Crete Explorer Ride

Crete Greece: (IT-GR-LAS)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/greece_crete_explorer.aspx

Introduction
Crete Greece
Crete is a perfect Greek island in the sun waiting for you to explore it!

Surrounded by the clear and blue Mediterranean seas and with its rough and wild rolling landscape of mountains reaching 2,5 km high, you will find horseback riding here on Crete is rather special. Here you ride in the coveted silence and peace that only a tiny island covered with olive-trees, historical sites and timeless myth can offer. 

From the moment you arrive on the hillside of the 4-star country hotel you will immediately be enchanted by the stunning panoramic views of a countryside which beckons for you to mount up and hit the trails. Imagine riding through the Gorge of Gonies, climbing up from sea level to 1100 meters high, or trekking across the remote Lassithi Plateau, a beautifully fertile plateau between the tops of the Dikti Mountains. Enjoy the pleasing views of a quaint local countryside comprised of white windmills still irrigating the lands, rough yet friendly shepherds supervising their herds and workers whom continue to tend to their fields traditionally with their donkeys under the hot Mediterranean sun. Ride along the pretty olive groves and wine yards and pass through Greek villages which have been curiously caught in tradition and time. Traverse desert lands that have been cultivated by the Southern winds of the very close and mysterious continent of Africa. Meet the largest colony of Egyptian Vultures in Europe, nestled up high in mountains. And if conditions are just right, you can take a refreshing swim in the beautiful Libyan Sea with the horses and after we will follow the Anapodaris River and the impressive 5 km gorge it has carved out from the solid Earth. There will also be time to visit the nearby and charming town of Avdou and partake in a drink of Ouzo with the locals at the village square. The trail is an adventurous one - 100 miles through the Dikti Mountains - 6 riding days and 32 riding hours.

There is a Self Guided trip Option available any time with 2+ riders from March-May and Sept to Dec - suitable for Experienced riders ONLY

The Unguided Option - truly alone with horse and nature
Only for the very experienced rider who has complete knowledge horse care it is possible to do this trail without our guide. You will have the help of a map, a route description and painted arrows on every cross road marking the entire trail while all your personal luggage needed are taken in your saddlebags. 2 times during the week you will be able to have a luggage change.
For this option there is a minimum of 2 guests required for safety reasons.

The route for the unguided trek is exactly the same as the route of the guided trek.

Accomodation


Accommodations
This is a progressive ride, so nights are spent in different accommodations.

Description
Accommodations are in small hotels and guesthouses with private facilities.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Nights 1 & 2: Country Hotel near Avdou
Night 3: Taverna Hotel Dionyssos in Magoulas
Night 4: Country Hotel near Avdou
Night 5: Giannis Rooms (previously known as Finikas Rooms) in Keratokambos
Nights 6 & 7: Country Hotel near Avdou



Country Hotel near Avdou
The hotel suits its surroundings. It is built with real natural stones collected from the land it stands on, which give it a robust and natural look. The main building houses the reception and a café with a large balcony on which you can drink your Greek coffee or Rakí. In the main building, you also find the Restaurant with its large terrace overlooking the riding place and the valley. The terrace is surrounded by moveable glass walls and roof that can be opened or closed depending on the weather conditions.
The 12 hotel rooms are grouped into 2 bungalows each housing 6 rooms. The rooms are large and comfortable and all have a tremendous view over the valley. Each room has a large bathroom with rain showers. All rooms have central heating and air conditioning, a fridge, a flat screen TV with international channels, a hairdryer, coffee and tea making facilities, a large glass door, and a private balcony or terrace. In 2020, the rooms will feature new luxury cotton satin bedding and all beds will be equipped with mattress toppers and 2 pillows (soft and hard choice).
Next to the main building lays a large swimming pool (130 – 160 m deep) with a separate children pool (40 cm deep). The pool is open year round but is not hated. In 2020, a Jacuzzi with lounge area will also be available to rent by the hour during the summer months.
Another addition (for 2020) consist in a private outdoor massage area and wellness treatments.  
The hotel has WIFI on the entire property. Laundry is available for an additional fee.



Taverna Hotel Dionyssos in Magoulas
This small hotel offers simple accommodations on the Lasithi Plateau. All rooms feature a balcony with a view, a private bathroom and a free Wi-Fi access.

Giannis Rooms in Keratokambos
Tonight you sleep in air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and great views over the sea. The accommodations are basic but comfortable. There is no Wi-Fi access.

Room Occupancy
Triple rooms are available in Avdou.
If we are unable to find another rider to share a room with you, the single supplement fee does not apply.




Meals
All meals are included but drinks are to be paid extra (water, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks not included).

The chef will prepare traditional Cretan/Greek food with local products. The hotel’s restaurant has its own vegetable, herb and fruit gardens. Ripened under the Cretan sun and grown organically they have a rich and delicious taste. Food is prepared with extra virgin olive oil from our own olive grove.
Some of the local produce used in the restaurant includes meat from the free ranging goats and sheep of our neighbors, cheese made by the local shepherd, homemade raki and honey from a local beekeeper.
Meals are cooked in our wood fire oven and include many vegetable, mezedes, or grilled meat.
All meals are served with good Cretan wines (to be paid extra), made with grape varieties that have been used since Minoan times.
Dinner is your choice from the menu and includes a starter, main dish and salad. Drinks, desserts and other foods are not included.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to most dietary restrictions with prior notice.


Riding

Riding Experience

This ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders.  You must be able to control your horse at a trot and canter riding outdoors in a group.

Pace & Terrain
The program includes 6 riding days with a total of 32 riding hours, averaging 5 hours in the saddle per day. We cover a total of about 160 km.
We travel for a week through the Dikti Mountain Range, over the Lassithi high plateau, the Cretan south coast and the Greek countryside. The trail includes 3 days of riding across the mountains (slow pace over rocky paths) and 3 days of active riding across flat plateaus or through the country side.

Tack
We use English saddles. Every horse has his own saddle and bridle custom fit for every horse, regularly maintained and refit to follow the changes in the horse body. For bridles, we use a broken or double broken K&K Aurigan bit.

Horses
Here we stable 18 lovely horses and 1 pony. We have Arabians, Thoroughbreds and Warmblood horses. These breeds have a long breath and a never tiring will for the long distance riding. They are beautiful and well-trained holiday horses. Always eager to go, very relaxed in the mind, surefooted in the mountains and human orientated.
For the children we have a Welsh B pony. A real children’s pony, very sweat, safe and with speed.
Our horses are trained following the classical dressage method (inspired by the Greek general Xenophon) to maintain the horse healthy and well balanced in its body. Or better explained by his own words: ‘Anything forced and misunderstood can never be beautiful.’
Our horse work very hard on the long distances and in a warm climate. We believe we must do everything we can within our reach to make them feel as good as possible.
On 5 hectares of land, we built the stables by using natural materials like stones and wood. The stables are designed to be as close as possible to the physical needs of the horses.
We feed our horses by placing the hay in a slow feeder on the paddock floor. This means our horses are eating all day long creating a natural grazing behaviour, preventing colics or stumic sores and creating a healthy darm flora.

Itinerary

Sample itinerary - Subject to changes

(There is a Self Guided trip Option available any time with 2+ riders from March-May and Sept to Dec - suitable for Experienced riders ONLY . The route for the unguided trek is exactly the same as the route of the guided trek)

For the experienced rider we offer an adventurous trail of 160 km through mountain area. We make a quick canter over the Lassithi high plateau and meet the biggest colony vultures of Europe in the high mountains. We sleep on the south coast where we eat fresh fish and swim with the horses. The trail has 3 days over mountainous area where we travel slowly as we decent and ascent over rocky paths and 3 trail days we ride over the flat plateau or through the country side with its villages, olive groves, and wine yards.

Day 1: Arrival
Arrival in Heraklion (also known as Iraklion) and transfer to the four-star equestrian resort, Country Hotel Velani****, located near Chersonissos. The 10 acre estate is located in the country side surrounding the village Avdou. The moment you arrive to the resort you immediately experience the serene quietness of the vast landscape and are appreciative of the tremendous panoramic view. Under the hotel stretches the Lagada Valley with the Apposelemis River crossing through, above rises the red coloured peaks of the Dikti Mountains. You will see birds of prey, like the Griffon Vulture, glide along these peaks. The estate is surrounded by protected Kerm Oak forest and olive groves stretching down to the valley and within the estate you will find many protected trees and flowers, like the different types of beautiful orchids. The hotel blends well with its surrounding as it is built with real natural stones collected from the land it stands on, giving it a natural and calming look. It's neo-classical style creates a romantic atmosphere for long summer nights. Dinner & overnight.

Day 2: Ride to Sfendili hills
Today we take an active trip in northerly direction; we ride up the hills of Sfendili, cross the Byzantine church of Avdou, ride quick over the "Plateau of Mochos" and have an excellent view to the Psiloritis Mountains, the highest peaks of the island. Overnight in Equestrian Country Hotel Veláni**** 
3 hours in the saddle.

Day 3: Ride through the Gorge of Gonies
Today the trail starts with a spectacular climb, riding through the Gorge of Gonies up from sea level to 1100 meters high, over the old and narrow donkey route. In the past it was the only possible path to the Lassithi Plateau. We enjoy the breathtaking views and eat a lunch cooked in a traditional Greek oven. At the end of the day we ride over the Lassithi Plateau. This fertile Plateau between the tops of the Dikti Mountains is known for its white windmills irrigating the land and the locals still working with their donkeys. Here we will have a quick canter over the nice, flat plateau. Overnight in either Magoulas, Hotel Dionissos or in Dzermiado Hotel Kourites (subject to availability).
6 hours in the saddle.

Day 4: Ride across the Dikti mountains
Today we cross through the Dikti mountain range in a southern direction and you will experience the unique feeling of being truly alone with the horses, the mountains, and unspoiled nature. A good kind of loneliness. We may come across some rough, but friendly shepherds as well along the way. Transport to Country Hotel Velani **** for overnight, while the horses stay in the mountains 
5 hours in the saddle.

Day 5: Ride to the Libyan Sea
Today we ride downhill through desert lands dried by the southern winds out of the very close continent of Africa. We will eventually meet the clear blue waters of the Libyan Sea and go for a refreshing dive. We can normally also go swimming with our horses, but only if sea conditions are safe to do so. Tonight we will sleep next to the great sea and, of course, here we shall dine on fresh fish from the wood-fire. Overnight in Keratokambos, Finikas Rooms. 
6 hours in the saddle and swimming with the horses.

Day 6: Ride along the Anapodaris River
Today we start with a ride along the sea and coast before we will turn inland again. We follow the Anapodaris River which has cut out an impressive 5-km long gorge. Still now the water continues to cut the gorge deeper. Careful you may grow dizzy from the incredible depth! Suddenly the land will become more friendly and accessible again; softer hills with many olive and wine yards. We cross through villages and let the horses drink in Lake Ini.  Transport to Country Hotel Veláni**** and overnight, horses stay on trail
6 hours in the saddle.

Day 7: Ride back to Avdou
We ride back to Avdou through the typical Greek countryside. We pass Greek villages where time has stood still. Feel welcome to stop and drink an Ouzo with the Cretans at one of the village squares. Next to our path rises the Dikti Mountains, which we will never forget.  Overnight in Equestrian Country Hotel Veláni****
5 hours in the saddle.

Day 8: Departure
Breakfast and departure.

--Subject to changes--


Rates and Dates for Crete Explorer Ride

Rates include:

Accommodations with all meals, lodging in private rooms with bath, 6 guided riding days (32 hrs), English speaking guide. Government taxes.
Optional Self Guided Trips are available

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionEUR ~US$
    A
    20198 day ride, AP (High)€1245$1495
  • B
    20198 day ride, AP (Low)€1175$1410
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.2

Rates Note:

Non riders: There are many activity options available - from Para-gliding to Caving, Mountain Biking and Hiking to Golfing (5 miles away), and Massages

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Rates Note:

Non riders: There are many activity options available - from Para-gliding to Caving, Mountain Biking and Hiking to Golfing (5 miles away), and Massages


Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionEUR~US$
2019 Transfer from Heraklion airport one way, per car (up to 4 pax)
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
50 $60
2019 Transfer from Heraklion city center one way, per car (up to 4 pax)
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
55 $70
2019 Transfer from Hersonissos one way, per car (up to 4 pax)
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
25 $30
2019 Single supplement (requested) 175 $210
2019 Upgrade to luxury room, dbl, pp 175 $210
2019 Non-rider, dbl, pp -650 $-780

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2019 10/13 - 10/20 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (High) 3 /10 Expired
B 2019 11/03 - 11/10 8d / 7n 8 day ride, AP (Low) 3 /10 Expired

Dates Note:
There is a Self Guided trip Option available any time with 2+ riders from March-May and Sept to Dec - suitable for Experienced riders ONLY

Rates do not include:

Drinks, dessert. Transfer from Iraklio (Heraklion) airport not included (paid locally).

Other Info
Meeting: Avdou
Airport: Heraklion International Airport
Transfer: Heraklion (Iraklion) Airport by taxi or public bus

Climate:
                                            Heraklion area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

59

60

63

68

74

81

84

84

80

74

68

62

Average Low Temperature (°F)

48

48

49

53

59

66

71

71

67

62

56

51

Average High Temperature (°C)

15

15

17

20

24

27

29

29

27

24

20

17

Average Low Temperature (°C)

9

9

9

12

15

19

22

22

19

17

13

10

Average Precipitation (days of rain)

9

8

6

3

1

0

0

0

1

3

6

8

Source: NOAA


Seasons
The island of Crete has a temperate Mediterranean climate. This means it experiences hot, dry summers and mild winters. Crete has the mildest climate of anywhere in Greece. Average temperatures are at their peak in July and August while January and February see the coldest temperatures of the year on average.

Different parts of Crete can experience very different weather patterns, due to the weather barrier created by the mountain ranges that stretch from east to west across the island. The south is on average a couple of degrees warmer than the north and is also drier. Similarly eastern Crete is drier and warmer than those regions in the west.

Crete straddles 2 climatic zones – Mediterranean and North African. Southern Crete falls into the North African climate zone, enjoying warmer weather and averaging over 2800 hours of sunshine a year. The varying climates on the island are reflected by the landscape and vegetation. The south can be very arid, especially in summer, while the north is more green and verdant. Southern Crete’s similarities with the North African climate are evident in the fact that African swallows remain year round rather than migrating south.

Sea temperatures around Crete are generally warm, and bathers can always swim comfortably from May right up to November. The water remains above 20 ºC during these months, peaking at 25 ºC in high summer. The sea temperature will drop to about 15 ºC in February before beginning to warm again with the onset of spring.

Spring
Springtime weather on the island can still see a number of rainy days, especially in the North, though clear and mild days are frequent as well. Temperatures can begin to hit the 20 ºCs and the sea begins to warm up.

Summer
Summer begins in earnest from June. The period June to September sees almost no rainfall and average temperatures of around 25 ºC. Daytime temperatures in mid summer are often in the low 30 ºCs, though it can sometimes reach up to 40 ºC!

Winter
Winter months, especially December to February, can be quite wet. In winter the temperature rarely falls much below double figures in lowland and coastal Crete. Normally, snow is very rare anywhere on the island apart from in the higher mountains. The mountainous regions can experience heavy snowfall in winter due to their high elevation. Snow can often remain on the higher peaks such as Mt Ida until June.

Autumn
Temperatures begin to cool off in late September again and the now dry island begins to receive some much needed rainfall. Early autumn is a pleasant time with calm, clear days. The weather becomes more unstable from November on as rainy and windy days increase, though sunny days with temperatures in the low 20s C are not uncommon.


Special note – Sirocco wind
The winds that visit Crete have an important role in shaping the island’s weather patterns. Cold, wet and windy winter days are experienced when the strong northern winds hit the island. The sirocco winds arrive from the southeast bringing hot, sand filled air from the deserts of Africa. When the sirocco winds arrive the island becomes very dusty and hot and visibility can fall. However, when they blow in winter they bring warm air and pleasant temperatures. Southerly winds in the summer months can sometimes bring stifling temperatures of up to 45 ºC. On other summer days the welcome ‘meltimi’ winds arrive from the north-west bringing a much needed cooling breeze to the island. When the wind blows from the east, Crete usually experiences calm and clear weather.

What To Bring:
In the mountains it can also be cold in May or September. The hotel has laundry available.

This list is only a guideline for you

 

Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Riding pants or Jodhpurs (used if possible!). No jeans.
Riding boots that are also comfortable for walking. Mini chaps.
Riding helmet. Best if you bring you own. We have simple helmets for free in the stables.
Riding gloves
Hat (with chin strap) for sun protection
Lightweight Rain coat

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Jacket or sweater for cool evenings
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Jeans
Shorts
Underwear and socks
Pyjamas
Bag for dirty clothes
Trekking boots/ comfortable shoes
Swimsuit
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for the emergency)
Sewing kit
Handkerchiefs
Adapter for electric appliances
Camera and enough extra film or batteries
Belt pack
Address book and pen (for postcards!)
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm