It’s easy to argue that touring the world’s most scenic landscapes may just be even more incredible when experienced from the same vantage point as our ancestors. For many, it’s a simplistic and relaxing way to reconnect with nature and even allows for the navigation of terrains that might otherwise be inaccessible. Of course, horseback riding is available in many locations all over the world, but the following destinations offer truly unique riding experiences that no traveler (whether an equestrian-lover or not) should miss out on.
Outfitters at E-Trip Africa offer a myriad of safari packages, but perhaps one of the most unique, exhilarating and scenic is a six-day, five-night horseback ride from Arusha to Lake Amboseli. The route takes riders through the Amboseli Ecosystem near the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, offering up-close views of wildlife including elephants, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and more. For less experienced riders, shorter trips (i.e. half-day) are also available.
Tropical destinations like the Bahamas commonly conjure images of beach lounging and fruity cocktails, but often there’s no better way to witness the beauty of the Caribbean than by horseback. The Windsor Equestrian Centre (or Happy Trails Stable, as it's known locally) of Nassau Paradise Island invites guests to ride through the center’s wooded grounds and out to the unspoiled white sand beaches where riders can enjoy a relaxing morning ride beside the island’s pristine turquoise waters.
Not only do Bradenton visitors get the chance to ride amidst a serene beach setting, but also the unique opportunity to participate in the sport of “horse surfing.” Beach Horses, a popular local business that specializes in horse surfing tours, pairs you with a horse that matches your level of riding experience, allows you some time to get comfortable riding with your new four-legged friend, and then sends you out to sea. According to the destination’s website, the horses love “swimming” just as much as you’ll love wading around in Palma Sola Bay with them.
After travelling the world, Erika Eckstrom, owner of Painted Bar Stables in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, says she can’t imagine a better location for riding, which is why she chose to set up shop here. “The rolling hills and plethora of creeks create traversable but interesting terrain for both novice and more rugged riders,” Eckstrom said. “Riding along the creek beds of the glacial carved gorges only to climb to the top of a hilltop view provides a stunning accent to the terrain. Every hilltop gives you a unique mix of vantage points over the lakes, vineyards, woodlands, agricultural farms and villages with the rolling hills in the background.”
What could be more quintessential than a ride through the Wild West? Garden of the Gods Park is the most highly rated park in the U.S. according to TripAdvisor and visitors are welcomed to explore the breathtaking geological wonders of its landscape by horseback. Educational and, of course, scenic tours through the park are led by real cowboys and cowgirls and are suitable for the whole family.
There’s hardly a better way to experience the truly stunning beauty of Glacier National Park than by horseback. The folks at Swan Mountain Outfitters provide the only horseback riding tours available within the park and offer all sorts of exciting tour options including everything from overnight trips to a “Cowboy Cookout Ride" (which, of course, ends with a steak dinner).
Uruguay is home to many historic family ranches that date back to times when gauchos and grazing cattle could be found scattered among the country’s green pastures and rolling hills. Outfitters at Adventure Life offer tours through the area’s scenic landscapes, focusing on the “estancias” (or private land holdings). Travelers will visit Montevideo, the country’s capital city, the countryside and the eastern coast of Cabo Polonio while finding plenty of time to explore the land by horseback.
Susan Eckert, founder of AdventureWomen, an organization that enables groups of women to travel together safely and comfortably, has been taking travelers to Iceland for horseback riding since 1998. In fact, the AdventureWomen Iceland Horseback Riding Trip was named a National Geographic Trip of a Lifetime in 2013. Covering about 12 to 20 miles per day, the trip takes women through the country’s surreal landscapes including lava fields, mountains, hot springs and 12th century Viking farms.
The Portuguese Equestrian Center operates out of the National Park of Serra de Aire and Candeeiros and takes visitors on horseback tours that highlight Portugal’s rocky landscape, which originated in the Jurassic Era and was sculpted by thousands of years of water and air erosion. The park also offers riders the chance to encounter a wide variety of unique vegetation and wildlife. Horseback trips here are said to combine an intimate experience with nature and the welcoming hospitality of the local people.
With an authentic Santa Fe vibe The Tanque Verde Ranch captures the true spirt of the west, offering visitors everything from riding lessons to tours of the Sonoran Desert and up into the Rincon Mountains on regularly scheduled morning and evening trail rides. Additionally, the ranch’s bi-weekly “breakfast ride” takes guests to the top of a small mountain, where blueberry pancakes and omelets await, and they’re greeted by 360-degree panoramas of the property’s 60,000 acres.
Nestled among some of the most picturesque forests and woodlands in Ireland, as well as along the stunning shores of Lough Corrib, Ashford Castle was built in the 13th century and provides a serene and majestic backdrop for riders to explore. The hotel offers trail, carriage and pony rides as well as private riding lessons available for all ages and levels. Surrounded by woodland paths, lake shores and the mountains of Connemara, the area is described simply as a truly magical riding destination.