The Smugglers trail “special edition” lengthens the days in high mountains. 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 can taste different delicious Catalan dishes and 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.
DAY 1 WELCOME TO CAN GRAU
In the evening upon your arrival at the farmhouse, you will meet the Catalonia Horse Trails team. After 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 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 than any long gallops, we have our picnic at lunch time under an immense cork oak at Maria home with beautiful views of the Fluvia river. In the far distance we can make out the medieval village of Besalú. It is 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 at sunset..
DAY 3 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 after 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 4 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 5 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 wildflowers. 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 6 WHERE THE EAGLES FLY
Today we will be riding up into the highest mountains of our journey, the Costabona mountain. 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 wildflowers 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 7 VIEW TO PUIGMAL PICKS
Today we will climb again to two thousand meters, through a beautiful path between forests we leave the Camprodon Valley, ascending smoothly but maintained until the green hill, at 1600 meters. Galloping through its immense meadows, we cross the fence that separates Abella and Pardines terms and we ascend gently until the Coll de Pal, at 1950 meters altitud. There we will enjoy a splendid view over the Catalan Girona province, at our back the Serra Caballera and deep in the background Montserrat, trimmed on the horizon, to the north, the highest peak of the region, the Puigmal, which with its 2,913 meters dominates the horizon. In the steep descent we will picnic next to our horses in a nearby watering hole. Our descent, through the plains of the Pla d'en Plata, will take us to Sant Pau de Seguries, where we will leave the horses in the equestrian center of Juan and Cristina. Finaly, friendy by by with Catalan cava and the team and transfer to the hotel..
DAY 8 ADIÓS AMIGOS
Breakfast and departure and we hope to see each other again soon (or why not ride one week more on the beach?)