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Horseback trail riding through Mercantour

South Alps - In the heart of Mercantour

6 days / 5 days riding from 950€

Riding levels

Each of our trips is assigned a minimum level of riding ability required. This reflects whether there is technical riding required; the terrain to be covered; the liveliness of the horses; the length of the riding days and the riding fitness required.




For novice riders, these riding holidays will give beginners the chance to get used to being in the saddle. In general, a beginner/ novice hasn't learned how to canter and has not yet mastered rising trot. They are able to mount safely and to control a horse at a walk. 



For intermediate riders who are at ease at 2 paces (walk and rising trot and are starting to canter in a forward seat) out in open countryside. The intermediate rider is able to mount and dismount their horse unassisted, use basic riding aids, ride at a rising trot for at least 10 minutes, to change and control the pace from a walk to a trot and comfortably canter over short distances.



For experienced riders who have mastered all 3 paces (walk, rising trot, canter in a forward seat) over uneven terrain. The experienced rider rides regularly, has a good seat and is confident of their own ability. They are able to control the horse at speed and change direction of their horse at any pace and in any circumstance as needed.



For advanced riders who have mastered all 4paces (walk, rising trot, canter gallop in a forward seat) over uneven terrain on all types of horses including those that are very spirited. The advanced rider rides regularly has good physical fitness, has good soft hands and has the ability to gallop for long stretches without getting tired.



For all riders, whether they are novices, intermediate level, experienced or advanced. Each rider will be allocated a horse that is suited to their ability. These riding holidays have a level of difficulty that can be adapted to the capabilities of each rider. For example: working with cattle on a ranch, dressage training, endurance training, natural horsemanship, trail riding orcentre based safaris.



For beginners and intermediate level riders. Each rider will be allocated a horse that is suited to their ability level. These riding holidays have a level of difficulty that can be adapted to the capability of each rider. For example: working with cattle on a ranch, dressage training, endurance ridingtraining natural horsemanship and centre based safaris.



For beginners, intermediate level  and experienced riders. Each rider will be allocated a horse that is suited to their ability level. These riding holidays have a level of difficulty that can be adapted to the capabilities of each rider. For example: working with cattle on a ranch, dressage training, endurance ridingtraining natural horsemanship and centre based safaris.



For intermediate level and experienced riders. Each rider will be allocated a horse that is suited to their ability level. These riding holidays have a level of difficulty that can be adapted to the capabilities of each rider. For example: working with cattle on a ranch, dressage training, long-distance ridingtraining,endurance ridingtraining natural horsemanship and centre based safaris.



For intermediate level, experiencedand advanced riders. Each rider will be allocated a horse that is suited to their ability level. These riding holidays have a level of difficulty that can be adapted to the capabilities of each rider. For example: working with cattle on a ranch, dressage training, long-distance ridingtrainingendurance ridingtraining natural horsemanship and centre based safaris.



For experiencedand advanced riders. Each rider will be allocated a horse that is suited to their ability level. These riding holidays have a level of difficulty that can be adapted to the capabilities of each rider. For example: working with cattle on a ranch, dressage training, long-distance ridingtraining,endurance ridingtraining natural horsemanship and centre based safaris.

Comfort

Each of our rides has been assigned an expected level of comfort

Nights in basic shelter such as a mountain hut/cabin. Usually dormitory beds with shared bathrooms.

 

EQUUS JOURNEYS Fingerpost Cottage
Hopton Wafers
Shropshire, DY140NA. UK
Phone : +44 (0) 1905 388977
INFO@EQUUS-JOURNEYS.COM

Imprimer

PROVENCE - THE COTE AZUR-South Alps - In the heart of Mercantour

6 days / 5 days riding from 950€


Activity :

Level :

Comfort :

Explore the Mercantour region of the Alps on horseback, ride trails through the imposing high mountains and passes, between altitudes of 1500 and 2800m - in an area known for its almost year-round sunshine! Experience horse riding through alpine pastures, isolated villages and the impressive peaks along the Italian border. Throw yourself into a challenging itinerant horseback ride in Mercantour, France in complete autonomy along remote paths and passes.

Strengths

- Visit a region of France that has almost perpetual sunshine!
- Discover the beauty of the Mercantour National Park's flora, fauna and scenery
- Ride to the Valley des Merveilles, a UNESCO world site, and have a guided visit of the petroglyphs, dating from 3000BC, that were found and are studied there
- Experience an athletic and challenging ride, with uneven terrain, and technical passages in the highs and lows of the stunning peaks
- A truly autonomous and itinerant ride with your kit carried in saddle bags and a pack horse for groups of 8 and over

Itinerary

Day 1 : UK - BOREON LAKE - No riding

Due to the early start of the ride the next day, we recommend arriving a day before its start in order to relax and prepare. You will arrive into either Nice airport or train station and be transferred to the equestrian centre.

You will spend the night in a local hotel close to the equestrian centre.

Day 2 : Madone of Fenestre sanctuary - 6 hours riding

The other riders in your group will arrive at around 8:30 and be transferred to the equestrian centre at around 9:00.

From the off, you will set off at pace as you head out towards Le Boréon for a rhythmic ride and gallop through alpine forests before riding up a steep incline to reach the La Cougourde dell and Trécoulpas Lake.

Here, you will stop for your picnic lunch; this region belonged to Italy until 1947, and this area has seen a lot of smuggling and clandestine passage. You will ride back out along the Pas de Ladres passage, site of the famed Madone de Fenestre religious sanctuary. Once the Italian border comes into view this means that your rest-stop for the night, Soria Ellena (1840m), isn't too far off and that the day's ride is at an end. You will have your dinner and spend the night in the cabin - in Italy.

Day 3 : THE HIGH PEAKS - 7 hours riding

Your second day of riding will unfold in the highest and most picturesque summits in the southern alps, including Mount Gelas, the highest of the Maritime Alps, Mount Malédie and Mount Clapier. The scenery here is nothing short of grandiose, and populated by the goat-antelope chamois and ibex that can weigh up to 80kg and have horns 1.5 metres long.

You will experience riding through open prairies, past alpine lakes and stop for your picnic with a view out across the far off Pô Valley. The landmark of Col dei Sabbione signifies the end of the day's ride and the arrival at you hostel for the night; here, you will have dinner and spend the night, in Casterino.

Day 4 : VALLEY DES MERVEILLES - 3 hours riding

The fourth day's ride is the shortest stage, only 3 hours on horseback, and is an ideal opportunity to recuperate a little before the expedition's 2-day home strait. After a 1 and a half hour ride, you will dismount to visit the open-air petroglyph museum in the Valley des Merveilles. These petroglyphs, rock engravings, carved into rocky outcrops were first identified in 1881. The mineral landscape itself was shaped by glacial movements which over time revealed these some 40,000 cave engravings, some dating to 3000BC, spread over 4000 rocks and making up the largest site of engravings in Europe.

Since 1881, the engravings have been extensively studied and display the earliest representations of man's inhabition of the area; you will have a guided visit of the site as well as meeting the numerous herds of sheep in the area as well as learning about the local cheese-making processes. You will have dinner and spend the night in a cabin in Merveilles.

Day 5 : VALLEY DE LA GORDOLASQUE - 7 hours riding

In the morning, you will ride out to Lake Mesches, at an altitude of 1380 metres. Alternating between beautiful larch wood forests and magnificent open countryside in the company of chamois, you will reach the banks of Long Supérieur Lake. Here, you will stop to take in the view and enjoy your picnic.

In the afternoon, you will ride out of the Valley des Merveilles and into the ancient glacial Gordolasque Valley, one of the wildest valleys in the southern alps. Here, you will experience riding through an area of exceptional untouched beauty. You will take the “Terra Rossa” paths that promise some fast-paced riding towards the end of the day.

You will spend the night at the Relais des Merveilles refuge.

Day 6 : FIVE LAKES - 6 hours riding

For your final day's route, you will ride the return trail back to le Boréon. The Prals lakes, or the “Five Lakes”, create an enchanting backdrop through the alpine pastures, themselves crossed by a fast-flowing mountain stream; you will stop for you picnic on the water's edge. After 4 days spent surrounded by mountains, the far-stretching crystal clear water and openness of the lakes will really be a marked and stunning change. Please note that today the terrain is quite mountainous so the pace will be at a walk only.

You will follows trails back to the equestrian centre that should have you arrive at around 17:30. After a farewell to the horses and your guide, it will be time for your transfer to either Nice airport or train station (at an additional cost)


Price details

- Flights to your destination are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.

- Rates are per person, based on riders sharing communal bedrooms. No single rooms are available on this trip

- Transfers are not included and are possible from Nice airport or train station (€65 or £60 per person). You can also take the bus N°730 from the airport to Sain-Martin Vesubie reducing the cost to €1,5 per person.

- Groups are made up of 5 - 10 riders. If there are 10 riders, the group will be accompanied by a 2nd guide and a pack horse

- Young riders from the age of 10 are accepted on this ride if accompanied by their parents - and on the condition that they meet the riding requirements

- For riders over 90kgs, please contact us before signing up for this ride so that we can assure a suitable mount.
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

PRICE INCLUDES

Support Team

1 English-speaking horse guide

Logistics

1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider

Accommodation

4 nights spent in mountain cabins, refuges or shared hostel accommodation. First night in a hotel

Meals

Full board from dinner on day 1 to dinner on day 5

Extras

Doubles saddlebags

PRICE DOESN'T INCLUDE

Meals

Beverages and personal extras

Transport

International flights
Return transfers to Nice airport or train station

Extras

Tips to the local team
Park, museum and other site entry fees

Insurance

Cancellation and travel insurance are not included in the above listed price. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend taking out an insurance policy as soon as your trip is booked to cover you in case of cancellation

TIPS

In France, it is customary to tip - usually this is by rounding up the price. You may wish to leave a tip with the guide who can split it amongst all members of the team - this is not obligatory and is entirely at your discretion.

HORSES

The centre is home to a small stable of around 20 horses of different breeds including Arabs, PRE, Merens, Quarter horse, Lusitanos, Halfinger. There will be a horse to suit each rider, according to their level and preferences. The are well balanced, athletic, shod, live in a herd and are sure footed - knowing the mountain terrain well.

MINIMUM RIDING ABILITY

Riders must be at ease at all 3 paces: walk, trot and two point gallop.

Riders over 90kgs should contact us before signing up for this ride so that we can assure a suitable mount. The maximum weight limit for this ride is 110kg.

PACE

This ride takes place high in the mountains with significant changes in terrain, including steep and technical passages. You will trot and gallop everyday depending on the terrain and unevenness of the ground. You will ride for only 3 hours on day 3.

TACKING ABILITY AND PARTICIPATION

You will be responsible for tacking and untacking your horse. You will also be more than welcome to participate in meal preparation as well!

TRIP CONDITIONS AND REQUESTED EXPERIENCE

As well as riding competently, to get the most out of this ride it is important to have a good level of all-round physical fitness to be able to cope with the long days in the saddle and on foot.

EQUESTRIAN EQUIPMENT

You will be riding out into the countryside with all your equipment transported by the horses.

Blankets with pockets and saddlebags will be provided.
Saddles are Portuguese army saddles and bits are Hackamore.
We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.

If there are over 8 riders, a pack horse will be added to the group.

This ride takes place in the mountains, the ground is mineral in nature and necessitates, particularly for the descents, that you lead your horse on foot. For this reason, you may prefer to wear hiking boots instead of riding boots.

You will be provided with an 18 litre bumbag - attached to the back of your saddle, in which you can carry your personal effects (toiletries, change of clothing, and nightwear). We also recommend ensuring you can fit a sleeping-bag liner and a small towel in this space.

COMFORT

You will spend the night in simple hostels and cabins in the peaks at high altitudes. You will sleep in dormitory style accommodation, usually reserved solely for riders, with access to hot water and electricity. Blankets and bedding will be provided. Breakfast and dinner will be had as a group in your accommodation and it will be hearty - with your days' exertions in mind!

CLIMATE

Due to its extreme location in the southern Alps, Mercantour's climate is affected by multiple influences: a northern alpine front as well as strong sunshine and Mediterranean influences from the south. The meeting of these 2 fronts creates a variety of unique meteorological conditions including frequent storms. Temperatures vary between 15 and 25°C during the day and can, in the peaks (> 2400m), drop to 5°C at night.

Meals

The ride is full board.
Breakfast will be had in the refuges, inns or guesthouses and will consist of bread, jam, tea, coffee and occasionally orange juice.

Lunch will be picnics prepared by your guide. Usually they will consist of salad, cheese, mountain chacuterie, local sides (aubergine caviar, tapenade etc.). Dessert will be fruit and biscuits.

Snacks will be had twice a day and will be either dried fruits, biscuits, fruit and/ or chocolate.

Dinner will be had in your accommodation, these meal will be hearty and prepared with the long days in the saddle in mind. Drinks are not included.

Support Team

Guide and local team

Your guides, Denis and his son are American. Denis is an BEES equestrian instructor, and is a qualified equestrian tourism guide. Denis is a true American cowboy - with the accent to go along with it! Scott is calmer, unflappable and inexhaustible! They both speak French (and English), with Scott speaking both Spanish and Portuguese as well.
Camille has worked alongside Scott and Denis for the past 2 years and is likewise a qualified equestrian tourism guide; he is a perfect guide always in a great mood and happy to help!

Packing list

Head
- A riding helmet is compulsory and we recommend that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. Helmet makers (GPA, HKM, LAS Helmets, Lamicell, Troxel, Equithème) now offer horse-riding helmets that are ventilated, strong, light and comfortable.
- Sunhat and sunglasses (high protection) - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana for protecting your neck and face from the sun, wind or rain

Upper body
- Cotton t-shirts, t-shirts in quick-drying material and long sleeved shirts to provide protection from the sun or extra warmth
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Waterproof jacket (made from Goretex or equivalent) and/ or (depending on the season) a waterproof vest that covers you thighs. No ponchos!!
- Thermals in case of cold weather (season dependent)

Legs
- 2 pairs of lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Waterproof over trousers (made from Goretex or equivalent), especially if you don't have a long waterproof coat
- Non-irritant cotton or synthetic underwear

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take or hiking boots to deal with the descents made on foot
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, wind or rain whilst riding

Night
- Sleeping bag comfort rating +2°. We also suggest bring a sleeping bag liner for additional comfort

Other useful items
- Water bottle (1.5 litres or 2 equivalent)
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Toiletries
- Protein or cereal bars for the longer stretches of riding
- Toilet paper and a lighter to burn it after use
- Swiss army knife or equivalent (in checking-in luggage!!)
- Small plastic bags for you rubbish
- Ear plugs (may be useful)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- A pair of binoculars

Medical kit
Make sure any allergies (to medication or otherwise) and clearly stated in your medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Painkillers
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhea medication
- Vitamin C tablets
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Eye drops
- Hydrating/ soothing cream
- Plasters
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc..
- 10cm wide bandage
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

Our Recommendations
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. A small bumbag and rug with pockets will be provided so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera, sunscreen, lip balm etc)
- A soothing cream may be useful to treat areas irritated by long hours in the saddle
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- In your hand luggage carry any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals
- If, in wishing to 'travel light', you plan to wash your clothes throughout the trip, please ensure you bring biodegradable laundry products with which to do your washing

ENTRY FORMALITIES

The rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) with no deal.

After 29 March 2019:

You should have 6 months left on your passport from your date of arrival. This applies to adult and child passports.

If you renewed a 10 year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your passport's expiry date. These extra months will not count.

The new rules will apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/passport-rules-for-travel-to-europe-after-brexit

ACTIVITY :Trail Riding

LEVEL :Help

COMFORT :Help

Explore the Mercantour region of the Alps on horseback, ride trails through the imposing high mountains and passes, between altitudes of 1500 and 2800m - in an area known for its almost year-round sunshine! Experience horse riding through alpine pastures, isolated villages and the impressive peaks along the Italian border. Throw yourself into a challenging itinerant horseback ride in Mercantour, France in complete autonomy along remote paths and passes.

  • Riding in Mercantour National Park
    Horseback riding in the Alps
  • An idyllic alpine lake picnic spot
    Horse riding trail in the Alps in France
  • Natural trails through alpine pastures
    Remote trails in the Alps
  • Taking in the view in the French Alps
    Alpine lookout
  • Grazing and picnic stop in the peaks
    horses grazing in Mercantour
  • Peaks in the Mercantour National Park
    Mountain scenery in Mercantour
  • Beautiful views over the Alps on your trail ride in France
    Heading through the mountains

STRENGTHS

- Visit a region of France that has almost perpetual sunshine!
- Discover the beauty of the Mercantour National Park's flora, fauna and scenery
- Ride to the Valley des Merveilles, a UNESCO world site, and have a guided visit of the petroglyphs, dating from 3000BC, that were found and are studied there
- Experience an athletic and challenging ride, with uneven terrain, and technical passages in the highs and lows of the stunning peaks
- A truly autonomous and itinerant ride with your kit carried in saddle bags and a pack horse for groups of 8 and over

ITINERARY

Day 1 : UK - BOREON LAKE - No riding

Due to the early start of the ride the next day, we recommend arriving a day before its start in order to relax and prepare. You will arrive into either Nice airport or train station and be transferred to the equestrian centre.

You will spend the night in a local hotel close to the equestrian centre.

Day 2 : Madone of Fenestre sanctuary - 6 hours riding

The other riders in your group will arrive at around 8:30 and be transferred to the equestrian centre at around 9:00.

From the off, you will set off at pace as you head out towards Le Boréon for a rhythmic ride and gallop through alpine forests before riding up a steep incline to reach the La Cougourde dell and Trécoulpas Lake.

Here, you will stop for your picnic lunch; this region belonged to Italy until 1947, and this area has seen a lot of smuggling and clandestine passage. You will ride back out along the Pas de Ladres passage, site of the famed Madone de Fenestre religious sanctuary. Once the Italian border comes into view this means that your rest-stop for the night, Soria Ellena (1840m), isn't too far off and that the day's ride is at an end. You will have your dinner and spend the night in the cabin - in Italy.

Day 3 : THE HIGH PEAKS - 7 hours riding

Your second day of riding will unfold in the highest and most picturesque summits in the southern alps, including Mount Gelas, the highest of the Maritime Alps, Mount Malédie and Mount Clapier. The scenery here is nothing short of grandiose, and populated by the goat-antelope chamois and ibex that can weigh up to 80kg and have horns 1.5 metres long.

You will experience riding through open prairies, past alpine lakes and stop for your picnic with a view out across the far off Pô Valley. The landmark of Col dei Sabbione signifies the end of the day's ride and the arrival at you hostel for the night; here, you will have dinner and spend the night, in Casterino.

Day 4 : VALLEY DES MERVEILLES - 3 hours riding

The fourth day's ride is the shortest stage, only 3 hours on horseback, and is an ideal opportunity to recuperate a little before the expedition's 2-day home strait. After a 1 and a half hour ride, you will dismount to visit the open-air petroglyph museum in the Valley des Merveilles. These petroglyphs, rock engravings, carved into rocky outcrops were first identified in 1881. The mineral landscape itself was shaped by glacial movements which over time revealed these some 40,000 cave engravings, some dating to 3000BC, spread over 4000 rocks and making up the largest site of engravings in Europe.

Since 1881, the engravings have been extensively studied and display the earliest representations of man's inhabition of the area; you will have a guided visit of the site as well as meeting the numerous herds of sheep in the area as well as learning about the local cheese-making processes. You will have dinner and spend the night in a cabin in Merveilles.

Day 5 : VALLEY DE LA GORDOLASQUE - 7 hours riding

In the morning, you will ride out to Lake Mesches, at an altitude of 1380 metres. Alternating between beautiful larch wood forests and magnificent open countryside in the company of chamois, you will reach the banks of Long Supérieur Lake. Here, you will stop to take in the view and enjoy your picnic.

In the afternoon, you will ride out of the Valley des Merveilles and into the ancient glacial Gordolasque Valley, one of the wildest valleys in the southern alps. Here, you will experience riding through an area of exceptional untouched beauty. You will take the “Terra Rossa” paths that promise some fast-paced riding towards the end of the day.

You will spend the night at the Relais des Merveilles refuge.

Day 6 : FIVE LAKES - 6 hours riding

For your final day's route, you will ride the return trail back to le Boréon. The Prals lakes, or the “Five Lakes”, create an enchanting backdrop through the alpine pastures, themselves crossed by a fast-flowing mountain stream; you will stop for you picnic on the water's edge. After 4 days spent surrounded by mountains, the far-stretching crystal clear water and openness of the lakes will really be a marked and stunning change. Please note that today the terrain is quite mountainous so the pace will be at a walk only.

You will follows trails back to the equestrian centre that should have you arrive at around 17:30. After a farewell to the horses and your guide, it will be time for your transfer to either Nice airport or train station (at an additional cost)

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Early bird discounts
Get 3% off all trips booked before 31/12/2019 for a departure in 2020.
Terms and conditions:
  • This 3% early bird discount applies to the cost of the trip, and excludes transfers & supplements, international or domestic flights, and any additional services.
  • This offer cannot be combined with any other current discount.