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8 Days Intensive Beginner Horse Riding Holiday in Crete, Greece

Country Hotel Velani, Velani 46, Avdou, Hersonissos, 70005, Crete, Greece

In-Depth Horse Riding Holiday in Greece

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.

Key information

  • Tack type: English tack
  • Horse breed: Arabian, Thoroughbred, and Warmblood

Highlights

  • 6 days of riding
  • Approximate daily riding time: 1-2 hours
  • 2 group lessons and 2 private lunge lessons
  • Safe learning facilities and use of well-schooled horses
  • 2 days of hacking out in nature included
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
  • 7 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Beginner

Styles


6 days with instruction
Airport transfer available:
Heraklion International Airport (US$55 per person)
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
14:00
Check-out Time:
10:30

Facilities

  • Horse riding
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Café
  • Concierge desk
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Restaurant
  • Special menu request
  • Terrace
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Tour assistance
  • Patio

You will be accommodated at Odysseia Stables' equestrian hotel, Country Hotel Velani. The moment you arrive on the hillside, you will experience the serene quietness and the tremendous panoramic view. Under the hotel, stretches the Langada Valley with the Apposelemis River crossing through.

Above Country Hotel Velani, rises the red-colored peaks of the Dikti mountains. Birds of prey, like the griffon vulture, glide along these peaks. The estate is surrounded by protected kermes oak forest and olive groves stretching down to the valley.

On the estate, many protected trees and flowers can be found, such as a different type of beautiful orchids. The hotel suits its surrounding as it is built with real natural stones collected from the land it stands on, giving it a robust and natural look. The hotel has a neo-classic style creating a romantic atmosphere for long summer nights.

The main building houses the reception and a café with a large balcony on which you can drink your Greek coffee or rakí. In the main building, you can also find Restaurant Veláni with its large terrace overlooking the riding place and the valley.

Next to the main building lays the naturally formed large swimming pool that is 100 square meters in size (130 to 160 meters deep) with a separate and lower situated children’s pool of 11 square meters (40 centimeters deep).

Every day, there is a room cleaning service and towel change at the Country Hotel Velani. Once a week, the sheets are changed, as well. You can also enjoy a free use of sunbeds. The reception, café, and restaurant have opening hours.

The 12 hotel rooms are grouped into two bungalows, each housing six rooms. The bungalows lay quietly separate from the main activities. The rooms are large and comfortable and all have a tremendous view over the valley. Each room has a large bathroom with bathtub.

The rooms have central heating and air conditioning (both included in the price), a fridge, a flat screen TV with international channels, a hairdryer, a large glass door of two meters, and a private balcony or terrace. Most rooms are equipped with a wood stove (the wood is not included in the price). There are three types of rooms, including Grand Comfort, Panorama VIP, and Family Luxury.

Grand Comfort

The Grand Comfort room is a two-person room that sleeps one to three persons. The total room surface is 23 square meters. The room has a terrace with private garden and a bathroom with toilet and bathtub.

Panorama VIP

The Panorama VIP room is a three-person room that sleeps two to four persons. The total room surface is 29 square meters with a balcony. The bathroom has a bathtub and a separate shower cabin. The toilet is housed in a separate room.

Family Luxury

The Family Luxury room is a four-person room that sleeps two to five persons. This room actually comprises two Grand Comfort rooms that are connected through a door.

The stables

Odysseia Stables is a small friendly stable home to 18 horses. Due to the small character of Odysseia, with a maximum of 10 horse riders a week, they are able to maintain a close and personal contact with the guests. The stables are designed in a way to be as close as possible to the physical needs of the horses. The facilities include:

  • 14 stables with an open connection to the turnout paddocks, giving the horses the choice to go in or out
  • A horse shower
  • Bathroom / changing room and toilets for the guests
  • Outdoor arena (15 x 12 meters) for lunging
  • Outdoor arena (42 x 20 meters) with an all-weather proof floor and a small tribune
  • Tack room

Odysseia Stables has high standards for their 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. That is why the horses not only enjoy a large stable with an open turnout paddock, but they also have the possibility for social contact.

Most of the horses are stabled in pairs in one large stable of 6.2 x 3.2 meters, and the separations in between the stables are half open. The roof all around is openly giving the horses a constant flow of fresh air. Also, the top of the roof has an open construction, leaving hot air to travel out.

Program

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, able to make an easy outside trip, tack the horse independently, and make a start with the canter. From experience, Odysseia Stables know that even sportive riders learn to canter independently.

Daily itinerary

Day 1

  • Arrival, a welcome at Country Hotel Velani, a dive in the pool, and evening diner at the Restaurant Velani
  • A briefing about the trail route

Day 2

  • Private lesson on the lunge without saddle but with blanket, the rider holds a vaulting band. The lesson concentrates on finding balance, rider position, and sitting trot. If the rider has good balance, a few strides canter are practiced (30 minutes).

Day 3

  • Private lesson on the lunge with saddle. Learning the body position with stirrups, sitting trot without holding hands on the saddle, and learning the rising trot (30 minutes).
  • Altogether, a lesson in tacking and brushing the horse (30 minutes)

Day 4

  • Group lesson with the other starters, for the first time independent riding. Learning how to hold the rains, 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 its own horse with the instructor's help (1 hour).

Day 5

  • Group lesson confirming the learned skills of the last day and more trot. During this lesson, you will 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 tacks it, while the teacher corrects the mistakes (1 hour).

Day 6

  • The first careful outside hack with 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.

Day 7

  • Another outside trip, this time with some longer trots (1.5 hours). Children continue inside with a one-hour group lesson or a 30-minute private lesson.

Day 8

  • Breakfast and departure

Note: This program has six riding days.

Location

This riding holiday will take place at the Odysseia Stables in Greece, in the middle of the island of Crete. The stable location is 40 kilometers east of the city of Heraklion. The stable is situated on a rural road, two kilometers outside of the village of Avdou, in the municipality of Hersonissos. There is an 18-hole golf course located seven kilometers away.

The traditional Greek village of Avdou lies one kilometer from the hotel and has 250 inhabitants. Here, time stands still. The wide sandy beach of Anissaras lies 15 kilometers away, while Heraklion International Airport (HER) is 40 kilometers from the hotel.

Crete

Crete, a Greek island in the sun, surrounded by a clear blue sea, with mountains rising to 2.5 kilometers (8,000 feet) and a coastline 1000 kilometers (650 miles) in length, makes a rough and wild landscape. The island is blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate, gorges, and fertile plains. Here, there is still unlimited space to ride a horse in the peace and quiet of nature.

You can 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.

The visitor should be prepared for numerous nice surprises and a strong sense of daily life, as well as honest and warm hospitality. These characteristics need to be discovered not in the urban centers, but mainly in the remote seaside and mountain villages.

Situated in between three continents (Europe, Africa, and Asia) and conquered by many invaders, Crete has become an island rich in history. In Heraklion, there is the ancient site of Knossos and the Minoan culture, the cradle of the European continent. Together with the pleasant Cretans and the Greek "filotimo" (hospitality), it is an island worth visiting.

Distances

  • Avdou, 1 kilometer
  • An 18-hole golf course, 7 kilometers
  • Anissaras, 15 kilometers
  • Heraklion International Airport (HER), 40 kilometers

Notes

Please note that the hotel, restaurant, pool, and stables are reunited under the same location.

Features

Activities

  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Massage
  • Mountain biking
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Paragliding

General

  • Air-conditioned rooms
  • Balcony
  • Café
  • Concierge desk
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Fireplace
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Restaurant
  • River
  • Special menu request
  • Terrace
  • Patio

Services

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hair dryer
  • Room cleaning

Food

The stay is on a full board basis at Restaurant Velani, starting with dinner on the first day until breakfast on the last day. Breakfast and lunch are served in between standard hours. Dinner includes a free choice from the menu and comprises a starter, main dish, and salad. Please note that drinks and desserts are not included.

Restaurant Velani

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 is based on 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 on 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 it soft and juicy. For vegetarians, the Cretan kitchen offers a wide range of possibilities.

The restaurant is open all year round, 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 when you make a reservation, so Restaurant Velani can cater for you. Moreover, for groups, it is possible to make arrangements outside normal opening hours.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

  • A trip to the Lasithi Plateau
  • A visit to the Aqua fun park
  • A visit to the island of Spinalonga with small fishing boats from Plaka
  • A visit to the traditional village of Amariano
  • A visit to the village of Krasi with a water spring and a very large old Platanus tree
  • Aromatherapy massage
  • Birdwatching at the dam lake of Aposelemis
  • Caving (speleology)
  • Greek cooking class
  • Hiking
  • Mochos village visit for a drink on its central village square
  • Mountain biking
  • Mountain climbing for all levels
  • Organized tours from the harbor in Elounda or Agios Nikolaos
  • Paragliding for experienced flyers
  • Sea aquarium visit
  • Sightseeing tour of Knossos and the archeological museum in Heraklion
  • Swedish massage
  • Thai massage
  • Tour of the Minoan Palace in Malia

What's included

  • 6 days of riding
  • Daily room cleaning and towel change, once a week sheets change
  • Free use of sun beds
  • 24-hour arrivals and departures service (the hotel needs to be informed about arrival time and flight number)
  • Breakfast, lunch, and diner
  • 7 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers (50 EUR per trip)
  • Drinks and desserts
  • Laundry service (maximum 10 kilograms per wash, 15 EUR)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving directions from Agios Nikolaos

  • In Agios Nikolaos, take the national highway in the direction of Heraklion.
  • Take the exit to Kastelli or Lasithi Plateau (Oropedio).
  • At the end of the exit, turn left in the direction of Oropedio or the golf course.
  • Drive past the golf course.
  • Do not take the Mochos exit from the highway as this route to the hotel will take much longer due to the mountains.
  • The road will split in direction of Lasithi Plateau (Oropedio) and Kastelli.
  • Here, follow Lasithi Plateau.
  • Follow this road until you drive into Avdou.
  • Drive past a large supermarket and the dam lake of Aposelemis.
  • In Avdou, follow the signs of Country Hotel Velani and Odysseia Stables.
  • Turn to the right into a small street after Avdou Restaurant.
  • The road becomes an unpaved rural road.
  • Drive uphill until you meet the hotel entrance.

Driving directions from Heraklion

  • From the airport or port of Heraklion, follow the signs to the national highway in the direction of Agios Nikolaos.
  • Stay on the highway for about 25 kilometers.
  • Take the exit to Kastelli or Lasithi Plateau (Oropedio).
  • At the end of the exit, turn right in the direction of Lasithi Plateau or a golf course.
  • Drive past the golf course.
  • The road will split in the directions of Lasithi Plateau (Oropedio) and Kastelli.
  • Here, follow Lasithi Plateau.
  • Drive past a large supermarket and the dam lake of Aposelemis.
  • In Avdou, follow the signs of Country Hotel Velani and Odysseia Stables.
  • Turn to the right into a small street after Avdou Restaurant.
  • The road becomes an unpaved rural road.
  • Drive uphill until you meet the hotel entrance.

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Heraklion International Airport (HER). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request.

The transfer is not included in the price and costs 50 EUR per trip (one way) with a maximum of four guests. If possible, you will share the transfer (and the costs) with other guests.

In case more guests can share a transfer, Odysseia Stables will inform you and you will share the price. Odysseia Stables' driver will be waiting in the arrival hall, near the exit door, opposite desk 28, and holding a paper with your name written on it. In case of any delays or flight changes, please inform Odysseia Stables.

Arrival by bus

Avdou is not easily reachable by bus, so if you want to arrive by public bus to Avdou, you need to be aware that bus routes are available only twice a week (Monday and Friday), between Heraklion and Lassithi Plateau. Departure from Heraklion is at 2:15 p.m., while departure from Lasithi Plateau is at 5:45 p.m. Your bus stop is in Avdou. Here, you can make a phone call from the village and Odysseia Stables will pick you up from the bus stop for free.

There is also a regular bus service in between Heraklion and Hersonissos. In summertime, it is available every half hour. Odysseia Stables can organize a transfer from Hersonissos (the bus station at SPAR Supermarket) for 25 EUR per way. Also, for traveling by bus from Agios Nikolaos to Hersonissos (regular bus service), Odysseia Stables can meet you at the bus station at the SPAR supermarket.

Arrival by ferry / boat

Transfer from the port in Heraklion can be arranged. The transfer is not included in the price and costs 50 EUR per trip (per way) with a maximum of four guests. If possible, you will share the transfer (and the costs) with other guests. In case more guests can share a transfer, Odysseia Stables will inform you and you will share the price.

Arrival by taxi

If you organize your own transfer, you have to be aware of the fact that most taxi drivers don’t want to drive the last two kilometers on unpaved road to the hotel or they will charge extra money for this. However, please make sure that the driver is willing to drive the last two kilometers on the rural dirt road and they do not charge you an extra 10 EUR for the last two kilometers from Avdou to the hotel.

Airport: Heraklion International Airport Airport transfer available: Heraklion International Airport (US$55 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 21 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Availability

This vacation is available until January 10, 2021, please select an arrival date below.

Seasonal dates 2019
Low season
  • January 9 - March 16
  • November 4 - December 14
High season
  • March 17 - November 3
  • December 15 - December 31
Seasonal dates 2020
Low season
  • January 11, 12
  • February 15 - March 21
  • November 2 – December 13
High season
  • January 1 - 10
  • March 22 - November 1
  • December 14 - January 10

Between January 13, 2020 and February 14, 2020, the hotel and stables are closed.

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