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    Expression of interest for 2025 - Experience "Riding the Freedom Trail"
    7 nights
    Discover the French and Spanish Pyrenees on horseback
    A challenging and thought-provoking 5 day guided horse trekking adventure following one of the Freedom Trail routes taken by WW2 escapees across the Pyrenees mountains

    Many adventurers have heard of the Pyrenean escape routes or Freedom Trails that were used by those escaping persecution in WW2.

    But few people know that just a handful of these routes are also open to experienced horse riders who are looking for their next big horse riding adventure in the company of an expert local guide.

    This challenging and varied 5 day horse trekking adventure starts in the wild and rugged mountains of the Ariege Pyrenees and heads up and over a spectacular high mountain col to the stunningly beautiful landscape of the Catalunyan Pyrenees.

    In the course of your adventure, you will ride through a wild and sometimes intimidating mountain environment, using often indistinct paths, through hidden valleys, up over high mountain cols, through mystical forests and across beautiful rivers, discovering along the way tiny hamlets that have remained unchanged for centuries.

    Add to that your incredible guide, Govan, and you have all the ingredients for a truly unforgettable experience in the Pyrenees mountains.

    Small group of between 5 and 8 people ensures a safe and immersive experience

    Toulouse - The Ariege Pyrenees - Biert to Soulan - Soulan to Aunac - Aunac to Arreaou - Arreaou to Mongarri - depart Spain back to Toulouse, France
    What's included and about..... FAQs

    What's included and about.....


    What's included and about.....

    What's included and about.....

    • 1 night in Toulouse 3* hotel B&B
    • Transfers from/to Toulouse
    • 5 days guided horse riding
    • 6 nights accommodation on the trek
    • Bag transfer between overnights
    • All food and drink


    About your guide
    Govan is an experienced and passionate horseman who breeds and raises his own Merens horses on a farm that used to belong to his father.

    He has a deep bond and an incredible relationship with his animals which is obvious from the moment you see them

    He is a true ‘anything is possible’ character with a wonderful calm, confident air about him.

    For a horse trek across the rugged Pyrenees mountains, you couldn’t be in better hands!

    About the Merens breed
    At first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking the Merens for a British Fell pony. The resemblance is striking with its jet black coat and shaggy mane and fetlocks.

    However, this small, rustic horse (max 14.5 hands high) is native to the Pyrenees and in particular to the rugged mountains of the Ariege area, in the centre of the chain.

    In days gone by, the Mérens were put to work in areas that could not be accessed by other equipment.
    Their jobs would include hauling timber, undertaking draft work in mountain mining areas and also pulling ploughs and other equipment in farming communities.

    Their other main use in the 19th and 20th centuries was as a pack animal. They would transport goods over mountainous routes into Spain and neighbouring valleys where trading took place.

    This lovely natured horse is perfectly at home in the mountain environment.

    The Merens is a sure-footed animal with excellent endurance.

    No surprise then that they are the horse of choice for multi-day horse trekking adventures such as this!

    A special video!

    This is a fabulous video of the Forces Wives Freedom Trail trek in September 2023.  I think it really captures the atmosphere and environment of this trek!




    How good a rider do I need to be?
    This trek is technically challenging and requires solid riding skills.Good endurance is necessary as you’ll be in the saddle for up to 7 hours a day.  Due to the difficult terrain, there are sections where you’ll need to dismount and walk.

    Is there a weight limit?
    Yes, the Merens are not big horses and can carry a max weight of 90 kgs.

    What will I need to carry with me?
    You will have 2 saddle bags attached to your saddle in which you will carry your water bottles, packed lunch, layers of clothing and personal items you need during your trek.
    A pack pony will accompany your group to carry other essential items for the trek.

    What happens to my other bags?
    Your holdalls will be transferred between overnights by the support crew.

    What should I wear?
    We will send you a complete kit list ahead of your trek. But be prepared for all conditions on the trek.  Hiking boots with grip rather than riding boots will be essential.

    What is the accommodation?

    You’ll spend the first night of your adventure in a comfortable 3* hotel in the beautiful city of Toulouse.

    After a transfer next day from Toulouse, you’ll head to Govan’s farm where you’ll stay on a full board basis in basic, dormitory style rooms,

    In the course of your trek you’ll stay mainly in basic hostel type accommodation in shared bunk-style rooms. In most, hot showers are available but in the mountain refuge, the biggest luxury is the WCs!

    Can you accommodate dietary requirements?
    Certain dietary requirements can be catered for.

    About the food
    The food on the trek is one of the highlights, as Govan uses locally sourced, organic and home made produce wherever possible.
    For the night on which you’ll be camping, the support crew will bring the food and cooking equipment in the support vehicle and Govan will create something delicious!

    What happens if there’s an accident/medical emergency?
    Your guide has a satellite ‘phone which he’ll use to call the emergency services should needs be.

    Valid for travel
    Proposal for September 2025
    Offer expires
    31 Aug 2024 unless sold prior


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    Day 1

    Arrive in Toulouse

    Spending the first night in Toulouse is the best option for the members of the trekking party to all meet up in a central location.
    The Hotel Albert 1er is a charming, family-owned 3* hotel located on a quiet street close to the Place du Capitole and theaters. (Metro station and parking: 200m, Airport shuttle: 300m).
    The hotel offers has 47 rooms and offers a gourmet breakfast which features local products from organic farmers.
    Twin-bedded en suite rooms reserved for your stay on a B&B basis. Single room options are available for a supplement.

    Arrive in Toulouse

    Day 2

    The Ariege Pyrenees

    Transfer to Biert
    Spend the morning discovering Toulouse and enjoy some lunch in the city before your afternoon transfer to the mountains.
    You’ll be collected from the hotel and whisked off to the hillside location of your guide Govan’s farm, the home of the Merens horses that he breeds and where his gite is located.

    Check in at Ferme Equestre de Cavalus
    Govan’s farmstead is typical of the Ariege Pyrenees and is set high above the village of Biert in the Massat Valley.
    His gite/hostel offers basic but comfortable accommodation.
    In the evening, you’ll enjoy a good meal and have the chance to chat about the adventure that awaits you.

    The Ariege Pyrenees

    Day 3

    Biert to Soulan

    5h in the saddle/Height gain +1000m/Height loss -1000m
    After a superb breakfast, you’ll be ready for the start of your adventure.
    Once you’re all saddled up, you’ll head west on old mule paths that have been used for centuries to transport goods throughout the high valleys.
    They’ll lead you to the Col de la Crouzette and then on to Moncaut at 1500m alt from where the riding will initially be on forest tracks.
    Throughout the day you’ll enjoy the most beautiful views of the high mountains bordering Spain.
    You’ll pass through charming little mountain villages until you reach Ardichen where you’ll spend the night at the Gite d’Etape de la Comte at 800m alt.
    The swimming pool will provide welcome refreshment and a good evening meal will replenish your reserves.

    Biert to Soulan

    Day 4

    Soulan to Aunac

    5 hours in the saddle/Height gain 650m+/Height loss 600m-
    Absorb the authentic atmosphere of the small, traditional farming communities that you’ll pass through as you descend down to the river Arac in the valley below.
    From there, you’ll ride on small paths up to the Serre de Rapheu where you’ll follow the ridgeline to reach the Salat valley from where you have great views towards Mont Valier, the highest peak in the Ariege Pyrenees.
    You’ll pass through the pastoral village of Haurac to reach the Col de l’Artigue from where a track takes you to la Riole et Escalirous.
    A final push down to the Esbintz valley and a path through pretty shaded woodland to reach your overnight in the hamlet of Aunac.
    Tonight’s accommodation is in a dormitory in a hostel where you’ll enjoy a traditional, hearty, home-cooked meal, created from organic vegetables from the owner’s garden.

    Soulan to Aunac

    Day 5

    Aunac to Arreaou

    It’s a big, challenging day today as you head higher up into the rugged mountains.
    But first you’ll pass through ancient woodland and the Mont Valier nature reserve, an unspoilt environment with some unique flora and fauna.
    Keep your eyes peeled for vultures and eagles as well as chamois and marmots along the way.
    You’ll ride alongside a beautiful river and eventually reach the Arcouzan waterfall with its 60m high torrent of water.
    Then it’s on up to the high mountain pastures where you’ll encounter herds of horses, sheep and Gascon cattle before arriving at the lac d’Arreaou at 1885m alt where you’ll camp for the night.
    The support crew will bring all the equipment for the overnight in their 4×4 and erect the tents for the night.

    Aunac to Arreaou

    Day 6

    Arreaou to Mongarri

    5 hours in the saddle/Height gain 400m+/Height loss 700m-
    From your overnight camp you’ll make your way on a track up to the border crossing point at the Port d’Aula at 2260m alt, a point at which many refugees escaped in WW2.
    From there, you descend to the Noguera Pallersa valley where a good break awaits you on the banks of the river.
    In the afternoon, you head west again on a forest track before joining cattle trails on the mountainside.
    After a couple of river crossings you arrive at Montgarri and its sanctuary which dates back to 1117.
    Accommodation at the refugio is in dormitories

    Arreaou to Mongarri

    Day 7

    Spain back to France

    6h in the saddle/Height gain 700m+/Height loss 1600m-
    After a good breakfast it’s time to return to France via the Port d’Orle.
    You’ll initially head due west towards the Horcath valley from where you will climb up to the foot of the Port d’Orle which is at 2320m alt.
    From this point you have the most amazing panorama, with far-reaching views as far as the Aigues Tortes massifs and their peaks at over 3,000 m.
    There follows a fairly long technical descent which is safest tackled on foot before reaching the summer pastures where many of Govan’s Merens spend their summer holidays!
    It’s then on down through the wild forests of Bonac to a point where the support crew will meet you.
    Here, the horses will be collected in the horse box and you will be taken back to the starting point at Govan’s gite above Biert in the comfort of a vehicle!
    Your energy reserves will be replenished this evening with another delicious home cooked evening meal before your final night in the Pyrenees.

    Spain back to France

    Day 8

    Back to Toulouse

    After breakfast, Govan will take you back to Toulouse for your onward journey.

    Back to Toulouse

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    *Conditions apply. Please click through the deal for more details. Whilst all information is correct at the time of publication, offers are subject to change or withdrawal. Please check current COVID-19 travel restrictions for the state or territory you wish to visit before departure. Other conditions may apply. Please view the TravelManagers general terms and conditions here and contact me for more details.   Partnering with Adventure Creators*  their Terms and conditions apply.(*PDF T&C available)

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