Ride of the Month - Seville!
This month we’ve got a ride that is truly an Andalucian Odyssey, exploring the culture, history, wildlife and of course gastronomy of this stunning province…
Each year around a million pilgrims, many of them mounted, descend on the normally sleepy town of El Rocío to honour its highly revered wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, resulting in a heady and very Spanish mix of religion, horses, and merrymaking.
On Maria Elena’s rides you’ll follow the pilgrim’s routes before arriving to see the town as it is the rest of the year: quiet and charming with wide, sandy boulevards to accommodate horses, and hitching posts at every turn.
FASCINATING FACT: On Pentecost Monday, when the statue “El Virgine El Rocío” is finally brought out, a heated tussle traditionally breaks out between the various Catholic brotherhoods for the honour of carrying her.
It’s Spain’s answer to the Okavango Delta; a pristine network of forests, marshes, streams and dunes; stuffed full of fascinating birdlife, and one of the last remaining refuges of the Iberian lynx.
Spanish kings built hunting lodges here as early as the 13th Century, drawn by the plentiful deer and wild boar; the Doñana is now protected, and riding through this UNESCO site is a unique experience.
FASCINATING FACT: During the 19th & 20th centuries, a herd of feral Arabic camels roamed the area. They may have been introduced during the Moorish conquest of Spain in the 8th century, or escaped from a herd introduced by the Marquis de Molina as beasts of burden in 1829. Sadly they were wiped out by poachers in the 1950s.
Picnics & a Parador…
Anyone who has ridden with Maria Elena before will know that despite the fact you’ll follow pilgrim routes, there’s no fear you’ll be living on bread and water!
On the ride you’ll be treated to mid-morning aperitivos, white table-clothed picnics, and three course dinners sampling the best of the region. Nights in “cortijos” (traditional country houses) and a coastal Parador round off the rather regal experience to leave you refreshed - though probably not too keen on coming home…
FASCINATING FACT: The region’s famous Manzanilla sherry is often described as having a slightly salty taste, believed to be due to the fact that it is manufactured on the sea estuary of the Guadalquivir River (bordering the Doñana).
The icing on the cake for this trip comes in the form of a last day riding down to the spectacular beach at Mazagón, an undeveloped 7km stretch of golden sand backed by sandstone cliffs, where you can canter with the Atlantic surf crashing alongside you.
FASCINATING FACT: The beach is close to the town of Palos de la Frontera, the town from which Christopher Columbus set sail in 1492, eventually reaching America.
The spring season in Seville is nearly over, but now is the perfect time to book one of our October or November rides!