The Alcantara River: from mouth to source - 6 days

The Alcantara River
The Alcantara River: from mouth to source - 6 days
A beautiful six-day trail which takes you along the full length of the Alcantara Natural Park, setting off from the coast at Taormina and finishing on the slopes of Etna, including an excursion into the Nebrodi Natural Park, where you will find the source of the Alcantara River.

Day 1
You will arrive at Villa Laura, a beautiful B&B, nestled amongst citrus orchards, situated about 300 metres from the Ionian Sea and the mouth of the Alcantara River, in the territory of Giardini Naxos, with views of Etna and Taormina.  You will have supper and spend the night here.

Day 2: Villa Laura-Alcantara Gorges (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we will set off from the B&B towards the sea.  After riding for a short while along the Alcantara riverbed and the coastline, we will enter the Santa Venera riverbed, which climbs for several kilometres through the territory of Taormina.  Once we reach the heights of the Calatabiano Castle, which has dominated the area for centuries, we will enter the Alcantara riverbed once again and will continue to climb through the territories of Gaggi and then Castiglione di Sicilia, before arriving at the river's famous gorges, where we will stop for a picnic lunch and a relaxing break, giving you the opportunity to take in the beauty of this unique spot, and where you can use wetsuits to travel along the river's icy waters inside the gorges.  In the afternoon we will relax in the Park of the Gorges where we have supper and spend the night in luxurious tents with all comforts and air conditioning.

Day 3: Alcantara Gorges-Malvagna (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we will continue to climb the river, riding over a bridge and on towards the Gurne di Francavilla, small, beautiful lakes carved out of the basalt, where it is possible to stop for a swim.  We will then continue along the valley, passing below the medieval village of Castiglione di Sicilia and riding through one of the wildest parts of the Alcantara Natural Park among labyrinthine lava flows (of Pahoehoe lava) dating back to the seventeenth century.   We will then reach the Malvagna Gorges, another beautiful spot, where we will stop for a picnic lunch.  In the afternoon we will climb and ride around the extinct small volcano of Moio, before riding towards the typical village of Malvagna, dating from the seventeenth century.  We will have supper and spend the night at B&B L'Arco dei Sogni.

Day 4: Malvagna-Floresta (hours of riding: 5)
From Malvagna we will ride up the valley of the Roccella, a tributary of the Alcantara River, passing through a very steep and rocky landscape, to arrive in the Nebrodi Mountains, in the area of Polverello, where we will pass under the enormous turbines of a wind farm, and from where you can spot a number of "cubburi" (mysterious, small, circular, stone constructions dating back many years) half-hidden in the wilderness, which were used up until recent times for shelter by local shepherds.  Here we will stop for a picnic lunch.  In the afternoon we will reach Floresta, the highest village in Sicily (at 1373 metres), which is close to the source of the Alcantara River.  Here we will have supper at the Villa Ribot restaurant and spend the night.

Day 5: Floresta-Hotel Nebrodi (hours of riding: 5)
Once we set off from Floresta, we will almost immediately enter the Nebrodi Natural Park (which, spanning almost 90,000 hectares, is the largest on the island). We will ride through very varied and beautiful scenery to reach the valley of the Flascio, an important tributary of the Alcantara River, and we will climb a mountain named Monte Colla, on the slopes of which we will find our accommodation for the night, the Hotel Nebrodi.  At approximately 1400 metres and immersed in nature and tranquillity, the hotel is the most isolated on the island and is the old summer residence of the barons of Vagliasindi di Randazzo.  We will have supper and spend the night here.

Day 6: Hotel Nebrodi-Feudo Vagliasindi (hours of riding: 5)
After leaving the hotel, we will begin to climb back down from the mountains, passing the source of the Alcantara River, and we will ride towards Randazzo, an important town in the Etna area since antiquity, where we will stop for a short visit and a picnic lunch.  We will then continue along the valley to reach another old residence of the Vagliasindi barons, with a lovely swimming pool, immersed in award-winning vineyards which produce the famous Etna DOC wines. You can enjoy a visit of the vineyard and a wine tasting.  We will have supper and spend the night here.

Day 7: Feudo Vagliasindi-Castiglione di Sicilia (hours of riding: 5)
After breakfast we will set off from our luxurious accommodation for the last leg of the journey.  We will ride back along the Alcantara riverbed, passing the Castiglione Gorges, another very beautiful area, where we will stop for a picnic lunch, before riding on to the Cuba Bizantina, a Greek-orthodox church constructed during the Byzantine occupation of the island (between the sixth and eighth centuries), which is probably the oldest church still standing in Sicily.  We will then climb towards the town of Castiglione di Sicilia.  You will have supper and spend the night here.

Day 8
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport (or another location on the island, as requested).

Key information
Riding Experience: Intermediate | Advanced
For a shared room: £1530.00/€1700.00 per person
For a single room: £1755.00/€1950.00 per person
What's included
  •  Airport transfers from/to the nearest airport.
  • 7 nights in agriturismi, B&B and good quality hotels.
  • 6 full days of riding.
  • All meals from dinner on the day of arrival to breakfast on the day of departure.
  • Luggage transfer by support vehicle each day.

Level: Comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter), with experience of hacking out in the open.

Group size: Ten people maximum.

Key information/requirements: Between six and eight hours in the saddle per day. You must be comfortable at all three paces (walk, trot and canter) and 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.

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, B&B or good quality hotels.

Meals: Evening meals consist of authentic Sicilian cuisine prepared with local produce. A typical evening meal will include: a variety of starters, a pasta course, a meat/main course, dessert, wine, water and a digestif. Picnic lunches are provided by support vehicle (together with tables, chairs and cutlery) and include: fresh bread, salads, cheeses, olives, charcuterie, Sicilian specialities, wine or other drinks on request, coffee or tea.

Tack: Comfortable English saddles, with a sheepskin cover, or Western saddles on request. Guests are not required to groom or tack up the horses.

Languages spoken: English, French, Italian, Sicilian.

Airport: Arrive Catania - Depart Catania