The Catalan Culture and Beach Trail is the perfect way to discover the Catalan coast, with beautiful scenery, a rich medieval history and a great artistic heritage. This region was voted one of the “Best of the World Destinations 2012” by National Geographic Traveller Magazine and deservedly so. Gallop through surf on unspoilt sandy beaches, ride through old villages, passing Romanesque churches on this fast exhilarating point to point riding trail.
As well as the long sandy beaches you will also discover a nature reserve, the Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l’Emporda. This Park has been designated as both a RAMSAR site and an Important Bird Area. The Park is built on marshy land and shelters predominantly aquatic birds. More than 300 different species have been sighted here. Riding through the magnificent rivermouth “La Gola”, which is a protected natural area, will give you a view of the coastal plant life and the fauna of maritime-land areas of Costa Brava.
This ride has it all: fit and forward going Andalucian horses, beaches, sand, natural dunes, precious villages, castles and churches. Discover small medieval sites such Peretallada and Torroella de Montgrí. Experience the most exciting gallop on the fringe of the sea and overnight in small friendly hotels and guesthouses sampling the fine cuisine of the region. A bottle of local wine or cava is never far away of course!
Sometimes changes to the itinerary are necessary due to the weather or special situations This can happen with little notice. If you’re flexible and have a sense of humour, you’re bound to have a fun and relaxing trip across this beautiful part of the world.
You will arrive to Can Sort, a rural farmhouse located at the foot of the Pyrenees, facing the natural and wild reserve of the Medes Island, where you will discover the l’Empordà region, ideal for a horse riding holiday. Before dinner you will be told about the special characteristics of our Andalucian trail horses. You will be given an introduction to the week´s programme with an opportunity for a one-to-one conversation designed to find every rider their perfect horse. Then, you can enjoy a fantastic dinner!
Today is a nice day in the saddle, with lots of long canters and gallops through the Alt Empordà pine forests and rolling hills. As the afternoon draws on you can sense the proximity to the coast and at last we arrive to the Riomar Hotel in Sant Marti d’Empuries, a scenic little world set in one of the most beautiful bays in the Mediterranean, el Gulf of Rosas.
Surrounded by areas of authentic natural beauty Sant Marti d’Empuries is located near the famous ruins of the same name; the first Iberian Peninsula Greek city, keeping a perfect balance between land and sea, between the greens and yellows of its orchards and the blue and gold of the village´s extensive beaches and historic past
After an early start we trot our horses 1km down to the beach. The long curve of the bay of Rosas stretches before us, kilometres of golden sand. Here we enjoy some excellent canters and gallops on the beach. After the beach ride we head inland again following the river Fluviá, past a bird sanctuary where we can see flocks of migrating birds.
The terrain is flat with lots of rice plantations and peach, pear and apple orchards. The pace today is lively. Our destination is Castelló d’Empuries, a lovely medieval village, aparted from the sea front to protect better his inhabitants from the corsair intrusions at XVIth and XVIIth century.
DAY 4: Medieval Villages
We will start our trail down to Baix Empordà. In spite of it being a prosperous area, it still conserves the traditional rural and village way of life. The paths and tracks have not been asphalted nor has the countryside been fenced off so there is an unlimited combination of paths and bridleways to explore.
Every hour we pass another beautiful village, castle, churche, archway, tunnel and old wooden doors with wrought iron knockers, the beauty of the stonework of the past. At lunch time we will have our daily picnic in an evergreen oak forest. In the afternoon, we will arrive back at Can Sort where we started 3 days ago.
We start from Can Sort but today in the opposite direction to the first day. Heading south to the river Ter, watching the Castillo de Montgri outline which is located at the top of the mountain mass where it got its name.
We will arrive to the river Ter riding in routes and paths in the middle of forests and meadows and at the end along rice fields, to arrive at the mouth of the river and the sandy beach of Pals. This beach is 8km long, with a view of the Medas Islands in the distance. Our hotel is in front of the beach.
After an early start, we trot our horses down to the beach. Here we enjoy some excellent landscape on our second beach in this trail. On Fonollera beach, the river forms a lagoon and then enters fully into the sea, in front of the Medes Islands. Riding your horse through the natural spaces of La Gola del Ter, La Platera or El Ter Vell will give you a view of the coastal plant life and the fauna of maritime-land areas.
After the beach, we ride along meadows and rice fields to arrive at Peratallada. This lovely village is carved of stone from the moat which surrounds Peratallada. Indeed its name means ‘carved stone’. Defensive walls surround parts of the village and there is also a stone castle. It was one of the best fortified medieval villages in Spain.
The entire route goes through a countryside that combines fields of crops, which sinuously cut into the clearings of Mediterranean woods, with small scattered human settlements that are integrated into the territory. We ride through mosaic countryside, enjoying some excellent canters and gallops.
We enjoy our lunch near a natural well, some welcome refreshment for us and the horses. Back on our horses for the last part of today, a gentle ride following the path leads us to Can Sort.
Breakfast and it is time to say goodbye or at least until our next adventure together with Traveladventurekids.
Possibility of transfer to the airport for those who require it.
END OF TRIP
The horses used for rides are well schooled pure or crossbred Andalusians. They have all been carefully chosen and most are between 14.2hh (150cm) and 16hh (165cm) and are of a medium build. They are sure-footed, fit, forward going, responsive to ride and well adapted to the requirements of the sometimes rough terrain.
The horses are all trained using natural horsemanship techniques which helps to create an enthusiastic, good natured horse that is keen to collaborate with its rider and really enjoys its work. The tack is English and trekking style and most horses are ridden in snaffles. English saddles and trekking saddles are utilised.
Saddle bags are provided to carry items required during the day and for picnic lunches. You will be paired with a suitable horse based on your experience and preferences, but if for any reason after the first day you feel that you are not well matched then just let your guide know and you will be given another horse.
To participate in this trip you must be a competent rider (English style). You should be well balanced, comfortable and secure in the saddle and able to control a well-schooled horse outside at all paces. Riders are expected to be able to cope with a variety of different going and different types of terrain. It would be beneficial to be a fit and regular rider.
Participants are expected to ride regularly in the months before they go, to ensure they can cope with the hours in the saddle. There are also places on the rides where you will need to dismount and lead your horse – if the ground gets rough or steep, and for a short time to warm the horses up and cool them down each day. Riders are expected to groom and tack up their own horse each day in preparation for rides.
Your guide will go over the week’s programme when you first arrive (usually at dinner on the first night), explaining the special characteristics of the Andalusian trail horse and of the tack used, then discussing each rider’s ability, experience and their preference as to the kind of horse they would like to ride. The minimum age for this ride is 14 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation list: (subject to change) Sunday night: Can Sort – Vilaür Monday night: Hotel Riomar or Can Sort – St. Marti d’empuries/Vilaür Tuesday night: Hotel Canet – Castelló d’Empuries Wednesday night: Can Sort – Vilaür Thursday night: Hotel La Gola – Torroella de Montgrí Friday night: Can Casadella – Serra d’Aró Saturday night: Can Sort – Vilaür.
Can Sort is a large farmhouse and the ‘logistical’ home to the Catalonia Trails team and their horses. It is situated on the slopes of a hill overlooking the extensive plains of the Ampurdán and the Bahia de Rosas. The snowy peaks of the Pyrenees can also been seen in the distance. The atmosphere at Can Sort is tranquil and relaxing; enjoy the large swimming pool, the extensive gardens, the friendly staff and of course the traditional Catalan cuisine! Bedrooms are spacious with en-suite bathrooms and some have terraces or open out directly onto the garden. The horses are turned-out in the large green meadows surrounding the farmhouse and the stables are on your doorstep.
The meals are plentiful and contain many typically Catalan dishes as well as regular European dishes. Breakfast is substantial and lunches are saddle-bag picnics (extensive with quiche/salted cakes/chorizo/Catalan cured meat/fruit/cheese/ham/wine/biscuits/chocolate). Dinners are 3-4 course and accompanied by good local wines. A bottle of local cava is never far away and the atmosphere is very welcoming.
The team always tries to showcase their regional and Catalan products resulting in beautifully prepared meals for all to enjoy!
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.