Spain, Catalonia - Smugglers Trail
You will climb over an altitude of 2000 m into the Massif of Bassegoda. Forget everything you think you know about mountain riding. The Smugglers trail is very special. Discover one of the loveliest regions of Catalonia, a trip in the Romanic Catalan culture. This is the heartland of the region where the four red and yellow lines flag flies proudly on this breathtaking trail. You have the opportunity to taste different delicious Catalan dishes. You will discover three distinct landscapes: the fertile prairies near the river Fluvià, the mighty peaks of the Pyrenees and the warm wooded hills of the Garrotxa. This trail is an interesting mixture for riders that know how to measure their horse and at times leading them on foot.
8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS - 170KM - 4/6 HOURS X 6 DAYS RIDING
Vilafreser - Espinavessa - Besalú - Montagut - Beget - Espinavell - Camprodon
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Preliminary day-by-day program
DAY 1 WELCOME TO CATALONIA
In the evening upon your arrival at the farmhouse, you will meet the team. At dinner we will go over the week’s program, you will be told about the special characteristics of our Spanish and Arab crossbred horses for this trail. Then you can enjoy a fantastic dinner!
DAY 2 THE TRAIL BEGINS
We have a copious breakfast and, after a short briefing with the guide, we prepare our horses to leave the farmhouse. Every hour we pass another beautiful village as Ollers or Galliners with church, arches, tunnels, old wooden doors with wrought iron knockers. Next, we will have a picnic and know each other before riding again through prairies and Mediterranean forests to the hotel Masía La Palma, an ancient farm transformed in a comfortable country house.
DAY 3 TO BESALÚ
The peaks of the Alta Garrotxa are all around us. The air is poignant with the smell of wild herbs and Mediterranean fragrances. Later tan long gallops, in the far distance we can make out the medieval village of Besalú, where we have our picnic at lunch time and that we can visit later than coffee. A jewel of a Romanesque city, with its bridge over the two rivers and Jewish past, with its old neighborhood almost intact. The ride is upbeat. The strong Andalusian horses are still full of strength. Their trots are long and rhythmic along the small climbing paths between country cottages with amazing views of the Pyrenees. We will then spend the night at Besalú where we will discover this medieval town nightlife.
DAY 4 SMUGGLERS TRAIL
Having tacked up we set off down into the valley of the river Fluviá, Girona´s largest river, and following a gushing stream we canter across the plains and into the spectacular gorge of Sant Aniol at the junction with Llierca river. This is the beginning of a historic smuggling trail between France and Spain. We stop for our picnic next to a big river pool, underneath an impressive Romanesque bridge. Excellent for a refreshing swim before lunch. This spectacular scenery is the gateway to the region of the Alta Garrotxa, one of the region’s most beautiful natural parks. Up the mountain, in a very big oaks forest, we let our horses to pasture and we go to sleep to Besalú. Near the bridge, we will find again our comfortable hotel “Los Jardines de La Martana”, surrounded by beautiful gardens, and with its impressive library.
DAY 5 BEGET
In the morning we leave the gorge with its sculptured rock formations and we ascend higher into the mountains. We ride through Talaxa, a typical lost mountain village. From here we have spectacular views of "La Costa Bona", our goal for this journey, Queen of the Pyrenean peaks that we can discern in the far distance. After a walk down into the next valley we eat a delicious picnic next to a little river. This is an ideal spot to swim with your horse. In the evening we arrive at Beget, a beautiful mountain village, nestled amidst the gentle mountain scenery. This village maintains all of its original charm, famous for its Romanesque church, original tower and its Black Madonna, a gem of Romanesque architecture. Our hotel for the night is El Forn, it was the village bakery and now it is a well know restaurant in the region. Famous for the “nouvelle cuisine” of the local Catalan dishes and the local mountain wine is excellent, even Richard Gere got lost here…
DAY 6 UP TO THE HIGHEST PEAKS
Today after the best breakfast you have ever had we continue our journey riding through beech forests, meadows carpeted in wild flowers. The local farmhouses are huge constructions build by the local aristocracy and wealthy Barcelona merchants in the 16th century. Again, Catalonians Romanesque architecture is ever present in the arches, doors, windows and churches of this region, making for wonderful photography. Our destination is the village of Espinavell, another small smuggler village untouched by the passing of time, just 5 kilometers from the French border. We stay in a family run mountain hotel with the beautiful presence of "La Costa Bona" in the background. The specialty of this restaurant is its delicious “vadella” with mushroom, wild boar civet and Ratafia, the home-made liquor.
DAY 7 WHERE THE EAGLES FLY
Today we will be riding up into the highest mountains of our journey. After an early start we begin to climb a winding track alongside a river. Soon we leave the track as up here it is only rolling mountain meadows and wild flowers where we enjoy some very nice canters and gallops. The views are immense and breathtaking; the light is that of the Pyrenees. We pass herds of cows and savage horses grazing up here for the summer. Up here it is very common to see eagles, vultures and herds of wild goats and deer. After days of riding in the countryside it is nice to arrive at Camprodon, a lively market town, favored by the Catalan aristocracy in the past. The hotel is situated right in the center, a great opportunity to do some shopping and visit the local bars.
DAY 8 ADIÓS AMIGOS
Breakfast and departure and we hope to see each other again soon.