Andalucia: the cradle of the Andalusian horse, a land of deeply rooted traditions, the horses and the bulls, the pilgrimage to El Rocío, the sandy trails in the Doñana Nature Reserve, the beautiful pine forests and the marshlands, a winter paradise for the migratory birds.
Andalusia has a great variety of landscapes which are fantastic to ride through. You will hardly ever encounter a road or a gate. This eXperience starts near Seville at the home of Alfonso. Alfonso will be your guide throughout and has over 30 lovely horses at his farm on the outskirts of Seville. Alfonso trained as a lawyer but his real joy in life are his horses and he spends all his spare time riding and schooling them.
Alfonso´s farm is surrounded by a mix of farmland, olive groves and orange trees. This is where you will spend the first night and try out your horse and tack. The next day the horses will be transferred early in the morning to another lovely Hacienda where they will be waiting tacked up and ready for their riders.
The ride will take the route of the pilgrims of El Rocio, a religious town devoted to the Virgin of El Rocio.
According to legend, some hunters from the nearby town of Almonte found a carving of the Virgin Mary in a tree in the forest. They decided to take the Virgin with them but when they stopped to rest they fell asleep, and on waking they discovered that she had returned to the tree. A chapel was built on this site and over the centuries pilgrims from all over Spain have come here 40 days after pentacost to worship the Virgin of El Rocio.
Every year pilgrims from all over Spain make their way along these trails to pay homage to the cult of the Virgin. These trails meander through the park and are fanastic for riding along through the umbrella pines, cork forests and open landscapes.
The Doñana Park is a protected area which situated at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river and many types of birds winter here including flamingos, spoonbills and storks. The landscape is flat with plenty of sandy trails throughout the park and vast areas covered by forests of and savin, eucalyptus and cork oaks, dunes, marshlands and preserves.
You will ride on sand tracks, ancient bridle paths, and get to El Rocío, named the International village of the horse. All the houses have stables and all the streets are sand tracks. In the times of the pilgrimage, this village hosts thousands of horses - many of them Andalusian stallions. A unique natural area, full of the most authentic traditions, the kingdom of the Andalusian horse.
The Andalusian horse is spirited, strong, temperamental and of unquestionable courage. The counterpoint of these qualities is its docility, being a very sensitive horse, obedient and easy to handle. The Andalusian horse possesses, through inheritance, a measured and balanced command of its movements and it is a delight to ride.
5 days | 4 nights
All Year Round
All guests will be picked up from a central point which is either the main train station in Seville or the airport and from there transferred to Alfonso´s farm for the first night. The accommodation is a series of homely rooms close to the main house. Each room has its own bathroom and terrace.
You will then try all the horses, check tack and go for a short ride in the arena to start with and then out into the open countryside. This gives everyone a chance to get to know their horses and make any changes or adjustments necessary. Drinks followed by dinner will be at Alfonso´s.
The horses are moved early morning by lorry to the start point of today´s ride, an old Hacienda called Torrequemada, which was once a monestary and was built in 1640. Guests are transferred here after breakfast and will find their horses prepared and waiting for them. The ride will make its way through the olive groves surrounding the Hacienda and cross open countryside as it makes its way to the perimetres of the Doñana Park.
One of the great pleasures of this ride is that every day after riding for a while there is always an aperitif stop. The aperitif is ingrained in Andalusian custom. In social events and if you are invited to Spaniards homes for lunch, they will always first offer you a drink accompanied by things like chorizo, olives, ham, cheese.
After the aperitif the ride continues until it reaches the lunch spot. The horses are tied up and looked after by the groom. The riders can sit down at the table that has been prepared and enjoy a lovely al-fresco lunch with plenty of hot food and wine.
Now that everyone is relaxed and sated after the lunch, the ride sets off again for the last part of the day and crosses the River Quema (which is where the El Rocio pilgrims are baptised on their first pilgrimage). The landscape begins to change and the ride heads towards the pine forests making its way towards Villamanrique where the horses will spend the night. The riders are transferred to a pleasant lodge and hotel which is a short five minute drive away and lies in the middle of the park. You will have dinner and spend the night at the lodge.
After breakfast at the lodge the riders are transferred to the horses and today the ride will follow the course of the river Guadiamar. Again, there is the obligatory aperitif stop late morning followed by more riding before stoping for another fantastic al-fresco lunch in the open-air. The ride then makes its way to a charming private finca that houses an amazing collection of antique carriages, this is where the horses will spend the night. The riders are transferred back to the lodge for dinner and where, again, you will spend the night.
Following breakfast the riders are taken back to the finca where the horses are waiting. The ride sets off and soon enters the surrounding forests and pines. The lunch today is close to a bird sanctuary with open marshes where one can often see cattle grazing. There are often flamingos in the lagoon. After lunch the horses are collected by lorry and taken back to Alfonso´s farm. Guests are transferred to Alfonso´s where you will have the farewell dinner and spend the last night.
After breakfast guests are transferred back to Sevilla (usually to the airport).
Gateway Airport: Sevilla SVQ
All transfers included.