Cavalgantes d'Apra, Algarve

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am


Where is it? Cavalgantes d'Apra is an equestrian farm on the outskirts of Loule, a market town in sunny southern Portugal. The property is 15 kilometres from Faro International Airport and a similar distance to Central Algarve's premier beach resorts.

So jodhpurs and green wellies are obligatory? Not at all. Owner Jose Goncalves is too busy telling guests: 'You're staying with my family, not in a hotel,' to notice whether you're here for the horse riding, or using Cavalgantes as a cost-effective base to explore the region from. Tell him you live in Hong Kong, the city that hosted the equestrian events of the 2008 Olympic Games, however, and he'll assume you're a dressage devotee.

What's the set-up? The 10 modern en-suite rooms come with television and Wi-fi access. There are two swimming pools; one for humans and, you've guessed it, one for horses. Apricots, apples, grapes and bananas all grow outside your window so start the day with a hand-picked fruit salad. Cavalgantes offers a communal living room and well-equipped kitchen although guests usually head into Loule, where excellent but inexpensive restaurants serve huge helpings of frango no churrasco (barbecued chicken) and salmao grelhado (grilled salmon).

What is there to do nearby? Likeable Loule is just far enough from the coast and remains as authentically Portuguese as it gets on the Algarve. Church bells peal, old-timers doze outside cafes and there always seems to be a festival taking place. For a change of scene, hop in your hire car. Holiday-brochure sweeps of sand, championship golf courses and neon-lit nightlife are all a short drive away.

And for something more Portuguese? Goncalves hosts a fado evening on the last Saturday of each month. Held in a barn adjoining the stables, the event's soulful, bluesy music draws a sizeable crowd of aficionados and novices who enjoy performances from local and nationally renowned fadistas. Only Euro20 (HK$210) for all you can eat, drink and hum along to.

What's the bottom line? Single rooms are Euro30 per night and doubles cost Euro40 year-round. For visitors keen to spend longer learning about all things equine, monthly rates work out at Euro13 a day. Horse-riding lessons are Euro12.50 for 45 minutes.

Cavalgantes d'Apra is at Poco Novo, Loule, Algarve, Portugal, tel: 351 91 581 8325;