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Gerês-Xurés Nature Reserve

Spain/Portugal

1820 

We set out on a horse riding trail from Spain to Portugal! We start in the southern part of Spanish Galicia to finish the tour near Ponte de Barca, in Portugal. The route of this tour leads through national parks and a cross-border biosphere reserve stretching on both sides of the border. It’s a moderately-paced ride in the midst of extraordinary nature and beautiful sights, garnished with local cuisine and excellent wines of Spain and Portugal.

  • Days overall
    7 days
    Days in saddle
    5
  • Group size
    10
    Available
  • Standard
    Iberian hospitality: mostly under roofs and delicious
    Luggage
    no limit kg
    Food
    local cuisine, vegetarian available
  • Skills
    walk, trot, canter

We are setting off on a tour to cross the border between Spain and Portugal! We start our adventure in the province of Ourense, in the southern part of Galicia. Our trail takes us through the Gerês-Xurés Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest cross-border reserves of the European Union. The reserve area encompasses a mosaic of diverse ecosystems and protects many endemic species. Since 2009, it has been included in the list of UNESCO biosphere reserves created to showcase, promote and protect the sustainable relationship between humans and the biosphere.

The area is dominated by mountainous terrain, although the highest peaks in the region reach just over 1,500 metres, while also representing one of the largest forested areas on the Iberian Peninsula. The reserve abounds with picturesque sites, a mosaic of ecosystems shaped by Mediterranean and oceanic climates, often noticeably different from each other.

Evidence of human activity from different periods can be found throughout the region. Within the reserve we will encounter traces and remains from different eras: prehistoric dolmens, remains of Roman forts and buildings, ruins of Visigothic and Latin buildings and Baroque architecture.

We spend three days on horseback in Spain and another two in Portugal. We will reach the Spanish-Portuguese border on the third day of horseback riding, and on the fourth we will cross it in the Peneda-Gerês National Park. Interestingly, it is Portugal’s… only national park. To top it off, if we’re lucky, we may come across the wild local Garrano ponies.

We have a week ahead of us in a very interesting Spanish-Portuguese border region. A place where nature, people and their heritage are intertwined.

In terms of riding this tour is quite relaxed and recreational, with no rush, allowing for savouring the beauty of the surrounding nature and heritage.

For horse welfare reasons, the weight of the riders is limited to 90 kg.

What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • 4 overnight stays in chalets, farmhouses and a lakeside cottage
  • 1 night tenting
  • 1 nocleg at a hotel in Ponte de Barca
  • All meales (breakfasts, lunches “to go”, dinners)
  • Transfers to and from Porto or Santiago de Compostella airports (depending on your travel plan)
  • English-speaking pilot/guide during the entire tour
  • Horse with full tack and equipment
  • Tourist insurance covering high-risk sports
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Flight tickets to and from Spain or Portugal (depending on your travel plan)
  • Additional, minor personal expenses (souvenirs, additional snacks, etc.)
  1. Day 1 Arrival to Galicia

    Riders arrive in Spain or Portugal, depending on their travel plan (we recommend Porto). Next we will transfer everybody to Galicia, to a stable near Lobios. Upon arrival we will be greeted by our hosts and our guides. Next we will go to meet the herd and assign horses for the tour. In the evening we will sit down to together in the garden or on the terrace and have a welcome dinner. We stay for the night in the agritourism, in rooms with bathrooms.

  2. Day 2 Off we go!

    After breakfast we will saddle our horses and start the tour! We will leave Lobios and head to Bande, about 25 kilometres away. The terrain will be uphill at first, we will ascend one of the surrounding mountains to look at the panorama and the later stages of our journey. Then we will continue along the Roman Via Nova trail. Along the way we will pass the remains of a Roman settlement, and further on we will stop for a rest stop. Further down the trail the terrain will flatten and we will be able to speed up a bit. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Bande, where we will be set up in a lodge with bathrooms. We will spend the evening at a local restaurant, where we will get to taste delicious, local dishes.

  3. Day 3 Rio Lima and a lakeside cottage

    In the morning we will have breakfast and and set off for our second day of riding. Our today’s destination is Maus de Salas, about 25 kilometres away. During the day the landscape will change quite often. We will cross the Rio Lima and reach a village where prehistoric traces of human presence can be seen. We will stop for a break along the way. In the afternoon we will reach the tiny mountain village of Maus de Salas, where a charming wooden lodge by the lake awaits us. We will have dinner on site or head across the border to the village of Pitões das Junias and return to our house by the lake for the night.

  4. Day 4 Mines and camp at the peak

    In the morning we will have breakfast and ride out for Minas das Sombras. A good part of the route stretches along the border between Spain and Portugal. On the way we will pass historic mines which have been an important part of the region’s economy for centuries. In Roman times gold was mined there and in the 20th century, especially during the Second World War, an intensive mining of tungsten was taking place. The mines were closed and abandoned in the early 2000s. We will stop for a break along the way, in a park, and then go to the tops of small mountains. There we will camp under the stars and stay overnight in tents.

  5. Day 5 Peneda-Gerês

    After breakfast we ride to Portugal! We have about 28 kilometres ahead of us on in the saddle. The first part of the today’s journey follows the trail from Minas das Sombras to the border, where we will enter the Peneda-Gerês National Park on the Portuguese side. We have to report our crossing at the border, so we will use the opportunity to have a break. Depending on the state of the rivers and streams we will continue either through the forest and cross the water or take the route along local roads and trails. On some parts of the route there may be sections where we jump off our horses and lead them on foot. In the late afternoon we will arrive at Campo do Gerês, our base for today. A dinner awaits us there, with cuisine typical of northern Portugal. We will spend the night in cabins, with access to shared bathrooms.

  6. Day 6 Wild horses

    It’s our last day of riding through Spain and Portugal. The trail will descend more and more, leading towards the edge of the national park. Along the way we have a good chance to encounter the wild, native Garrano horses – an endangered breed of Portuguese ponies. Along the way we will stop for our last break of our tour. Further on, the trail will take us towards small castles and Roman churches before we reach Ponte de Barca. For the final farewell dinner of the tour we will head to one of the charming restaurants there and spend thelast night in a local hotel.

  7. Day 7 Adiós! Adeus! Farewell to Spain and Portugal!

    It is time to say goodbye to the beautiful borderlands of Spain and Portugal. All riders will be transferred to the airport and head back home.

The guide might modify the route according to weather conditions and group's riding skills.
fot. z archiwum przewodnika
fot. z archiwum przewodnika
fot. z archiwum przewodnika

In terms of accommodation, this tour is quite comfortable. We spend five nights under roofs, in comfortable and charming places, and one night camping/tenting. We spend the last night in a hotel on the Portuguese side and the rest of the nights are spent in chalets, farmhouses and in a lakeside cottage. With the exception of one night in tents, we have access to sanitary facilities (rooms with bathrooms or shared bathrooms for the whole group) and additional amenities, in pleasant and atmospheric locations in the Spanish-Portuguese border area.

Tents and sleeping mats/mattresses are provided during the overnight camp, you will need your own sleeping bag.

All meals during the tour are provided, starting with dinner on the first day and finishing with breakfast on the last day. The cuisine and wine cellars of the Spanish-Portuguese border region have a lot to offer. We will taste the dishes of Spanish Galicia and the north of Portugal, which combine and intertwine in this region. Both gourmets and wine lovers will be well satisfied, the local cuisine and the contents of the cellars delight with tastes and flavours.

Equipment

We use typical English saddles. Saddles are constructed traditionally, we use bits. The equipment during this tour does not really differ from what what the majority of European stables use.

Each rider is provided with small saddlebags for a bottle of water and other handy items. Valuables (documents, phone, cash) should be carried in a tightly closed pouch, e.g. a waist one.

You main luggage will be transported by an assisting vehicle, so there isn’t anything else – apart from your personal riding gear – you’d need for riding.

Although it’s not required we recommend using a riding helmet.

 

 

What shoud you take with you?

The group is assisted by a luggage car that will carry all belongings. For the daily parts of the ride we take only what we might need for the day.

Tensts and sleeping mats for the tenting night are provided, riders should take their own sleeping bags.

  • passport or personal ID
  • cash – in Euro
  • riding boots (we recommend trekking boots)
  • sunglasses
  • raincoat
  • flip flops for showering
  • swimsuit
  • towel
  • sleeping bags
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellent
  • electronic devices, e.g. camera, powerbank
  • flashlight, headlamps are handy
  • a canteen or other water containers (it might be an empty plastic bottle)
Date Trip Status Price Spots  
18 August 2024 - 25 August 2024
Available
1820 
3