In part one we had a go at downhill bike riding and kayaking, now let’s get into horse riding…
One of the brilliant things about this region of Spain is the thousands of miles of tracks and trails. For horse riders, the idea of being able to ride through the countryside without battling traffic or crossing busy roads is heaven. You can enjoy hours of car-free hacking with only the occasional tractor or goatherd to disturb your peace.
Throughout the year the horse riding centre at EQ Centro Ecuestre puts on activity days. In the winter they are all day Sunday and in the summer they are normally on Saturday evenings (to take advantage of the cooler air). During the winter you start the day with a guided walk through the local hills, mountains, riverbeds and tracks – each walk takes in a different route, some just 4 or 5 kilometers, others more taxing. After the walk all meet back at the riding centre for lunch of paella and BBQ, with an unlimited bar. Then those who want to can enjoy some time on a horse. Either riding in the arena in a small group, a short hack in the countryside or vaulting (volteo). The activity depends upon the number of people and the experience levels and is always geared to the participants.
In the summer time they usually run the activities in the evening, starting with a walk at around 6pm, followed by a BBQ supper and then riding by the lights in the arena.
Vaulting, for those of you who have never tried, is when you ride a horse bare back and without reins. You walk, trot or canter, sitting forwards, sidewards or backwards, put your hands on your head, out like an airplane or on your shoulders. The horse is lunged by an experienced trainer, so you can just focus on your balance and having fun. Whilst this sounds dangerous it is a great way of learning to balance and gain confidence on a horse.
When: All year round. If you have a small group they will make arrangements just for you, including riding and lunch. Regularly throughout the year they hold activity days, which are excellent value.
Where: Corvera, near the new airport.
How Much: A walk in the countryside, lunch and horse riding is just €20, with an unlimited bar during lunch. Or book a lesson for €20. Larger groups can usually negotiate a discount.
Contact Details: Follow them on facebook for details of their activity days or visit their website. Call Juan, Toñi or Irene on +34 630 05 49 32
I couldn’t write an article about adventure without including one of my all time favourite sports – scuba diving (or sciving as we call it)! Whether you’re a qualified diver or an enthusiastic snorkeller, the Costa Cálida has some great dive sites. Everything from wrecks, rocks and reefs. Scuba diving on the Costa Cálida is inexpensive, fun and accessible for all. Our top five dive sites in the region of Murcia can be found here.
We’ve been diving since we moved to Spain in 2005, when I learnt to dive with a wonderful Argentinian instructor, Dani Zuber, who made my first open water dives safe and exciting. A couple of years ago we took my nephew for his try-dive or bautizo – a first time diving experience – and got to see his first time breathing under 10 metres of water.
The day starts with a briefing, which lasts 30 minutes. Diving can be dangerous, so this part of the day is really important and helps you feel more safe when you’re under the water. Then you get dressed, squeeze into your wet suit, collect your fins, mask and bottle and load them into the trailer. The gang at Rivemar drive you the 3 minutes down to the port and you get all your stuff onto one of their boats. Our nephew, Josh, was fortunate and had Sergi as his dive master for the day and Andy as his trainer. Sergi runs the operation at Rivemar and is a massively experienced divemaster.
The large boat motored round the cove to Cala Cerrada, an enclosed cove, excellent for a first dive. The nerves were high, but the excitement of a first dive in the ocean was more compelling and Josh lowered himself into the sea for his first taste of breathing underwater.
After a few moments of adjustment we were all ready to dive, and Marcus and myself followed along to see Josh be amazed at moving around in a 3-dimensional weightless world. He quickly got used to everything and as he was only diving to 10 metres his tank lasted a good hour, plenty of time to see octopus, moray eels, grouper and tiny nudibranches. Upon surfacing he was animated, bobbing around in the water, desperate to go down again.
Later we enjoyed a drink at their lovely bar, right on the sea front (where they have live music in the summer months) and Josh told us for the thousandth time how little air he’d used because he was so fit and that next time he dived… I think we have another convert to the church of diving.
When: You can dive all year round on the Costa Cálida, though the water is a bit chilly from December to March!
Where: We dive with Rivemar in La Azohia.
How Much: For a try dive, including all equipment, €70.
Contact Details: Their website has all the details, or call Sergi +34 968 150 063
Walking, Trekking & Hiking
With its large tracts of wilderness, mountains, coasts, cliffs and forests, Murcia offers unrivalled opportunities for treks, short half day walks or longer excursions. There is an extensive network of long distance walks throughout Spain, with a number crossing into Murcia. These are called the senderos de Gran Recorrido (GRs). We have the GR7 all the way from Andorra, as well as many shorter footpaths called the senderos de Pequeño Recorrido (PRs).
The best books, covering the whole of the region are a range from Natursport, www.natursport.com, which can be bought online. Their publications include walking and cycling routes along the River Segura, into the Sierra Espuña and along the miles of coast.
Over the years we’ve lived here we’ve walked (and frequently placed geocaches) in The Sierra Espuña and all the towns around, The Carrascoy mountains, the coastal walkways and cliffs near La Azohia and Cartagena, the Cresta del Gallo near Murcia city, the Calblanque regional park, the baterías at Roldán, Jorel and La Chapa, the Revolcadores the highest peak in Murcia up in Moratalla, the hills around Portmán and Bolnuevo, in ramblas and on secluded beaches at Cala Cerrada and Cala Abierta.
You can buy a book and get a good map and take yourself off for a walk. Many of the paths are signposted and marked. Wear sensible clothes and take provisions for changing weather conditions, especially on some of the higher peaks.
Or you can get yourself a guide and enjoy the walk with others. For non-sporty types then get in touch with Louisa at NEST – www.nestwalks.info. She organises occasional social walks in the Sierra Espuña and surrounding areas usually followed by a meal or sometimes a picnic. They frequently go to a lovely Spanish restaurant in the mountains where they often see wild boar! It’s a lovely way to find places off the beaten track and explore the mountains and wildlife while making new friends. There is wonderful wildlife to see including wild boar, foxes, golden eagles, arrui, squirrels, lizards, butterflies etc.
For a slightly more energetic walk try either EQCentroEcuestre mentioned above or The Espuña Adventure guys mentioned in part 1.
When: All year round, especially good in the winter months when it’s a bit cooler!
Where: All round the region! Get yourself some maps here.
How Much: Free if you organise it yourself, or a small charge to go with a guide, like Louisa at NEST – €5 for the guide, plus lunch at the restaurant.
Contact Details: Louisa at www.nestwalks.info or follow NEST on facebook.