Riding a Lusitano horse on a riding holiday

Azores, Horse Riding Trail on the Blue Island

Explore Azores' Blue Island on horseback. Faial Island or as it's often known, Blue Island, so named for the abundant growth of hydrangeas which bloom in early summer, is a remote and tranquil escape. Spend 6 days on horseback heading out from your lodge each day to explore lush green meadows, coastal cliffs, tropical forests and beaches, before riding trails through the volcanic, often lunar, landscapes. Ride varied trails and canter under a clear blue sky in the iridescent spray of the Atlantic Ocean.
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Trail Riding
8 days / 6 riding days
From £1,478
Open to non-riders

From the horse’s mouth

  • Azores, Horse Riding Trail on the Blue Island
    September 2023 Maria aged 25
    This was my first riding holiday, and I am so happy I decided to go for it!! Everything was fantastic, from the accommodation, to the itinerary, to the location. The guides and staff were so considerate, helpful, and interesting/fun to be around, and the other riders I met on the trail were great and very friendly,... Read all
  • Azores, Horse Riding Trail on the Blue Island
    June 2023 Nancy aged 67
    My horse was easy to handle and her name was Princesa. She’s a beautiful horse and responded well to commands. She was sure footed and trustworthy. However some of the horses were not as easily controlled. All the horses had only one notion that a canter was a gallop and the guides gladly acknowledged that. Many... Read all
  • Azores, Horse Riding Trail on the Blue Island
    July 2019 JULIE aged 44
    I was on a mare named Boneca. She was super reliable, and I was quickly able to trust her. She was very particular about which other horses she liked, but the guide was really thoughtful about creating the order of the ride so that we wouldn't have any issues. I was really impressed with the fitness of the horses and... Read all
  • Azores, Horse Riding Trail on the Blue Island
    June 2018 Elizabeth aged 58
    I just came back from a fabulous week on Faial Island in the Azores and 6 days of horseback trail riding. Indeed, I will book another trip with Equuus Journeys. For my first horse riding adventure/holiday, I had no idea what to expect. On this trip, we rode about 25 km a day, a total of 150 km around this beautiful... Read all
  • Trail riding by the ocean in the Azores
    Explore the coastal areas of Faial Island in the saddle
  • Two riders riding near an old volcano
    Enjoy a trail on black sand beaches near Capelhinos
  • Horseback riders on a green meadow in the Azores
    The green, lush scenery of Faial Island in the Azores
  • A group of riders having fun on a holiday
    This trail boasts exceptionally beautiful scenery
  • RIder training a horse in Cedros, Azores
    Main guide Diogo exercising a horse at the lodge
  • Riders enjoying their trail riding holiday
    A relaxing riding holiday for competent riders
  • Two riders riding near an old volcano
    Enjoy a trail on black sand beaches near Capelhinos
  • Rider and horse relaxing on a holiday in the Azores
    A horseback holiday is your chance to reconnect with nature
  • Rider, horse and red mill on Faial Island
    Enjoy the picturesque scenery of Faial Island on horseback

Itinerary

Highlights

- Enjoy comfortable accommodation in picturesque surroundings
- Ride full Lusitano and Lusitanian /Portuguese crosses through beautiful and occasionally lunar countryside
- Enjoy varied landscapes with a combination of volcanoes and coast line trails
- Add a extension to your ride with the opportunity to go whale watching or go swimming with dolphins
  • Day 1 1 : EUROPE- LISBON -HORTA - No riding

    Patio Lodge
    You will be met at the Horta airport on Faial Island by a member of our team. Outside of June and August we recommend you spend the night before in Lisbon and take the 2,5 hour flight the following day. We can take care of your reservations in Lisbon upon request. You can also fly to Sao Miguel and from there to Horta with SATA/Azores Airlines.

    From the airport, you will be taken to your accommodation at Patio Lodge (30 minutes) where you will be based for the rest of your stay and that evening you will have your first Azorean meal at the lodge.

    Please note that the arrival and departure dates are very flexible: contact us with your requirements and we will check availability for you.
  • Day 2 2 : PATIO LODGE - WHALING HARBOURS - PATIO LODGE - 4-5 hours riding

    Patio Lodge
    Before your first day in the saddle, you will learn a lot about whales and their history on the island of Faial during the briefing. You will then get to know your horse and your equipment for the week. The ride start on gently rising meadow paths, and becomes more active with short trots and canters. You reach a whale watching point. With a little luck and when the sea is calm, riders can see whales and dolphins. You then make your way back to the lodge along the steep coast, where lunch awaits. In the afternoon you set out on horseback again to reach two small whaling harbours. If the weather is good, you can even go for a swim! The horses stay overnight in a small hamlet, while riders are driven back to the lodge.
  • Day 3 3 : LIGHTHOUSE TRAIL - 4 hours riding

    Patio Lodge
    Today you can learn about the impact of the 1998 earthquake on Faial. You set out early on today's morning trail, that begins along the coast through blue hydrangea hedges, to the island's former lighthouse, which was destroyed in the earthquake. The nearby village still has a crumbling church that testifies to the power of the earthquake. Saddlebag picnic for lunch, before continuing the ride. During the afternoon you will witness beautiful views of the other islands. Eventually you will reach the paddock for the night and transfer back to the Ecolodge.
  • Day 4 4 : CALDEIRA OF FAIAL - 6-7 hours riding

    Patio Lodge
    Another early start, as you ride today to one of the island's top highlights: Faial’s crater, the Caldeira, standing at an altitude of 1,000m. A real challenge for riders and horses. It is likely that you will meet farmers on the way to their cows, and pass Heather trees looking like giant broccoli! You slowly ride your way up to the crater rim of Faial via switchback tracks - the crater is 400m deep and 2,500m wide and is a fairly impressive sight. Those who would like to extend their stay on Faial Island can descend into the depths of the crater with a nature park guide (please ask us for possible extensions and activities). After a saddlebag picnic lunch, you ride through the wild and remote landscape of the high mountains. The trail leads you over farm roads down to a small volcano which inner crater you can reach on foot through a small tunnel - a very special experience! After a full day in the saddle, you arrive at the Jungle Camp in the late afternoon, where the horses stay overnight while riders are taken back to the lodge.
  • Day 5 5 : CABEÇO VERDE TRAIL & WHALE WATCHING - 3 hours riding

    Patio Lodge
    From April - October, after breakfast, you will drive to Horta town to meet a team of marine biologists. Together with them you will go out to the ocean in a powerfully motorized zodiac.
    More than 30 different whales and dolphins can be encountered in the ocean surrounding Faial. It's a wonderful experience to be so close to the largest mammals in the world.
    If the sea condition doesn't allow, or if you are visiting outside of whale watching season (November - March), you will be driven to Horta town. Here you will have time to explore the colourful and cosmopolitan harbour town by yourself. Walk along the sailing harbour, find secluded spots in the town and visit the old whalers factory.

    At lunch time, you will be picked-up and taken to a typical Faial island "tasca".
    Later you will arrive to the Jungle Camp. After preparing the horses, you will ride up to the Green Hill called “Cabeço Verde”. From the top of this volcano you can admire spectacular views over an amazing landscape and the volcano of Capelinhos. The way down will allow you to see the vineyards, unique to Faial Island. A wine growing area which, thanks to the ashes of the last eruption and the special way of growing the grapes, is creating a wonderful homemade wine.

    * Please note - in case of circumstances beyond our control (such as adverse weather conditions or a lack of participants) the whale-watching tour may be cancelled, in which case a refund will be arranged.
  • Day 6 6 : CAPELINHOS - 4-5 hours riding

    Patio Lodge
    Today the trail takes you through a mystical jungle landscape. Enjoy fantastic canters with beautiful ocean views. Extensive vineyards, but also small adegas pave the way. Via narrow tracks close to the shore, you reach another top highlight of the Azores, the volcano of Capelinhos, that erupted in 1957. Desert-like solitude awaits. Hidden under the buried lighthouse is the modern interpretation center that reports on the volcanism of the Azores and the eruption of the volcano. We combine a saddlebag picnic with a visit to this attraction. Riding over parts of the volcano, we reach the Jungle Camp in the late afternoon. The
    transfer back to the lodge is already waiting there.
  • Day 7 7 : FAJÃ BAY & CANYON TRAIL - 4-5 hours riding

    Patio Lodge
    Today is the last day of your trail riding holiday in the Azores.
    Fajã Bay is a hidden bay where islanders have been growing wine and fruits for 500 years. On the way, you will pass small “Adegas”, wine houses with their vineyards.
    After riding through dense jungle you will reach the black lava beach of Fajã Bay. A magical, romantic world of its own. Small lava stone houses, well-kept gardens and a wild sea await you.
    Afterwards, you will cross the island from the dry south to the green north, enjoying magnificent views over terraced pastures down to the blue ocean. Some nice canters lead to the highest village on the island, Ribeira Funda. A typical Azorean picnic is waiting for the group directly above the 300m deep canyon. In the afternoon the route takes you along yam fields through a small, wild and romantic valley after 6 days of riding back to the Lodge. A big farewell dinner with wine tasting in the lodge end a lovely trail riding week.
  • Day 8 8 : HORTA-EUROPE - No riding

    After having an early breakfast, you will fly out to Lisbon.

    We recommend booking the earliest flight possible to Lisbon so you can catch your connecting flight back to Europe.

    You can also continue your trip with a extension to other islands, a hiking trip down the caldeira or perhaps the chance to swim with dolphins. Please contact us for details.

Dates & prices

Price details

- International flights are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.     

- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing a twin or double room during the ride. 

- Rides are confirmed for a minimum of 1 rider and a usual maximum of 9 riders, plus your guide.

- If you sign up to the ride as a solo rider, you will be charged a single room supplement (see below).
> In 2023, the single supplement is €230/$250/£200 in the low season (November-March) and €315/$330/£285 in the high season (April-October)
> In 2024, the single supplement is €190/$210/£165 in the low season (Jan-Mar & Nov-Dec), €280/$305/£245 in the shoulder season (Apr-May & Oct), and €420/$455/£365 in the high season (Jun-Sep)

- Please note that during the high season in 2023 (and both high and shoulder season in 2024) the arrival and departure dates are very flexible: contact us with your requirements and we will check availability for you.

- In season (from April to October) there is the option of staying in tents rather than the lodge, for a reduced price (not applicable in 2024).

- Non-riders are welcome (half-board) at a discounted rate. Please contact us for a detailed quotation.

- Please note that the transfer between Lisbon and Faial island can be very long out of summer. Therefore you may overnight in Lisbon, if so take the opportunity to explore the city.

- Minimum age is 16 yo if accompanied by an adult. Younger rider may be considered after consultation.

- The lodge can also organise multi-day non-riding extensions at the end or start of your holiday: whale-watching, swimming with dolphins, hiking, trips to Pico Islands... are all possible. Please let us know if this is of interest.

- There is a rider weight limit of 95kgs/ 15stone/ 209 lbs - if you weigh more than 95kg and wish to ride, please contact us
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
1 vehicle and driver

Inland transport

Airport transfers

Accommodation

Double or twin room at the lodge

Meals

Full board from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on the final day (day 8)

Additional equipment

Saddle bags

Extras

Entry fees to sites mentionned in the itinerary

Price doesn't include

Meals

Beverages and personal extras - outside of those served at meal

Transport

International flights

Extras

Tips to the local team

Insurance

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

Optional

Accommodation

Single room supplement - see above for details

Extras

Trip extensions or additional activities
  • Departure Return Price without flights Status
    25/05/2024 01/06/2024 £1,739
    £1,478
    €2,000
    €1,700
    $2,156
    $1,833
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    01/06/2024 08/06/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
    Full
    08/06/2024 15/06/2024 £1,913
    £1,626
    €2,200
    €1,870
    $2,372
    $2,016
    Open
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    15/06/2024 22/06/2024 £1,913
    £1,626
    €2,200
    €1,870
    $2,372
    $2,016
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    22/06/2024 29/06/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    29/06/2024 06/07/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    06/07/2024 13/07/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    20/07/2024 27/07/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    27/07/2024 03/08/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    03/08/2024 10/08/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    10/08/2024 17/08/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    24/08/2024 31/08/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    31/08/2024 07/09/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    07/09/2024 14/09/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    14/09/2024 21/09/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    28/09/2024 05/10/2024 £1,913 €2,200 $2,372
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    05/10/2024 12/10/2024 £1,739 €2,000 $2,156
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    12/10/2024 19/10/2024 £1,739 €2,000 $2,156
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    19/10/2024 26/10/2024 £1,739 €2,000 $2,156
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Equestrian info

Horses

A herd of gentle and well-schooled pure Lusitanos or Lusitano-Cruzado Portuguese cross horses await you on Faial Isle. They spend the year round out on the prairies and are worked with daily. Their average height is 15.2hh.

Rider weight limit: 95kg/ 15stone/ 209 lbs.

Guide & local team

Victor and Anja stumbled across this beautiful little island years ago, and decided to make a life for themselves here. They bought an old Quinta, renovated it beautifully and soon added rooms to the structure. They are German and speak perfect English and Portuguese. Victor is occasionally seen leading the trails, while Anja looks after the horses and manages the facilities.

Diogo is native to the Island and has trained in Lisbon. He is a competent horseman and a great lead guide. He's always happy to take you around his island and tell you about its secrets. He speaks Portuguese and English.

Carla will be looking after your meals and make sure you get a taste of the traditional Azorean cuisine.

Several interns complete the team in the summer, helping out at the stables and as back up guides.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You should be able to ride in all paces and in all kinds of terrain. The terrain is quite mountainous due to the volcanic nature of the island and you should have a steady seat, but the ride is not overly technical.

Rider weight limit: 95 kg / 210 lbs / 14.9 st.

Pace

The riding is relaxed with all three paces (walk, trot, canter). Due to the mountainous nature of the terrain, most of the ride is at a walk but faster paces will be had whenever suitable.

Tacking ability and participation

Each rider grooms and tacks their own horse and helps the team to distribute water and food to the horses.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

A good level of fitness and endurance is required as you will spend several hours in the saddle each day.

Equestrian equipment

Prestige trail saddle, saddlebags and Australian raincoats.
With Azorean airline SATA riding equipment is free of charge up to 10 kg.

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

Due to individual sizing needs and security reasons, we recommend you bring the following equipment : waterproof trekking footwear, wind and waterproof jacket and trouser, and a small refillable bottle.

Travel info

Comfort

You will stay in the comfortable Patio Lodge built on the property in 2016. Cosy and inviting to come back to after a day’s riding, you will be able to enjoy the accommodation’s terrace and garden. The rooms are double or twin. You can also request a single room at an extra charge. In 2020, the Lodge also added a lovely "Tiny House" to their offer, perfect for couples looking for a little more intimacy.

Please note the rooms have no fans or AC in keeping with their sustainable policy.

There is a small fitness centre with a pool.

There is also a cosy cottage perfect for families and groups of friends that can sleep up to 4 (at a supplementary cost). If all accommodation options at the lodge are fully booked at the time of your booking, you will be given the option to stay at a local guesthouse instead.

Meals

Dinner is typically Azorean cuisine with water and wine included.
Lunchtime is either a picnic or a light lunch in a local bar (with selected drinks).

Climate

The Azores have a maritime climate with mild temperatures ranging from 16°C (60°F) in winter to a comfortable 26°C (79°F) in summer. The sea is warmed by the Gulf Stream and sea temperature varies from 14ºC to 22ºC. On average there is about three to four hours of sunshine a day in winter and seven to eight in summer. Rainfall is distributed around the year, but is heavier and more frequent in winter. Characteristic for the Azores is the wide variety of weather conditions within a short period; a single day can be windy and calm, sunny and showery in any combination! A typical and true remark is that if you don’t like the weather, you just have to wait 10 minutes!

Tips

Tipping is not compulsory but will be very much appreciated if you enjoy the services provided by the team. Tipping is totally at your discretion but we recommend €50 (€30 for the trail guide and €20 for the lodge team)

Packing list

Head
- Helmets are mandatory and you should bring your own. There are many lightweight options available nowadays
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana

Upper body
- Thermals (long or short sleeved)
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and are an extra layer
- T-shirts
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm fleece or jumper (and a spare in case one gets wet)
- Warm and waterproof jacket - it can rain at any time of year and the evenings can be particularly cold. Australian raincoats can be rented at an additional fee directly to the lodge.

Legs
- 2 Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Thermals
- Casual trousers for the evenings, such as jeans or tracksuit bottoms
- Waterproof over trousers

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps as an extra layer against inclement weather. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Waterproof shoes/boots can be useful for abundant dew in the mornings or when it rains
- Trainers and/or hiking shoes for the other activities you may choose to do
- Several pairs of socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, cold or rain whilst riding. Waterproof gloves can be particularly useful

Other useful items
- 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)

Medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- 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
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

Miscellaneous
- 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 (passport, 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!
- You should also bring a copy of your passport/insurance in case you lose your documents. You can also save a copy into your mobile phone.

Sustainable tourism

  1. Travel light. It's a little known fact, but the lighter you pack, the better for the environment as heavy bags will produce higher emissions (when flying a plane or driving a car!).
  2. Reduce plastic waste. Take your favorite reusable bottle with you. Avoid single-use bags, cups, or straws.
  3. Preserve nature. Always take your rubbish with you during the ride and recycle them. Leave all the flowers or plants as you found them, and never get too close when observing wildlife. Make sure to use eco-friendly products such as body wash or laundry detergent (if camping) to protect both your skin and the environment.
  4. Choose your experiences carefully. Respect animal life by not participating in any activities that abuse wild animals (shows, elephant rides, etc.).
  5. Support local populations. Buy local handicrafts, be respectful of customs, and learn about the culture of local communities.
  6. Share! Raise awareness among your family and friends about sustainable tourism.

For more information please see this page.

Did you know?

Did you know?

The Azores Volcanoes

The Azores are characterised by vibrant greens and blues that help highlight the splendour of its mountains and ocean. Its location on top of major faults, rifts and plates have allowed it to develop a rich fauna and flora which creates one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. However, this archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean between America, Europe and Africa, also has other natural wonders: Volcanoes.

There are 26 active volcanoes across the archipelago, 8 of which are underwater. The first ever recorded eruption was between 1439 and 1443, and there has been no sign of activity for many years.

Faial Island is home to the Capelinhos volcano that is part of the larger volcanic complex of Capelo, which includes 20 scoria cones and lava fields. The 1957-1958 volcanic eruption that lasted for 13 months largely destroyed the western parishes – you can see the remnants of the old villages and lighthouse by the Visitors Centre, which you can visit during your trail ride. You can also visit the old Caldera, the central crater on the island, where riders can go for a guided hike.

On this riding holiday, you will have the chance to explore this volcanic island and its lunar landscapes while riding beautiful Lusitano horses.

On the blog

Equus Journeys' guest Eli Curran, from the USA, had a memorable horseback holiday in the Azores. She writes about her week on Faial on our blog

Customer reviews

Customer reviews

All of our reviews are real, honest opinions from riders who have recently travelled with us. Upon their return, our riders will receive an email inviting them to share their experiences from their trip. Good or bad, each review will be published on our website, provided that they respect our editorial guidelines.
  • Maria aged 25 Santa Monica 1 trip
    September 2023
    This was my first riding holiday, and I am so happy I decided to go for it!! Everything was fantastic, from the accommodation, to the itinerary, to the location. The guides and staff were so considerate, helpful, and interesting/fun to be around, and the other riders I met on the trail were great and very friendly,... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide
  • Nancy aged 67 MONTGOMERY 1 trip
    June 2023
    My horse was easy to handle and her name was Princesa. She’s a beautiful horse and responded well to commands. She was sure footed and trustworthy. However some of the horses were not as easily controlled. All the horses had only one notion that a canter was a gallop and the guides gladly acknowledged that. Many... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide
  • JULIE aged 44 London 1 trip
    July 2019
    I was on a mare named Boneca. She was super reliable, and I was quickly able to trust her. She was very particular about which other horses she liked, but the guide was really thoughtful about creating the order of the ride so that we wouldn't have any issues. I was really impressed with the fitness of the horses and... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide
  • Elizabeth aged 58 Marblehead 2 trips
    June 2018
    I just came back from a fabulous week on Faial Island in the Azores and 6 days of horseback trail riding. Indeed, I will book another trip with Equuus Journeys. For my first horse riding adventure/holiday, I had no idea what to expect. On this trip, we rode about 25 km a day, a total of 150 km around this beautiful... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide