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Riding in the Alpujarra Mountains

Listed under Horse Riding in Andalucia, Spain.

  • Photo of Riding in the Alpujarra Mountains
  • Photo of Riding in the Alpujarra Mountains
  • Photo of Riding in the Alpujarra Mountains
Photo of Riding in the Alpujarra Mountains
Photo by flickr user James Gordon
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When presented with the offer of a horse riding holiday in the Alpujarra mountains of Andalucia, I thought that I would have been foolish to turn down such a unique and generous offer, and in no way was I wrong. We spent the day time travelling from village to village aboard magnificent Andalucian horses and the evenings sipping wine on the terraces of charming rural hotels, as we watched the sun set and the moon rise in this heavenly mountain paradise. Every small village or town that we visited seemed to sum up the wonders of Spain in its own unique way. I have chosen to focus on one of the more memorable rides into the hills, as it was an experience that will never leave me….

We tacked up our horses as the sun rose, gently warming our backs, seemingly beckoning us to embark on our adventure through the beautiful and picturesque Alpujarra Mountains. The start of our trail was a steep rocky path, but despite the difficult terrain our horses seemed totally unfazed, and even though the path gradually became steeper and steeper, and the ground beneath us became less and less stable, our mounts remained tirelessly surefooted. The morning sun was strong in the sky, and after about half an hour of riding the heat seemed to become more intense, but as if it had been placed there for our very convenience, the path lead us into a lush mountain forest, that was home to an array of wonderful sights, sounds and smells. Great Spanish trees sheltered us from the heat and for the first time that day I was able to take in all that nature had to offer, without worrying about controlling my horse. I felt tempted to dismount my steed and spend the day sitting quietly in the wood, absorbing the peace and quiet that a city boy like myself relishes so much, but this was just a fantasy, and before I knew it the forest had cleared and our path lead us onto verdant meadows and sunlit pastures. The lush grass beneath my horses’ hooves was obviously a welcome break from the rocky trail that had led us there, and as we pressed our horses to canter the sheer exhilaration of the moment caught my breath. The sky was so clear that when I glanced out towards the sea I could make out the outline of Morocco, a majestic land that seemed to be floating carelessly on the glistening waters. When we eventually dismounted to enjoy a peaceful picnic lunch, every member of our group totally captivated by the beauty of the mountains, we chatted carelessly about trivialities as I imagine a tribe of nomadic wanderers might do, at one with nature and with ourselves.

After lunch it was time to begin our descent, which was perhaps even more breathtaking than the way up. Our horses seemed to be relieved by the fact that they no longer had to climb up hill, and they seemed to gain an excited spring in their step. By now it was afternoon, and the sun had lost some of its intensity, and with some help from a cool summer’s breeze I was able to forget all of my worldly troubles and totally unwind. This experience was unlike any other that I have had the privilege to take part in, as not only was the view awe inspiring, but it made me feel very spiritual, and at one with my horse and nature. The deep peace of the mountains filled my soul, and I began to see why so many people are tempted to leave the pressures of the city and start a new life in relative solitude. By this point I was lost in a deep train of thought, allowing my horse to steadily stride along without a care in the world, and I didn’t notice that the path had once again become steep and unstable. This was the point where the group dismounted, and we spent the next half hour leading the horses into the quaint town of Berchules, where the horses were stabled and we were to spend the night in a wonderfully authentic family run hotel. This day had taught me an awful lot about both myself and nature, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

Written by  Richard Mark.

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