Cavalos na Areia gives people something they can’t find anywhere else in Europe
Cavalos na Areia’s main activity is to organize horseback rides at Herdade da Comporta. There are 10 horses to rent and three different rides to choose from - on the beach, close to the river Sado and in the countryside.
Find out more about Cavalos na Areia in this interview with owner José Ribeira.
What is special about going horseback riding on the beach?
To start with, it isn’t easy to find a beach we can ride horses on. This is the only one in Portugal, that I know of. Praia da Comporta has the particularity of being the longest in Europe, it’s 60 kilometers long, and for that reason, there are some non-concession places where people can ride a horse. These are wild places and for the time being, they can still be used to go for a ride. I don’t know of any other Bech in Portugal where this can be done because they are usually not very long, and they have concessions all over. Not here, though, the area we usually ride about is still virgin and preserved by us and by those who use it. Our success is due to something because we can provide people with something that I think doesn’t exist anywhere else in Europe.
Do people adhere?
Immensely. We are fully booked. We recommend booking in advance, depending on the dates. At the weekend we are fully booked. During the week there are some available slots. But from here on until September we are completely full. This year, we’ve been booked since January.
Does everybody know how to ride a horse?
No. The reason for our success is that you don’t need to have any kind of experience to go for a ride. We also give lessons to children and adults. But mainly to children, though. We have some garranos for the lessons. But as I was saying, the reason for our success is that our horses are ready to be ridden by people who have no experience at all. They are extremely docile. We train them ourselves. The rides are also accompanied by a guide or two, depending on the number of people. And there you go, thank God we have never had an accident.
And do people like it?
They love it. We’ve had Ronaldo here and Madonna was here only two weeks ago.
What was your impression of Madonna?
She’s extremely friendly, a real friend. She posted a thank you post on her Instagram page because of the day she spent here with us, which was great for us. It’s great publicity, especially because we hadn’t even asked her anything. It was completely spontaneous. She came with the girls, the twins, but they didn’t ride. Only she and her friend did.
What else can you tell us about this experience? Why is it worth it?
What I recommend people is to not come at this time, but out of season. Either that or to book in advance. This is the time when we get the most foreigners who are visiting Portugal. The best time is in spring.
How long has Cavalos na Areia been around? Is it already part of Comporta’s identity?
We started in January 2011, we are almost turning seven. We have nothing to do with Comporta, we only rent the place. But they are our partners and they have helped us reach the goal of having this fantastic project.
You’re most known for the horseback rides on the beach. But there are other activities to do, isn’t it so?
We also rent bicycles and organize kayak rides down the river, but our core business is the horseback rides. The canoes are here in the lake, close to the Sublime hotel. It’s a fantastic lake, there is no problem at all. People wear inflatable safety vests and everything is done in security.
Do you also enjoy riding horses?
I really do. I ride horses since I was a little boy. I was born on a farm, my dad was a farmer and I’m somewhat good at riding. But I’m especially good at picking and training the horses. You need to have a talent, like in everything else, and it’s always been easy for me to choose the good ones to train.
Is it a family business?
No, it’s only me. I am separated and I have two children. They live in Cascais and I stay here. I’m here all year round. We never close, we are open 365 days a year. In summer, from July until September we only work in the morning. We start at 7 am and we close at 4 pm. There are usually three outings in the morning, one at 8 am, another at 9:30 am and the last one at 11:30 am. We don’t go out in the afternoon because it’s too hot for the horses. We do organize some rides in the afternoon, but they are private ones. The client has to pay a fee for us to open the stable and to be open in the afternoon. But by and large, we only work in the morning and spend the afternoon at the beach [laughs].
How did the idea for this project happen?
This is a life-long dream, to explore the horse tourism industry, which I think is lacking in Portugal. It is something to still be discovered. And that was it., a dream came true. I worked in real estate for many years in Lisbon and one day I had the opportunity to open an activity center here, I was invited by the Espírito Santo group and I took a chance.
What can you tell us about Comporta? What is worth visiting?
Well, there aren’t many activity options. There’s virtually only us, there’s no competition. But it is worth enjoying the beach, the tranquility, the restaurants… And the horses, of course. Even more important is to not do anything. To be able to just switch off.
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