December 2011 Newsletter

by Hidden Trails 12/16/2011
Happy Holidays to all                                                    view on our Blog

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah and may the New Year
bring you all happiness !
                                            -- from the crew at Hidden Trails

 December  2011 Newsletter   
Happy Holidays
 
The Holiday Season is here !
The staff at Hidden Trails wishes all of you relaxing and merry festivities - whatever you will be celebrating. This is a time to reflect, give lots of love and set new goals for the upcoming year.
Our company's goal for next year is to be the best we can be for you. As always we strive to offer the widest selection of trips all over the world at the most competive rates. We continuously work on making the search for your perfect trip as easy as possible and improve the reservation process for you. 

For 2012 we have many new trips available, which you can view on our "NEW TRIPS for 2012" page, or if you are looking for the best deal - we created a specail "BEST DEALS" page for you.
As you know we collect trip reports from our clients, so you can have a look at the best rides on the "Best Top Trips" page.
Last, but not Least .. do not forget to check out our page with all the upcoming "Special Offers".
For all of you that are on Facebook - an easy way to follow us with new Specail Offers, new Slide Shows or Videos ... become a fan of our "Facebook Page" - we already have close to 12.000 followers!
 
New Rides in Mexico
It is no secret that I am a big fan of riding vacations in Mexico.  I did updated you on my recent trips across the country and finally we do have 2 new exciting trips online -- next to several first class rides that we have been offering for years now - so take a look and give Mexico a try again - you will love it !

New Rides in Mexico:

1. Colonial Villages and Haciendas

A unique horseback trip that takes you through the heart of Mexico’s colonial heritage, while being surrounded by the natural beauty of the central highlands. Our journey begins in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Guanajuato and ends in the romatice small town of San Miguel de Allende. The ride leads us through ancient routes, as we pass by mountains, forests, areas of great biodiversity as well as agricultural landscape - with overnights at boutique hotels and colonial haciendas.
2. Mountains, Canyons & Beaches in Chiapas         
Chiapas, once part of Guatemala, is the southernmost state of Mexico and the stage of our new unique riding adventure. It is an area full of historic sites of pre-Columbian Mayan civilizations. Here we explore canyons, canter across dirt roads of large hacienda estates, ride through the forests of the highlands and on hidden steep trails that lead us through tropical vegetation down to the coast - ending up on the pristine beaches of the Pacific.
Make sure you check out the introduction
Video to Chiapas


Also:

Check out our Blog Post ... It shows you what wonderful things can happen when you travel with Hidden Trails
Riding in Mexico
- You never know where life is going to lead you…



Order your Hidden Trails 196  page print Brochure
             -- for 2012 rates and dates, pleae refer to our website
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

  
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Group Travel

Looking to go somewhere with a group of friends ? Now is the time to secure your best space for 2012!
Special Group Offers are online.
... check it out here


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays


Mexico-Chiapas-Mountains, Canyons & Coast Explorer of Chiapas

Mexico-Chiapas-Mountains, Canyons & Coast Explorer of Chiapas

Mexico-Chiapas-Mountains, Canyons & Coast Explorer of Chiapas
 
 
Trip Finder at Hidden Trails
To make it easier for you, we have created a "TripFinder" where you can search for your horse vacation of a lifetime by entering the type of ride, the location, time period or riding level.  
Find your trip here !
 
What are these riding trips all about?
They are about galloping on endless beaches, forging rivers, cantering through forests, trotting along age-old trails, gazing at beautiful vistas, and encountering foreign cultures. Most of all, these trips are about getting away from the cycle of work and never enough free time. Escape from the rituals, which long ago froze our nights and days into little more then routine, because deep inside we all feel the longing of the nomads, whose lives we lived thousands of years ago.
Leave your stressful life behind and explore a foreign place away from the tourist rush and off the beaten path - on Hidden Trails.
You will see the “real” country, its hinterland and meet the local inhabitants. The love for horses has no boundaries, but possesses a common language we all speak and understand.
www.hiddentrails.com   Toll Free 1-888-987-2457   E-mail: info@hiddentrails.com

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Monthly Newsletter

Riding in Mexico - You never know where life is going to lead you…

by Hidden Trails 12/14/2011

Story by Jenny

My adventures began when I first came to Rancho Mexicana on vacation through Hidden Trails. I owe Ryan and his team a big thank you for truly helping me find the perfect vacation and new lifestyle. I was a 4th year university student who had come to the ranch during my spring break.
At the University of Ottawa, I studied and graduated with my degree Nursing
Here is where, my life changed…
After I had finished writing my final set of exams, only 3 months after my last vacation, I could not wait any longer and had to come back to the ranch for a short vacation. I realized that I was going to be beginning my career and would not have much time to escape after this. The flight is nice and short and made it an easy getaway for me for a 4 nights 5 days. 
After my second visit to the ranch I could not imagine going back to Canada to live.
While I was here on vacation for the second time I was talking with the owner of the ranch, Uschi. Here she was explaining the new and upcoming upgrade to the ranch. I was fascinated in the progress since I was here three months before and had seen the changes already. Since I was so interested in the ranch Uschi jokingly said to me that I should stay here and work for her. I nonchalantly replied if she were serious I would be here in a heartbeat. At that moment we both looked at each other.  Serious or not… but here I am  and I am not regretting it.
A dream came true.


I have traveled many places around Mexico for example Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel.  There weather there was always hot and humid. Exactly what I thought I wanted when I was on vacation from the great Canadian winters. However when I came to the ranch that view changed, the weather is perfect here, we get the sun of the coast without the heat and the humidity. Also another added bonus about this area is that there are no bugs, any “bush” trail rider is in heaven!
The most important part is the riding, there is nowhere else that you can experience this type of riding. Well what can I say; when we say unlimited riding we mean it. I have been here for 6 months, I ride approximately 3 to 4 times a week and there are still new places that we are discovering to ride.
There are hundreds of reasons why I chose to stay in Mexico at the ranch; the people, culture, hospitality and of course the riding just to name a few. 
As mentioned above I have been here at the ranch for 7 months and I love everything about it. I am in charge of reservation and Guest Services and it is such a great job to attend to so many happy guests.

Here at Rancho Mexicana, I have found a true place that I can call home!



http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/america_central_mexico_mexico_lindo.aspx

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Equestrian Travel Stories | Suggest a Trip

Flights to Belize - rock bottom prices

by Hidden Trails 12/06/2011

Flights to Belize are now at rock bottom prices - act fast - these won't last!

We still have some spaces over the holidays on our riding tours in Belize -- here is your chandce ! 
It's a great opportunity to get away with some spectacular savings this winter season.
Delta and Continental  are offering heavily discounted pricing on many flights to Belize from now through February.  These are the best flight prices we've seen in over five years. We don't know how long these deals will be available, seats are limited on each flight ... so time is of the essence. If you want to get away from the winter chill - now's the time to act!
 
Sample winter fares - from the US
(round trip, including tax)  limited seat availability
 
Fares start as low as -
Seattle - $369 - Delta Airlines
Portland - $374 ¬- Delta Airlines
Eugene - $376 - Delta Airlines
Portland - $369 - Delta Airlines
San Francisco - $374 - Delta Airlines
Boston - $378 - Delta Airlines
New York - $385 - Delta Airlines

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Bulletin News

November 2011 Newsletter

by Hidden Trails 11/23/2011
Explore the World on Horseback
   - with Hidden Trails November 2011 Newsletter   
Horseback riding in Mexico
 
Fall has come and soon it will be winter - the Christmas holidays are fast approaching. Did you book your Holiday Getaway yet ? It is still time -- there are some great places to ride over the holidays ! Either in the sun (Mexico, Central or South America) or riding through the snow in Quebec ...  we still have some places on hold for you.
Check out our Holiday Offers and Specials on the Hidden Trails website.

Mexico Trip Report
A couple of weeks we got back from a three week trip to Mexico and it has taken me some time to put together a “Trip Report” – it was just all a bit overwhelming. I have travelled the world and have been to many countries inspecting equestrian trips, but seldom have I experienced such a variety of landscapes and cultures as on this trip.

We visited the Mexican states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Mexico DF and Chiapas.  The catalyst for the trip was the “Adventure Tourism Summit” in Chiapas and it turned out to be one of our best trips yet. We came home with two brand new trips that will be an excellent addition to our existing programs and of course we visited with our friends and partners of the existing rides..        
...  more details on our Blog

Order your Hidden Trails 196  page print Brochure
             -- for 2012 rates and dates, pleae refer to our website
       Have a Great Week !
    -------------------------
Looking to go somewhere with a group of friends ? Now is the time to secure your best space for 2012!
Dates and Rates are online !

On Horseback in Mexico with Hidden Trails
 
We have been busy adding more New and Exciting trips for 2012
Check out our NEW RIDES for 2012 !  
 

Colonial Villages and Haciendas Trail
Central Mexico    
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,865
A top of the line riding tour between the UNESCO Heritage places of Guanjuato and San Miguel Allende. Cross mountains, canter across open flats and through Catci areas and stay overnight at colonial haciendas and 4 star boutique hotels. One of the most unique and exciting riding tours in Mexico ... brand new - created out of inspiration on our last trip to this beautiful country of Mexico.
Minimum riding level: Good Intermediate     

    Estancia & Paso Stud Farm at San Pedro Norte
 
Trails of the Tsaatan Nomads
Hovsgol, Mongolia
16 days / 15 nights, regular rate $2,460
A trip deep into Mongolia's wilderness is not a journey as any other. It is a wide open country, largely untouched by tourism once you are outside of the centers. Mongolia offers a true appeal to those looking for a unique culture, immense rough landscapes and untouched nature. The people outside of the towns are still semi-nomadig, moving their herds with the seasons, as they have done for centuries. Half of the Mongolian population is Rural dealing with herds that represent the country's economy base. It is the homeland of Genghis Khan and its people have kept close contact to its unique culture and heritage.
Minimum riding level: Good Intermediate  
    Trails of the Tsaatan Nomads
 
High Andes Cattle Drive
Central, Chile
7 days / 6 nights, regular rate $1,290
For centuries, the beginning of Fall, marks the time when Gauchos ride 700.000 hectares Summer range in the High Andes to round up and drive the cattle back to the Winter range. This tradition is still alive in Chile and ready for enjoyment. A herd of 2000 cows and their calves and 30 gauchos and their dogs drive them down from deep in the Andes to the corrals. Four exhilarating days driving cattl...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate   
    High Andes Cattle Drive
 
Highlands Cattle Drive in Ecuador
Highlands, Ecuador
9 days / 8 nights, regular rate $1,745
Come and encounter "fighting bulls" close up, bring in some "wild horses" and enjoy local wildlife that roam the ‘Paramo’ (high Andean habitat), including the unforgettable sight of the magnificent Andean condor soaring overhead. Stay at local haciendas in a stunning location with breathtaking views. Join dozens of local chargas on a true "cowboy" adventure in the highlands of Ecuador - not for the faint hearted.
Minimum riding level: Strong Intermediate    
     Ecuador-Highlands Riding Tours-Highlands Cattle & Horse Round Up in Ecuador
 
Adventrure Travel World Summit in Chiaps
Presidente Calderon opening the Adventure Travel Summit in San Cristobal
Last month more than 600 travel professionals, representing some 50 countries, gathered in San Cristobal de las Casas, a quaint colonial-era mountain town in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico for the Adventure Travel industry’s most important annual event, the Adventure Travel World Summit. It was opened by Mexico's Presiden Calderon. Many people embarked on trips prior to the event to journey beyond the headlines and discover the real Mexico. While exploring all the adventure opportunities that Mexico has to offer, what emerged was an abundance of tweets, news articles, blog posts and Facebook postings raving about Mexico. Hidden Trails participated in the Summit and took part of some of the equestrian pre-summit trips. Consequently I am happy to inform you that we are working on putting together a brand new adventure riding holiday in Chiapas .. the most southern state of Mexico. It is going to be a fantastic ride from the mountains, through the jungle all the way to the pristine beaches of the coast. Stay tuned for updates on this trip. 
 
Trip Finder at Hidden Trails
To make it easier for you, we have created a "TripFinder" where you can search for your horse vacation of a lifetime by entering the type of ride, the location, time period or riding level.  
Find your trip here !
 
Special Offers from Hidden Trails
Specials Offers from Hidden Trails in November 2011
 
What are these riding trips all about?
They are about galloping on endless beaches, forging rivers, cantering through forests, trotting along age-old trails, gazing at beautiful vistas, and encountering foreign cultures. Most of all, these trips are about getting away from the cycle of work and never enough free time. Escape from the rituals, which long ago froze our nights and days into little more then routine, because deep inside we all feel the longing of the nomads, whose lives we lived thousands of years ago.
Leave your stressful life behind and explore a foreign place away from the tourist rush and off the beaten path - on Hidden Trails.

You will see the “real” country, its hinterland and meet the local inhabitants. The love for horses has no boundaries, but possesses a common language we all speak and understand.
 
www.hiddentrails.com     Toll Free 1-888-987-2457      E-mail: info@hiddentrails.com
 Free Brochure       Follow us:  Facebook  or Twitter  

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Monthly Newsletter

Andalucia - Horse Lover's Heaven

by Hidden Trails 11/14/2011
 

Southern Spain really is a horse lover’s heaven. There are more equestrian experts in Spain than in any other country in the world, and the Spanish are steeped in the culture of the horse. The most famous Spanish export has to be the Andalucian breed, and the region offers a huge range of horse riding holidays, from mountain treks to beach riding.
So while you’re considering where to go on holiday this year, spare a thought for this beautiful region and read a little about the history of the Andalucian horse, who may be more closely related to your own horses than you realize.

The History Of The Andalucían Horse
The history of the pure bred Andalucían horse goes back centuries, to the time of the Roman conquests of Spain, around 200 BC. The conquerors of Spain can be found writing in praise of the strength and agility of the native breed, and the animal was cross-bred with Arab and Berber breeds.
After the departure of the Moors in the 15th Century the breed was more popular than ever. They were exported to the New World; they were bred with British horses to create the Cleveland Bay, the Connemara of Ireland and almost certainly the Welsh Cob. The Andalucian genes were used in the development of many other breeds, in many countries, including the Neapolitan, the Kladruber from Austria and the Frederiksborg of Denmark. They were also used to develop the famous Lipizzaner breed, used in Vienna.

Character
The Andalucían horse is naturally elegant, with a tendency to hold its head high, on a short arched neck, with a long flowing mane and perfect proportions in the body. They are capable of balletic grace, and are known for their intelligence and determination in learning, which combines with a gentle and affectionate nature, making him a favourite with many horse lovers. Beauty and intelligence make a seductive pairing in any horse, and the Andalucian is sought after as a carriage horse and as an haute école parade specimen.

Riding Holidays In Andalucia
Spain is well known for the quality of its equestrian holidays. It combines glorious weather with beautiful countryside, along with superb horse breeds and a people so welcoming and accepting of all things equestrian that it really is a horse-lovers paradise. The countryside is dotted with cork forests, and the valleys are filled with almond blossom in Spring.
You can trek the mountains of the Sierra Nevada or ride in the Alpujarra hills. Horse riding holidays in Spain are ideal for both beginners and more accomplished riders, with a wide range of treks available, from short hacks to longer trail rides that extend over several days. There is the beautiful Doñana National Park to explore, and equestrian events to visit.
If your passion is for dressage and you want to experience some really advanced techniques, with highly qualified instructors, can find this type of holiday too. It is a great way of really coming to understand the Andalucian horse at its finest. Horses on holidays like this are unlike any you will have ridden before. Alternatively you might like to find a holiday nearer to the coast, and ride along beaches like Cape Trafalgar and El Palmar. These beaches stretch for 10 miles and are a fantastic wide-open location where you can allow your horse to gallop along the sands.
If you like a fast pace and are confident in the saddle then this sort of holiday is perfect for you.

Andalucian Equestrian Events
Perhaps the most famous equestrian event in the south is to be found in Jerez de la Frontera, and is called the Real Escuela del Arte Andaluz. It is similar to the Spanish Riding School displays, and certainly one to include in your itinerary. You can take a tour of the stables and tack rooms, which are spectacular. Some of the tack is a century old, but still being used. Shows are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On other days you can visit and watch the training sessions, which is highly instructive. Anyone with an interest in classical dressage will enjoy this excursion, and it’s a good opportunity to witness some of the finest horses and riders in the world. During the Feria de Caballo you can even participate in the parade on horseback.

For a non riding holiday, have a look at the P & O cruises 2013.

Story by Isabella Woods

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Horsey Articles

Mexico – the ultimate equestrian destination

by Hidden Trails 11/12/2011

Story by Ryan Schmidt, Hidden Trails

Last week we got back from a three week trip to Mexico and it has taken me 10 days to put together a “Trip Report” – it was just all a bit overwhelming. I have travelled the world and have been to many countries inspecting equestrian trips, but seldom have I experienced such a variety of landscapes and cultures as on this trip. We visited the Mexican states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Mexico DF and Chiapas.  The catalyst for the trip was the “Adventure Tourism Summit” in Chiapas and it turned out to be one of our best trips yet. We came home with two brand new trips that will be an excellent addition to our existing programs and of course we visited with our friends and partners of the existing rides.

Leon, Mexico

From Vancouver we flew to Leon via Houston (from Houston it is just a 2 hr flight). Leon is a busy city and one of the main gateways to central Mexico. It is well known worldwide for its factories that produce leather goods … so if you are thinking about buying shoes, leather pants or any kind of horse gear … plan on an extra day in Leon .. it may just pay for your trip. With its big malls, Office Depot, Wallmart, etc … Leon could easily be in southern California (I was impressed by the well maintained main road system). In one of the malls I bought SIM cards for my iPad and Samsung Tablet and off we went (great internet access almost anywhere we went .. no roaming charges throughout Mexico).

Hacienda Sepulveda
First stop was Hacienda Sepulveda, part of our “Five Haciendas” ride. It is a historic hacienda turned into a Boutique Hotel, without losing its flair and charm. Wonderful rooms, great facilities with a very romantic pool and good cuisine. We even tried some “real” Tequila from the region … and I can assure you .. it is not a Tequila you have ever experienced. I had no idea that there is a real ‘Art’ to Tequila production … I guess they only export the cheap stuff.

Riding at Hacienda Sepulveda
The rides were great fun through farm fields and to other historic haciendas that demonstrated to us true “Chargas” (cowboy) traditions. Mexico has an amazing horse culture and fantastic horses ! Mexico can really keep up with the best in the world. One thing I realized was that Sepulveda is so much superior to the other haciendas on the Five Haciendas Ride, that we decided to change the lodgings to be at this place for the whole week and just ride on the other haciendas … I think it will make for a much better riding holiday … relax at wonderful facilities during the week and enjoy great rides across five different haciendas during the day.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Next we were picked up by our new friend and partner, Angel, and we inspected and explored a new route that I believe will be an excellent luxurious progressive ride for our clients. The ride will go over mountain passes, across hacienda estates and faster paced travels on horseback over wide open plains. Overnights will be in Unesco Heritage Towns (Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende), at historic Colonial Haciendas and a Boutique hotel with delicious cuisine. I cannot even start to properly describe these places … you really have to see to believe it. Guanajuato alone would be worth visiting for a week … it is an amazing historic town with underground “Tunnel Roads” that can get confusing if you do not know your way around … these are not tunnels from the last few decades .. they were all started centuries ago when this was a mining town.

Tunnel roads at Guanajuato
The center is just lovely with a park like place that provides entertainment and is a social meeting point for the locals and the tourists. Bands play, children are laughing and people in general are having a great time. The same can be said for the maybe better known San Miguel de Allende …. romantic, artsy, cultural and just places to “feel good”.

Church at Guanajuato

I can’t wait until we got the whole trip organized and ready to go !

Then we drove across country (on very good roads) for 3+ hours to Toluca, where our friends and partners Pepe and Lucia picked us up to drive to Valle de Bravo and Finca Enyhe.

Finca Enyhe - Classic Cavalcade
If you have followed our trips over the last 12 years, I am sure you are already familiar with our top of the line “Classic Cavalcade”. It always was and still is one of the best equestrian vacations anywhere. From the horses, accommodations, meals, guides, hosts and the immense variety of the landscapes – it is all first class. The millions of butterflies (the Monarchs) that winter here from November to March are just an added spectacular bonus to see, to an already unsurpassed trip. Our visit here was not to inspect, but to visit with our friends. It is always good to see Pepe and Lucia and their daughter Georgina. We spend a few wonderful days at Finca Enyhe and Valle de Bravo, which has developed into a small “boutique” type vacation destination for the well to do Mexican population of Mexico City. They are just starting to see a few foreign tourists here and most of them are on our riding tours with our friends. We were fortunate to spend some additional time with our friends at our next destination …. Chiapas, since also they were invited to the World Tourism Summit.

Tack room at Finca Enyhe
From Valle de Bravo we transferred to Mexico City to catch a short flight to Tuxtla in the southern state of Chiapas, which at one time was part of Guatemala for about 20 years - just after the 1910 revolution and war of independence from Spain. As already mentioned we were to attend the World Adventure Tourism Summit in San Cristobal de las Casas, but first we spent a few days on a pre-summit horseback riding trip that inspired me so much that immediately I decided to make it one of our next new riding destinations in Mexico. I am sure by now you have figured out that I am a bit Mexico fan, but the experience in Chiapas surpassed even my best expectations.After a nice dinner and overnight at the … Hotel in Tuxtla, we were met by Gloria and Juan, our hosts for the next few days.

Gloria and Juan

Both of them are excellent equestrians and active endurance riders. They are the most wonderful and warm couple you could ever meet. They took very good care of us over the next few days and took us on a journey we will not soon forget.
It was truly an equestrian adventure from the highlands to the beaches. The potential to create a real riding adventure here are endless – from breathtaking mountains, sink holes, remains of old historic haciendas and grandiose canyons to the jungles, lagoons, mangrove forests, wildlife and untouched beaches of the coast. Overnights will be in historic haciendas, the community operated beach resort of Madresal (not accessible by vehicles) and a few days of camping at Lake Tolan and in the large canyons of the … river and its waterfalls. Of course we will also include a night at the UNESCO town of San Cristobal.

Canyon on Day 1
Our group or riders (Ellen from New Mexico, Andres from Ecuador, Rachid from Lake Tahoe and with myself and wife Roberta) came from all over the world and not all of them were seasoned riders, but we still had an excellent ride with plenty of faster paced riding including some great gallops. In the hills it got quite technical, so I am sure this will be a trip designed for the more experienced and adventurous rider.

Riding in Chiapas Day 2

At the coast the “beach resort” was far from luxurious (no electricity), but a magical place all the same. It is operated by the local community with 46 actual owner operators - and it showed in their enthusiasm to create the best stay you can hope for. Service is first class.

Transfer to resort

The place is not accessible by road, so we had to leave the cars behind, take a long boat (canoe type) through the mangrove trees, across a lagoon to the resort – always accompanied by helpful hands with luggage, camera cases etc.

Realxing on the beach of Madresal

The cabins were simple, but nice and the highlight was the ‘restaurant’ right on the pristine sandy beach. Of course there were lots of fresh drinks and soon we all had a big freshly caught fish on our plates for dinner.

Fishing for dinner

Then the local people that are in charge of the turtle hatchery showed up just before dark with 1200 baby turtles in buckets ….

Release of turtles

We became part of releasing them into the wilds and into the ocean … what an experience.

Could get any better than that ? Yes, it did. The next morning early around 7 am we all got into some canoes that were masterfully manoeuvered through the mangrove forest. Here we experienced thousands of birds including a nesting area with hundreds of baby birds, as well as short sightings of a few crocodiles right next to our canoes …. Pretty exciting stuff !

Through the Mangrove forest

The trip ended with a transfer to San Cristobal. The city, especially the historic center, has maintained its Spanish colonial layout, with narrow cobblestone streets, roofs covered in red clay tile and wrought iron balconies with flowers. The facades of the buildings vary from Baroque to Neoclassical and Moorish, painted in various colors. In areas milk is still delivered from canisters on donkeys, with other donkeys hauling firewood.

  San Cristobal

After having enjoyed many good Mexican dishes along our travels, my wife Roberta, a Sicilian, had a craving for Pizza. So we strolled around some of the traffic free streets that are full of little stores, crafts shops and restaurants – and found a very traditional Italian Pizza place …. So we are in the middle of southern Mexico and we have one of the best Pizzas in years … and believe me – if Roberta says it was a good Pizza .. you can bank on it .
The atmosphere in this little historic town, that is part of the “Magical Towns” of Mexico, was just wonderful. It was relaxed, traditional and yet sophisticated. We enjoyed many good meals, some fun evenings and of course the Summit.

Even President Calderon came to open up the Summit … When have you ever heard of a president of any country to come to open an Adventure Tourism Summit … anywhere !? I was really impressed by his speach and outlooks for his country. Seems he is on the right track to promote adventure travel, sustainability and environmental conservation for his country. Thank you Mr President.

President Calderon at the World Adventure Tour Summit in Chiapas

The Summit was a big success, a lot of fun and of course the time in Ciapas was much too short to see everything this state has to offer, so be assured we will be back to see and explore a state so rich of history, culture and nature.
After the summit it was very difficult to leave San Cristobal … we really felt at home. But we had one more stop before going back home. It was the last, but certainly not the least important stop of our venture.

On horseback at Rancho Mexicana

We flew back to Mexico City where a driver from Rancho Mexicana picked us up and drove us to one of my favorite places. My family has spent several wonderful holidays at the ranch including an unforgettable Christmas. I don’t know what it was when I first came to the ranch, but immediately it felt like it was a part of me. We hadn’t been there for 4 years and it was amazing to see all the changes and improvements. When I first went to the ranch 10 years ago and sat down with Uschi, the owner, we looked over the valley and exchanged ideas about what would be the next improvements to tackle. Now I can say … everything is perfect – more beautifully decorated rooms, a small spa, wonderful pool area and hot tub … all surrounded by breathtaking views. Well done Uschi !

Pool at Rancho Mexicana

Uschi is one of my best business partners and I just love to work with her. I know she takes 100% care of my clients and it shows up in the incredible trip reports we get back. The ranch is one of the few places in the world where you can send very advanced riders and novice riders at the same and you know all of them will come back with an experience of a lifetime. A herd of over 30 well trained and extremely well taken care of horses, combined with 5 or 6 wranglers, offer riding for all levels in different riding groups. There are 2 hr rides with maybe a stop at the local store all the way up to rides of 8 or 9 hours that go across country and take all day. Now we can even offer progressive rides on a big circle tour (horse stay out at night and riders transfer back). I certainly had an excellent ride again with Uschi’s new helper, Jenny. Jenny actually first came to the ranch as a Hidden Trails guest, fell in love and stayed. That shows you the many roles we get to play as an equestrian holiday agency.

Jenny and boyfirend

Of course our trip had to come to an end and we sadly sad good-bye to Mexico and all of our friends and flew back to Vancouver … a wonderful trip had come to an end.

Hasta la vista Mexico

Ryan and Roberta in Chiapas


Chilling in Cilento, Italy

by Hidden Trails 11/11/2011

Forget Tuscany, fall in love with Cilento – you’ll return heavier and happier, says Sarah Jenkins

Do you remember the scene in Jerry Maguire where Tom Cruise makes that lengthy, heartfelt speech to Renée Zellweger and she interrupts him with a teary: “Shut up. You had me at hello.” It was like that for me in Cilento, Italy. The place kept on giving me reasons to fall in love with it – the vistas, the horses, the people, the food – but ultimately, I was convinced from the moment I arrived. The place had me at hello – or ciao, I suppose. Why? Well I’ll start with the people.  I arrived at Naples airport late, but owner Gino Fedullo was there to meet me and two other guests – Barbara  and Robert. Becoming part of a group on  trips is an obvious benefit. You eat every meal together – in this case along with our guide, Marco Proccedo, and Swedish gap-year student Ellinor  – and even as a lone traveler I laughed as I would with old friends. Gino couldn’t be more hospitable, nor could his wife, mother-in-law and brothers-in-law – who all play their part on the farm or in the restaurant. I should say “in-love” really, rather than “in-law”, as they did – isn’t everything so much more romantic in Italian?

Velia, the turbo cob

Then there’s the horses. On the first day, Marco quizzed me on my riding. “I’m fairly competent and confident,” I said. “But I’m terrified of heights.” On the edge of a cliff, I’d prefer to be on a quiet horse while feeling faint. Marco gave me the shortest of the bunch, so I’d feel closer to the ground…The fact is all the horses are quiet, and Velia, a 14-year-old Italian-bred turbo cob, was a saint. What she lacked in height she made up for in heart – not batting an eyelid at deep water, loose dogs or even  crazy Italian driving when we very occasionally had to cross a road. I didn’t know what sure-footed actually meant prior to riding her.  On the first ride, I thought: “We’re  not seriously going up/down there are we?” But by the second, I was entirely blasé, with complete faith in her.  All the horses were well matched to their jockeys – a gentle giant for the laidback Robert, and a characterful chestnut for fellow guest Maria, who liked a spirited horse. The pace of rides is dictated by the ability of the group; there’s no concern about the temperament of the horses

Legs of steel

You’re in the saddle for about 25km-30km a day, and it’s hilly. It would help to have stronger legs than I did on departure. On day two, muscles I didn’t know existed were screaming: “What are you doing to us?!”
We stopped on top of a hill, by the convent of San Francesco, where Gino was waiting for us with the first of many monumental picnics. The food at lunch, just like dinner, kept on coming – vegetables, cheese, kebabs.
On this note, I have a confession to make. One lunchtime, following a long canter through a field of 500 century-old trees, in a sun-drenched olive grove, I ate my bodyweight in to be 1,000 calories. The food is something else, with the majority made at the farm. Goats, boar, cattle, and chickens are reared, and a plethora of vegetables and fruits are grown all around the villas in which you stay.
I digress, I didn’t come here to eat, I came to ride – and it’s a good job, since five hours a day in the saddle and a few laps of the pool kept the kilos at bay.
Full (a sensation you get used to here), we rode on to Celso, a little town cut into the hillside in 1050, where our horses wandered through the narrow cobbled streets.
Meandering back towards home brought new meaning to the term “winding down”, and by the time I reached the dinner table – via the swimming pool – I was relaxed.
Gino threw a party, complete with live local pop folk band, and the vino and laughs flowed between dances.
During the ride, Marco had passed me a handful of crushed myrtle he’d picked off the plant and that evening we drank homemade myrtle liquor. Later, he sent my way a fistful of finocchi (fennel) – the basis for the following night’s tipple.

What goes up…

Our second ride was more challenging. “We’ll have lunch in that castle,” said Marco, pointing at a speck on a hill.  En route, we waded through streams plump from the previous nights’ storms
– Marco went ahead with a long stick to check the water wasn’t too deep.
The smell of the herbs under the horse’s hooves was intense – at one point, in the dewy shrubbery, it felt like I was wandering through a Mojito.
What goes down must come up and we (well, the horses) had one hell of a climb up to medieval Castel Nuovo Cilento. We balanced in two-point seat, and as we reached a plateau Marco said: “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re now halfway up.”
That went down like a lead balloon. He was only partly lying, but boy was it worth it when we peaked – as Robert said: “Prettier than our Newcastle”.
We set the horses loose in the walled fortress while we had our picnic. They gallivanted around threatening to jump the table before resting in the shade.
Looking back at how far we’d come, it felt like a serious achievement (even more so for the horses). That’s the great thing about this trip; it’s a mini adventure. You get that buzz, but not at the expense of fear or danger, which is surely the best kind of escapade.

‘You call it vertigo’

Next day, we started heading for the mountains, so I had another go at getting the point across about my fear of heights. When the penny dropped, moment’s concern.
The following day’s ride took us 750m above sea level, along the crest of Mount Stella, towards the town of the same name, so called for its star shape. The view from here I’d have tackled arachnophobia for.
On our final two days, we headed to the beach, which we would have done sooner had the tides allowed it.
Having looked from our vantage points over to the sea on the past few rides, it was wonderful during those hot days to make it down to the sand and dip the horses’ hooves in the waves.
Riding down hills, through olive groves, and then onto the sea, you’re left thinking: “It doesn’t get much better than this.”
In the refreshing breeze, I plotted to smuggle Velia away and move to Cornwall, so I could do this every day. In fact, why stop at Cornwall?
The climate in Cilento is ideal for riding. Only on day two of our trip did the rain come down – for the first time in three months. It made up for lost time with a deluge. The horses were tacked up, but us fair-weather riders opted to make this our rest day.
We weren’t bored, with cookery lessons, trips to Pompeii or Greek ruins at Velia in the offing. I chose the latter, and Ellinor amazed as a tour guide at the site we would later canter by.
I didn’t want to leave. The experience lifted me out of the daily grind and gave me renewed spark. I hope to go back before that fades.
In the meantime, I’m riding as much as possible in a two-point position, eating copious amounts of mozzarella, and rolling the “R”s in names like “Barbara” – just to remember.

Story by Sarah Jenkins

 

You should know:
Cilento, is a two-hour drive south of Naples.
This ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders, though there is plenty to entertain non-riding family members, such as walking, cycling and cookery.
All meals, including wine, are included.
Riding runs from March to May and September to November. Riders enjoy seven nights, including five days riding for about five hours a day.
The price is about $1265 for the week. 
In 2012 there is also a progressive riding tour offered  (April, May, Sept and Oct). This trip ventures even more into the back country and the park with some overnights along the way.  Cost for this ride is about $2190.

For more information, have a look at the Hidden Trails website at:
http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/italy_mediterranean_cilento_park_ride.aspx


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Equestrian Travel Stories

September 2011 Newsletter

by Hidden Trails 09/23/2011
    Explore the World on Horseback  
           - with Hidden Trails                                                                -  September 2011 Newsletter  -

Horseback riding in Southern Patagonia, Argentina

Summer has gone by fast - time to think about your Fall or Christmas Vacation. October to December can provide you with some of the best riding weather in the SouthWest, Mexico, Central or South America or the southern parts of Europe and of course Africa. The weather is perfect for riding, no crowds left and availability is still good !
Do not miss out on a vacation of a lifetime ! Get away, realx and rejuvenate.
Secure your space today !
Looking to go somewhere in 2012 with a group of friends ?  Now is the time to secure your best space!

2012 Dates and Rates are now online (95%)

Our Reservation System got a whole lot easier !  No more faxing in signed forms -- now you can sign all forms online from within your own Hidden Trails Account !

Great News:  We now have over 11.000 Fans on our Facebook Page. Not a Fan yet ? Become a Fan Now and receive updates on Special Offers, New Trips, and much more on your Facebook page.

  On Horseback in Uganda with Hidden Trails 

     
We have been busy adding New and Exciting trips for 2012

Check out our NEW RIDES for 2012 !
     or see our Special Offers
     
In the Footsteps of Lord Byron Horse Trek
Central, Albania
9 days / 8 nights, regular rate $1,895
‘Land of Albania! Let me bend mine eyes on thee, thou rugged nurse of savage men’. So wrote Lord Byron in his famous poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, where he chronicled the journey that he and his friend and diarist J.C. Hobhouse took through the mountainous regions of southern Albania in 1809. Along the way he passed through a land that many at the time considered nothing mo...
Minimum riding level: Novice+
   Riding in Albania
     
Across Szekler & Saxon Land in Transylvania
Transylvania, Romania
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,235
A Place of Great History & Myth... Transylvania is a place of great history and myth, which lends to the region a mysterious allure that attracts adventurous travelers and horseback riders from around the world. It is a land comprised of stunning natural phenomena combined with intriguing villages of ancient origin, hidden deep in its sloping valleys and impressive mountains. Transylvani...
Minimum riding level: Low Intermediate
  Riding in Transylvania, Romania
     
Borac Mountains Ride in Serbia
Central, Serbia
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,190
Serbia is still an undiscovered destination in the heart of Europe. Located in central Balkans it is the essence of mixture of cultures and influences that will always be viewed as the east to the west and as the west to the east. The interior of the country (Sumadija), literally Woodland is the destination of  our new trip in Serbia. It is here that you will get a glimpse of an archaic world...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  On Horseback in Serbia
     
Coastal Gourmet Passion Ride
Catalonia, Spain
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,950
Riding and Wellness, Gourmet, beach gallops and coastal mountains - pleasurable riding at the highest level! Want to get away from it all and explore breathtaking landscapes on horseback? Welcome to Catalonia. Tempting and delicious! This Coast Trail spoils the rider in two ways as it provides pure pleasure for your palate and your soul! Spanish horses, gourmet food and wellness treats: expe...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  Gourmet Ride in Catalonia, Spain
     
Sierra Nevada Rides
Southern Spain, Spain
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,710
Discover places of hidden beauty in a spirit of fun and adventure in Southern Spain. Immerse yourself in the exciting and varied trail riding of the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.  Journey from village to village through spectacular mountain scenery, gentle river valleys, deep forests and open grassland.  The professional guides are friendly and make for a relaxing and warm ho...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate+
  Rides in the Sierra Nevada of Southern Spain
     
Appalachian Inn to Inn Ride in Quebec
Quebec, Canada
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,565
Autumn Highlights & Spring Splendor! During Autumn, this colorful trail ride is designed to take advantage of the magnificent seasonal colors of the region that extravagantly comes about each September and October. Blanketed in blazing color, nature heralds a vibrant Indian summer on the Eastern side of Canada. It is a truly magical time of golden warmth to be savored before the first...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  Inn to Inn rides in Quebec, Canada
     
Highlands & Canyons Explorer Ride
Central Mexico
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,875
This new progressive riding tour, will explore a vast area of Central Mexico with many different eco systems to experience on the plateau and into the canyons. The horses stay out on the trail and are cared for by the wranglers for the night, while the riders will take a short transfer back to their wonderful luxurious accommodations fo...
Minimum riding level: Good Intermediate+
  Riding in Mexico
     
Jungle & Beach Adventure Ride - Mountains to Coast
Pacific Coast, Costa Rica
10 days / 9 nights, regular rate $1,850
Enjoy horseback riding through the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica on our healthy, happy, Parelli trained horses. Hidden Trails welcomes riders to try their hand (and seat) at the most adventurous Costa Rican horseback experience yet, taking you onto some of the most rugged mountain trails available in the region, deep in the wilderness of the Macaw Corridor and far from civilization, ...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  Horseback Adventure in Costa Rica
     
Ethiopian Highlands Ride
Highlands of Ethiopia
7 days / 6 nights, regular rate $1,670
Ethiopia is a land of myths and superlatives and a land of the horse and Ethiopians have long been a nation of horsemen. A startlingly beautiful country, it is charming and complicated. Splendid ‘imperial Ethiopia’, it is one of the only African countries never properly colonised by the west. Sometimes referred to as the ‘African Tibet’ it is a remote land with arcane relig...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  Riding in Ethiopia
     
Amboseli Horse Safari
Amboseli, Kenya
7 days / 6 nights, regular rate $3,515
Arguably, one of the world’s most thrilling horse safaris; the itinerary traverses open wildlife filled savannas and swamps filled with elephant, buffalo, lion, hyena and much more. This riding safari passes through classic African big game country beneath snow-capped Mt. Kilimanjaro which towers a breathtaking 15,000 ft. above the surrounding plains. Amboseli National Park and the nearby a...
Minimum riding level: Strong Intermediate
  Riding in Kenya
     
Wild and Delicious - Safari, Wine & Spa
Interior & Coast, South Africa
9 days / 8 nights, regular rate $3,695
Set within two of South Africa's most beautiful biosphere reserves (the Waterberg and Cape Winelands Biosphere), this trip combines four days exhilarating game viewing on horseback with riding through stunning scenery of the Cape’s wine lands along with wine tasting at some of South Africa’s best wine estates. Classic Waterberg Safari We are hosting the first four days on one of th...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  Riding in Southern Africa
     
Trails in Thuringia on Andalusians
Thuringia, Germany
8 days / 7 nights, regular rate $1,660
Join us and explore the Thuringian Vogtland on a new 6-day riding trail on well trained Andalusian horses! Discover Thuringia, the green heart of Germany, with its diverse countryside of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes and nature reserves. The unique link between nature and historic sites, combined with the elegant Andalusian horses makes this horseback riding trip in the Thuringian Vogtland...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  Riding in Germany
     
Estancia & Paso Stud Farm at San Pedro Norte
Cordoba, Argentina
6 days / 5 nights, regular rate $1,450
Just north of Cordoba we are now offering you the chance to ride some of these wonderfully gaited Peruvian Paso horses at an estancia and stud farm. The Magic of the estancia - a place that bears the history and the spirit of Argentina To experience this estancia is to unravel the way of living and feeling of a country with overflowing intensity in the saddle of a unique Peruvian Paso hor...
Minimum riding level: All riding levels
  Riding on Peruvian Pasos in Argentina
     
Patagonia Glacier Ride
Southern Patagonia, Argentina
6 days / 5 nights, regular rate $1,295
This new and exciting ride starts from an authentic estancia in "Los Glaciares" the beautiful and wild national park along the banks of the Southern Arm of Lago (Lake) Argentino. Covering an impressive area of more than 12,000 hectares, it stretches out to the border Argentina shares with Chile. The estancia was formerly devoted to sheep production and currently still maintains a small herd, but i...
Minimum riding level: Intermediate
  Riding in Patagonia, Argentina
     
Colca Canyon Explorer Ride on Peruvian Pasos
Arequipa, Peru
11 days / 10 nights, regular rate $2,195
Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian novelist and most famous Arequipeño, described Colca as "The Valley of Wonders." That is no literary overstatement. Colca is one of the most scenic regions in Peru, a land of imposing snow-capped volcanoes, narrow gorges, artistically terraced agricultural slopes that predate the Incas, arid desert landscapes and vegetation, and remote traditional vill...
Minimum riding level: Low Intermediate+
  Riding in Peru - Colca Canyon
     

To make it easier for you, we have created a "TripFinder" where you can search for your horse vacation of a lifetime by entering the type of ride, the location, time period or riding level. 
 
Find your trip here !

Special Offers from Hidden Trails
  
Specials Offers from Hidden Trails in September 2011

What are these riding trips all about?They are about galloping on endless beaches, forging rivers, cantering through forests, trotting along age-old trails, gazing at beautiful vistas, and encountering foreign cultures. Most of all, these trips are about getting away from the cycle of work and never enough free time. Escape from the rituals, which long ago froze our nights and days into little more then routine, because deep inside we all feel the longing of the nomads, whose lives we lived thousands of years ago.Leave your stressful life behind and explore a foreign place away from the tourist rush and off the beaten path - on Hidden Trails.
You will see the “real” country, its hinterland and meet the local inhabitants. The love for horses has no boundaries, but possesses a common language we all speak and understand.










  On horseback in Botswana - Safari with Hidden Trails
 
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Monthly Newsletter

Experience Albania as Lord Byron did 200 years ago

by Hidden Trails 09/14/2011

 Author: Rudina Hoxha
Place: Albania
Date: 7 September 2011

Riding in Albania

Experiencing Albania as Lord Byron did 200 years ago.
When night fell, they would read Lord Byron’s poetry and excerpts from the diary of his friend, John Cam Hobhouse. When the sun rose, they would jump on their horses and rode the paths the British poet took in 1809 in southern Albania.

This was the premise of the 10-day horseback riding expedition, the first of its kind ever organised in the country by the Albanian historian, journalist and tourism promoter, A Tare. The expedition took place in mid-July 2011. Fourteen professional and amateur British riders participated. Among the participants was Alexandra Mommersteeg, who is known in the UK for organizing the Royal Ascot, a race opened by the Queen of England and attended by many British notables.
A passionate scholar of the relationship Lord Byron had with Albania, Tare recently came up with the idea to promote the cultural and historical tourism of a few Albanian areas not typically on the traditional tourist route.

Tare had long considered how to advance tourism in the southern town of Gjirokastra. “Tourists sightsee here for one day and then they leave.  So, I was thinking how to prolong this experience. And I thought of Drinos Valley in Gjirokastra and how it can be used for horseback riding tours in the search for Lord Byron. The idea thrilled me,”43-year-old Tare told Southeast Europe: People and Culture.

Tare has been organising unique tours and special events to promote tourism in Albania since 1994. He has been distinguished for finding the middle path between cultural heritage promotion and sustainable economic development. Now this experience is also offered via Hidden Trails, a unique equestrian holiday organizer all over the world - located in Vancouver, BC
A horseback tour of Albania offers amazing views of the mountains and plains.

As Lord Byron did 202 years ago, the expedition participants rode through the range of mountains of Lunxhëria to reach Tepelena, in southern Albania.  The process of finding ‘suitable’ horses for the expedition was not an easy task for Tare. “I spent time searching these horses from one village to the other. The British cannot ride just any horses. They have a deep respect for the animals,” he said. 
Tare had ridden through the Drinos Valley himself many times before. In 2007 Tare crossed the Drinos Valley with the renowned British horseman and writer, Robin Hanbury-Tenison. One year later, the actor Rupert Everett arrived in Albania to make a documentary on Lord Byron’s journey throughout the region for British Television’s “Channel Four.” “All in all, it was an extraordinary experience. Everything went perfectly. It was interesting to see that not much had changed in two centuries,” said Tare with a laugh.

Riding in Albania

The trips have proven to be an economic asset, as the expedition participants frequented local bars, restaurants and hotels. They participants had the opportunity to taste Albanian food and experience all that the local nature has to offer.

Tare has planned to turn this kind of expedition into a tradition. “Next year, we have planned to do the same but with four groups,” he said. Furthermore, his idea is to follow a different itinerary: “We will meet all in the Greek town of Ioannina and walk down to Tepelena, thereby invoking the feeling of travelling by caravans,” he said.
Tare has also played a key role in establishing the Butrint National Park, in southwest Albania, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, alongside with the cities of Gjirokastra and Berat. 

For more information, check out the Hidden Trails website for tour details with rates and dates of rides in Albania.

In the Footsteps of Lord Byron  - a Horse Trek with Hidden Trails

 

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Equestrian Travel Stories

Grapevine Canyon Ranch Closes its doors in Arizona

by Hidden Trails 04/29/2011

One of our favourite guest ranches in Arizona is closing its doors to "dudes" for good this weekend. After a successful 30 years in the business, owner and operator Eve Searle is retiring from the guest ranch business. She will keep the cattle operation, but sell of the guest ranch portion as a private retreat.
Thank you, Eve, for providing our guests with such wonderful memories over the years and we wish you a great "retirement".
The staff at Hidden Trails.

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