EQUINE PROGRAMME

The Equine Programme
The Equine programme is tailored to individual travellers and small groups of friends or family who would like to help out at the sanctuary by taking care of the horses and their surroundings. Participants will also be invited into force-free training sessions.
  • Look at how we interact with horses from a new perspective
  • Have fun and push yourself through new comfort zones
  • Give love and attention to those who appreciate it the most
  • Take both the time and space you need with these friendly horses
  • Grow as a human in whichever aspet you choose

This volunteer programme is especially suitable for:

Age 14+

Singles

Couples

Families

50+

Equine Programme

Join our team looking after the horses, improving the sanctuary and promoting equine welfare whilst working on force-free horsemanship skills using positive reinforcement with a project horse and guidance.

Volunteering your time is a great way to experience our horses and, depending how long you stay – get a glimpse of what we’re working to achieve within the sanctuary, or fully immerse yourself and make progress towards our objectives. 

This is a rounded programme that includes working AND learning, although we don’t really separate the two. Many of the most meaningful learning moments may be due to observing the herd during feed times or whilst cleaning their field. 

Each applicant will be invited into our horse training sessions where they can learn how to handle and be with the horses first, then gain and develop training skills, progressing each horse in the way he or she will benefit from. 

You will learn a lot of practical skills here whilst training the horses, but you will also learn the science behind it. 

*Please note we are NOT riding any of the horses at the moment*

Clare arrived in Spain in 2010 to work with a free-roaming herd who taught her a completely new way of relating to horses. At the same time, she was deeply moved by the plight of many of the horses and horsemanship practices in the area. She saw horses hobbled, confined in tiny dirty stables all day, every day, and ridden in the extremely harsh serreton bridle. These two extremes represented the very best and worst of horse management and inspired the project. The sanctuary is in its infancy having moved to new premises in February 2016. There is a lot of work to do and your help is important to help this exciting project progress. Time and Space Equine Education Sanctuary became a registered association in August 2018. The equine programme is only PART of our work within our organisation.

Worst

Best

Our Aim

  • Inspire horse lovers and owners through open days, project partnership programmes and workshops, and to be able to receive people from around the world who would like to learn better ways to keep horses
  • Train the sanctuary’s horses sympathetically, naturally, barefoot and bitless
  • Promote good, sustainable horse care by creating an enriched environment for our own herd
  • Raise awareness of the requirements for a happy, healthy, emotionally and physically well-balanced horse
  • Be in a position to work with owners and their horses to explore and share knowledge of horse behaviour and welfare, providing essential services for those who need it

With the aid of our volunteers’ donations and practical help, we have already introduced some of these elements but others are still on the ‘to do’ list. When we came to this site in 2016, it was totally unsuitable but we had to get the horses out as they were being given away to abusive homes so there was no choice.

Volunteers can learn through training sessions, and by handling the horses during feed times, hoof trimming etc. All our horses to one degree or another are in recovery and our training at the moment is in a therapeutic way. You may take on your own project horse(s) to work on particular goals once you have reached a level of understanding that could help that horse through his recovery and progress.

We work in a natural and sympathetic way, recognising the horse’s character, feelings, responses, and past traumas so that he can learn most effectively. We seek to resolve problem behaviour through gentle understanding, and progress each horse whatever his level of training.

Our main objective is learning about our horse’s feelings and reactions, and the best place to do this is on the ground.  To us it is important to ask permission from the horse and work so that he chooses to join us, rather than being obliged.

The following is just an example. Routines change seasonally and can also change daily, depending on what other commitments we may have.

First thing in the morning, volunteers take a pretty fifteen minute walk from the village to the site. As you approach you will hear the horses calling for their breakfast as they sense the volunteers arriving.

You can breakfast early before you leave or take a break later for a picnic breakfast (you prepare this yourself). We are flexible!

 

First the horses are fed and the usual day-to-day chores such as filling water and pooh-picking are completed (this usually takes a couple of hours). Then we will either start training and working with the horses or do any other jobs we may have on the agenda.

There are other commitments that we take part in locally such as training other horses or looking after sick or mistreated animals away from our premises. So when volunteers are ready they usually take on some of the working responsibilities themselves allowing us to do this essential work in the community. Volunteers are also invited to join to observe our work on occasions.

There is an on-site outdoor kitchen so there are options for catering. In winter, volunteers may stay all day, but starting a little later and finishing earlier. In summer, when it’s too hot to work, we either go home for lunch and a siesta, stay and have a picnic and maybe a dip in our ‘alberca’, or visit the village pool which is open in July and August. They return on the evening to finish work when it is cooler.

In your spare time you can hike, rest, organise your own activities, use the internet, read, socialise, go to the bar, listen to music, draw, cook…..there are many options.

There are other areas that volunteers can get involved in, above and beyond the Equine and Sustainability programmes. These are not integral parts of the programmes, but we are really flexible and the level of involvement is at each volunteers’ discretion.

Food and Culture

Clare cooks balanced, healthy vegetarian meals and enjoys sharing ideas and skills with people that we can all enjoy! This is particularly satisfying when it is prepared with home-grown produce. Chico is also a wonderful cook with knowledge of many traditional Spanish dishes passed down through generations. Although day-to-day meals are ''do it yourself'', you are invited to join in cooking our favourite dishes or to share your own traditional dishes with us should you wish!

Language

In the house and while working, we speak a mixture of Spanish and English. We are happy to help and to correct both the written and spoken word. You can get practice in all areas of work and play. Most residents in the village only speak Spanish. You will be welcomed whether you speak Spanish or not, but can practice if you choose to with locals and other family members. Clare and Chico’s daughters Stella (2015) and Nora (2019) are both bilingual.

Building

As well as all the usual maintenance that comes with a farm, we are also building interesting enrichment opportunities for the horses and infrastructure for their humans. Please let us know if you have particular skills or interests in these areas.

Gardening

You can learn about taking care of plants and trees native to the area. Depending on the time of year you can help with clearing the land, harvesting and preserving. As well as vegetables, we pick almonds and olives. Olives are preserved and pressed to make wonderful extra virgin olive oil. All seasonally dependent so please ask first if this is something you are particularly interested in.

Hoof care

Every horse is barefoot here and hooves have to be trimmed regularly. You will be amazed how sure-footed these horses are and how easily they move over the rocks and varied terrain. Everyone that works with, or owns horses should have a certain level of knowledge, be able to recognise a healthy balanced hoof and know what is needed to encourage this in your horse. No hoof – no horse. We see some awful cases of poor hoof care here and we are determined to raise the level of understanding. Hoof trimming is much more than just taking off the excess growth. It’s a fascinating subject that requires considerable skill.

EQUINE PROGRAMME RECOMMENDED DONATION

  • 1 Week €643 per week
  • 2 Weeks €627 per week
  • 3 Weeks €609 per week
  • 4 Weeks €590 per week
  • 8 Weeks €503 per week
  • 12 Weeks €426 per week
  • 18+ Weeks €298 per week
  • 50 Weeks €256 per week

The programme is available all year round any start date, and any number of days. Because of this flexibility you can choose cheaper flights or honor other commitments you may have at home. It also means you will be joining us during a planned week which could fall on a day off or when we are out shopping or working in the community etc.

Deposit (15%) Final Payment (85%) – Your final payment will due before or upon arrival.

The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Once you have filled in a volunteer request form and received confirmation of date availability, you shall receive an email with payment details.

Our organisation is small and relies upon donations to be able to support volunteers and carry out our work. The recommended donation for people joining both programmes reflects the amount of time they stay.

We have a sliding scale, so the longer you stay, the cheaper it gets per week! The price of the programme is a donation as we are a registered association, and it will be declared and used as such. 

Your donation is used for running the programmes; feeding the horses; veterinary and health care for the horses and any other animals; maintenance, materials and improvements for the horses’ living conditions and surrounding environment; insurance; and programme support – helping us complete our mission aims and objectives.

We have space for a long term volunteer. If you are interested in this position please do get in touch.

Practical Information

Minimum Age: 14 years unaccompanied

In order to join the programme you need to be at least 14 years old on the programme start date if you are joining without an accompanying adult. If you are aged 14 - 18 years you must have parental permission, and the parents must be confident in the applicant's ability as the volunteers live independently and the hosts do not take parental responsibility.

Language Skills

You need to speak English (basic level) or Spanish (basic level). Communication day to day and around the village is never a problem, but some of the training within the programmes requires a lot of either English or Spanish. It is fine if your knowledge of those languages is basic, but your learning may be restricted. 

Other Skills

You are not required to have previous experience with horses or farm work.

We are flexible and do like to make this opportunity available for everyone as we enjoy seeing people learn and develop. If you are an experienced horse person, then you will already know that you can never finish learning and that the horse is the best teacher of which we have plenty.

Work is often physically hard and although we welcome people from all experiences. A hard-working attitude fits best here. Please let us know before booking if you have specific needs or disabilities so we can discuss the possibilities. 

You will be joining a family with animals and children. It is essential that you like these as they all join in every area of our lives! 

Time Commitment

We are always looking for helping hands whether with general care and maintenance; helping us keep our horses happy; or helping with promotion – there shall be something to suit your skills. Work hours normally are up to 25 hours per week, which is typically split morning and night and over five or six days - but this is flexible.

Included in the programme:

  • Our organisation will provide accommodation and food for volunteers (groceries for three vegetarian meals per day). 
  • We will provide volunteer support and orientation in the form of written information in a welcome pack and documents which we will send after booking; verbal, phone, email, or WhatsApp support.
  • You shall receive training plus a huge learning potential in taking part in this programme, including practical opportunities and possibilities to gain many more experiences living and working in this beautiful place.
  • We have a small library of resources at your disposal in the volunteer accommodation, which include specialist books, and printed handouts and information around our project focus.
  • You can be provided with educational material to take home.
  • We will send a certificate of internship after completion of your placement.
  • Towels and linen (apart from beach/pool towel.)
  • There is limited internet access available.

 

Not included in the programme:

Flights, transport, days out, eating and drinking in bars are your own financial responsibility and not included in the programme. We recommend you provide your own personal accident insurance suitable for the type of activities you will be taking part in.

Arrival to the project is not covered by the association, but we can help you plan your trip, and airport transfer can be arranged for a fee to be paid locally, or public transport can be used.

Please bring a pool or beach towel if you are planning on going.

Accommodation

Volunteers either sleep in a shared village house or the hostel which we rent and you may share with other volunteers. Your programme hosts, Clare and Chico live on the project site which is a 15 minute walk away from the accommodation.

The accommodation may be more basic than you are used to, but you should have all you need. 

There are beds, bedding, towels, a bathroom with a modern toilet, shower and/or bath, and running hot and cold water. 

In some of the accommodations there is a living room with either an open fire or electric heating in the winter months, and a kitchen with a stove top and fridge. However, the electricity is not very powerful so it may cut out for a few moments if too many appliances are being used at the same time, but comes back on automatically.

These sleep one or two people per room. Towels and linen are provided, but please bring a pool towel if you plan on using it. 

No smoking in the accommodation.

If you specifically require your own room, we would ask for a supplementary donation. Please request this by email.

Phone & internet

There is Wi-Fi available in the main volunteer shared house. There is free Wi-Fi available in the bar/café just a minute's walk away from the accommodation, which is also where the overflow accommodation is situated. There is also a free internet building in the village, but the opening times are a bit unpredictable. If you want to use your own phone/internet service, then I suggest checking with your provider before you leave so it can be set for use here. If you arrange unlimited data and set to roaming then you should be able to pick up a good signal. You can then use your phone as a hotspot if you bring a laptop. Vodafone has a good signal but we cannot vouch for the availability of service/coverage/signal of other companies in the village. Some visitors have been unable to get a signal in the accommodation but others have, so if it is vital to you, prepare before you come.

Volunteers are usually back in the village for the evening meal, but this is also flexible in warmer months. We often invite each other to eat together to get a taste of international cuisines! There are also bars where you can eat at your own expense.

Healthy vegetarian/vegan groceries for three meals per day is provided for volunteers to prepare their own meals. Cooking can be done in the apartment or in the on-site outdoor kitchen, where we often eat lunch together when the weather is nice.

There is no shop in the village so we do a weekly supermarket shop from an extensive, but predetermined list which is given to the volunteers each week to complete, depending on what you need. If you would like items that aren’t listed, we can get them for you but at your own expense as we operate on a limited budget. Bear in mind that items you eat often at home might be unavailable or more expensive here. 

We try to be as sustainable and as ethical as possible so the list includes seasonally available fruit and vegetables. It does not include items containing palm oil, meat or fish, and we avoid processed food. Meals including these things are available in the local bars so you can buy them there if you wish. We won’t buy meat, even at your own expense, because some volunteers wouldn’t appreciate it being cooked in the shared kitchen and we have to respect this.  

We keep a recipe folder which contains some of our favourite meals which can be made from the listed items if you are in need of inspiration. We provide coffee and teas, but soft drinks and juices are extra (although we are happy to buy oranges for juicing yourself).

 

Drinking Water

The tap water in the accommodation is drinkable, and there is also the option to bottle your own water from a natural source in the village. We do not provide bottled water but you can buy this yourself in the weekly grocery shop.

On the project site you must take your own water bottle which can be refilled from the natural source we have there. The main area of work is a little further down the land, so you may have to walk back up to the source to refill (especially in summer). Bear in mind this is not far, but it is a steep hill. You can also refill plastic bottles which we can provide to take down to refill, but someone will need to be responsible to change this each day.

On the project site

You must take your own water bottle which can be refilled from the natural source we have there. The main area of work is a little further down the land, so you may have to walk back up to the source to refill (especially in summer). Bear in mind this is not far, but it is a steep hill. You can also refill plastic bottles which we can provide to take down to refill, but someone will need to be responsible to change this each day.

There is no smoking on the project site due to fire risk.

The bathroom on the project site is in nature. This means that you can pee anywhere you like, and there are plenty of hidden spots. We have a compost toilet for solids. This is in the form of a wooden shed with a large wooden box and a toilet seat to sit on. Everything goes into this box then you throw some compostable material on top to cover it which is there beside the toilet. Any tissue and sanitary products go into the bin provided. The box is left aside covered when full, until it is composted. Then it is totally safe to be emptied onto the land (don't worry, we don't ask volunteers to do this!) - which is why you must only use it for solids or it would fill too fast and be impossible to move. 

All volunteers and visitors are asked to refrain from touching the horses unless/until they are trained in this. There are very specific and important reasons for this request which we will be happy to share with you.

Other details such as start and finish times can be found in an information folder which we leave available in the accommodation, and encourage you to read before you start on the project.

Your stay here will provide you with memories and skills you will never forget! Here is a working document with outings and their practicalities and prices: Outings and Activities

We have an alberca on the project site which you are welcome to take a dip in. It is filled from a natural spring where we collect our water to drink. The stored water from the ’pool’ is used for the horses and to irrigate the land. It was probably built by the Arabs more than 500 years ago. Atajate is more than 1000 years old.

If you enjoy hiking, there are many routes from Atajate towards other villages, which would have been the trade routes to travel on foot or with a loaded mule before the roads were built. They are very pretty with views over the mountains. It would take approximately two hours to hike to the closest river, and there are spectacular views along that track.

As well as those featuring nature and horses, there are festivals and parties that take place in all the villages. The big water fight in Atajate is in August; there is a German beer festival in Jimera de Libar in October and mushroom festivals in November. In summer there are music and horse festivals, foam parties and more! The beautiful local ‘white villages’ vary from 2000 inhabitants down to a population of less than 200 and are well worth a visit. Atajate has an outdoor public pool which is open during July and August.

Please note during the weekend of around the 15th of August is when Atajate has their three day-all night fiesta. It will be more noisy and crowded than usual, including during the night. It can be fun if you want to join in though!

As well as the villages, there are towns to visit. Ronda is around 25km away and is on a main coast to city train route. It boasts a spectacular viaduct as well as many other historic sites and a variety of shops. After exploring these, the huge variety of cafes and bars will offer welcome refreshment. There is a bus going to Ronda from Atajate once a day, Monday to Friday.

charco azul

If, however, you prefer a break from civilisation then you will be in your element. The surrounding mountains, forests and river are beautiful, peaceful and watched over by soaring eagles. Close by there are natural sites to visit such as the Canyon of the Vultures. There are guided walks to vast caves with ancient cave paintings. A Pa lo-Christian church is tucked away just outside the village of Cortes de la Frontera, and an Arab tower is hidden in the countryside with not a tourist in sight. If you don’t have your own car we can get a quote for these trips as they are off the beaten track!

Ely Lozano Rios has written various books about the use of culenary and medicinal plants that grow in the area. In springtime she hosts workshops on making essencial oils and foraging for herbs. These are very interesting and we are happy to give you more information should you wish to book a place.

The beach is approximately 1½ hours’ drive away. In Málaga there are museums and stunning botanical gardens.

Day trips can be arranged on your days off. Some closer activities may be possible on work days as you usually only need to be onsite for five hours, but this is flexible. In summer, bear in mind it is pretty much impossible to do strenuous activities between the hours of 12pm and 6pm

Transport: You can hire a car from Málaga, or there is a bus leaving every weekday morning from Atajate to Ronda, and returning in the afternoon. From Ronda there are regular buses to all major cities and many smaller villages. It is also possible to hire a driver locally as a taxi service as some points of interest are off the beaten track and not accessible by public transport. If you would like more information or a quote, please ask.

Suitable clothing that may get ripped or stained

Warm clothes, waterproofs and long rubber boots for winter months. We have various rubber boots left from previous volunteers or they can be purchased for under 20€. Please let us know if you want some before your arrival as we only go shopping once a week, or if you want us to check sizes of what we have.

Gloves for working

Strong working/walking boots

A refillable drinking/water bottle

Sun cream & sun hat in the summer months

Indoor shoes or slippers

Phone charger/EU adapters

Pool towel if you plan on using it or going to the beach

A warmer layer 'just in case' early summer mornings

Our closest airport is Malaga.

Public transport may be infrequent but it is very easy to use and reliable. Normally pre-booking is not necessary.

If you wish to use public transport, first you must take the small bus or train from the airport to the city of Málaga - Maria Zambrano Station, which is a short journey and runs regularly. Then you take a bus or train to Ronda where we can collect you, or if you arrive in Ronda on time there is a bus that leaves around 4:30pm to Atajate on weekdays.

You will be able to get from Málaga to Atajate for under 20€ by public transport.

We recommend that your arrival flight is in the morning or early afternoon if you want to get a bus, and that your departure flight is not before midday.

If your flight times do not fit into the public transport times you can either choose another form of arrival, or stay in Málaga for a night.

You can find a train time table here. Bus times change monthly and there is no website. They run from approximately 8am to 9pm weekdays from Málaga to Ronda, and approximately 9am to 6/8pm weekends. If you need to know the times before booking your flight you can ring DAMAS ±34 902 114 492, or ask us and we’ll do it for you.

Otherwise we can look into travel options after you have your flight booked.

If you are arriving with your own car or hiring a car from Málaga airport you will come to the village of Atajate 29494. You can get in touch with us beforehand for the accommodation address.

You can either pr-book a taxi or take one from the airport without booking which will cost somewhere in the region of 160€.

Alternatively and more economically we can arrange a collection by car which is very popular and will take you door to door, This can be arranged by email after booking and will be someone connected to the association or a trusted local person. We ask that you pay them directly in cash upon arrival, and not include it in your donation to the association. We can offer this at 120€ for one direction, or for 100€ per journey when booking for both arrival and departure.

It takes approximately two hours to get to Atajate from Málaga airport, and it is usually possible to stop in Ronda on your way should you need an ATM or anything from a shop - just ask.

Winter months: December, January, and February

Temperatures can drop to close to freezing at night but it rarely snows. You should be prepared with warm layers and waterproofs. Even when we have a rainy week the sky's still blue for most of the day. Be prepared for mud.

Spring months: March, April, and May

This time of year is very beautiful as we get some greenery because of the rain. There are also many flowers, and butterflies and, it can also be quite warm and sunny at midday.

Summer months: June, July, and August

These are the hottest months and very dry with no rain at all. Be aware that temperatures can reach 45 degrees, and work needs to be started very early at day-break (or before) and continued in the evening, finishing and eating late. We recommend taking a siesta!

Autumn months: September, October and November

These can be pleasant months to work in as the temperature hasn't dropped a lot yet, but we no longer need to escape the heat for most of the day. It can be a good time if you enjoy hiking.

Minimum Age: 14 years unaccompanied

In order to join the programme you need to be at least 14 years old on the programme start date if you are joining without an accompanying adult. If you are aged 14 - 18 years you must have parental permission, and the parents must be confident in the applicant's ability as the volunteers live independently and the hosts do not take parental responsibility.

Language Skills

You need to speak English (basic level) or Spanish (basic level). Communication day to day and around the village is never a problem, but some of the training within the programmes requires a lot of either English or Spanish. It is fine if your knowledge of those languages is basic, but your learning may be restricted. 

Other Skills

You are not required to have previous experience with horses or farm work.

We are flexible and do like to make this opportunity available for everyone as we enjoy seeing people learn and develop. If you are an experienced horse person, then you will already know that you can never finish learning and that the horse is the best teacher of which we have plenty.

Work is often physically hard and although we welcome people from all experiences. A hard-working attitude fits best here. Please let us know before booking if you have specific needs or disabilities so we can discuss the possibilities. 

You will be joining a family with animals and children. It is essential that you like these as they all join in every area of our lives! 

Time Commitment

We are always looking for helping hands whether with general care and maintenance; helping us keep our horses happy; or helping with promotion – there shall be something to suit your skills. Work hours normally are up to 25 hours per week, which is typically split morning and night and over five or six days - but this is flexible.

Included in the programme:

  • Our organisation will provide accommodation and food for volunteers (groceries for three vegetarian meals per day). 
  • We will provide volunteer support and orientation in the form of written information in a welcome pack and documents which we will send after booking; verbal, phone, email, or WhatsApp support.
  • You shall receive training plus a huge learning potential in taking part in this programme, including practical opportunities and possibilities to gain many more experiences living and working in this beautiful place.
  • We have a small library of resources at your disposal in the volunteer accommodation, which include specialist books, and printed handouts and information around our project focus.
  • You can be provided with educational material to take home.
  • We will send a certificate of internship after completion of your placement.
  • Towels and linen (apart from beach/pool towel.)
  • There is limited internet access available.

 

Not included in the programme:

Flights, transport, days out, eating and drinking in bars are your own financial responsibility and not included in the programme. We recommend you provide your own personal accident insurance suitable for the type of activities you will be taking part in.

Arrival to the project is not covered by the association, but we can help you plan your trip, and airport transfer can be arranged for a fee to be paid locally, or public transport can be used.

Please bring a pool or beach towel if you are planning on going.

Accommodation

Volunteers either sleep in a shared village house or the hostel which we rent and you may share with other volunteers. Your programme hosts, Clare and Chico live on the project site which is a 15 minute walk away from the accommodation.

The accommodation may be more basic than you are used to, but you should have all you need. 

There are beds, bedding, towels, a bathroom with a modern toilet, shower and/or bath, and running hot and cold water. 

In some of the accommodations there is a living room with either an open fire or electric heating in the winter months, and a kitchen with a stove top and fridge. However, the electricity is not very powerful so it may cut out for a few moments if too many appliances are being used at the same time, but comes back on automatically.

These sleep one or two people per room. Towels and linen are provided, but please bring a pool towel if you plan on using it. 

No smoking in the accommodation.

If you specifically require your own room, we would ask for a supplementary donation. Please request this by email.

Phone & internet

There is Wi-Fi available in the main volunteer shared house. There is free Wi-Fi available in the bar/café just a minute's walk away from the accommodation, which is also where the overflow accommodation is situated. There is also a free internet building in the village, but the opening times are a bit unpredictable. If you want to use your own phone/internet service, then I suggest checking with your provider before you leave so it can be set for use here. If you arrange unlimited data and set to roaming then you should be able to pick up a good signal. You can then use your phone as a hotspot if you bring a laptop. Vodafone has a good signal but we cannot vouch for the availability of service/coverage/signal of other companies in the village. Some visitors have been unable to get a signal in the accommodation but others have, so if it is vital to you, prepare before you come.

Volunteers are usually back in the village for the evening meal, but this is also flexible in warmer months. We often invite each other to eat together to get a taste of international cuisines! There are also bars where you can eat at your own expense.

Healthy vegetarian/vegan groceries for three meals per day is provided for volunteers to prepare their own meals. Cooking can be done in the apartment or in the on-site outdoor kitchen, where we often eat lunch together when the weather is nice.

There is no shop in the village so we do a weekly supermarket shop from an extensive, but predetermined list which is given to the volunteers each week to complete, depending on what you need. If you would like items that aren’t listed, we can get them for you but at your own expense as we operate on a limited budget. Bear in mind that items you eat often at home might be unavailable or more expensive here. 

We try to be as sustainable and as ethical as possible so the list includes seasonally available fruit and vegetables. It does not include items containing palm oil, meat or fish, and we avoid processed food. Meals including these things are available in the local bars so you can buy them there if you wish. We won’t buy meat, even at your own expense, because some volunteers wouldn’t appreciate it being cooked in the shared kitchen and we have to respect this.  

We keep a recipe folder which contains some of our favourite meals which can be made from the listed items if you are in need of inspiration. We provide coffee and teas, but soft drinks and juices are extra (although we are happy to buy oranges for juicing yourself).

 

Drinking Water

The tap water in the accommodation is drinkable, and there is also the option to bottle your own water from a natural source in the village. We do not provide bottled water but you can buy this yourself in the weekly grocery shop.

On the project site you must take your own water bottle which can be refilled from the natural source we have there. The main area of work is a little further down the land, so you may have to walk back up to the source to refill (especially in summer). Bear in mind this is not far, but it is a steep hill. You can also refill plastic bottles which we can provide to take down to refill, but someone will need to be responsible to change this each day.

On the project site

You must take your own water bottle which can be refilled from the natural source we have there. The main area of work is a little further down the land, so you may have to walk back up to the source to refill (especially in summer). Bear in mind this is not far, but it is a steep hill. You can also refill plastic bottles which we can provide to take down to refill, but someone will need to be responsible to change this each day.

There is no smoking on the project site due to fire risk.

The bathroom on the project site is in nature. This means that you can pee anywhere you like, and there are plenty of hidden spots. We have a compost toilet for solids. This is in the form of a wooden shed with a large wooden box and a toilet seat to sit on. Everything goes into this box then you throw some compostable material on top to cover it which is there beside the toilet. Any tissue and sanitary products go into the bin provided. The box is left aside covered when full, until it is composted. Then it is totally safe to be emptied onto the land (don't worry, we don't ask volunteers to do this!) - which is why you must only use it for solids or it would fill too fast and be impossible to move. 

All volunteers and visitors are asked to refrain from touching the horses unless/until they are trained in this. There are very specific and important reasons for this request which we will be happy to share with you.

Other details such as start and finish times can be found in an information folder which we leave available in the accommodation, and encourage you to read before you start on the project.

Your stay here will provide you with memories and skills you will never forget! Here is a working document with outings and their practicalities and prices: Outings and Activities

We have an alberca on the project site which you are welcome to take a dip in. It is filled from a natural spring where we collect our water to drink. The stored water from the ’pool’ is used for the horses and to irrigate the land. It was probably built by the Arabs more than 500 years ago. Atajate is more than 1000 years old.

If you enjoy hiking, there are many routes from Atajate towards other villages, which would have been the trade routes to travel on foot or with a loaded mule before the roads were built. They are very pretty with views over the mountains. It would take approximately two hours to hike to the closest river, and there are spectacular views along that track.

As well as those featuring nature and horses, there are festivals and parties that take place in all the villages. The big water fight in Atajate is in August; there is a German beer festival in Jimera de Libar in October and mushroom festivals in November. In summer there are music and horse festivals, foam parties and more! The beautiful local ‘white villages’ vary from 2000 inhabitants down to a population of less than 200 and are well worth a visit. Atajate has an outdoor public pool which is open during July and August.

Please note during the weekend of around the 15th of August is when Atajate has their three day-all night fiesta. It will be more noisy and crowded than usual, including during the night. It can be fun if you want to join in though!

As well as the villages, there are towns to visit. Ronda is around 25km away and is on a main coast to city train route. It boasts a spectacular viaduct as well as many other historic sites and a variety of shops. After exploring these, the huge variety of cafes and bars will offer welcome refreshment. There is a bus going to Ronda from Atajate once a day, Monday to Friday.

charco azul

If, however, you prefer a break from civilisation then you will be in your element. The surrounding mountains, forests and river are beautiful, peaceful and watched over by soaring eagles. Close by there are natural sites to visit such as the Canyon of the Vultures. There are guided walks to vast caves with ancient cave paintings. A Pa lo-Christian church is tucked away just outside the village of Cortes de la Frontera, and an Arab tower is hidden in the countryside with not a tourist in sight. If you don’t have your own car we can get a quote for these trips as they are off the beaten track!

Ely Lozano Rios has written various books about the use of culenary and medicinal plants that grow in the area. In springtime she hosts workshops on making essencial oils and foraging for herbs. These are very interesting and we are happy to give you more information should you wish to book a place.

The beach is approximately 1½ hours’ drive away. In Málaga there are museums and stunning botanical gardens.

Day trips can be arranged on your days off. Some closer activities may be possible on work days as you usually only need to be onsite for five hours, but this is flexible. In summer, bear in mind it is pretty much impossible to do strenuous activities between the hours of 12pm and 6pm

Transport: You can hire a car from Málaga, or there is a bus leaving every weekday morning from Atajate to Ronda, and returning in the afternoon. From Ronda there are regular buses to all major cities and many smaller villages. It is also possible to hire a driver locally as a taxi service as some points of interest are off the beaten track and not accessible by public transport. If you would like more information or a quote, please ask.

Suitable clothing that may get ripped or stained

Warm clothes, waterproofs and long rubber boots for winter months

Gloves for working

Strong working/walking boots

A refillable drinking/water bottle

Sun cream & sun hat in the summer months

Indoor shoes or slippers

Phone charger/EU adapters

Pool towel if you plan on using it or going to the beach

A warmer layer 'just in case' early summer mornings

Our closest airport is Malaga.

Public transport may be infrequent but it is very easy to use and reliable. Normally pre-booking is not necessary.

If you wish to use public transport, first you must take the small bus or train from the airport to the city of Málaga - Maria Zambrano Station, which is a short journey and runs regularly. Then you take a bus or train to Ronda where we can collect you, or if you arrive in Ronda on time there is a bus that leaves around 4:30pm to Atajate on weekdays.

You will be able to get from Málaga to Atajate for under 20€ by public transport.

We recommend that your arrival flight is in the morning or early afternoon if you want to get a bus, and that your departure flight is not before midday.

If your flight times do not fit into the public transport times you can either choose another form of arrival, or stay in Málaga for a night.

You can find a train time table here. Bus times change monthly and there is no website. They run from approximately 8am to 9pm weekdays from Málaga to Ronda, and approximately 9am to 6/8pm weekends. If you need to know the times before booking your flight you can ring DAMAS ±34 902 114 492, or ask us and we’ll do it for you.

Otherwise we can look into travel options after you have your flight booked.

If you are arriving with your own car or hiring a car from Málaga airport you will come to the village of Atajate 29494. You can get in touch with us beforehand for the accommodation address.

You can either pr-book a taxi or take one from the airport without booking which will cost somewhere in the region of 160€.

Alternatively and more economically we can arrange a collection by car which is very popular and will take you door to door, This can be arranged by email after booking and will be someone connected to the association or a trusted local person. We ask that you pay them directly in cash upon arrival, and not include it in your donation to the association. We can offer this at 120€ for one direction, or for 100€ per journey when booking for both arrival and departure.

It takes approximately two hours to get to Atajate from Málaga airport, and it is usually possible to stop in Ronda on your way should you need an ATM or anything from a shop - just ask.

Winter months: December, January, and February

Temperatures can drop to close to freezing at night but it rarely snows. You should be prepared with warm layers and waterproofs. Even when we have a rainy week the sky's still blue for most of the day. Be prepared for mud.

Spring months: March, April, and May

This time of year is very beautiful as we get some greenery because of the rain. There are also many flowers, and butterflies and, it can also be quite warm and sunny at midday.

Summer months: June, July, and August

These are the hottest months and very dry with no rain at all. Be aware that temperatures can reach 45 degrees, and work needs to be started very early at day-break (or before) and continued in the evening, finishing and eating late. We recommend taking a siesta!

Autumn months: September, October and November

These can be pleasant months to work in as the temperature hasn't dropped a lot yet, but we no longer need to escape the heat for most of the day. It can be a good time if you enjoy hiking.