What type of activity is it?
Horses in the Sun offers riding or carriage-driving for individuals or groups from its base at New Forest Lodge in the western Algarve.
What makes it special?
This is fun - pure, unadulterated and exhilarating, with the sun on your back, the wind in your hair, and the foothills of the Monchique mountains and some of the most breathtaking beaches in Europe as your backdrop.
More to the point, you don't need to be an expert to enjoy it. Horse riding lessons are available if you're a beginner or intermediate. And if you're getting too stiff for horse riding but still want the thrill, or if you're nervous of riding but like the idea of horses, then carriage driving is a great experience.
What options are available?
As well as carriage driving - in a range of vehicles including a six-seat jardinera carriage, a two-wheel trotting rig, a four-wheel marathon carriage and a selection of traditional restored gypsy and farm carts - visitors can also enjoy horse riding and pony trekking, aimed at all levels of experience. Hour-long introductory courses, half-day and full-day carriage drives and horse rides, and even short carriage or pony rides for children are available.
Got to see/do?
If you go carriage driving, take the reins yourself. Within half an hour of sitting alongside the driver, and picking up the basics, it won't just be the horses who'll be chomping at the bit: it's time to have a go yourself.
The horses are strong but well-trained, and respond to simple commands and the merest of touches on the reins, and as all of the carriages are well-sprung and fitted with modern disc breaks, comfort and safety isn't compromised.
The thrill of handling the carriage yourself is equalled by the sights of the fabulous countryside that flashes past you as you drive - pine forest, rolling hills, secluded lakes, and the occasional remote farmhouse or village dwelling.
What do you need to bring?
Sensible shoes, long trousers if you're getting on a horse, water, and a camera. A hat and sun block are advisable in summer. Hard hats and leggings are provided for horse riders.
Why do you love it?
Hurtling around the wild, unspoiled countryside of the western Algarve in a carriage pulled by a pair of sturdy Cruzado Portugues horses is a world away from the formal attire, strict etiquette and elitist milieu of the competition sport version you might have seen on TV.
When to go?
Horse riding and carriage driving can be organised all year-round. In the heat of mid-summer however, you'll be advised to start either early or late, to avoid the potential scorching temperatures of mid-afternoon.
For longer rides, if you are out on your own, bring snacks or a packed lunch/picnic with you. Packed lunches can also be provided by the Lodge for longer carriage drives, stopping by a quiet lake for lunch. You won't pass anything resembling a shop however!
There is farmhouse-style residential accommodation at the Lodge, whilst they are also happy to arrange or recommend nearby places for overnight stays.
For day visitors, the Lodge is a short drive from the end of the A22 motorway between Lagos and Aljezur.
Close to the village of Corta Pero Jaques. From the end of the motorway, follow the signs towards Aljezur. Detailed directions will be provided however when you make your booking.
Introductory drives and rides start from €25 an hour, whilst the cost per participant for a non-residential three-day carriage driving course is €240, which includes horses, carriages and equipment, guide/instructor and groom, 4x4 and mobile phone back-up, refreshments and a barbecue lunch or picnic with wine each day.