Kathar unguided Trail
This is a fabulous opportunity for confident riders to ride unguided, on a well trodden route, through the beautiful mountains and forests. You will be riding very fit horses that are well trained to cope with the difficult terrain and who will safely carry you onto your new destination every day. Whilst this may sound daunting, you will be well equipped with map and compass.
At the end of the day a warm welcome and delicious meal will be waiting for you.
Day 1: You will be met in Carcassone and driven to your hotel where you will be served an evening meal.
Day 2: After breakfast you will be driven to the stables in the quaint little village of Granes. This village is surrounded by forests and vine groves with a natural spring in the village square - the water is a delight to drink.
Today is a 'test' ride with a guide to see how well you are able to read a map and compass. You need to be very comfortable with your horse before embarking on this trail as well being competent handling him/her both in and out of the saddle. If all goes well, you will be able to head out on your own on the following day.
You will ride through woods past the village of Rennes-le-Chateau. After a picnic lunch, you will make your way back to Granes through a green oak forest for dinner and overnight as on the previous night.
Day 3: Today you will start your adventure and leave Granes to make your way to Puivert (about 5 hours). You will cross the upper valley of the Aude River, studded with vineyards, and arrive on the plateau of Puivert. You ride across the plateau and up into the courtyard of the castle ruin. The Chateau de Puivert was subjected to a three day siege in 1210, by the army of Thomas Pons de Bruyere, and became property of the northern barons (having originally belonged to the Cathar family of Congost).
After visiting the castle you make your way to Michel and Francois in the village nearby where you will spend the night. Michel and Francoise make and sell puppets from the workshop in their gite.
Day 4: After getting your horse ready we´ll follow the valley of Nebias, before climbing to the plateau of Coudons with a very beautiful scenery with the Pyrenées on the back. After a last canter, there is a long descent, before we cross the Rebenty valley and climb to the isolated hamlet of Labau on the side of a hill. The region is famous as the base for the Maquis during WW2. The journey from Puivert to Labau takes 5 to 6 hours. Labau is a small hamlet situated at the top of the valley and has the most fantastic views. Tonight your host is Patrice who rears Merens horses, famous for their trekking ability.
Day 5: Today you ride from Labau to Ayguebonnes (5 hours). You will follow the valley of Rebenty where there are opportunities for faster riding. You will be able to visit another famous Cathar castle called Puy Laurens. This is an amazing castle described as a true masterpiece of military architecture and design. This magnificent fortress is placed high on a mountain top, surrounded by dark forests, and was once an impenetrable stronghold. You will spend the night in a farmhouse where the owners Collette and Christine raise cattle. The home cooked food here is delicious.
Day 6: Today is the longest day with over 6 hours in the saddle. After crossing the valley of Fenouilledes and observing its small castles, you will head towards the plateau of Malabrac situated at the base of Bugarach Peak (4,500 ft.). Having explored this area you will ride trough the old village of Camps s/l'Agly, observing a big rock with rest of the walls of an old castle.
The night will be spent in an old hamlet where our host raise a local type of cows "Gascons".
Day 7: Bouchard to Granes (5 hours). Today you ride through a reserve with deer and wild boar, following the valley of Bugarach at the north base of Bugarach Peak. Here you will traverse forests of pine, beech and oak, progressing into a small valley with large rocks of chalk and limestone. From here you return to your starting point in Granes.
Day 8: Departure after breakfast.
This trip will often take you over steep and difficult terrain. Riders therefore must be fit, able and willing to dismount and lead their horse in places. French speakers will be at an advantage on this trail, even those who know just a few words.
Kathar trail with guide
This is very similar to the unguided trail but here you are accompanied by a knowledgeable and worthy guide. They will lead you through this gorgeous region as you ride a safe and trustworthy horse. Each night you will be able to relax in the warmth and comfort of a welcoming family home or gîte with a delicious meal waiting for you. The itinerary varies from that of the unguided trail (which can be seen above) as there is no 'test ride' on Day 2. The trail gets underway a day earlier so you are given an extra day of exploring on the end which is as follows:
Day 7: Today you cross the Bouchard Estate and pass by the Pech de Bugarach and the 'white valley'. You eat a delicious picnic by the river before travelling through the '4 ritous' valley. This leads you back into Granès and a farewell of your fourlegged companion.
Kathar trail with guide is scheduled the following dates 2019: April 21st, May 5th, June 6th and September 1st. Other dates is possible if you are a group of minimum 4 persons.
Kathar trail with guide is scheduled the following dates 2020: May 17th, June 14th, August 2nd and September 20th. Other dates is possible if you are a group of minimum 4 persons.