Riding super sicilian horses with our experienced guide and horseman, this four day trail is the perfect way to experience Mt Etna and its surrounding landscapes. The ride is suitable for experienced riders able to spend long hours in the saddle.
Below is a sample itinerary which is subject to change at your hosts discretion
Day 1: Arrival
Fly into Catania airport and transfer to Castiglione di Sicilia, with wonderful views of Mount Etna.
Tonight you will stay in comfortable accommodation enjoy your first sicilian supper.
Day 2: Castiglione di Sicilia – Villa Dorata (hours of riding: 7)
An early start to meet your horse for the trail and we set off from Castiglione at 8:00 in the morning. After riding along a small path through the middle of a lava flow dating from 1911, and passing through the village of Solicchiata, famous for producing fine wines, we begin the ascent on Etna's northern side, through forests of oak and chestnut. After about three hours, we arrive at the Palombe cave, one of Etna's many caves formed by lava flows. Soon we arrive at the Pista Altomontana, a track with an average altitude of 1700 metres above sea level, which we follow to the refuge of Monte Spagnolo, before continuing on through lava flows, past craters and through beech forests. We pass the Monte Nunziata cave before arriving at the refuge Galvarina, where we will stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we continue along the same track – when visibility is good, you can enjoy views of half of Sicily from here. We pass the cave of Santa Barbara, and finally arrive at our hotel, Villa Dorata, with breath-taking views of the city, the plain and the gulf of Catania, with views stretching as far as Syracuse. Here we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 3: Villa Dorata to Etna Mille77 (hours of riding: 6)
After an early breakfast we mount up at about 7:30 in the morning. We climb towards the RifugioSapienza, Etna's most visited site, from where tourists can take a cable car to the summit of the volcano, and which becomes a ski resort in the winter. Once we reach an altitude of around 2000 metres, you can admire the "mouth" of the 2001 eruption, from which millions of metres cubed of lava erupted and engulfed almost all of the buildings and roads on Etna's southern side, flowing right down to the foot of the volcano. We then pass through the middle of the Silvestri craters, created during a major eruption at the end of the nineteenth century, and nicknamed the "bottoniera" because they follow a facture line like the buttons on a shirt. We then descend along very challenging paths across lava flows from various older and more recent eruptions and through dense woods, before arriving in the territory of Zafferana Etnea, famous for producing honey. Our stop for the night is the B&B Etna Mille77, a beautiful house with sea views, where we also have our evening meal.
Day 4: Etne Mille 77 – Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi (hours of riding: 6)
We have breakfast and set off at about 9.00 in the morning. We begin by climbing Etna's north-eastern side through oak forests, passing the famous Ilici du Carrinnu, huge trees which are centuries-old. We then ride along the edge of theValle del Bove, a famous depression in the landscape into which all of the lava from eruptions on the eastern side of the volcano flows. After a picnic lunch we set off again, climbing until we reach the impressive Sartorius craters, created during a major lateral eruption in 1865. We then descend through forests of birch and beech trees, before finally arriving at the Ragabo pine forest with its giant pine trees and our accommodation, the Chalet Clan dei ragazzi, where we have dinner and spend the night.
Day 5: Chalet Clan dei Ragazzi – Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 7)
After breakfast we leave the chalet at around 9.00 in the morning and begin by climbing up through the pine forest to the Piano Provenzana, a well-known ski resort, where we will begin to climb a series of tracks and paths set in a moon-like landscape, passing through the site of the last major eruption of 2002. We ride along the craters that were formed on 26 October of that year, before riding around Monte Nero, and stopping for a picnic lunch near the Timpa Rossa refuge, immersed in a beech forest which is among those found the furthest south in the Northern hemisphere. We then begin our descent on Etna's north side, through a variety of forests, until we reach the vineyards around Solicchiata. Finally, we arrive back at our starting point and say goodbye to our horses.
Day 6: Departure
Breakfast and transfer to the airport at Catania.
£1110 per person for a double room.
£1290 per person for a single room.
This trail is available at any time on request from April to December, but the dates need to avoid our week long tour dates.
Level: Comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter), with experience of hacking out in the open.
Age requirements: 16 years old and above.
Group size: Nine people maximum.
Key information / requirements: Between five and seven hours in the saddle per day. You must be comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter). You must be physically fit. This programme is aimed at intermediate and advanced riders and it is not suitable for beginners or riders with only limited experience. The terrain is varied and there may be long trots and gallops along the way.
Weight: Max 90 kg.
Equipment: It is possible to hire riding hats and chaps on site. The following items are essential: waterproofs, layers (it can be cold at altitude), boots and chaps, and sun cream.
Accommodation: Agriturismi or 4* good quality hotels, and one night in a comfortable chalet.
Themes: Mountains, forests, flora, fauna, lava flows, craters, history, mythology, agriculture, views.
Meals: Picnic lunches, typical Sicilian dinner in the evening (minimum four courses). Refined Sicilian cuisine prepared with local produce. Evening meals include: starter, pasta course, meat / main course, dessert, wine, water and digestif (liqueur, grappa, limoncello or other available options), coffee or tea. Continental or American-style breakfasts on request. For groups of four or more riders, picnic lunches are provided by support vehicle (together with tables, chairs and cutlery) and include: fresh bread, salad, cheeses, olives, charcuterie, Sicilian specialities, wine or other drinks on request, coffee or tea. For groups of less than four riders, picnic lunches consist of sandwiches and fruit (carried in saddlebags).
Languages spoken: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Sicilian.
Horses: 16 horses of Sicilian breeding, all well trained and accustomed to the terrain. The horses live out at pasture. The guide cleans, grooms and tacks up the horses.
Tack: Comfortable English saddles, with a sheepskin cover, or Western saddles on request. All horses are ridden with a martingale and a crupper.
Luggage transport: By support vehicle.
Optional additional activities: Swimming pool, walks, guided tours of towns and historical sites with a local guide.
Nearby towns and places of interest: Etna Natural Park, Alcantara Natural Park, Nebrodi Natural Park, Castiglione di Sicilia, Nicosia, Randazzo, Bronte, Catania, Taormina.
Closest airport: Catania.
Transfers (optional): €80 from Catania airport, payable to the driver (one to three passengers per car and journey time of 1h30). Free transfers are available from Castiglione di Sicilia or Solicchiata (easily accessible by train or bus from Catania).
Logistical base: Le Terre di Castel Leone
Other trail rides of Etna are available April - December 2 day trail and 6 day trail