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 but please bring a sleeping bag liner for more comfort. Breakfast and dinner will be had as a group in your accommodation and it will be hearty - with your days’ exertions in mind!
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.
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.
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!
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.
On this pack trip, your belongings will be carried by the horses. You will be provided with an expedition-type saddle pack (located at the back of the saddle) with a capacity of about 18 litres to bring all of your personal belongings (toiletries, change of clothes for the night, etc.). Please bring a sleeping bag liner and not sleeping bags because they won't fit in the bag, a towel will be useful. You can put your daytime clothes (sunscreen, telephone, etc.) in the saddlebags. Coats can be tied to the front of your saddle.
- 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
- 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)
- 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. You must wear good mountain/hiking boots (with half chaps) 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
- Blankets and duvets are provided but bring a sleeping bag liner for additional comfort. Please do not bring a sleeping bag as it's too bulky for the saddlebags.
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
- Protein or cereal bars for the longer stretches of riding
- Swiss army knife or equivalent (in checking-in luggage!!)
- Ear plugs (may be useful)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
Medical kit - please take what you need only and keep the limit in mind.
Make sure any allergies (to medication or otherwise) and clearly stated in your medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhea medication
- Vitamin C tablets
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Eye drops
- Hydrating/ soothing cream
- 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
- 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