The Bandit Trail is based on the biography of the famous “bandolero” Joan Sala Serrallonga, the Catalonia Robin Hood. In north-east Spain, the bandit wandered around the mountains of Guilleries and Garrotxa during the 17th century. The vast pathless area of woodland offered good hiding places to outlaws. Canyons, table mountains and volcanoes rise up in this wild landscape. Rivers, lakes, and waterfalls provide pleasant refreshment. In picturesque villages, there are still stories told about the gangs of thieves and the Catalan rebels. Today we find an incredible riding paradise where outlaws once hid. The Bandit Trail is a diversified trek through an ever-changing landscape.
Lodging is planned in small and comfortable village and rural hotels, providing twin-bedded rooms and en-suite baths. When available, places with character and history have been chosen. Rooms on most nights have en-suite facilities, though they may be small in size, for one or two nights showers and bathrooms could be shared and across the hall. Single accommodations can be arranged at an additional charge of 30 Euro per night (payable locally at the first dinner) but may not be available every night.
A support vehicle will follow riders during the entire trip, meeting for meals and at night. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included while on the trek. The local cuisine is excellent and much consideration is taken when planning the meals to provide visitors with a sampling of the many different dishes produced in the area. A few of the meals are not included in the price of the ride and a flat fee of 80 Euro is payable for this at the welcome dinner in cash (Euros).
The horses are Andalusian and Spanish horses, typically mountain bred, and range in height from 15 - 16 hh. They are selected for their good nature and endurance, and are well-suited to the terrain and safe in difficult areas, quick and powerful in canter and gallop, intelligent and reliable, and are fun to ride.
Occasionally you will be riding on rural paved roads and on cobblestone streets through villages.
English trekking saddles and Spanish saddles are used. Saddle bags are provided.
Barcelona or Girona.
You will be met at the Barcelona International Airport at 5:30pm or the Girona airport at 6:30pm on the first day of your ride.
You will be returned to Barcelona airport at about 1:00pm, or Girona airport at about 11:00am, on the last day of the ride.
Meet at the airports either in Barcelona (at 5.30PM) or in Girona (at 6.30PM) on the first day and transfer into the mountains. Deep in the Spanish Pyrenees, at the foot of the mountain range of Cavallera, the small village of St Joan de Abadesses is the starting point for the Bandit Trail. During the welcome dinner which will be served around 9PM get to know your guide and chat about the upcoming week.
High mountains of the Pyrenees
Mount up after breakfast. The trail weaves through a mountainous landscape which appears rugged or soft – depending on the season. The air is pleasantly aromatic and there is a peacefulness with only the sound of nature. High above on a mountain range a small roman church enjoys an incomparably beautiful position and invites for a picnic. Continue along the route in the afternoon until you reach a small mountain village where you will stay in a cozy guesthouse. Enjoy Joan’s famous Paella for dinner.
Ride to the high plateau of Collsacabra, where the merging of the north and south, the Mediterranean Sea and high mountains, are a special sight. Lush meadows and dense beech forests cover the land. The temperatures are pleasantly cool, and springs and brooks along the way provide refreshment. In the heart of the high plateau there is the remote but cozy horse farm of Jordi. Enjoy only hearing the wind in the trees, the singing of cicadas and the splashing of the brook. In the evening enjoy a bandit’s menu and a glass of wine at an old wooden table, while Joan tells Catalonian stories of desperados.
Canyons and table mountains
The agile Andalusians climb over an overwhelming landscape. In spring and summer, the deep green beech forests blink through grey rock formations, and during Indian Summer days of autumn the forests shimmer like gold which reminds of the fall foliage in Canada.
Vast meadows, in which cattle graze, give us amazing views over valleys and mountains. Enjoy your picnic lunch spot in the ‘open air restaurant’. After lunch enjoy trots and canters as you approach the abundant table mountains. Views of canyons and waterfalls are abundant and you can hear the calling of birds of prey that sail above. Like an eagle’s nest the small village of Tavertet is located majestically on the edge of a table mountain, where you have a beautiful view looking down at a canyon lake that shines in a deep green below. Dinner and overnight in rural accommodations.
Home of Serrallonga
High on top of the world, ride to the mountains of Guilleries, home of the bandit Serrallonga, the Catalonian Robin Hood. The view from the “roof top of Catalonia” over the green mountains is quite unique. The evergreen landscape is in stark contrast to the red, brown and silver-grey rocks of the table mountains. In this fascinating landscape discover lonely chapels and villages cut out of natural stone, dating back to the bandit’s time. At a clearing rest and feel like “Outlaws” from long ago, then continue the trek through a mystical jungle of fern which cover the path. At the highest point of the Table Mountains the monastery ‘El Far’ rises up in the distance. It is one of the most beautiful viewpoints of Catalonia. Dinner and overnight in rural accommodations.
Garrotxa, land of volcanoes
Leave the Guilleries Massif (Catalan Les Guilleries) and emerge into the land of volcanoes. The landscape is well cultivated but still has a wildness about it as well with the extinct volanoes lie there resting. The last eruption was some thousand years ago and only black lava and some craters are stark reminders. In the medival village of Santa Pau enjoy your cozy accommodations for the night.
Trot and canter along the brook “Ser” as you leave the area of Garrotxa. The brook leads into the river “Fluvia” which points towards the Costa Brava. Stone oaks and pines are dominant here and under the pleasant shade enjoy your bandit’s picnic lunch. After a siesta, ride at good speed towards the mediaval town of Besalu. Your accommodation for the last night is a hotel right next to a romantic bridge with a view over the river Fluvia and the town. Before dinner in the enchanting garden of the restaurant, enjoy a stroll through the streets of Besalu. During dinner discuss the adventures of the past week.
After a 9AM breakfast transfer to Barcelona or Girona. You will be returned to Barcelona airport at about 1:00PM, or Girona airport at about 11:00AM, on the last day of the ride. Please make flight arrangements no earlier than mid-afternoon on that day.
This itinerary is flexible. Changes may occur due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, as determined by the guide.
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Epona November 2018: Super trip! Fernando and team were terrific, accommodations were great, fun riding (dressage lessons and trail rides) and extra activities, excellent food. THANKS
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