Horseback Riding in Spain

Epona’s Donana Trail


Epona’s Donana trail is a riding holiday designed for those who want to get to know this amazing part of Spain on horseback as you ride from north to south of the park, from the tranquil Sevillian countryside, to the spectacular Atlantic beaches, crossing Europe’s largest wildlife preserve, the Doñana National Park.

Andalusia is not only famous for its cultural richness, its environmental diversity and the open and friendly character of its inhabitants, but also for its magnificent Andalusian horses. The Andalusian horse is renowned for its versatility, its kind nature and incomparable beauty.

You will be riding these amazing horses through varied and unforgettable landscapes, from the rolling and peaceful farmland, through pine forests and shrubland, marshlands, cork woods, impressive cliffs, dunes and sandy beaches. The wildlife will always be present, from many birds such as kites, eagles, flamingos and storks to several types of deer, Iberian lynx, wild boar and wild horses.

Stay in the charming Hotel Alcazar de la Reina, in Carmona the first two nights of the ride and on the last one.  The hotel is located in the heart of the old town, surrounded by churches, convents and points of interest. Other hotels used are the Ardea Pururea Lodge in Villanmanrique, La Malvasia Hotel in El Rocia and the Parador de Mazagon.

Food is typical, healthy Spanish cuisine using fresh, local produce for the meals. Alcoholic beverages are served with lunch and dinner. Special care is taken in giving you the best gastronomic experiences, with all the delicious dishes and wines this area has to offer. Lunches are taken in local restaurants en-route or as picnic on the trail. Dinners are served in the hotels you are staying.

  • Overview:
    The program includes 3 full day rides (between 4 and 6 hours a day) and two half day rides (between 2.5 and 3 hours) of unforgettable trails on well-suited, well-trained, fit Andalusian or cross-Andalusian horses. Spanish cowboy saddles are used or if you prefer English general purpose or trekking saddles.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Andalusian and Andalusian crosses
  • Trip Pace:
    slow to moderate with a few longer canters and gallops
  • Tack:
    Spanish cowboy saddles are used, English trekking saddles available
  • Weight limit:
    200lbs/ 90kg


Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Sunday: Afternoon transfer from the Sevilla train station at 4.30PM. Settle into your accommodations, a hotel in nearby downtown Carmona, enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool or an afternoon siesta. In the evening join the welcome dinner at the hotel restaurant “El Tabanco” with one of your hosts. The rest of the evening is free to explore or relax before the start of the ride the next day. Carmona is the oldest continuously inhabited village in Europe with narrow streets and fortified walls that hold the spirit of the Iberians, Phoenicians, Romans, Moors and other ancient peoples. Welcome to Epona

Day 2

Monday: Sevillian countryside and Haciendas ride

This first day will be an easy one, as you might still feel slightly jet-lagged or stiff, from your travelling.  You will be collected after breakfast and taken, after a very short drive, to the Epona Equestrian Centre just outside Carmona.

Here you will have a chat with the instructors and guides. so that the correct horse will be selected for you for the Andalusian adventure ahead.

Afterwards mount up to go on a morning ride where you will get to meet your guide for the week. This will be an assessment ride and an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other.

The Hacienda ride takes you through tranquil, slightly rolling farmland, scattered with crops of cereals, olives, citrus and almond trees. It is a charming way to get to know this part of the region, filled with culture and peaceful landscapes. Through the ride, you will be passing several Haciendas (olive oil estates), many of which were built around the 16th Century.

Upon return to Epona, enjoy a delicious fresh, home-cooked lunch. After lunch,  a complimentary transfer to Sevilla is offered for sightseeing and shopping opportunities. This is a unique city so a visit is highly recommended and really should not be missed. If you would rather take it easy and prefer to rest up in preparation for the Doñana trail, you will be transferred back to the hotel for an easy afternoon in Carmona.


Day 3

Tuesday: Quema River Aznalcollar forest

Today, after an early breakfast, you are drivne to the town of Villamanrique and arrive at the stables where you will meet the horses that will take you on this unforgettable adventure through Doñana. Mount up and get to know your horse.

There will be a little “test ride” in the center’s indoor arena and as soon as everyone is feeling comfortable, you will head off into open country and begin the adventure! Today’s ride is loaded with the folklore and tradition of the area, as you cross the famous Quema river.

This river is where pilgrims are baptized on their first pilgrimage to the village of El Rocío to show their respect and devotion to the Virgin Mary. Pass the emblematic Virgen del Rocio monolith and ride through the famous pine forests of Alznalcollar. This part of Doñana, with an extension of 30.000 acres, is famous for its majestic beauty. The forest is mostly made up of umbrella (stone) pine. This type of pine is native to the Mediterranean and is famous for its delicious pine nuts used to make many dishes, pastries and sweets in this region, since ancient times.

Ride through the Mediterranean scrubland filled with shrubs such as rosemary, rockrose, heather and palm hearts. This vegetation provides the perfect habitat for wildlife, with many birds of prey in the area such as different types of Eagles and black Kites, and depending on the time of year, it will be very easy to see dozens of storks nesting in the treetops.

Lunch will be at a famous Venta, popularly frequented by the locals. Here you will have the opportunity to taste the delights of the local cuisine of this Sevillian region. After lunch, ride back to Villamanrique, the oldest town in the Doñana environment. Spend the night in the lovely Ardea Purpurea lodge. This lodge is charmingly cozy. It has been designed and built using the materials and the unique architectural style of the area, most strikingly, the thatched roofs. Rest in your comfortable porched room or stroll through the extensive gardens before meeting the rest of the group for dinner in the lodge’s restaurant. Famous for its exquisite dishes, it has been in the Michelin guide for eight consecutive years.

Day 4

Wednesday:  The Pilgrims path to El Rocio

Today’s ride takes you to discover the northern part of the Heart of Doñana, which the locals call “El Coto”(the Reserve). Ride the same sandy tracks that pilgrims use on their religious journey to the Basilica church and village of El Rocio. They call this cross-country path through the heart of Doñana the Raya Real (Royal Strip).

These tracks and the whole area are completely closed off from the general public as it is a wildlife preserve. Brotherhoods of pilgrims get a special permission to use them on the week of the pilgrimage which is in May, but no one gets to enter the park the rest of the year except a couple of licensed and selected bird watching companies and some very few and selected horseback adventurers like you.

The scenery in this area is stunning. The ride takes you through wooded areas of stone pine and eucalyptus, and through scrubland formed by aromatic thickets which infuse the path with delicious aromas such as rosemary, lavender, rockrose and heather. Halfway, arrive at the Royal Palace, an ancient hunting estate that was used by Spanish Kings and royalty since it was built in the 13th century. This is the perfect place for a picnic. After a short break, continue through grasslands and pastures dotted with cork oaks and other trees.

These oak groves are the ideal habitat for many birds. More than 80 species of vertebrates inhabit this area of the reserve and more than half are birds, such as the Imperial Eagle, Short-toed Eagle or Pito Rea (Woodpecker). If you are lucky we may be able to spot the Iberian lynx, wild boar or foxes. It is also common to see several types of deer during this part of the journey. Towards the end of the route, cross the famous Ajolí bridge that takes you to the gates of the village of El Rocio. Before the end of the day visit the marshes teaming with flamingos, herons and other water birds, followed by a glass of sherry or wine on horseback in the local style! Overnight accommodations are in one of the villages best hotels with views of the marshlands. Enjoy dinner in the hotel restaurant with the rest of the group and the guides.

Day 5

Thursday: From the village of El Rocio to the beaches of Doñana

You are now riding entirely in the province of Huelva. Today’s ride takes you south, from the village of El Rocio to the virgin beaches of Doñana. Pass by some of the most popular places in the park, such as the famous Rociana lagoon where the brotherhoods of pilgrims arriving from the western parts of Andalusia are baptized.

This area is the perfect habitat for wildlife with species such as roe deer, red deer, and wild horses. Halfway there, stop to taste a typical country lunch, accompanied by wines from the Doñana county. Finally, the trail takes you to the Mazagón beaches. Spend the night in its Parador, a luxurious hotel with ocean views and direct access to the beach. The hotel has a non-heated outdoor and indoor heated pool, sauna and massage service. Dinner at the hotel with the group and guide.

Day 6

Friday: Dunes, view points and virgin beaches of Doñana

This last ride is a half day ride and you will visit the coast of Doñana, with its dunes, cliffs and beaches. From the top of the Asperillo Dune, the highest in Doñana, enjoy the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The line of fossil and mobile dunes that form these cliffs is the most important in Europe.

Make your way down to the immense beach and then it will be time for a long canter. The sound of the waves, and the splashing of the horses in the water gives an immense sense of freedom, elevating the senses.  The duration of this ride is about 3 hours. After the ride is time to say goodbye to your trusted horses and last minute pictures.

Lunch will be taken in a nearby restaurant in the fishing village of Mazagón, by the sea. After lunch return to your base hotel in Carmona. The afternoon and evening in Carmona can be used to rest. The hotel has a massage service (on request), and a salted outdoor pool. Or take the opportunity to visit this beautiful medieval town. Farewell dinner  at the hotel this evening.

Day 7

Saturday: After breakfast take advantage of the transfer back to the airport or train station at 8AM or 11AM. If you want to arrange transfers outside these hours or the next day, Epona can organize a taxi service for you. Check-out at the hotel is 12PM.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible. Changes may occur at the hosts' discretion.

Tour Map

Tour Dates & Pricing

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Oct 20, 2024
Oct 26, 2024
Nov 3, 2024
Nov 9, 2024

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $3,875

  • Single Supplement
  • $385

Additional Pricing Information:
Prices are based on the dollar/euro exchange and are subject to change. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time deposit is paid.        

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Contact Biggi Hayes

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

Susan Mercer

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