Horse Riding in Brazil
An overview of some of Brazil's best riding destinations...
While many will immediately associate horse riding in South America with Argentina, there is an important riding tradition throughout Brazil, especially in farming and agricultural areas. Whether you’re looking to experience the way of life of the gaúchos, traverse national parks or ride along tropical beaches, Brazil has a variety of different options to satisfy the keenest of riders.
One of the main advantages of heading to Brazil for a riding holiday is the enormous open spaces in which to do it. While there isn’t an out and out area, which specialises solely in riding, there are areas, which are well set-up for riding holidays. Take the Reserva do Ibitipoca for example, a hundred miles inland, north of Rio. It is an abandoned 7000-acre farm, which has been converted into a nature reserve, with riding trails that take you past mountain valleys, waterfalls, streams and lush greenery.
For those looking to combine the best of Brazil’s beaches and riding, Brazil has some of the best beach riding in the world. In Bahia and Paraty, white sandy beaches and coves and are backed by lush rainforest, making them the perfect setting for exhilarating rides. In addition to this, in the UNESCO listed town of Paraty and the tiny fishing village of Trancoso, high quality accommodation and restaurants are a welcoming prospect after a day in the saddle.
Undoubtedly one of the best areas to experience riding and traditional gaúcho culture is the Pantanal wetlands. In these seasonally flooded wetlands, most of the land belongs to cattle farmers who have built guest lodges on their land to take advantage of wildlife tourism. Due to the nature of the Pantanal wetlands, fazendas stretch for miles and cattle graze far and wide, meaning horses are a key part of day-to-day life here and many of the lodges offer riding to their guests. Horse riding not only offers a unique way of taking in the wetlands but also offers an insight into the traditional way of life of the gaúchos who have a remarkable affinity with the land and their horses.
The native breed of horse in Brazil is the Mangalarga Marchador. It has an arched neck and thick mane and tail. The breed is renowned for its smooth gait, making it extremely comfortable to ride. Some of the main qualities of the Mangalarga Marchadores include being able ranch horses who can withstand working long days in hot and humid conditions, making them a reliable partner on long rides.