Four horsemen and one destiny: from the Brazilian Outback to the Sea, along the paths of the Estrada Real


The rider’s adventure began on 9th May, 2016. Mounted on Mangalarga Marchador horses, they will cover more than 1700km of the Estrada Real (Royal Highway), along four tracks that cut through the states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

IMG_4080Their mission is noble: firstly to highlight the importance of animal wellbeing, and secondly to promote the cultural and historical value of the old Estradas Reais (Royal Highways), all by means of equestrian tourism. These two objectives were what united the quartet of José Henrique Castejon, Paulo Junqueira Arantes, Sergio Lima Beck and Frederico Castejon Simioni, in their quest to cover, over the course of 45 days, the four separate stretches that make up the Estrada Real.

These stretches are separated into four routes: the Caminho dos Diamante (Diamond Route, the Caminho Velho (Old Route), the Caminho Novo (New Route) and the Caminho de Sabarabuçu (Sabarabuçu Route). In total the riders will pass through 60 cities across three states, several of which are significant in terms of their historical importance, their architecture and their art, such as Diamantina, Ouro Preto, Paraty, São João Del Rey and Tiradentes. “Many of the areas are also famous for being the regions where certain breeds of horse like Campolina, Pêga and Mangalarga came from – this last one will be our cavalcade’s official breed. Also of note, the scenery along the route is absolutely breath-taking”, says Paulo Junqueira Arantes, a businessman and member of the quartet, and who has lots of experience of equestrian tourism in Brazil and abroad. Paulo and his partners plan to complete their 1000+ mile journey in 45 days, with rest days every 400kms. On these days, as well as resting and recovering, the horses will have their horseshoes changed, to ensure their wellbeing.

“The Estrada Real is the only historic tourist route in Brazil that charts the story of Brazil back to colonial times, an age when gold, silver and diamonds were transported along these routes, before being exported to Portugal”, points out José Henrique Castejon, an ex-polo player, now turned farmer and polo pony breeder. According to Castejon, who travelled along the Estrada Real in March this year with Paulo Junqueira Arantes and Sergio Lima Beck in order to map out the best rest points, he was shocked to by the lack of other people they encountered along the way, be them on horse, foot, or bike. “It was a sad to see, because even though the route has no religious significance, the scenery and historic relevance are fascinating”.

Animal Welfare

p1060262The Estrada Real is also the only route in Brazil which is fully marked out along its 1780kms, with 2000 markers in total. This was a factor a defining factor for the rider’s in choosing the route, which offers diverse terrains, made up of trails, dirt roads and asphalt. The overall journey has a good mixture of long and short climbs, with plenty of shaded stretches. Most of the way is made up of dirt roads, about 70%, with the rest being asphalt and trails. “This itinerary is a good one for such expeditions, demonstrating the great strength that horses have for long-distance travel, whilst also showing that they can cover such distances without causing harm. The health, safety, and performance of the horses are guaranteed thanks to regular examinations carried out along the journey”, said Castejon. These tests will be coordinated by Professor Mateus Rodrigues Paranhos, from Unesp Jaboticabal (São Paulo State University Veterinary Campus); a Zoo Technician specialized in animal welfare. The test results will be released periodically.

Who are the four horsemen?

Jose Henrique Meirelles Castejon, 68, is a farmer in the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. He lives in Avaré, São Paulo, and began horse riding at the age of six years old, participating in family hunting trips for many years. He started playing polo in 1974, and over four decades played in several national and international tournaments. He is a polo pony breeder, having bred more than 500 in total. He has ridden the French Route of Santiago de Compostela from Logrono (760km), the Caminho da Fé (Path of Faith) from Águas da Prata to Aparecida (330km), as well as several other cavalcades in Argentina and Brazil – particularly in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul.

Paulo Junqueira Arantes, 64, is a businessman. He lives in Curitiba, in Paraná and started horse riding as a child, learning at his grandparents’ farm in the countryside of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. He was a Mangalarga horse breeder and a director of the Núcleo de Criadores (Horse breeders association). As a horse lover, he has completed numerous trips by horse all around Brazil, as well as other destinations, such as South Africa, Argentina, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Spain, the USA, Hungary, Italy, Mongolia, Namibia, Peru, Portugal, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

Sergio Lima Beck, 64, is from Rio Grande and lives in Curitiba, Paraná. He is an expert in hippology, a professional horse rider, and a riding and taming instructor. He was also a judge of the ABCCM Marchador (Brazilian Association of Mangalarga Marchador Horse Breeders) and a teacher of Equine Studies at PUC-PR (Catholic University of Paraná). He is a certified technician of the ABCC Bretão (Brazilian Association of Breton Horse Breeders) and author of various published articles. He has also taken part in a number of journeys by horse in Brazil, Spain and Iceland.

Frederico Castejon Simioni, 35, is a zoo technician and farmer in São Paulo, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. He lives in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo. He contributes to scientific articles relating to animal welfare, in partnership with universities like UNESP’s Jaboticabal (SP). With regard to breeding, he practices Bem-Estar Animal (a Brazilian defined concept of animal welfare), always respecting the needs, natural behaviour and limits of each animal. A horse lover, Frederico has taken part in numerous cavalcades around Brazil, including the Caminho da Fé, from from Águas da Prata to Aparecida (330km).


About Author

BBMAG is the only London-based bilingual publication specialised in Brazilian and Latin American lifestyle. BBMag is free to all UK based readers ensuring that all our sponsors and advertisers benefit from 100% awareness to our given distribution audience made up of governments and establishments, industry organisations, bars and restaurants, arts centres, schools, cinemas, theatres, shows, festivals, events’ venues and many more...