Bordeaux - The Atlantic Coast

Aquitaine - Basque Country and Atlantic beaches

A ride of discovery on horseback through Basque Country and the mid-mountain ranges. You will find yourself travelling along St. James' Way and old smugglers' paths to explore the varied landscapes of the Pays de Quint. Experience wild lush countryside and pastures, never-ending beaches to gallop across, desert stretches and glorious sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean. On this horse riding holiday on the French/ Spanish border you will sample traditional French cuisine and learn about the region from a passionate local guide.
Book now Print the details for this ride
Trail Riding
8 days / 6 days riding
From £1,315

Itinerary

Highlights

- View, from horseback, superb mountain and coastal countryside in French Basque Country and watch glorious sunsets colour the Atlantic Ocean
- Ride off the beaten track taking smugglers' paths crossing the border between France and Spain
- Get the opportunity to approach herds of wild Pottock horses and discover the unique culture of the Basque Country.
- At the end of the ride the soft terrain offers the chance for fantastic long gallops
- Enjoy delicious traditional Landais cuisine and a wine tasting of local Irouleguy wines
- Ride well-trained, quality horses that are well suited to riding in the region
  • Day 1 1 : EUROPE - BORDEAUX - ST ETIENNE DE BAIGORRY

    On your arrival at Bordeaux (flights not included), you will be met by one of our partners and taken to St Etienne de Baïgorry (approx. 2 hrs 30 mins) where you will spend your first night. The transfer leaves from the airport at 14:00, it is therefore imperative that you arrive at the airport or train station before 13:00. Transfers are not included and payable locally - please see "dates and prices".

    After leaving your baggage at the gite, you will have a chance to visit Saint-Jean-Pied de Port, a beautiful tourist town, where you will have dinner in a restaurant in the old district (dinner is not included and is payable locally).

    The following itinerary may be done in a different order if weather conditions prove inclement.
  • Day 2 2 : ST ETIENNE DE BAIGORRI - ESPILA - 5-6 hours riding

    You first day's ride will allow you to get to know your horse and cement the relationship between you both. You will ride through the well-known town of St Etienne de Baïgorri to the Aldudes Valley where you will climb up to the peak of Oilarandoï passing at its foot its beautiful small stone chapel. After a picnic lunch had on the ridge of Col d’Adartza, offering fantastic views across the Iparla crests, you will continue your ride to reach Mohoa, at 1021m. Here, you will have a 360° panoramic view of St Jean de Port and out across the ocean.

    By exhilarating gallops through the summer grazing pastures, past the occasional herd of Pottocks, local wild horses, you will make you way towards the summits of Banca and Espila.

    You will have your evening meal and spend the night in a gite at Espila.
  • Day 3 3 : ESPILA - UREPEL - 6 hours riding

    In the morning, you will ride out to the Euntzarok pass between France and Spain and then up to the peak of Argaraï. The trail along these ridges, which offers up unforgettable countryside views, is in places incredibly narrow and you will be, at times, required to dismount and lead your horse by hand while you find your own path through. Your ride will continue towards Lindus peak and a beautiful view of Robcevaux crest. You will also pass the Gallo Romaine military redoubt, now a well-known bird-watching site. Here in the past, at this military fortification the likes of Wisigoths , Francs, Sarrasins, pilgrims to Saint-Jacques, the Napoleonic armies and lesser known smugglers have resisted, hidden or sought shelter.

    After an alfresco picnic lunch, you will head down the Pays de Quint towards Spain where the houses are in the Haut-Navarrais style, white with characteristic angled stones. In the evening, you will arrive at Urepel and settle in to your hotel and have dinner.
  • Day 4 4 : UREPEL - HARGUIBEL - BANCA - 4 hours riding

    After a hearty breakfast, you will ride out through the heart of a narrow valley which will allow you to get an insight into the agricultural and industrial traditions of the area and will give you an idea of how the people in this region live. After a brief stop for a tasting at a Basque sardine factory, you will continue your ride and reach the Eyharza ridge where you will stop for your picnic.

    After lunch in a local restaurant where you can taste the local Basque specialities, you will climb back in the saddle and ride back up to high altitudes. Your trail will follow the mountain ridges straddling the border line - you will find yourself at times in France, and others in Spain! A highlight of the trip will be your ride through idyllic Spanish forest high in the mountains. Once you reach the pastures at Cayolard de Gaintza, you will leave the horses behind high up on the mountainside as you are driven down in a minibus to your hotel for the evening (15 mins).
  • Day 5 5 : BANCA SUMMIT - ERRATZU - MIMIZAN - 6 hours riding

    Riding out from Cayolart for Elhorrieta, you will discover the Kromlechs, circles of large stones, veritable vestiges of the bronze age and always found facing towards the East. After rounding the ridge of Elorregikoo kaskoa, you will have your final 360° panoramic view over the stunning Basque countryside, and you will maybe catch a glimpse of the herds of wild Shetland ponies that roam the region. You will ride towards Ispégu peak where you will stop for your dinner in a 'venta', a local restaurant serving traditional Spanish cuisine.

    After lunch, you will ride down the mountainside towards Erratzu village, crossing the picturesque countryside and the nearest village on horseback. You and the horses are driven to Mimizan for the evening.
  • Day 6 6 : ATLANTIC COAST - LANDES - MIMIZAN - 5 hours riding

    An unforgettable day's ride will unfold as you find yourself right on the Atlantic coast riding along soft ground perfectly suited to long gallops. You will explore the Landes, along paths less-travelled, and discover wild and seemingly never-ending beaches. In the evening, you will return to your guesthouse and enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Day 7 7 : MIMIZAN - ATLANTIC COAST - LANDES - 5 hours riding

    Another fantastic day's ride where you will have a chance to discover more of Landes' beauty by exploring the largest forest in Europe. Emerging from the dense canopy, you will ride through vast open spaces before finding yourself once more on the deserted beaches; you will finish your ride at around 19:30 - in time to watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean. Over these last 2 days, depending on the season, weather conditions and tides, you will have the chance to bathe, with the horses, in the lakes and ocean that you pass.

    For your last evening, you will have your dinner a local restaurant where you will sample seafood or another Landais specialty.
  • Day 8 8 : LES LANDES - BORDEAUX - EUROPE

    After breakfast and a farewell to your guide, you will be taken by shuttle to Bordeaux, for flights after 13:00.

Dates & prices

Price details

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

- Rates are per person, based on a combination of double bedrooms and double twin bedrooms. If you are travelling with a riding partner, we can guarantee a double or twin bedroom and no dormitory accommodation with a supplement of €70/£62 per person in April, May, June, September and October, or €105/£94 in July (2019/2020).

- Groups are made up of 4-8 (max.) international riders plus guides.

- Please note: the ride will also confirm for 3 riders on payment of a supplement of c. €200/£175 per person. Once the group has reached 4 people, we will remove this supplement from your invoice and refund you if you have already paid it.

- There is no single supplement for solo riders willing to share. To guarantee a single room, the supplement is:
€170/£150 April, May, June and September, October or €210/£185 in July.

To guarantee a double room, the supplement is:
€70/£60 April, May, June and September, October or €105/£90 in July.

- Airport transfers are not included and are €90/£80 return. Transfers are scheduled at specific times, please make sure to check the itinerary before booking your flights.

- There is a maximum rider weight of 95kg/ 14st 13lbs/ 209 lbs

- In the case of extreme weather, the rides itinerary may be done in reverse.
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
1 English speaking tour leader

Logistics

1 support vehicle that will transport your baggage to and from the accommodation and will meet you at the lunch stop with your picnic lunch
1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider

Accommodation

7 nights accommodation in different hotels and guesthouses

Meals

Full board from breakfast 2 to breakfast on the final day (day 8). Dinner on day 1 is not included.
In the restaurants, two glasses of wine or two sodas, tea or coffee. Wine and soda drinks are included in all picnic lunches.

Price doesn't include

Transport

Transfer to the meeting point in France
International flights

Extras

Tips to the local team
Small group supplementary charge for groups 3 riders (see price details)

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
Additional nights - see Price Details for more information
  • May - June 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    14/06/2020 21/06/2020 £1,315 Open Book now
    28/06/2020 05/07/2020 £1,370 Full
  • September - October 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    06/09/2020 13/09/2020 £1,315 Guaranteed departure Book now
  • November - December 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    04/11/2020 11/11/2020 £1,315 Open Book now
  • May - June 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    02/05/2021 09/05/2021 £1,315 Open Book now
    16/05/2021 23/05/2021 £1,315 Open Book now
    30/05/2021 06/06/2021 £1,315 Open Book now
    13/06/2021 20/06/2021 £1,315 Open Book now
    27/06/2021 04/07/2021 £1,370 Open Book now
  • September - October 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    05/09/2021 12/09/2021 £1,315 Open Book now
    19/09/2021 26/09/2021 £1,315 Open Book now
    03/10/2021 10/10/2021 £1,315 Open Book now

Equestrian info

Horses

The herd is made up of 35 horses the majority of which being Anglo-Arabs and French trotters. A good number of them come from the same family line. The horses are used to living outdoors and riding out for many weeks at a time throughout the year. They are forward-going, sure-footed and well-balanced.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

For this ride, you need to have mastered the 3 paces outdoors and be physically fit in order to endure the fast paced and sustained rhythm of the ride and the daily 5 to 7 hours in the saddle.

There is a maximum rider weight of 95kg/ 14st 13lbs/ 209 lbs

Pace

The base pace of the ride in the mountains is a walking pace - interspersed with trots and gallops when the terrain allows. Then over the last two days, you will experience a much faster paced ride with plenty of rising trots and galloping in a forward seat.

Tacking ability and participation

Everyone assists with grooming, tacking and un-tacking your horse. Following your guides instructions, you will also be involved in feeding and watering the horses.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

You need to be in good physical condition to participate in this ride as there will be some long days in the saddle (up to 7 hours). There will also be some difficult passages in the Pays Basque which will be done on foot whilst you lead your horse.

Previous experience of trekking over several days is strongly requested.

It is recommended that for riders who are not riding regularly, to get back in the saddle and get riding fit before the trip.

Helmets are MANDATORY.

Equestrian equipment

English saddles and saddlebags will be provided.

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

Travel info

Comfort

During the trek, you will spend the first night in a 3* charming guesthouses in St Etienne de Baigorry. The second night is in a mountain guesthouse, and the 3rd and 4th nights are spent in basic but comfortable 2* hotel in the Aldude Valley. The remaining nights are spent at your hosts' guesthouse in Mimizan which comes with a swimming pool.

Meals

During your ride, the meals have been well-chosen to allow you to discover the local gastronomic traditions of the region. Please note the first dinner is not included and you will be able to select from a "a la carte" menu.

Your lunch will be transported in the support vehicle, or if the weather makes access in the support vehicle impossible, you will carry the picnic lunches in your saddlebags.

Climate

The climate in this region of France is oceanic with mild winters and hot summers. Rainfall in Mimizan can be significant, even in the driest months. Throughout the year the average temperature in Mimizan is around 13.2 °C.

Guide and local team

Your ride will be led by an English-speaking guide with a lot of experience riding in the mountains. They will also have a qualification minimum of Equestrian Tourism Guide in Landes. They know the region like the back of their hand and they get pleasure out of helping you to explore the area with them.

Tips

In France it is customary to tip. For this trip, you may wish to leave a tip with the guide who can split it amongst all members of the team. Tipping is not obligatory and remains at your discretion.

Packing list

The information provided is general and should be adapted to the season in which you are travelling, specifically concerning the necessity of Goretex waterproofs.

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 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, wind or rain
- Warm hat for cold evenings/days

Upper body
- Thermals in case of cold weather
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun or extra warmth
- Down jacket or gilet for cold evenings
- T-shirts
- Swimsuit - for swimming/bathing
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm polar fleece or equivalent (plus a spare in case one gets wet)
- Waterproof jacket - rain can be difficult to predict and it's better to be prepared. In the mountains the weather can change quickly

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
- Casual clothes for the evenings (jeans or walking trousers)
- Thermal trousers for cold days or for sleeping in
- A swimming costume may be useful for impromptu dips in the lake and washing in the river
- 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 long chaps. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Lightweight shoes or trainers for the evenings
- Sandals/flipflops
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, wind or rain whilst riding

Nightwear
- Pyjamas or tracksuits for sleeping in
Our Recommendations
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets 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!

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

Equipment provided
- Medical kit
- 1 pair of medium saddlebags
- Hard hat

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

General information
- The airline allows only one bag to be checked-in per passenger. Make sure it weighs no more than 20kg; if it exceeds this weight, you will have to pay excess luggage fees at check-in
- Hand luggage is limited to 7kg (measuring 56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm), it mustn't contain any sharp objects (knives, scissors, nail file or nail scissors, etc.) and the quantity of liquid allowed per passenger is limited to 100ml per container.
In your hold luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant over 100 ml and all bottles can be decanted into small, clear, plastic Ziplock bags. We recommend biodegradable washing products where possible.
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals
- In your hand luggage carry any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes is highly recommended - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!

Visa & Health

Formalities

UK citizens - other nationalities please contact us:

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

The rules on travel will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

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

The rules on travel will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

For up-to-date information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/entry-requirements

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.