Hacienda de San Rafael - Seville, Spain
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Horse Riding Safaris

Hacienda de San Rafael Riding Safaris is a new excursion which we are delighted to be able to offer for the first time to our clients. The Safaris are organised over 5 days, depending on client requirements and cover a variety of landscapes in south western Andalucia.  You can organise your own group of friends and therefore tailor your own programme or you can join one of our scheduled programmes with set departures (dates below) 

We have a five day itinerary riding through stretches of the Doñana National Park and the landscape bordering the park. The Doñana is the largest and most famous Spanish national park and lies in the mouth of the Guadalquivir river. Thousands of birds come to winter here, huge flocks of geese from northern Europe and groups of flamingos. It is also home to grey herons, egrets, spoonbills and storks.

Come springtime, dozens of species nest in the marshes. The lagoons found all over the park are regularly visited by fallow and red deer as well as wild boar. This is the only place in Europe where the Iberian lynx and Egyptian mongoose are found.

For these 3 days we use beautifully schooled hispano-anglo-arab crosses that have been bred and trained by their owner and our principal guide, Alfonso Gonzalo de Bustos. Alfonso is a lawyer by profession but retired from practice 25 years ago to concentrate on his true passion. He has over 25 horses to suit riders of different aptitudes and great care is taken to match the appropriate horse to rider. Alfonso has various permissions which allow us to ride through different zones in the park.

The park is full of sandy tracks and bridleways that make it excellent for galloping, it also makes the terrain good going even in rainy weather as the sand absorbs much of the rain. 

The guests should ideally arrive at Hacienda de San Rafael the day before the full itinerary starts. They will be taken in the early afternoon to Finca La Corbera where Alfonso keeps all of his horses. Each rider is matched to a horse based on his/her weight and riding ability. The riders will be taken on a two hour hack enabling them to get used to their mount and on return to the stables any adjustments to either tack or horses can be easily made before the horses are transported the following day to the parkland.

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Itinerary Day 1

The guests should ideally arrive at Hacienda de San Rafael the day before the full itinerary starts. They will be taken in the early afternoon to Finca La Corbera where Alfonso keeps all of his horses. Each rider is matched to a horse based on his/her weight and riding ability. The riders will be taken on a two hour hack enabling them to get used to their mount and on return to the stables any adjustments to either tack or horses can be easily made before the horses are transported the following day to the parkland.

Itinerary Day 2

After an early breakfast guests are transferred from San Rafael to Coria del Rio, a village approximately 1hour 15 minutes away in the countryside on the outskirts of Puebla del Rio where the horses are already tacked-up and waiting.

The ride makes its way through parkland and open countryside and across Dehesa de Abajo an area owned by the State and where locals can graze their cattle. The area is protected and special permission needs to be obtained to ride through here.

After approximately 2 hours riding the group will stop for an aperitif under an ancient oak tree where a rare breed of black stork nests. The aperitif is a typical Spanish affair consisting of manzanilla sherry, ham, chorizo, olives and cheese. The ride then continues through open spaces great for galloping, as well as through wild olive groves called acebuchales and past a beautiful lake with flamingos feeding before heading into the umbrella pine forests.

Lunch is served in the countryside. A table and chairs are set up by the grooms who follow the ride in a back-up vehicle and are responsible for serving guests.

The lunches throughout this 3 day itinerary typically consist of traditional andalucian cooking including salads, fish or stews, or typically chickpeas with specially prepared meats. They are always served with wine, beer and soft drinks as well as a dessert and coffee to finish.

There are two more hours of riding until the group reaches a lodge in the National park that is rustic and simple but the perfect base after a full day riding. Guests can go for a hot bath before drinks and dinner.

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Itinerary Day 3

After breakfast guests are transferred to Hacienda Gelo where the horses are ready and waiting. The second day of this ride makes its way from Hacienda Gelo to a village called Villamanrique. The ride will pass alongside orange groves, peach and grapefruit trees, vineyards (of eating grapes not the wine variety!) as well as through forests of pine.

There are plenty of opportunities for gallops along the sandy trails. The aperitif stop is after 2.5 hours of riding and lunch is served below an oak tree. After lunch the group make their way across the River Quema, where new pilgrims on the annual pilgrimage to El Rocio are baptised. The ride ends in Villamanrique where the horses remain, guests are transferred back to the lodge. Drinks and dinner at the lodge.

Itinerary Day 4

After breakfast guests are transferred from the lodge to Villamanrique where the horses are ready and waiting. The final day´s ride makes its way from Villamanrique across the Rio Quema heading eastwards back towards Las Colinas. The ride will pass through Dehesa Tornero, passing some very beautiful countryside of old oaks and the forests of pine. The aperitif and lunch are both served in idyllic locations in the parkland. The ride ends at Las Colinas where the horse lorry will be waiting to transport the horses home and from where guests are transferred back to the Hacienda. Dinner and drinks at the Hacienda.

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Itinerary Day 5

After breakfast in the verandah / gardens guests can either choose to extend their trip and go on various excursions or depart

If you are interested in the riding safari please contact info@haciendadesanrafael.com for availability and prices.

Summary

Riding: 4 to 5 hours per day

Horses: Andalucian/Spanish Arab cross, some Anglo Arabs and part thoroughbreds

Tack: English (Doñana)  

Pace: Moderate to fast (Doñana) 

Riding ability: intermediate and experienced – guests must be comfortable in all paces including walk, trot and canter.

Riding gear: Guests are expected to bring hard hats / boots and comfortable riding attire 

Minimum 1, maximum 12

Excludes: Medical insurance (compulsory).

Dates of scheduled programme for 2015:

16th - 21st March

6th - 11th April  

20th - 25th April  

27th April - 2nd May

18th - 23rd May

20th - 25th September  

27th September - 2nd October  

5th - 10th October  

18th - 23rd October  

2nd - 7th November

16th - 21st November 

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