If the name of this blog hasn’t given it away yet, me and adventure don’t really go together – but I think all that’s about to change thanks to my horse riding trip with Eagle Mountain Ranch on my icelolly.com holiday to Paphos.
Nestled within the quiet countryside region of Mesogi, Eagle Mountain Ranch offers horse riding trips of between 90 minutes and a whole day. It’s the perfect way to see a different side to Paphos, all while making you feel a little bit like Indiana Jones in the meantime.
Most of the horses and donkeys on-site are rescue animals, and it’s obvious just how much they’re cared for by the team. Rides aren’t available when the sun is at its peak, while each horse is given a well-earned rest after each ride.
My friend and I opted for the 90-minute afternoon experience as the sunset tours were all booked up. The ranch sent a taxi to pick us up from our hotel (all included in the price) and take us up into the mountains. When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by Cleo, the owner, before signing a disclaimer form and confirming that we know as much about horse riding as we do about quantum physics.
And then, it was on to meet our horses!
My horse, Sir Casio (“like the calculators”) was an actual beauty – and really, really tall. For a complete beginner like myself, it was almost terrifying, but after being shown how to mount a horse, it was actually pretty easy. The first 15 minutes or so were spent getting to know our horses in the fenced arena, learning how to get them moving (harder than I expected), how to steer and how to stop .
Thankfully, as both my friend and I were practically first-time riders, having not gone near a horse for over a decade, we each had a member of staff walking alongside us during the walk. They were absolutely invaluable as they showed us the route up the mountain, were able to answer any questions we had about the horses, and told us more about Paphos.
Halfway through the session we stopped on a ledge for a photo opportunity, with our backs facing out. I was concentrating so hard on trying not to manoeuvre the horse over the edge (even though our instructors told us they’re ridiculously clever and wouldn’t do it) that it wasn’t until I looked back on my phone at the pictures that I realised just how breathtaking those views are.
The rest of the session took us higher into the mountains, past carob trees, over sun-bleached grass and up craggy rocks. We were told that May is actually the ideal time to visit Paphos – it’s not too hot, and it’s the best time to see the colourful plants and the local wildlife. While we didn’t see any eagles, I caught the tail-end of a lizard rushing out of our way.
It was also interesting to see a different side to Paphos. While the habour area is thriving with people and new properties, the Mesogi area was incredibly peaceful, albeit filled with half-completed houses, deserted flats and hardly any people. It was almost like riding through a desert, punctuated by the odd car and barking dog.
Towards the end, as we neared the ranch, I even got the chance to have a slow little trot by myself! (This picture is totally the horse riding equivalent of “Look mum, no hands!”)
Would I Recommend This to Friends and Family?
This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Paphos – and if you’re heading out there too, this should absolutely be on your list of things to do. The experience was a pleasure from start to finish, with hotel pick-up and drop-off, as well as complimentary water during the ride (and a refreshing orange juice for after.) Don’t worry if you’ve never ridden a horse before, or if you’re not the adventurous type. The staff there have got you covered.
And if you’re feeling super adventurous, why not try one of their half-day treks or a full-day safari?
A 90-minute ‘group’ tour with Eagle Mountain Ranch costs €40 (around £29/$45). For more info, visit www.horseridingpaphos.com