Riding Safaris at Hacienda San Rafael

'Riding in the hills of Andalucia’ has a rather nice ring to it, and with good reason.

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Harriet, Kate L and Molly are here to help give you the inside track.

Key Stats

Best Time To Visit

Jul - Aug

Flight from London London

2:15 hrs

Time Difference

GMT +1 hr

These riding safaris take you into the heart of Andalusian horse country and Doñana, Europe's largest national park, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. Quite apart from riding through wonderful landscapes on beautifully schooled Arab crosses, this is also a chance to enjoy delicious regional food and wines and the comforts of the delightful Hacienda San Rafael.

Doñana National Park is criss-crossed with trails and ancient bridleways that make for excellent gallops, but when you're going a little slower there is also a huge amount to see. The diverse terrain is a result of this once being the delta of the Guadalquivir, the 'big river', or Wada-I-Kebir as it was known to the Moors. It is said that in ancient times the area was dotted with islands, one of which was supposedly the capital of the mythical kingdom of Tarshish. Gradually the area silted up, giving way to a landscape of marshes, shifting sand dunes and pine forests shunned by people but ideal for wildlife.

Now, during the winter floods, thousands of birds migrate to the park, including huge flocks of geese from northern Europe and large stands of flamingos. Come springtime the water level drops, leaving rich deposits of silt sandbanks that are ideal for wading birds including grey herons, egrets, spoonbills and storks which then nest here. The lagoons found all over the park are also regularly visited by fallow and red deer as well as wild boar.

Spend your days exploring this beautiful park and enjoying delicious traditional Andalusian picnics. In the evenings stay at the marvellous Hacienda San Rafael, where classic Andalusian style and Eastern touches are fused with élan in the informal drawing room with its roaring fire and lovely hanging paintings. After a delicious supper using local and fresh produce, head back to the stylish, comfortable rooms through the bougainvillea-filled courtyard. All rather perfect, we're sure you would agree.


Where to stay

Exterior with pool at Hacienda San Rafael, luxury hotel in Spain

Hacienda San Rafael

A family-run, former olive farm in a beautiful rural Andalucian setting, halfway between Seville and Jerez.

Casa Olea, luxury hotel in Spain

Casa Olea

Travel professional Tim and his hotelier wife Claire converted this remote and run-down cortijo (olive farm) in the heart of Andalucia to a luxurious and comfortable bolthole that remains true to its roots and its location.

La Almuña

La Almuña

Hugh and Jane Arbuthnott, whose home this has been for 20 years, are excellent hosts and incredibly knowledgeable about the area; with them you will see places and aspects of life unattainable to others.

Poolside at Casa La Siesta, luxury hotel in Spain

Casa La Siesta

Casa la Siesta is just as romantic as the story of the two owners – a pair of young English language students who met at a nearby Spanish school, fell in love, packed in their jobs back home and bought this ramshackle hacienda.

Palacio del los Patos, luxury hotel in Andalucia, Spain

Palacio de los Patos

The hotel consists of two buildings: a beautifully restored 19th-century urban mansion, and a stylish modern annex.

Palacio del Bailio at night, luxury hotel in Spain

Palacio del Bailio

The Palacio del Bailio is a beautifully restored former palace, set around patios and gardens in the heart of Cordoba.

Trasierra hotel, luxury hotel in Andalucia, Spain


This 16th Century hacienda is surrounded by three thousand acres of olive and orange groves and is ideal for those looking for a beautiful and peaceful rural retreat.

Start creating your tailored trip today

Harriet, Kate L and Molly are our Inland Andalucia experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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Call us on +44 (0) 20 7978 7333

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