Crossing the Alps on Horseback- Mangalarga Marchadors Lead the Way

A husband and wife horseback rides across the Alps on an amazing adventure from Bavaria to Northern Italy.

by Sophia Baptista de Oliveira, Haras Maripa

One more time we set ourselves up another adventure with our horses Patek and Urano de Maripa. This time we crossed the Alps with our friends Astrid Oberniedermayr and Dieter Mader, both riding Ourofino El Far. Since the horses are based in Morlenbach, Germany, taking part on the Vitrine of the Mangalarga Marchador Project, and due to the exceptional performance of Patek's and Urano's on the Santiago Way in Spain in May last year, we have decided to test them again.

We left Lechbruck, Bavaria, South of Germany, on a rainy and cold, morning on May 13, 2012. Seven days and 150 miles (240km) later, we arrived in Castel Iuval, Northern Italy, where we ended our trip. We rode through Oberammergau, Lermoos, Imst, Lafairs, Reschen, and Laas.

horse riding the alps

The husband and wife team riding the Alps in Europe on their Mangalarga Marchador horses.

Once more our horses proved their resilience, courage and docility, providing us with great pleasure during the whole trip. They have not only improved our repertoire but also enriched our genetics knowledge.

Day One of the Alps Horse Trek- Riding Germany from Lechbruck to Wieskirsche to Oberammergau

On the first day, Sunday, May 13th, after leaving Lechbruck, we rode our horses to Wieskirsche, The Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour at the foot of the Alps. It is considered one of the most perfect examples of Bavarian Rococo architecture. At the end of the day and around 16 miles (27km) later, we arrived at Oberammergau, a little village famous for its production of a Passion Play performed every ten years, as well as for its wood carvings. The Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in 1634 and is the result of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague then sweeping the region, they would perform a passion play every ten years.

alps horseback riding austria


Day Two of the Alps Horse Trek- From Oberammergau, Germany to Lermoos, Austria

Second day, Monday May 14th, we left at around nine in the morning and from Oberammergau, we rode to Lermoos, an Austrian village in the Tirol area, 21 miles (35km) away. On this day, during the whole ride we had a privileged view of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. It is a gorgeous trail in valleys in the midst of the mountains, crossing through lakes and rivers and yellow flowered meadows. We saw breathtaking landscapes, and the horses were in great shape!

alps road horseback riding trails


Day Three of the Alps Horse Trek- Riding Austria from Lermoos to Imst

From Lermoos, on the third day we rode to Imst, 16 miles (27km) away. This was a rather difficult trail, on "Via Claudia", a Roman Way that passes through the most beautiful places. We passed the Femstein Lake with its turquoise waters, located in the midst of the Wetterstein Mountains.

marchador horse europe

Day Four of the Alps Horse Trek- Riding Lafairs, Austria

The fourth day dawned extremely cold, snowy and windy. We then opted to send the horses on the truck to the next destination, Lafairs, 24 miles (40km) away, where the weather was milder. We drove there, had lunch at the hotel, and then rode around 11 miles (18km) in the afternoon in the surroundings of the hoteI.

Day Five of the Alps Horse Trek- From Lafairs, Austria to Reschen, Italy

On the fifth day, we rode from Lafairs to Reschen, about 18 miles (30km) away. It was a gorgeous sunny day, although very cold, but a beautiful trip! Again, we horseback rode through stunning landscapes during the whole tour, passing by Altfinsterminz, a castle literally squeezed between the mountain and the river. We crossed the border with Italy and then rode through Vinschgau Valley, the valley around the river Adige, South Tirol.

alps horseback riding mountains


We arrived at the end of the day to a little hotel by Reschen Lake, run by a family. We had a delicious and fun dinner overlooking a beautiful sunset in front of us at the other side of the lake, remembering the stories of the day!

Day Six of the Alps Horse Trek- Riding Italy from Reschen to Laas

Sixth day, we trekked again on a 21 miles (35km) ride from Reschen to Laas. We rode through Vinschgau Valley, crossing apple plantations and little villages. It was a beautifuI day and much warmer with beautiful mountains on the left and on the right sides–– the Otztal Alps. Our horses had kept their excellent condition so far. They were really in great shape-- forward going and without any symptom of stress!

alps bridge italy horseback


Day Seven of the Alps Horse Trek- Riding Italy from Laas to Castel Juval

On the seventh and last day of our riding trip, Saturday, May 19th, we rode 17 miles (28km) from Laas to Castel Juval, our final destination. It was a warm and sunny day. This was a "flat ride" as we kept riding on the Vinschgau Valley, crossing many apple plantations. We stopped for lunch on a typical Tyrolean restaurant in the mountains, rode back down to the valley and kept our track to the castle.

castle juval italy horseback


This ride uphill to access to the castle was quite a climb on a narrow trail, full of loose stones, and really steep. I am not confortable in steep places like that one, so I didn't dare look down one single moment. But my horse Urano, who was not disturbed at all by it and performed just fine. So did Patek. They both got up to the castle in 20 minutes as if nothing different had happened. Evidence of this is a little movie our friend Tiziana Ricci made with her cell phone of our horses climbing up another little track to get upper hill on a nice spot in front of the entrance of the castle to pose for Sabine's cameras!

Astrid and Dieter are dear friends. We had a great time crossing the Alps on horseback and great laughter together. It was an unforgettable trip!