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Equiberia - The Valleys of Gredos

The Rides

Equiberia - The Valleys of Gredos: Ave

The Valleys of Gredos

ávila – castilla y león

7 nights – 6 days riding

Immense landscapes, unspoilt nature, remote Castilian villages, great diversity, delicious aperitifs and picnic lunches, charming hotels ... a lot of reasons make this one our most successful ride. One never gets tired of the views, the scents of the wild flowers, and the smiles of the people in the villages. The most spectacular spring ride in the months of May-June, with thousands of wild flowers and the snow in the mountains.


The Sierra of Gredos is one of the most characteristic regions of the Iberian Peninsula situated between the provinces of Avila, Cáceres and Salamanca, and crossed by the Duero and Tajo rivers. The landscapes are full of light and colour and natures splendour.


The Valleys of Gredos trail travels through a very representative part of this region in the province of Avila, truly rural Spain. It is an excellent terrain for riding, mostly open fields with magnificent views and paths that follow the course of rivers. The landscapes are full of light and colour, where wild nature shows its splendour. Riders will be inspired by this Nature Park's diverse display of flora and fauna through the Tormes, Corneja and Alberche river valleys. Ride up slopes of oak, pine and chestnut trees; cross rivers of pristine waters; discover wildlife from rocky overlooks, and gallop across pastures and open fields. The small villages along the trail display their architecture, their traditions, and the way of life of their people, isolated in this inaccessible nature that shapes their unique character.

Trip summary

Moderate inn-to-inn ride

Trip length
8 days - 7 nights - 6 days riding (from Sunday to Sunday)
Distance covered 115 miles/180 km

Best time to visit
April to October
The most spectacular spring rides in May and June, with thousands of wild flowers and the snow in the mointains.

Group size
No minimum. Maximum 10 riders.
All departures are guaranteed.

Airport
Madrid

Riding ability
Intermediate to experienced. Reasonably fit riders.

Horses
Andalusian and Hispano-Arab Excellent Andalusian and Hispano-Arab, very well-trained, responsive, sure footed, happy, fit and fun to ride, with a lot of personality!

Tack
Excellent leather English general purpose saddles.
Seat savers and small saddle bags

Time in the saddle
From 4 and 1⁄2 to 6 and 1⁄2 hours (one day)

Weight limit
90kgs – 198Ibs

Languages
English, French, Spanish

Climate
Dry continental weather
Temperatures are strongly influenced by the altitude, with the average of 1400m (the highest point is 1700 m and the lowest is 1000 m ) .
The Gredos rides will start in April with temperatures that may rise to 15-18ºC. Spring rides are spectacular with “millions” of wild flowers and snow in the mountains (May – Early June). Autumn temperatures are around 18ºC during the day.

Your hosts and guides
The Gredos rides are led by María Elena, the founder and owner of Equiberia, a knowledgeable, qualified and hospitable guide. She takes great pride in the quality and the character of the horses and is adept in matching horse and rider
The Equiberia team support guides and helpers are enthusiastic, motivated, attentive and charming, always willing to help.
Our attention to the detail is outstanding. We go as far as we can to anticipate all the little things that can make a difference. We have a lot of repeat guests that come back every year. We can give you direct references of riders from many different parts of the world.

Bookings
Inscription Form and deposit
You can book direct with us or through any of our agencies.
Please contact us equiberia@equiberia.com

Horses and Riding

Riding ability
Intermediate to experienced. Reasonably fit riders.
It is not necessary to be an expert rider but it is essential that riders have trail riding experience, can easily manage a horse at all paces and be familiar and comfortable handling a horse on the ground. A level of fitness is required, as the days are 4-6 hours. Riders can assist in taking care of their horses if they wish - but it is not necessary. Horses will be ready for the riders to get on every morning.

Horses
The horses are Hispano-Arab, Andalusian, Arab and Lusitano breed ranging in height from 15-16 hh, and selected for their good nature and endurance. The horses are excellent, very well trained, responsive, fit and fun to ride, happy horses with a lot of personality, and very much loved.

Pace of the ride
The pace of the ride varies with the terrain. The ride includes walks, trots, canters and gallops depending on the terrain. Overall it is a moderate pace, with some slow parts due to the mountainous terrain. There are open areas through the valleys where it is possible to canter with excellent tracks for exciting rides.

Time in the saddle
From 4 and ½ to 6 and ½ hours (one day)
The total distance of the trip is about 110 miles.

Tack
Excellent leather English general purpose saddles, with deep knee rolls. Every piece of the tack is in excellent condition
Small saddle bags are provided.
Seat savers and riding hats or helmets can be provided too.

Weight limit
90kgs / 198 pounds

Your hosts and guides
The Gredos rides are lead by Maria Elena, founder and owner of Equiberia. She is knowledgeable, qualified and hospitable. She takes great pride in the quality and the character of the horses and is adept in matching horse and rider.
The Equiberia team assistant guides and helpers are enthusiastic, motivated, attentive and charming.
Out attention to the detail is outstanding. We go as far as we can to anticipate all the little things that can make a difference. We have a lot of repeat guests that come back every year. We can give you direct references of riders from many different parts of the world.

2015 Accommodation and Meals

The selection of the accommodation and the service in every aspect of the ride is of outstanding quality.

Accommodation
Lodging is planned in some luxurious, with character, and some small and charming country hotels, providing double or twin-bedded rooms and en-suite baths.
First, second and last nights are spent at the National Parador of Gredos ***, an ancient hunting lodge built by the king Alfonso 13th, the first Parador opened in Spain. One night is spent at the Hotel Puerta de Gredos (a 4* hotel) built in a grand XVIth century country estate. Other accommodations will be comfortable rural hotels, like La Trocha de Hoyorredondo where the horses sleep in the backyard and come to the windows to wake up the riders in the morning.
Single accommodations can be arranged at an additional charge.
The accommodation has been carefully chosen for the quality and the welcoming to the riders and to the horses. Every night, the horses stay in a field next to the hotel where the group stays. The contact and the relation with the horses are very special in this ride.

Food & Wine
Breakfast, aperitifs, lunch and dinner are included while on the trek. The local cuisine is excellent and much consideration is taken when planning the meals to provide visitors with a sampling of the many different dishes produced in the area. Lunch is usually a picnic in the countryside with set tables, chairs... and small feast everyday! Some lunches will be cooked on the spot; others prepared the village bars o restaurants, always exquisite. Dinner is at the hotels will feature a varied selection of the typical cuisine.
All the drinks are included during the meals. Tasting of Spanish red& white wines; sherry; beer, juices, soft drinks and water.

A support vehicle will follow the riders during the entire trip, meeting for aperitifs, meals and at night.

Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice.

2015 Dates & Prices

2015 DEPARTURE DATES
View our departure dates here
These are the dates programmed for 2015.
If you would like a tailor-made programme at any different dates, please let us know.

2015 PRICES
Please get in touch with us
Special offers for early bookings confirmed before the end of February and small groups of 4 or more riders.

All our prices are fully inclusive. You will need a very limited amount of money for the week.

o Transfers from/to Madrid in private taxi are included
o Accommodation in comfortable and charming hotels, including luxurious National Paradores and 4* country hotels with spa and swimming pool
o Beautifully trained horses, in excellent condition and very well looked after in every aspect: feeding, grooming, veterinary care, and general well-being. You will feel it: they are happy horses.
o The days riding as described in the programmes, with itineraries carefully selected to make the best out of every day ride
o Knowledgeable, qualified and hospitable guides: Maria Elena, owner of the company, leads the rides personally, accompanied by attentive and charming support guides
o Excellent leather English GP saddles; small saddle bags and seat savers are provided. Riding hats or helmets can be provided too. Every piece of the tack is in excellent condition.
o All the meals are included: exquisite gourmet picnic lunches; aperitifs and tapas; fresh salads and fruit of the season everyday; selected dinners in the hotels; all the drinks are included during the meals: tasting of different red & white wines with the picnics; sherry at the aperitifs; beer, juices, soft drinks.
o A support vehicle meets the riders with 1 or 2 helpers, to transport the luggage and prepare the lunches, with set tables, chairs.., and to assist the riders when necessary.
o Out attention to the detail is outstanding. We go as far as we can to anticipate all the little things that can make a difference. We have a lot of repeat guests that come back every year. We can give you direct references of riders from many different parts of the world.
o The company is fully insured and legally registered in every department, tourism, equestrian and agriculture.

Travel

MEETING POINT

Madrid
Riders will be met at the Madrid-Barajas International Airport.
Terminal 4, arrivals gate 10, at the cafeteria Medas (by gate 10). At 3pm, on the first date of the chosen week (always a Sunday).
Departure on the Sunday after the ride: any flight after 1:00pm

Arrival
Any flight in time for the pick- up time at 3:00 pm of the first Sunday of the ride
If staying in a hotel in Madrid or in Avila, pick up can be organised from the hotel

Departure
Any flight after 1.00 pm, on the Sunday departure of the ride.

Before/After the ride
Equiberia can help with suggestions, hotel bookings, and other arrangements before or after the ride. Please contact us.

Packing list
The principle of “layers” is always very convenient, any time of the year.
We suggest the following

Riding

• Jodhpurs or riding breeches
• Half chaps and short riding boots with a good sole (don’t try new boots for a riding holiday)
• Long sleeve shirts and T-shirts
• Waistcoat (warmer or lighter (depending on the time of the year)
• Warm or light fleece (depending on the time of the year)
• Decent rain jacket, warm or light (depending on the time of the year)
• Light rain trousers
• Sun hat with a brim and sun glasses
• Riding helmet (a few helmets are available at the riding centre). Not mandatory but advisable.
• Riding gloves
• Small saddle bags are provided to carry only small things while riding
• Seat savers can be provided

Other
Casual clothes for the evenings
Swimsuit (swims in the river, spa, hotel with pool and spa)
Flip-flops or sandals, especially in the summer for the picnics by the river
Sunscreen and lip balm

2015 Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1 MADRID - NAVARREDONDA DE GREDOS

Transfer from Madrid (Pick up at 3pm) to the Parador of Gredos Meet in Madrid and transfer to Navarredonda de Gredos (2 hour drive), a small village in the heart of Castile with a splendid view of the Sierra de Gredos. This is a region steeped in history, where the Moors and Christians fought, where Romans built roads that have lasted for centuries. Riders will enjoy a welcome dinner and night at the Gredos National Parador

Day 2 THE PINEWOODS AND THE SUMMER PASTURES. THE SOURCE OF THE TORMES RIVER.

Circle ride from Navarredonda, an easy introductory day, with a picnic lunch in the countryside. Ride through pine woods, open fields and trails, towards the mountains with great views of the Sierra de Gredos. Picnic lunch in the countryside. In the afternoon ride back to the stables in Navarredonda, returning for dinner and overnight as the previous night. This day is a short ride so riders and horses get used to each other. If any change of horse is necessary it can be done, before leaving the next day and for the rest of the ride. A nice small Spa has been open in the next village (5 min away). It is possible to arrange a session - a special rider’s massage - in the evening before dinner.

Day 3 ALONG THE TORMES RIVER NAVARREDONDA DE GREDOS – NAVALPERAL THE TORMES

Morning through woods and beautiful meadows in the Tormes river valley. We will follow the course of the Tormes River. Lunch at the Pozo de las Paredes, a magic spot at the gorge of Barbellido, which joins the Tormes River. This spot is ideal for a swim in summer. In the afternoon, riders will follow the cattle path, with great views, to Navalperal the Tormes. This night riders will stay at a new rural hotel: Hotel Rural Cruz del Gallo. A new small hotel, near the Tormes River.

Day 4 THE CATTLE PATH TO EL BARCO DE AVILA NAVALPERAL THE TORMES – EL BARCO DE AVILA. Half day ride.

This day it will be a long half day ride. It is a progressive ride to get to El Barco. A ride along the Tormes River valley, along cattle paths, passing the village of Aliseda de Tormes. Riders will appreciate the change in the vegetation as they will approach the small town of El Barco de Avila. The hotel in Barco de Avila is a country hotel, a luxurious hotel built as a restoration of a ancient country estate. The hotel has a spa and an indoor heated pool, a good chance for a rest to be fresh for the rest of the ride. Afternoon free to visit El Barco de Avila or just relax in the hotel. El Barco de Avila is a 15th century walled village with a medieval bridge stretching over the Tormes

Day 5 INTO THE PROVINCE OF SALAMANCA EL BARCO DE AVILA – HOYORREDONDO

Today’s ride proceeds through holm oaks woods and pastures, following the cattle track between Barco and Hoyorredondo, arriving in Puente del Congosto, with a XVth century bridge and castle for lunch. Picnic near the river – a beautiful spot for a swim in the summer. In the afternoon there will be a fun short ride to Hoyorredondo. Night at a beautiful and comfortable rural hotel.

Day 6 THE CORNEJA RIVER VALLEY AND OVER THE MOUNTAINS TO THE ALBERCHE RIVER VALLEY HOYORREDONDO – SAN MARTIN DE LA VEGA

A day with great contrasts in the landscape. The ride starts in the valley of the Corneja River, open flat valleys until we reach the aperitif stop. We follow the river Corneja to its source, and stop for lunch near one of the water mills along the river. In the afternoon follow a Roman road up to the Puerto de Chia (5,686 feet) for a panoramic view of the Corneja Valley on one side, and the Alberche River on the other. Descend to San Martin de la Vega where the horses will spend the night. Short transfer to a charming rural hotel in Barajas de Gredos.

Day 7 BACK TO VIEWS OF THE SIERRA DE GREDOS SAN MARTIN DE LA VEGA – NAVARREDONDA DE GREDOS

Last day back to the Sierra de Gredos, with some great views of the peaks of the Sierra. Descent towards the Tormes valley where we started. Picnic lunch with panoramic views of the Sierra de Gredos. Short afternoon, with some good canters, back to the stables. Night and farewell dinner at the Parador.

Day 8 NAVARREDONDA – MADRID

After breakfast transfer to Madrid, arriving there about 12 noon. All riders will be transferred at the same time, so if any rider needs to arrive in Madrid prior to noon, all riders will depart earlier - or we will arrange an alternative transfer (at an extra cost).

The pace of the ride varies with the terrain. Overall it is a moderate pace, with some slow parts due to the mountainous terrain. There are open areas through the valleys where it is possible to canter with excellent tracks for exciting rides. The average riding time is five to six hours per day. The total distance of the trip is about 110 miles.

* END OF THE RIDE *

History and Nature

About Avila
Strongly recommended a night in Avila, a medieval walled town, before or after the ride. We can help with hotel bookings. Pick up can be organised from Avila on the Sunday beginning of the programme.
Avila is one of the World Heritage Cities of Spain, one of the 660 cultural sites in the world that the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.

http://whc.unesco.org
www.spain.info/tourspain
www.avilaturismo.com

Avila is a medieval town, surrounded by walls constructed in the 11th and 12th century (2500m, 88 towers, 9 gates) to protect the Spanish territories from the Moors. The walls are still complete nowadays. Avila is the “City of Saints and Stones”. The birthplace of St Theresa and the burial place of the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada. Avila has kept its medieval austerity. This purity of form can still be seen in the Gothic cathedral and the fortifications which are the most complete in Spain. Charming squares and beautiful quiet pedestrian streets for a very pleasant walk around this old historic town.

Birds of the Sierra Gredos,
by David Tomlinson
The Sierra Gredos is an exceptional area for birds, and many interesting and unusual species can be seen here. Most obvious are the birds of prey: look out for black vultures (buitre negro), one of the largest and heaviest flying birds in the world, with a wingspan of up to 285cm. Black vultures are rare birds in Europe, and the Gredos is one of their most important strongholds. Much more numerous than the black vulture and almost as big is the griffon vulture (buitre leonado). The two species can often be seen soaring together. The griffon is a colonial, cliff-nesting species, but the black vulture nests in trees.
Several species of eagles can be found in the Gredos, including the golden (aguila real), the short-toed (aguila culebrera) and the booted (aguila calzada). The short-toed is a large, snake-eating eagle that is a summer visitor to Spain, as is the booted eagle. This is a small, buzzard-sized eagle, and is generally quite common. Two of the most conspicuous birds of prey are the red kite and the black kite (milano real and milano negro). They are extremely graceful fliers, and are often quite tame and approachable.
The most characteristic birds of the pine forests of the Gredos are the firecrest (reyezuelo listado), the crested tit (herrerillo capuchino) and the crossbill (piquituerto comun), while one of the special birds to look out for is the citril finch (verdecillo serrano). The citril finch is a highly localised bird, found exclusively in Europe. It likes alpine meadows.

Another speciality of the Gredos is the strikingly colourful bluethroat (pechiazul). The bluethroats that nest in the Gredos are the most southerly in Europe, as well as the most westerly. They are best looked for on dry, stony slopes densely covered in Spanish broom. The cock is the size and shape of a robin (petirrojo), but is easy to identify thanks to his distinctive blue-throat with central white spot.
In spring, one of the noisiest birds of the Gredos is the nightingale (ruiseñor comun), which can be heard singing where ever there is suitable habitat. Nightingales like dense, damp habitat, preferably by the side of streams or in hedges. The nightingale is a member of the thrush family, and so is related to the rock thrush (roquero rojo), one of the most handsome birds of the mountains. This species is a scarce summer visitor to the Gredos, but is well worth looking for.
Several of the villages in the Gredos have pairs of white storks (cigueña blanca), often nesting on the village church. They are never numerous in the Gredos (unlike in Extremadura, where they are often very common), but they are usually tame and confiding, drawing attention to themselves with their noisy beak clapping.

David Tomlinson is a British ornithologist, and is the co-author of the Birds of Iberia. He has visited the Gredos several times.

“We had the best possible time in the Gredos mountains and you were absolutely brilliant. We are now hooked on riding holidays! I have hardly ever been on such a beautifully organized holiday, everything worked absolutely seamlessly, but I know that when something seems so effortless there is a fantastic lot of work going on behind the scenes! You really do run a remarkable outfit. Hopefully one day we will be back.” G&P, UK

“This is just to say thank you so much for a brilliant week: The horses were magnificent. All your organisation: of the routes, the accommodation, the lunches, the aperitifs and the swims was outstanding. Above all you and your team were charming, caring and most hospitable. We couldn't have enjoyed our time with you more, and are already working out how soon we can come back for more. I can see just how much work you all put into arranging the trips - the result is a great success. Thank you so much for everything.” D&L, UK

Equiberia is a registered trademark - Equitravel Ltd - 05635 Navarredonda de Gredos, Spain - Tel(+34) 689 343 974 - Fax.(+34) 920 348338 - equiberia@equiberia.com