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Catriona gets ready for her ride in Portugal.
Catriona gets ready for her ride in Portugal.
The Lusitano horses of Portugal.
A secluded beach in Portugal.
Riding at sunset in Portugal.

Portugal Horse Ride

Thursday, February 21, 2002
Take a trail ride in Portugal through old Roman towns and glorious countryside to the highest peak where you will take in the most magnificent coastal views.

If you plan to trail ride in Portugal, there is only one breed of horse to consider going with: the lusitano. Lusitano was the Roman name for Portugal, and this ancient breed is thought to be one of the first horses ever ridden. They can be traced back 20,000 years to when Portugal was the world's largest empire and the lusitano was their secret weapon on the battlefield.

They are sure-footed, very good-natured and measure between 15 and 16 hands, and the English style of saddles, snaffle bridles and saddle bags are used.

CDA Portugal is one of the most reputable trail riding centres in Europe and, in over 12 years, have hosted around 3600 riders. However, their trail rides are not for beginners; they are for riders with a couple of years' experience and who can ride well.

Riding fanatics are attracted to the rides, and they spend around seven hours a day in the saddle. At a pace of 8-12km/h, they cover about 40km each day.

Groups have a maximum of seven riders plus a guide, and participants come from all corners of the globe. A common love of the horse seems to overcome any language difficulties.

Starting in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal in Vila Nova de Milfontes, the ride goes to the old Roman town of San Luis where just 2500 people live. The houses are white to keep out heat, and highlighted with blue or yellow to keep out flies and evil spirits! The region is very poor and many of the Moorish-style houses are rundown and rotting. Men plough their fields with the assistance of cows; evidence of how little has changed over many centuries.

The trail continues over Eagle Rock Ridge, the highest you will go. The views across the coast are breathtaking.

Mira River Valley, the cleanest estuary in Europe, is large and open, and riders follow the winding track on the valley's bottom. When the tide is right, the horses walk right across a tideway. The journey goes through Oak Valley on the edge of the world's largest remaining cork oak forest. It is also home to the Imperial eagle, which can hunt between trees and thick forest.

You will see remains of an abandoned Moorish castle, canter through pine forests and a coastal sand plain of pines and succulents. Horses and riders thoroughly enjoy this part of the ride where the riders can swim and horses can roll in the sand.

Meals are prepared by the riding centre chef, who serves up typically Portuguese dishes that will keep your energy levels up.

People usually stay at the Dune Park Hotel, but there are others around. For something different, there are luxury safari tents available on some rides.


Alentejo in southern Portugal.


CDA Portugal has eight-day tours with six days of riding, transfers, all meals and accommodation, starting at around $1260 per person twin-share.
Qantas flies daily to London with connections to Lisbon. Return economy fares start at $1899 from the east coast, Adelaide and Perth, per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

CDA Portugal
Ph: 0011 351 283 998 106
Fax: 0011 351 283 998 206
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor: 1300 658 844 or visit
Vaccinations: Tetanus/Diphtheria, Measles if under 30 years and Hepatitis A. Long stay: Hepatitis B. Malaria: no. Gut problems are common and a medical kit such as The Tour Kit or Travel Kit is handy to have.

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