they all have an excellent condition for long-distance riding.
Crete, a Greek island in the sun surrounded by a clear blue sea and with mountains rising to 2.5 kilometers, makes a rough and wild landscape. Here is still unlimited space to ride horses in the peace and quietness of nature. Ride among a land dotted with olive groves and ancient sites holding timeless myths, take amazing paths way up into the rough mountains enjoying breathtaking views, swim in the clear blue waters, and dry at an abandoned beach.
Visitors should be prepared for numerous nice surprises and for a strong sense of daily life, for the honest and warm hospitality. These characteristics need to be discovered not in the urban centers, but mainly in the remote seaside and mountain villages.
Join in a modern Odyssey of experience and adventure and only then shall your heartbeat be in rhythms long forgotten!
The meals will be on a basis of a full board which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Restaurant Velani. You will start with dinner on the first day until breakfast on the last day. Breakfast and lunch will be served in between standard hours. Dinner will include free choices from the menu and include a starter, main dish, and salad. Reception, café, and restaurant have opening hours. Drinks and desserts are not included.
Restaurant Velani welcomes everybody who wants to experience the local healthy Cretan diet or Greek cuisine. The Cretan diet is famous for being healthy and the use of olive oil. The olive oil is Restaurant Velani's own produce by the olive grove of the estate. The restaurant serves all fresh home cooking with organically grown vegetables and fruit from their own gardens and makes use of local products from nearby farmers. You can enjoy a refreshing drink or Greek dinner after the ride at the terrace with a view of the riding arena.
Every Sunday afternoon, chef Manolis heats up the outdoor oven by burning wood from the restaurant's olive trees. When the oven reaches the right temperature, the wood is removed and the food trays are placed inside, then the door is closed with a paste of ash and water. The food is slowly cooked for hours, making them soft and juicy. For vegetarians, the Cretan kitchen offers a wide range of possibilities.
The Restaurant Velani opens all year from spring to autumn and on a daily basis when they have guests staying at the hotel. In winter, the restaurant opens on Saturdays and Sundays. If you follow a special diet, please inform Odysseia Stables of your reservation so Restaurant Velani can cater for you. Moreover, for groups, it is possible to make arrangements outside normal opening hours.
Heraklion International Airport (Nikos Kazantzakis Airport)
Transfer available for additional US$53 per person
Guests are welcome to check-in/out 24 hours a day, it's necessary to inform the hotel of your arrival/departure time. A rental car is advisable due to the remote location. The room is available from 2 p.m. and check-out is until 12 p.m. Guests are welcome to use the facilities on arrival and departure day all day.
Please book your flight to arrive at Heraklion International Airport (HER). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request.
Transfer from or to the airport, port, or Heraklion is organized. Odysseia Stables will be waiting in the arrival hall with a sign mentioning your name. It is not included in the price but arrivals and departures are included in Odysseia Stables' 24-hour service. However, they need to be informed about your arrival time and flight number. Transfer from Heraklion International Airport (HER) to the hotel is 50 EUR one way. Guests can also share a transfer. Odysseia Stables will inform you and you can share the price per person. Moreover, the transfer from Heraklion center is 55 EUR one way and the transfer from Hersonissos is 25 EUR one way. The prices are for one car with a maximum of four persons.
From Heraklion International Airport (HER), you can also reach Odysseia Stables by renting a car. Odysseia Stables advises you to rent a car in case you like to see more of Crete since the location is remote and public transportations to Avdou are scarce. For several years, Odysseia Stables has happily worked together with a small family business that rents good cars. You can pick up and return the car at Heraklion International Airport (HER), Heraklion city, or the port. Please send an inquiry for more information and the prices.
Furthermore, there is another airport which is Chania International Airport (CHQ) with a three-hour drive away from Odysseia Stables. You may need a rental car to travel from there. If your arrival and departure times are during the day, you can travel by bus from Chania to Hersonissos.
If you want to arrive by public bus to Avdou, you need to be aware that the bus only goes twice a week. Usually, the scheduled departure is at 7 a.m. and the arrival is at 2 p.m. You can make a phone call from the village and Odysseia Stables will pick you up at the bus stop for free. Avdou is not easily reachable by bus. Buses drive in between Heraklion and the Lassithi Plateau on Monday and Friday only with Avdou as the bus stop. Departure from Heraklion is at 2:15 p.m. and departure from Lassithi Plateau is at 5:45 a.m.
There is also a regular bus service in between Heraklion and Hersonissos in the summertime for every half hour. Odysseia Stables can organize a transfer from Hersonissos at the bus station of Spar Supermarket for 25 EUR (one way). For regular bus service from Agios Nikolaos to Hersonissos, Odysseia Stables can also meet you at the bus station of Spar Supermarket.
If you organize your own transfer, you have to be aware that most taxi drivers don’t want to drive the last two kilometers over the unpaved road to the hotel or they will count extra money for this. Please be aware that taxi drivers are not willing to drive the dirt road up to the hotel or charge extra money for this in the end. Taxi transfer to Chania is available, prices are on request, on average, the price is 250 EUR for a maximum of four persons for one way.
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