In the first segment of this piece, I listed some of my favorite riding adventures I've already been on, and here are some of the adventures I haven't gone on yet!
1. MACHU PICCHU
This is such a Mecca for backpackers and hikers, one of the biggest attractions of South America as a continent as a whole, and such a wonderfully not-so-easy place to reach. But, to be completely honest, despite being from Colorado, land of the 14ers where hiking is so much more than a hobby, I don't love backpacking. In the sense of traveling, yes, I do, but as far as hiking up mountains carrying heavy stuff? No, I don't love it. But I do want to see Machu Picchu before I die, and I think riding a bus up the mountain is cheating. So how about on horseback? Having a big animal to carry all your heavy stuff while you hike, or to carry you as well, is why humans started riding horses in the first place.
2. WILDLIFE SAFARI IN AFRICA
Luckily, I'll get to cross this one off my list very soon. I've gone on wildlife safaris in South Africa, and ridden horses, but not at the same time. Of course, to do this safely, you want to be riding on a game reserve that only has non-dangerous game. I would hate for someone, anyone, particularly myself, to get pulled off a horse by a lion or some such hungry carnivore, but galloping with giraffes and zebras would be pretty incredible.
3. FOXHUNTING IN ENGLAND AND IRELAND
I've foxhunted for years now, here in Colorado, and I absolutely love it. Not just the thrill of the chase, but the sense of community, and of course, the potluck, because I'm all about the food. I've been lucky enough to foxhunt in France, which was very different, but England is where it all started and I should like to experience that. Plus, I hear all these stories about crazy foxhunts in Ireland, and even though it sounds absolutely terrifying-flying over huge stone walls and immense muddy ditches, Still, I think it's something I have to do.
4. CASTLES OF EUROPE
While we're on the subject of wild rides in Europe...OK, this one isn't as specific as I promised by creating this list, but it has a lot of possibilities. As a child, I was obsessed with castles. I wasn't one of those girls who wanted to grow up to be a princess (unless the princess got to ride horses), I mean, I did dress up as one probably at some point or another, but I was always more interested in the castles themselves than the royalty within them. I would research the floor plans so I could imagine walking the halls, and even draw out my own castle layouts. My dad told me about Neuschwanstein castle as a little girl, and when I finally went there with him at the age of 20, it was just as magical as it would have been when I was 9. When my family road tripped around France and Italy as a child, I hated museums, loathed old churches, and generally complained about most touristy things, but I loved castles. I would LOVE to ride from castle to castle in Bavaria, Germany, along the Loire Valley in France, through Tuscany in Italy, or somewhere in southern Spain (or anywhere else that has beautiful castles, I wouldn't complain).
5. VINEYARDS AND WINERIES
This one is pretty similar to 4. In France, in Burgundy or Aquitaine, or in Italy, in Tuscany or Umbria, would be a fabulous place to ride through vineyards, taste different wines that have been made by the same families for centuries, and experience the rich culture and lifestyle of these areas. This spring in South Africa we will be going on a winery tour in Stellenbosch, South Africa's famous wine country, but just for one day. I'm still excited though.
Now these are folks who really know a thing or two about horses. The Mongolian conquered most of the known world on horseback, centuries ago, and although they have lost their prowess as conquerors, they are still world-renowned horsemen. I think I could learn a lot from them, it is a beautiful and vast, empty landscape, and their culture is something so different from anything I've ever known, I think it would be a truly eye-opening experience.
7. EL CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
This pilgrimage from southern France all the way to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, is as historically significant as it is beautiful. Again with the hiking though, if I have the option to ride a horse instead, I'll take that any day. I'm so in love with France and Spain, and this region in particular, (having lived in Basque country, where the Camino begins) so I'm interested in the Camino for non-religious reasons, and I think walking it on horseback would be so much more personally gratifying for me than on foot. What appeals to me the most is the spirit of generosity along the trail; people who take in pilgrims/hikers/riders, allowing the travelers to enjoy a cultural experience along with the scenic surroundings.