Saddle Up: The Top Riding Destinations
With its numerous fine stables and broad, open country-side networked by bridle paths, Spain is a natural choice for a riding vacation. A wide variety of options await those who wish to ride here. Stables, ranches, and haciendas throughout Spain offer everything from short trail rides to lengthy overland treks.
Many people consider Andalusia, in southern Spain, to be the region that best preserves classic Spanish heritage. Famed for its horse breeds, Andalusia certainly remains the heartland of Spanish riding culture, a land of great horses and great riding destinations. From the olive groves, farmlands, and vineyards of Sevilla to the high mountain pastures in the Sierra Nevada, this region offers wide-open country with countless routes that beckon explorers.
To help you sample the best of southern Spain, Equitour (800.545.0019. www.lridingtours.com) offers Trails of Andalusia, an eight-day ride through the heart of Andalusia. The ride begins in Seville and moves through farm country along a historic pilgrimage route. Accommodations on this luxurious tour include some of the great showplaces of the Spanish aristocracy, more than justifying the $1,000 cost of the trip. The route proceeds to Doñana National Park, a biosphere reserve, and then to Palacio del Rey, a royal residence. Another great tour through the provinces of Granada and Almeria is Equistour's Alpujarra Ride. Departing from Granada, this eight-day trek (six riding days) follows ancient Moorish bridle paths to small villages little changed since the time of Columbus. The ride offers great scenic diversity as you climb from sea level to the crest of Spain's Sierra Nevada, where you overnight at Trevelez, the highest village in the country. Emerging high above the Poqueira Valley, on a clear day you can see across the Mediterranean Sea to Morocco. Price for the Alpujarra Ride is $1,350 for eight days, seven nights.
Equitor and Hidden Trails (888.987.2457. www.hiddentrails.com) offer numberous riding tours in Andalusia and other parts of Spain. Most rides feature a moderate to fast pace. Riders should have intermediate or better skills, and they should be comfortable with English saddles. With some advance planning, you can arrange your riding holiday to coincide with one of Spain's many equestrian events. For a listing of horse events, schools, and tours, call the Tourist Office of Spain (8383 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 960, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. 323.658.7188. www.okspain.org).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication