Montecorto, Spain

Photo: La Donaira

The horse seems to know the trail well. She’s following the well-worn path, accelerating through the green valleys, slowing around mountain crags, and pausing for perfect views of the farm. She passes almond groves, rose vines, vineyards, and fields full of wildflowers. German Coldbloods and donkeys are working the soil. Goats, sheep, and a herd of rare cattle graze in the distance. While you feel more connected to the land than you have in a very long time.

With a property of 1,700 acres and a horse who knows them well, you have plenty of land to explore over the next few days. You can watch more experienced riders during their dressage lessons in the outdoor arena. Ashtanga yoga sessions, which help strengthen your core, are offered on a platform above the cortijo (the traditional Andalusian farmhouse) in the morning. Tours, starting with a quiz and ending with a tea ceremony, guide you around the medicinal garden. Bach plays in the background to promote plant growth. Gourmet vegetarian workshops—ultimate field-to-fork classes—teach you how to make the cortijo’s most popular dishes. Blind tastings test whether you can distinguish wines from around the world from the biodynamic ones produced on the property. Then night walks set out during full moons.

Yes, there’s plenty to keep you outside and occupied at La Donaira. The property has been a working farm for nearly 100 years. It’s been lovingly restored and expanded during the last 12 years. It now includes an organic farm, an equestrian center, and an ecolodge. Don’t turn your nose up when you hear the word ecolodge, though. The old farmhouse, with its wood and flagstone floors, now features hand-crafted furniture and art installations. There are individually decorated suites and yurts. Copper bathtubs are in both. There’s a library, a cinema, and a spa. Oh, the spa. The low stone building has dark stucco walls, an indoor pool, a Russian wood sauna, and a hammam. Another pool, this one fed by a spring, is outside.

Photo: La Donaira

But the best part of La Donaira might be the food. Most of it is grown on the farm. They bake their own bread, make their own goat milk cheese, press their own extra virgin olive oil, and collect their own honey here. Eggs come from their own hens. Meat is butchered from their own Pajuna cows. Rosé and red wine are made from their own Petit Verdot and Blaufränkisch grapes. The few things that the farm can’t produce are sourced from local artisans. While dinner, which usually extends late into the night, is served outside under the starry sky. Guitars usually make an appearance, as well.

This perfect weekend escape sits at the edge of Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, a mountainous area known for its limestone caves and vulture colonies. Montecorto, a classic white village that completely shuts down during the afternoon siesta, is a few kilometers away. It’s the most westerly town in Málaga, a province in the autonomous region of Andalusia in the south of Spain. The remote area is beautiful and peaceful. Your new friend, the white mare, bobs her head in agreement as she turns to return to the barn.


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