Alentejo Coastal Trail

Ride trails on horseback through the untouched landscape of southwest Portugal and experience the sand dunes and beaches of the Costa Azul (Blue Coast). Follow trails through eucalyptus and cork forests and past rice fields, to the rolling hills of Serra do Cercal.
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Trail Riding
8 days/ 6 days riding
From £1,255
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Itinerary

Highlights

- Beautifully well-schooled Lusitano and Lusitano cross horses
- A linear trail so you end in a different place to where you began!
- The trail runs in both directions so you can choose whether to ride south to north or north to south
- The chance to canter/gallop down a deserted beach (please note that in September this may be at dawn)
- Convivial and friendly guide
- Comfortable and unique accommodation - converted farmhouses and quality hotels
  • Day 1 1: LONDON - LISBON - MELIDES - No riding

    Your flight to Lisbon should arrive by 16:30 to allow time for you to collect your luggage. Flights are not included but we can book them for you on request.

    At 17:30 you will be transferred south c. 135km to the town of Santo Andre, and the small guesthouse where you will spend the night, the Quinta do Moinho Velho.

    Have dinner with your guide and the rest of the group.
  • Day 2 2: BEACH RIDE - 5 hours riding

    Vila Park
    Today you will meet your horse and ride towards the beach. In September, this ride will likely be at dawn to avoid the holiday makers on the beach. If everyone is comfortable and secure on their horses, then there is the possibility of a gallop or canter on the beach before reaching a lovely picnic spot in the pine forest where your horses rest while you may swim in the sea and later have lunch.

    Lunch is a picnic prepared with grilled meats or fish accompanied by salad, fresh bread and local wine.
    After lunch, ride through the dunes and return to your hotel. Dinner is at a local restaurant.

    NB. This ride also runs in reverse. Less confident riders are advised to choose the reverse itinerary where the beach ride is on the final day - this gives you the opportunity to get to know your horse before riding on the beach.
  • Day 3 3: SANTO ANDRE LAGOON - MONTE XISTO - 5 hours riding

    Monte Xisto
    Today you ride in the direction of Santiago do Cacém, past the Santo André Lagoon, where you may see flamingos and storks. Ride past the rice fields of the area, which in late summer prior to harvest are an astonishing colour of green. Stop for a picnic in the pine tree forest.

    After lunch, continue riding towards the Quinta da Ortiga where you stable the horses for the night. A short transfer of takes you to your hotel, Monte Xisto, where you have dinner and spend the night.
  • Day 4 4: MONTE XISTO - CERCAL - 5 hours riding

    Today you continue to ride southwards towards Cercal, always with the sea in sight. Climbing the mountain through the ‘montados’ you ride through one of the last unexploited regions of Portugal.

    In the afternoon you arrive at your accommodation at Casas Verdemar. This is a beautifully renovated tavern with individual rooms and cottages around the gardens. There is a pool, fruit trees and plenty of places to relax and enjoy the countryside. Take your meals either on the veranda or inside in the dining room. Your hosts are Christine Nijhoff, a specialist in antiques restoration and Nuno Vilas Boas Lebreiro, artist and cook.
  • Day 5 5: CERCAL - VILA NOVA DE MILFONTES - 2,5 hours riding

    Today you have a morning ride exploring the fields around the farm and trails into the mountains of Cercal.
    The afternoon is free to visit the fishing village of Vila Nova de Milfontes which is a popular seaside resort in the summer months. There is time for shopping, sightseeing or relaxing on the beach.
    Dinner and overnight at Casas Verdemar.
  • Day 6 6: CERCAL - CAMPILHAS - 5 hours riding

    After breakfast you set off into the mountains of Cercal, close to the dam of Campilhas where you have lunch. The scenery is varied and interesting and after some trots and canters you return to Casas Verdemar. Relax and enjoy the quiet of a typical ‘monte alentejano’ after a dip in the pool.

    Dinner and night at Casas Verdemar.
  • Day 7 7: CERCAL - NOSSA SENHORA DAS NEVES - 4-6 hours riding

    For your last day’s ride you continue exploring the mountains of Cercal. You will ride to the chapel of Nossa Senhora das Neves from where you have a splendid view of the surrounding area.
    After lunch, you return to Casas Verdemar.
    Farewell dinner and overnight at Casas Verdemar.
  • Day 8 8 : LISBON - UK - No riding

    In the morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to the UK. Your flight should leave after noon.

    If you decide to book an earlier flight, a private transfer can be organised (payable locally, €140 - c. £120).

Dates & prices

Price details

- International flights are not included

- Rides are confirmed for a minimum of 2 riders and a usual maximum of 10 riders, plus your guide

- IMPORTANT - there is a small group supplement payable if the group size is fewer than five riders
For 3 riders, this is 25% of the price, and for 4 riders it is 10% of the price.

- There is a single supplement if you end up in a single room (c. £460/€530). This is refunded if we find a sharer for you

- Transfers are provided as long as you arrive before 17:00 and depart after midday. If you wish to book flights outside of these times then a private transfer can be arranged but is a taxi at your own cost.

- Competent children aged 10 and over can join the ride as long as they are comfortable riding horses (there are no ponies) and are accompanied by an adult. There is no discount for children

- Non-riders are welcome but no activities are provided - they can travel in the support vehicle and meet the group for lunch, or relax at the hotels. There is a discount for an accompanying non-rider. Please contact us.

- All meals are included as well as drinks during picnic lunches. All evening drinks are payable locally to the hotels/restaurants. It is usual that those who wish to drink wine will split the bill - this will be discussed with your guide on day one.

- Please note that this trail also runs in reverse. Some dates start in the north and heads south, whereas other dates start in the south and returns north. Less confident riders are advised to choose the trail which starts in the south and heads north so that they have an opportunity to get used to their horse before riding on the beach
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

Logistic

1 support vehicle
1 cook
1 assistant cook
1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle

Inland transports

Airport transfers at set times
Support vehicule

Accommodation

Double room in hotel standard 3/4*

Meals

Full board from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 8. Water, wine and soft drinks are included at lunch. Drinks with the exception of water are not included at dinner.

Extra equipment

First aid kit

Price doesn't include

Meals

Beverage and personal extra
Free meals on day 1 and 8 depending on your flights

Accommodation

Single room supplement if you sign up as a single rider and no sharer is found for you.

Transport

International flights

Extra

Small group supplement (between 2-4 riders)
Tips to local team

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

Optional

Accommodation

Single room supplement
  • March - April 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    11/04/2021 18/04/2021 £1,255 Guaranteed departure Book now
    18/04/2021 25/04/2021 £1,255 Guaranteed departure Book now
  • May - June 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    30/05/2021 06/06/2021 £1,380 Guaranteed departure Book now
    06/06/2021 13/06/2021 £1,380 Guaranteed departure Book now
  • September - October 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    12/09/2021 19/09/2021 £1,380 Open Book now
    19/09/2021 26/09/2021 £1,380 Guaranteed departure Book now

Equestrian info

Horses

You ride the beautiful and calm Lusitano and Lusitano cross-bred horses which are bred in Portugal. They are well-schooled and a pleasure to ride. There are calm and quiet horses for intermediate riders and more spirited mounts for experienced riders. You ride in English style tack with comfortable sheepskin covered saddles.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You need to be at least an intermediate rider, capable of riding a sensible horse at all paces in the outdoors. There are more spirited horses available for experienced riders.

There is a rider weight limit of 85kgs/13.3 st/187 lb

Pace

The pace is varied to include trots, canters and possible gallops. Some of the canters can be long and across varied terrain so you need to be secure in the saddle.

Tacking ability and participation

You will be asked to assist with grooming, tacking and un-tacking your horse.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

You should have experience riding outdoors on trails and be confident riding in open spaces. You need to be fit enough for some long canters in the sometimes hot Portugese sun.

Equestrian equipment

English tack.
Saddlebags are not provided.

We recommend all our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.

Travel info

Comfort

You stay in renovated farmhouses or local hotels. Some of the hotels are of a high standard and level of comfort. The rooms are double/twin and have en-suite bathrooms. Most of the hotels have swimming pools.

Meals

Lunches are picnic - usually BBQ meats or fish with salads and bread. Red wine is provided.
Evening meals are in the hotel and usually the dish of the day - typical Portugese cuisine and all fresh and locally produced. Drinks are payable locally.

Climate

Portugal has a pleasant climate with mild temperatures all year round:
Winter: 12 - 15c
Spring: 20 - 25c
Summer: 30 - 35c
Autumn: 15 - 20c
There is rarely rain during the summer months, but rain is common in winter and can occur in spring also.

Guide and local team

Your guide is Miguel and he has been guiding in this area for many years and helped discover the routes you ride. He was a prestigious dressage instructor before choosing to guide trails instead and speaks fantastic English. He is supported by a back-up vehicle driver who meets you for lunch each day and transports your luggage.

Tips

Tips are appreciated but not expected. You should give what you feel is appropriate and you feel comfortable with.

Packing list

Head
- Equus Journeys strongly recommend take your own helmet to ensure a correct fit.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana for protecting your neck and face from the sun and dust

Upper body
- Long sleeved shirts to provide protection from the sun
- T-shirts
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm polar fleece or equivalent
- Waterproof jacket - rain can be difficult to predict and it's better to be prepared.

Legs
- 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
- Casual clothes for the evenings (jeans or walking trousers)

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps or long boots.
- Lightweight shoes for the evenings
- Several pairs of socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, wind or rain whilst riding

Nightwear
- Pyjamas etc

Our Recommendations
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a waistcoat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc)
- 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!

Other useful items
- Swimsuit - there are pools on some nights
- Small backpack for accessing items required during the day (carried by support crew)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Water bottle (2 litres or 2 x 1 litre)
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)

In your luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag.
- Swiss army knife or equivalent

In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Your riding hat

Medical kit
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Any medication you regularly take
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel


Visa & Health

Formalities

British citizens: other nationalities, please contact us.

Passport validity
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you do not need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this.

Visas
If you hold a British Citizen passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Portugal.

The rules on travel will stay the same until 31 December 2020.
Please visit for the FCO website for up-to-date information - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal

Addresses of consulates

  • Ambassade du Portugal
    3, rue de Noisiel
    75116 PARIS
    Tél. : 01.47.27.35.29
    Fax :
    mailto@embaixada-portugal-fr.org
  • Ambassade de France
    Rua Santos-o-Velho 5
    LISBONNE
    Tél. : +351 21 393 9100
    Fax :
    contact@ambafrance-pt.org

Health

Make sure you take your EHIC card with you.
You will be treated on the same basis as a Portuguese resident, but you might have to make a patient contribution to the cost of your care. If you have to make such a payment, you may be able to seek reimbursement for this cost when you are back in the UK if you are not able to do so in Portugal. It is important that you ensure you are treated by a state healthcare provider, as you will not be covered for private healthcare. You should be particularly careful if the healthcare arrangements have been made by a hotel or travel representative. There are state health centres throughout the country (generally open from 0800 to 2000) where you can receive treatment for minor ailments and injuries, and major emergency hospitals in large towns which remain open throughout the night.
Even though pharmacies are well stocked, take a decent supply of medication with you, and be aware pharmacies are usually closed for two hours over lunchtime. Carry a legible prescription with you to show that you legally use the medication. If you wear glasses, take a spare pair and your prescription just in case you need to get new glasses made up quickly.

Vaccination against hepatitis B is sometimes recommended.

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.

Voltage

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Continental two-pin plugs are in use.

Budget and money

Portugal has adopted the Euro (EUR, symbol: €) as its official currency. One Euro is divided into 100 cents, which is sometimes referred to as eurocents, especially when distinguishing them with the US cents.
Euro banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500. The highest three denominations are rarely used in everyday transactions. All Euro banknotes have a common design for each denomination on both sides throughout the Eurozone.
The Euro coins are 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, €1 and €2. Some countries in the Eurozone have law which requires cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest 5 cents. All Euro coins have a common design on the denomination (value) side, while the opposite side may have a different image from one country to another. Although the image side may be different, all Euro coins remain legal tender throughout the Eurozone.

Telephone and jetlag

The dialling code for Portugal is +351

The time zone is GMT +1

Did you know?

Did you know?

Port wine (Vinho do Porto)  or more simply "Port" is a Portugese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro valley in northern Portugal.

Traditionally a sweet red wine which is often served after dinner, there are actually many varities, including white port which is usually served chilled before a meal and is more similar to sherry.

Port, like wine, is made from grapes, but is fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit called aguardente which stops the fermentation process, leaving a higher sugar and alcohol content. The spirit is stored and aged in barrels:

Ruby Port - the most well known and widely produced is stored in concrete or stainless steel barrels to prevent oxidisation and retain the rich red colour.

Tawny Port is aged in wood barrels to allow oxidation - this mellows the colour to golden-brown and adds a nutty flavour.

White Port is made from white grapes rather than red, but storage in wood barrels can darken the colour so that it's difficult to tell it apart from a tawny!

It is likely that you will be able to try port whilst on your riding holiday in Portugal, and you can buy really good quality ports for a fraction of the price you can find them in the UK. Your guide will advise you if you are keen to take some bottles home...