Crossing the Bardenas Reales desert

Head out for a challenging horse riding holiday in Spain, ride past the intriguing rock Hoodoos punctuating a vast desert landscape where many a Hollywood Western has been filmed. Cross the Bardenas desert on horseback and discover a region rich in history and farming tradition. Visit fortified villages built to resist the Moor invasion, follow the banks of the Aragon River to the impressive Yesa dam and gallop the region's summer grazing pastures. During this trail riding holiday in Spain stay at traditional accommodation and enjoy fine Mediterranean cuisine.
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Trail Riding
7 days / 7 days riding
From £1,080
  • Riders in the Bardenas desert in Spain
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- A ride led by a real local to the area, friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about showing you this glorious region at its best
- Ride through magnificent and impressive desert landscapes, along lush river banks and enjoy long gallops through the famous ewe pastures
- Visit a region rich in history including intricate Roman gates, 12th and 13th century churches and a night spent in a Cistercian monastery,
- Enjoy delicious Mediterranean cuisine and have your picnics alfresco while enjoying fantastic views
- Spend you nights in welcoming and charming accommodation typical to the Spanish Pyrenees
  • Day 1 1 : UK - OLORON - BAILO - 3 hours riding

    The information provided below is a general guide for the ride; the itinerary may be modified depending on weather conditions. If you choose a 4 day trail riding trip, you will follow the programme outlined in the final four days in the itinerary below.

    Meeting place is at the equestrian centre. Your first stretch in the saddle will take you along St. James' Way; you will pass through fields of wheat and other grains and ford the small streams that cut across the path.

    You will have your first Spanish dinner and spend the night at Casa Rural - accommodation of a type between a rest house and a B&B.

    If you would prefer to skip the early morning train, you have the option of staying on your guide's property the night before the ride begins.
  • Day 2 2 : RUESTA - SOS DEL REY CATOLICO - 5-6 hours riding

    You will spend the day riding through vast open countryside with no fences or barriers in sight. You will be continuing your way along St. James' Way, a famed pilgrimage route to the shrine of apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. The path, in its entirety, covers a distance of 850km - or a month's ride on horseback.

    You will spend the night in an inn in the medieval village of Sos del Rey Catolico.
  • Day 3 3 : SOS DEL REY CATOLICO - FIGAROL - 5-6 hours riding

    A long day in the saddle will be spent riding the length of the Aragon path until you reach the Yesa dam. Here, suddenly the landscape will change and become much more severe, the trail enclosed and dominated by the impressive eroded cliff faces that encircle the dam. Coming to the end of the Aragon province, you will reach the town of Figarol where you will stop for the night.
  • Day 4 4 : FIGAROL - CUBILAR - 5-6 hours riding

    This morning finds you riding towards the Bardenas desert. You will leave behind the cultivated lands and the Rio Aragon as the landscape turns dry and arid. Riding into the desert, the difference in landscape is as sudden as it impressive!

    You will ride through the Rallen Canyon before spending the night in refurbished shepherds' cabins.
  • Day 5 5 - CUBILAR - NEMESIA - 5-6 hours riding

    Once more back in the saddle, you will set out through the arid desert landscape for the impressive and intriguing Hoodoos, or fairy chimneys, and the 'Barrancos', a series of deep drops and gullies creating a wave effect in the earth in front of you.

    Your ride today marks the first day of trail riding through a veritable desert environment - one devoid of human habitation. However, despite the arid and inhospitable environment this region offers there remains a significant animal population. Over the years, this location, so reminiscent of the deserts in Arizona, has been used in the filming of numerous Westerns!

    Tonight, you will sleep in refurbished shepherd's cabins again.

    Today you ride through the Rincon del Bu canyon. Not for the faint hearted, you will follow a narrow path and enjoy some stunning sceneries.

    In the afternoon, you will reach your inn close to the Hermita del Yugo monastery, with the opportunity for a visit if it is open.
  • Day 7 7 : ARGUEDAS - FIGAROL - OLORON - UK - 4-5 hours riding

    You will spend your final day in the saddle riding through this wild and majestic landscape back to civilisation.
    From October through to March, the region you will be riding through holds significant value for the livestock farmers in the area. After the week-long transhumance along the Canada Réal route, it is here that vast herds of ewes spend the 'bad' season. The grazing privileges along with the right to chop wood were afforded to the inhabitants of the northern valleys of Aragon by Alphonse X, in 1273, to thank them for their efforts in the fight against the Moor in Spain.

    You have the option of staying on your guide's property for the night and leaving the following morning (to be paid on location)

Dates & prices

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 two riders sharing a twin or double room or dormitory rooms. Single rooms are not possible on this trip.

- Groups are made up of 5-15 international riders

- Transfer to Pau airport possible for approx. €70 per person each way payable on location.

- You have the option of staying on your guide's property on the night before the start of your ride and for the final night. For your welcome/check in, dinner, the night and your breakfast the following morning, a double room will cost around €68/£60 - to be paid on location.

- Please note that a shorter itinerary is possible on demand (4 days only - 4 first or last days of this itinerary).

- Rider weight limit: 110 kg / 17.3 st / 240 lbs
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 French horse guide


1 horse box to transport the horse at the beginning and the end of the ride
1 horse steward
1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider
1 support vehicle


Inn, gites and mountain cabins


Full board from lunch on day 1 to lunch on the final day (day 7)
The wine and coffee at evening meals

Additional equipment

First aid kit


Sites fees and activities detailed in the programme

Price doesn't include


Beverages and personal extras


Transport to and from the UK to Oloron Sainte Marie train station in France


Tips to the local team


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



Airport transfers from/to Pau airport


Additional night(s) - before the ride starts and the final night. See dates and prices
  • March - April 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    26/04/2020 02/05/2020 £1,080 Open Book now
  • May - June 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    17/05/2020 23/05/2020 £1,080 Open Book now
  • September - October 2020

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    27/09/2020 03/10/2020 £1,080 Open Book now
    25/10/2020 31/10/2020 £1,080 Open Book now

Equestrian info


The herd of horses is composed of a variety of different breeds, chosen and raised by your guides. They are resistant, hardy and are perfectly adapted to riding over the terrain in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

For this ride, you need to be at ease in the saddle and confident riding outdoors, for several hours at a time, at all paces and across uneven terrain.

Rider weight limit: 110 kg / 17.3 st / 240 lbs


The base pace of the ride is a walking pace because of the uneven ground. However, you will also have the occasion to trot and gallop whenever the terrain allows.

Tacking ability and participation

You will be responsible for grooming, tacking and un-tacking your horse. You can also help with the feeding and watering of the horses in the morning and evening.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

During your ride there will be some difficult passages requiring you to dismount and lead your horse by hand.

Previous experience of trail riding holidays over several days is a plus but is not necessary.

Helmets are MANDATORY.

Equestrian equipment

Comfortable trail riding saddles and saddle bags are 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


During the ride, you will be staying in either hotels, inns, gites or mountain cabins - don't forget to bring your sleeping bag! Also, 1 night will be spent in an ancient Cistercian monastery.


You lunches will consist of picnic lunches out in the countryside, your evening meals will be hot and had at your accommodation in the evening.


Overall the climate in the Bardenas desert is temperate and warm. However, significant rainfall is recorded throughout the year even during the driest months. The average temperature throughout the year is around 9.5 °C.

Guide and local team

Your trip will be led by a French-speaking guide who is experienced leading rides through this impressive landscape. Having grown up in this part of the Pyrenees, he is enthusiastic about introducing you to this part of the world in a sociable and relaxed atmosphere.


It is customary to leave a tip, usually around 10% of the bill - although this is often already. 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.

Packing list

- A riding helmet is strongly recommended and often compulsory. 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 and towel - for swimming/bathing may come in useful!
- 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

- 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

- Pyjamas or tracksuits for sleeping in
- A sleeping bag for the nights in the mountain cabin

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. 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
- 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


A passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay and issued within the past 10 years is required by British, Australian, Canadian and all other EU nationals.
If travelling from one border-free Schengen country to another however, EU nationals are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It is still recommended that you travel with your passport or ID card to prove your identity if necessary though.
Nationals not referred to above are advised to contact their embassy for visa requirements.


The UK is leaving the European Union. The rules for passports, entry requirements, driving, EHIC cards and more may change after Brexit.

Addresses of consulates

  • Paris | Ambassade d’Espagne
    22, avenue Marceau
    75381 Paris Cédex 08
    Tél. :
    Fax :
  • Ambassade de France en Espagne
    Calle Salustiano Olozaga 9
    28001 Madrid
    Tél. : +34 91 423 89 00

    Fax :


There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Spain. Remember to take your EHIC card with you.
The health system in Spain is good. It's not exceptional, but certainly not bad. People who work in Spain are insured through a social security plan, which covers most of their needs. The only thing that is not included are dental treatments. There is also the possibility for a private insurance.
Pharmacies can be found in every town, and in bigger cities almost every street has one. Even at night it should not take you a long time to find a pharmacy that is open. Remember that more drugs are prescribed in Spain than any other country.


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.


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

Budget and money

Spain has adopted the Euro (EUR, symbol: €) as its official currency. One Euro is divided into 100 (euro)cents, which are sometimes referred to as eurocents, especially when distinguishing them from the US cents.
Euro banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €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 laws which require 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 international access code for Spain is +34. The emergency number for police, ambulance and the fire brigade is 112.

Time zone GMT +1