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Circular Trail Horse Riding Holiday Spain

This is a stunning circular trail through the east of the Alpujarras and Sierra Nevada National Park, riding over very diverse and varied terrain, three days at high altitudes. An amazing display of Mediterranean and Alpine flowers cover the mountains in May and June.

Key information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 90 kilograms / 198 pounds
  • Horse Height Range: 14.3 to 16.1 hands
  • Horse Breed: Purebred Andalusian horse (PRE) and Andalusian-Arabian cross horse

Highlights

  • 6 days of riding
  • Approximate daily riding time: 3 to 8 hours
  • Ride the southern slopes of the Alpujarras
  • Climb across the open mountainside to Puerto del Peñon
  • Ride through the spectacular view of the Mulhacen and the Alcazaba
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
  • 7 nights' accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


6 days with instruction
Airport transfer included: Málaga Airport
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
17:00
Check-out Time:
18:00

Accommodation will be in small family-run hotels offering twin bedded rooms with en suite bathrooms. The accommodation is comfortable, very clean, and pleasant. Every effort is made to use the best accommodation available, most of the hotels are small with no more than 12 or 16 rooms. There are no porter services available and most of the rooms are on the first or second floor.

Casa La Sevillana

The place was formerly the rather splendid residence of the local manager of the national electricity supply company, Sevillana. When electricity supply was denationalized in Spain and assets were sold off, the family bought the house, renovated it throughout, and converted it into comfortable and attractive bed and breakfast accommodation in the dramatic setting of the Poquiera Gorge in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in an area known as Las Alpujarras.

The views are breathtaking, snow-capped peaks in the immediate north and towards the Mediterranean Sea in the south. You can even see the Rif Mountains of Africa if the conditions are right. Set in the small, ancient, white-washed village of Bubión, Casa La Sevillana is conveniently placed a few minutes away on the country road which winds up the gorge to Capileira, one of Spain's highest villages. This is a perfect base for you who love mountains and nature.

An intricate network of paths and tracks at all levels will satisfy walkers of every ability and inclination and there is one of Spain's finest stables very close by (the owner lives in the village). Local facilities are excellent. There is ample free parking. Shops, bars, and restaurants are a stone's throw away.

Hotel Rural Los Bérchules

The hotel is run by a family team with extensive knowledge of southern Spain and many years experience in catering. On the outskirts of the village of Bérchules at an altitude of 1320 meters, the hotel is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery and is the ideal location to explore the Alpujarras. You can be sure of a warm and friendly welcome at Hotel Rural Los Bérchules.

It stands on its own grounds with private parking on the outskirts of the village and within easy walking distance to the shops, bars, bank, church, and bus stop. There are 10 en-suite twin bedrooms, four en-suite single bedrooms, restaurant and lounge/bar, library, swimming pool, gardens, Wi-Fi and satellite TV, as well as Ceragem massage bed. The pool is available from June to late September.

Available on request are transport, laundry, special diets, maps, etc. The pinewood paneled lounge/bar overlooks the valley and mountains to the sea. It has comfortable sofas and a wood-burning fireplace. Light meals and refreshments can be served here and outside on the long terrace. The double rooms have en-suite bathrooms and 1.05-meter twin beds with memory foam mattresses and duvets. Each room has a balcony with a table and chairs and beautiful views down the valley.

The gardens are now established with flowers, shrubs, and trees and the swimming pool, with its loungers and sunshades, is for the exclusive use of hotel guests. The pine-paneled dining room seats 35. Guests are welcome to exchange books from the library. Books in the lounge are about the region and its history, as well as on cookery, travel, and other topics of interest. There are also games and puzzles, maps and postcards, and information on walks and places of local interest.

La Fragua

Hotel La Fragua is situated in Trevélez, one of the few places in Spain where the environment allows to cure ham through a natural process. The hotel complements the tourist promotion with two hotels and a smart restaurant trying to keep the essence of the Alpujarra. They also contribute to preserving the local patrimony supporting the local culture and gastronomy.

  • Night 1: Casa la Sevillana
  • Night 2: Hotel La Fragua
  • Night 3: Hotel Berchules
  • Night 4: Yegen
  • Night 5: Overnight in a refuge (Shared rooms, blankets are provided but you need to bring your own sheets or a sleeping bag and towel)
  • Night 6: Hotel La Fragua
  • Night 7: Bubion

Program

The first two days of this spectacular ride pass through the southern slopes of the Alpujarras following the ancient Moorish paths and forestry tracks between the picturesque white villages. On the third day, climb to the Peñon del Puerto and maintain an altitude of over 2,700 meters, follow the ridge east to the Puerto del Lobo and the Altos de San Juan.

Seemingly endless vista of mountains and plains give an amazing sense of space and wilderness. On the fourth day, keeping an altitude of between 2,000 and 2,500 meters, the trail passes through the summer pastures and woodlands of the northern slopes. On day five, the path crosses the high peaks at nearly 3,000 meters to the south side of Sierra Nevada and the Sierra of Trevelez. On day six, head home on forestry tracks.

A reasonable level of fitness is required, as much of this ride is at high altitude (2 days at over 2,700 meters), on three days, there are sections where it is necessary to lead your horse downhill on rough uneven ground for up to an hour. On one night, you are in a high mountain refuge of Postero Also where it is necessary to share rooms. The other nights are all in comfortable hotels or guest houses.

Day 1

Transfer from Malaga airport to the village of Bubion at the designated time. While in Bubion, you will be staying in the charming Casa la Sevillana, a comfortable 19th-century townhouse with seven bedrooms with private shower rooms, a large patio, sitting room, breakfast room, located in the heart of the village within a minute's walk from the local restaurants and cafes. Dinner with the rest of the riders and a briefing on the following days' activities.

Day 2

After breakfast, you will be driven for 5 kilometers to the stables and introduced to your horse for the week. Today, head east to the village of Trevelez. The ride starts with a leisurely morning allowing you to become acquainted with your horse. Following a combination of tracks and bridle paths through pine and oak woods, cross over into the valley of La Taha, passing the villages of Pitres and Portugos.

  • To Trevelez

After a picnic lunch in the shade of the pines, join the main forestry track leading to the village of Trevelez. During the afternoon, there are opportunities for some good trots and canters. Overnight in the village of Trevelez, renowned for its air-cured ham (serrano ham) and at an altitude of 1,476 meters, the highest village in Spain. The final descent into the village is approximately a 15-minute walk on the old bridle path. Overnight and dinner at Hotel La Fragua with a swimming pool.

Day 3: Approximately 6 hours of riding

Continuing east, cross the river of Trevelez and follow the centuries-old bridle path winding its way along the Moorish irrigation channel. Leaving the oak woods, below the path climbs steeply through pine woods to approximately 2,200 meters to join a forestry track leading over into the valley of Berchules.

After a picnic lunch in the shade of the woods, continue along the track passing high mountain farms and pastures. The track follows the contour of the valley deep into the mountains, maintaining an altitude of approximately 2,000 meters, there are wonderful views of the high Sierras ahead and the valley below.

During the afternoon, have some nice canters. The horses spend the night up in the mountains and the riders are driven down to the village of Berchules for approximately 45 minutes. Overnight in the very comfortable Hotel Berchules with a swimming pool.

Day 4: Approximately 8 hours of riding

A spectacular route taking you up to approximately 2,800 meters, following the ridge forming the very backbone of the east mountains of Sierra Nevada. After breakfast, drive back up the mountain to the horses. The first 4 kilometers of the ride continue on the main forestry track until picking up the path leading cross country high into the mountains; picnic on the route.

  • To the summit

On reaching the summit, leave the path to follow the vast open ridge east to the peak of San Juan. It is difficult to convey in words the grandeur, space, and wilderness of these mountains.

From San Juan, steep and stony descent on foot of approximately 40 minutes. After which, mount up and ride the final hour down to the edge of the pine woods where the horses spend the night, and you are driven to the village of Yegen for approximately an hour. Overnight in Yegen.

Day 5: Approximately 6 hours of riding

Today, pass over to the north face of the Sierra Nevada and another day of spectacular views and unspoiled nature.

  • Varied terrain

The terrain today is very varied as you make your way west, crossing numerous steep summer pastures and snow-fed mountain streams. Following small and often steep cattle paths, cross deep gullies and ravines, mountain streams, and old irrigation channels passing through small summer farms now just used for cattle and sheep.

  • The refugio

Dropping down to the tree line, follow the path through the shade of the pines to reach the mountain refuge of Postero Alto (1,900 meters) where you will spend the night. Picnic on the route. Overnight and dinner in the refuge, shared rooms, blankets are provided but you need to bring your own sheets or a sleeping bag and towel.

Day 6: Approximately 8 hours of riding.

The morning starts with a climb of nearly 1,000 meters to cross over the Puerto de Trevelez to the south of Sierra Nevada. Near the summit, you'll often skirt around snowdrifts, stopping to rest the horses at the snow-fed streams. Once on the south side, follow small cattle and sheep trails maintaining an altitude of approximately 2,500 meters. Spectacular view across the valley to the snow-capped peaks of the Mulhacen and Alcazaba.

  • The Aquecias

Late morning, ride along an old Moorish irrigation channel for about 30 minutes, often, the channel is running and horses and people enjoy the cool splashing water.

Early afternoon commence the descent to the tree line where you will picnic. In the later part of the afternoon, following a steep and narrow path down to the river of Trevelez. The descent takes approximately two hours of which at least an hour and a half are on foot. Overnight in Hotel La Fragua with a swimming pool.

Day 7: Approximately 3 to 4 hours of riding

Today is a short ride, following the forestry track through pine and oak woods, return directly to the stables high above the villages of the Poqueira. This route not only offers wonderful views out over the Contraviesa mountains and the Mediterranean sea but some good opportunities for canters.

Return to base, have a late lunch in the village of Capileira or Bubion. The afternoon is free for some last-minute shopping and a well-deserved siesta. Overnight in the village of Bubion and farewell dinner.

Day 8

Transfer to Malaga.

The trails

With more than 30 years of knowledge of this region, Dallas has chosen a selection of trails offering an amazing diversity of terrains, views, and flora. The rides follow ancient bridle paths and drovers routes, dating back to the Moorish occupation and before. Many of these paths have been in use for a thousand years or more, as have the terraces and irrigation channels they transverse.

Through parts of the mountains, there are more recent dirt tracks providing opportunities for canters and gallops, as do some of the riverbeds on the spring and autumn rides. The paths in many places are built into rocks and on some of the steeper descents, it is necessary to lead your horse. Likewise, it is necessary to lead the horses through the narrow village streets.

The horses

Meet the horse family. Much more than a business, the horses are Sierra Trails' way of life. Their wellbeing, care, and training are their highest priority. When not working, the horses live as a herd in a free, happy, and natural environment. The horses enjoy their work, like being with people, and are a pleasure to ride.

  • PRE

Pure-bred Andalucian (PRE) and Andalucian Arab or Sport horse crosses, ranging from 145 centimeters (14.3 hands) to 165 centimeters (16.1 hands). Most of the horses come to Sierra Trails as youngsters and most of them stay with them for life. They have been carefully selected for their good natures (a trait of the Spanish horse) and endurance.

  • Happy horses

The horses are fit, happy, and strong, they lead a happy and healthy life, when not working they are out together as a herd in the home paddock or free on the mountain pastures. In the yard, each horse has its own loose box for the colder winter nights or hot summer days. As a result, they are not sour, they work well as a team and enjoy being with people.

  • Correctly started

When bringing in new horses, ideally, Sierra Trails prefer for them to be un-broken and un-handled, so ensuring that they are correctly started. This initial contact and groundwork are essential for a good future working relationship with people. Most of the horses have been started, backed, and schooled by Mordecai Love.

Mordecai trained in Portugal as a classical dressage rider and has dedicated his life to working with horses. In addition to his passion for classical dressage, he is also very interested in Western training techniques.

  • Time and patience

A confident and happy horse is a safer horse and a better trail companion. The horses are usually backed and started between 4 and 5 years of age, it is important they are self-confident and physically strong before commencing with any schooling or trail work. Normally, the horses do not start trekking with clients until they are at least 7 years of age.

Most of the horses have basic classical training, helping to keep them supple and strong, so enabling them to carry your weight with balance and comfort. They are light, responsive, and forward-going, enjoy their work, and like being with people. These are not the average riding school or trail horse, but well-bred and schooled horses, responsive, and fun to ride. One of the most frequent comments from riders is that the quality and schooling of the horses far exceeded their highest expectations.

  • Individual characters

There is a selection of horses to suit different riding levels and great care is taken in the selection of horses according to the riding abilities and preferences of each individual. Sierra Trails keep about 22 horses and each one has its own personality, each special in its own way. Knowing very well their different characters is essential in matching horse to rider.

  • The Andalusian

Also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE (pura raza española), is a horse breed from the Iberian Peninsula, where its ancestors have lived for thousands of years.

  • History of the PRE

The Andalusian has been recognized as a distinct breed since the 15th century and its conformation has changed very little over the centuries. Throughout its history, it has been known for its prowess as a warhorse and was prized by the nobility. The breed was used as a tool of diplomacy by the Spanish government and kings across Europe rode and owned Spanish horses.

  • Conformation

Strongly built and compact yet elegant, Andalusians have long, thick manes, and tails. Their most common coat color is grey, although they can be found in many other colors. They are known for their intelligence, sensitivity, and docility.

Riding ability

These rides are suitable for competent to experienced riders, the horses are well schooled and forward going. It is expected that you are comfortable riding outdoors at all paces. There are a limited number of horses available for less experienced riders, but you still need to be comfortable at walking, trot, and canter on a quiet horse. Please send an inquiry if you wish to consult regarding your riding skills.

You will need to be able to mount and dismount without assistance, however, there are plenty of banks, stones, and rocks en route that makes for handy mounting blocks. The weight limits are:

  • 90 kilograms / 198 pounds for experienced riders.
  • 75 kilograms / 165 pounds novice/intermediate riders

Fitness

You will need to have a reasonable level of fitness to participate on one of these rides. In addition to being riding fit, you will need to be walking fit as on some of the steeper descents, you will have to lead your horses over rough uneven ground. Please note that these are mountain trail rides often at high altitudes so it's not suitable if you have a heart condition, suffer from vertigo, or have trouble walking downhill.

Location

The stunning Poqueira Valley

The stables are situated in the spectacular valley of Poqueira, above the picturesque villages of Pampaneira, Bubion, and Capileira at 1650 meters they are possibly the highest stables in Europe.

Close to the Costa Del Sol

Just over an hour's drive to the coast, an hour and 15 minutes to Granada, and a little over 2 hours from Malaga, The Sierra Nevada covers an area of approximately 2,000 square kilometers in the provinces of Granada and Almeria in the south of Spain.

Incredible Sierra Nevada National Park

Sierra Nevada National park covers 86,210 hectares and the Natural Park, another 86,000 hectares, making it the largest park in Spain. With more than 20 peaks over 3,000 meters, it forms the highest mountain range on the mainland. The many microclimates have given rise to the richest botanical life in Europe. 2,100 plants have been cataloged in the park, 60 of which are unique to the area.

Bérchules

Bérchules is located on the southern slope of Sierra Nevada Natural Park, in the high mountain between beautiful places and sources of ferruginous and carbonated waters. It has a spring called Fuente Agria and is located in the hollow of the Guadalfeo River. Its white houses with flat roofs and its stepped streets, perfectly adapted to the broken terrain, make up the typical Alpujarra architecture.

The originality of its urbanism, the integration of the people in the landscape, the historical monumental resources as well as the customs and traditions make this municipality a very appropriate place for the development of rural tourism and the complementary activities that this sector carries with it. The set of all architectural, cultural, and landscape features make Bérchules an exceptional tourist destination.

The name Bérchules is derived from the ancient Arabic 'vergel' or pasture. It was a collection of wealthy smallholdings and a center for the silk trade. Mulberry trees still line one of the prettiest local walks leading to the ruins of the silk factory, with its perfect Moorish arch still intact, now a delightful spot for a picnic.

The town perches on the mountainside above the deep river gorge, the source of the Guadalfeo. Behind is the snow-capped Sierra Nevada and all around are terraced and irrigated farmlands. There are great old chestnut trees, cherry, peach, and apple orchards, and fields of cherry tomatoes, green beans, raspberries, and strawberries. You will hear the tinkling of bells of all sizes on the sheep, goats, and cattle and the jolly song of multitudes of birds.

The Moors' influence is still visible in Berchules, with its steep, narrow, cobbled streets, more comfortable for mules than for cars or humans. The higgledy-piggledy houses compete with their displays of colorful plants and there are many fountains, washing houses, and drinking troughs. There are two banks (one with a cash dispenser), a few shops, a chemist, a doctor's surgery, a library, a school, and a helicopter pad for emergencies plus several bars for tapas.

Trevélez

Trevélez is a village located in the well-known national park of Sierra Nevada and within the historical region of La Alpujarra. Trevélez is also known for its excellent hams, scenic beauties, a strategic location within the region of La Alpujarra, and also for being the highest village in Spain.

Food

You will be served breakfast, lunch, and dinner for daily. The food is fresh local produce. The area is famous for its air-cured hams (jamon serrano), cheese, and trout. Special effort is made to offer the visitor to sample the different local dishes, ordering what each place cooks best.

On most evenings, dinner will be in your hotel, normally offering a selection of 2 or 3 different daily menus. Some hotels will offer a set menu determined a day in advance and offer vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Lunches on most days will be a full, homemade picnic, fresh salads, local cheeses, cold cuts, home-cooked meats, dips, etc. Sierra Trails endeavors each day to provide varied meals prepared using local products. Please specify if you have any special dietary requirements or food allergies.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

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

  • Vegetarian
  • 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

What's included

  • 6 days of riding
  • Services of a guide
  • A backup vehicle for luggage
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Roundtrip airport transfers at a pre-arranged time

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Personal and medical insurance
  • Personal expenses

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Airport: Málaga Airport Airport transfer included: Málaga Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Saturday June 4, 2022
(8 days / 7 nights)

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