7 and 10 night rides in the Ecuadorian highlands, using hacienda or simpler lodge accommodation and following ancient Inca routes. Run from set start dates most of the year for intermediate riders and above or can be tailor-made for private groups.
Where Routes take you north of Quito, through the Zuleta valley, close of the town of Otavalo and then head south where you ride in the high Andean grasslands, in the shadow of the giant volcanic peaks of Cayambe and Cotpaxi.
What is it like A contrast of small cultivated fields tended by brightly clothed Indian farmers, villages and busy markets, shepherds with sheep and llamas, colourful Ecuadorian cowboys and the solitude of the wild, high grasslands under towering snow capped volcanoes.
Who does it suit A chance to see Ecuador's bustling local life, people, villages, markets but also get off-grid to the fabulous riding country of the highlands. Super quality, well schooled horses are a treat for experienced riders but less experienced will also be well looked after by a very experienced team. There are three ride itineraries to choose from, all following the ancient Inca routes with accomodation either in comfortable hacienda hotels or using more remote local lodges and traditional farms.
Why we love it The combination of culture and countryside. To see the daily lives of local people, the markets and busy villages then enjoy spectacular solitude in the mountains. And the horses are superb!
Riding: 4-7 hours a day
Horses: locally bred Criollo, Andalucian, Thoroughbred crosses
Pace: moderate overall and varied; generally good chances to canter but some slower days
Riding ability: suitable for intermediate to experienced riders
Weight limit: 95kgs (15 stone) but supplement is be payable if you are over 85kg (13st 5 lbs)
Accommodation: haciendas & country hotels; local lodges & farms (2 options)
Group size: max 8
Season: year round
Price: 7 night rides from USD 3175 (approx £2440) per person
Horses: The horses are mostly the local Criollo breed, crossed with Andalucian, Thoroughbred, Paso and other warmblood breeds. They are between 14.2hh and 16hh, are generally fairly narrow in build but strong and sure footed. They are well suited to the terrain and are calm but also responsive, forward going and fun to ride. The saddles are ex US Cavalry saddles, classed as western style but really half way between English & western and covered with a comfortable sheepskin. Most of the horses are trained western style so are used to neck reining. Groups are normally limited to a maximum of 8 guests.
Hours: There is usually 5 or 6 hours riding a day, riding from hacienda to hacienda, or between farms and lodges with breaks for rests, lunch and sightseeing.
Pace and experience required: To take part in the set date rides, you need to be a reasonably experienced rider who is comfortable, secure and in control on a well schooled horse at a walk, trot and canter. You should also be used to riding in open country and over varied terrain and have a good level of general and riding fitness. Tailormade rides can be organised for those with less experience and for groups or families who may want to include other activities as well as riding.
A variety of accommodation is used, depending on the itinerary. On the 'Hacienda' rides, nights are at a selection of Ecuador's historic haciendas (manor farms) and country hotels. These are all different, all comfortable, and rooms have own bathrooms. On the Andean Adventure & Volcano Rides nights are at more simple haciendas, local farms ('fincas') and guest houses which vary in style but are much more rustic. There may be occasional 'dorm style' rooms and bathrooms are sometimes shared but you will be reasonably comfortable.
(Assuming a minimum of 4 riders)
Haciendas of the Andes
Average temperature guide
Itinerary in brief - Haciendas of the Andes ride. Please enquire for other itineraries
|The following is an example of the itinerary for the Haciendas of the Andes ride. Contact us for other itineraries.|
|Day 1||Met in Quito and driven about 90 minutes to Cayambe, with a stop to visit the market. Lunch and meet the horses, an introductory ride over to the Zuleta Valley. Dinner and the night at Hacienda La Merced.|
|Day 2||A full day ride through a patchwork of fields to San Pablo lake, stopping for a picnic lunch en-route. Dinner and night Hacienda Cusin.|
|Day 3||Breakfast and ride south through farmland, forest and open country with some good chances to canter. In the afternoon leave the horses and drive south to a country hotel where the night is spent.|
|Day 4||A spectacular ride today, crossing the foothills of Cotopaxi National Park, beautiful remote wilderness with good chances to see Condors. Dinner and the night at Los Mortinos, a lodge with unbeatable views of Cotopaxi.|
|Day 5||The ride today is again into the Cotopaxi National Park, maybe meeting the wild horses as you ride across the plains and old lava flows. A picnic lunch before you return to Los Mortinos for dinner and the night.|
|Day 6||Set off riding, heading to the slopes of Ruminahui volcano, climbing to around 4000m for one of the hightest canters in the world! The night is spent at a Jesuit hacienda.|
|Day 7||Breakfast and the final ride takes you close to Cotopaxi volcano. An exhilarating canters across the high plains and in the afternoon ride down to the valleys and roadhead. Leave the horses and transfer to an hacienda close to Quito airport for dinner and the night.|
|Day 8||Breakfast and own arrangements for onward travel.|
|Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544 / 825440 for further information, detailed itineraries, dates and answers to questions.|
The meeting point is Quito, Ecuador's capital. There are flights to Quito from London with KLM via Amsterdam and Avianca via Bogota - both usually overnight, arriving Quito early the next morning.You can also fly with Iberia via Madrid and several US airlines via the States - usually day flights, arriving Quito in the evening. For flights from London budget around £850 economy return (varies with airline and time of year).