These rides take you to Ecuador's famous Avenue of Volcanoes, up to its high Andean grasslands and to its prestigious colonial haciendas. You will ride in the shadow of the giant volcanic peaks of Cayambe and Cotopaxi, see the brightly clothed Indian farmers and shepherds who tend flocks of sheep and llamas in the hills, join colourful Ecuadorian cowboys herding cattle into sheltered valleys and visit markets, weavers and woodturners who practice their traditional crafts in the villages. Three ride itineraries are offered, following ancient Inca routes and taking you either from comfortable hacienda to hacienda or using local lodges and farms.
Rides are run from fixed dates year round usually for 7 or 10 nights. Private trips and tailor made itineraries can also be arranged for groups of 4 or more. Please contact us to discuss.
Riding: 5-7 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: colonial haciendas; local lodges & farms (2 options).
Group size: max 8.
Season: year round
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 these rides you need to be a reasonably experienced rider. You should be comfortable, secure and in control on a well schooled horse at a walk, trot and canter and used to riding in open country and over varied terrain. You should have a reasonably good level of general and riding fitness.
A variety of accommodation is used on the rides, depending on the itinerary. On the 'Colonial Hacienda' rides, nights are at a selection of Ecuador's old haciendas (colonial manor farms), many of which date back to the 17th and 18th Century and some of which are now hotels, whilst some still house descendants of the country's noblest families. These haciendas, with their antique filled rooms, hold an important position in the country's history and staying at them gives a wonderful insight into Spanish colonial life. On the Andean Adventure & Volcano Rides nights are spent at more simple haciendas, local farms ('fincas') and guest houses which are simple and rustic but reasonably comfortable.
(Assuming a minimum of 4 riders)
Colonial Hacienda Ride
Itinerary in brief - Colonial Hacienda Ride. Please enquire for other itineraries
|The following is an example of the itinerary for the Colonial Hacienda Ride; the Cotopaxi Ride circumnavigates Cotopaxi volcano and takes you far off the beaten track to explore the highlands surrounding Antisana volcano with nights in rustic local accommodation.|
|Day 1||Met in Quito and driven about 90 minutes to the first hacienda. Lunch and an introductory ride, returning to the hacienda in the late afternoon. If time, visit the famous Otavalo market before dinner and the night at Hacienda Pinsaqui.|
|Day 2||Set off riding in the shadow of the sacred mountain of Imbabura. The ride takes you to Lake San Pablo, stopping for a picnic on the way. Dinner and night at the lovely Hacienda Cusin, close to San Pablo Lake.|
|Day 3||Breakfast and ride through farmland and small villages, climbing above Lake San Pablo with wonderful views of the lake and mountains. Descend into the Zuleta valley following sandy tracks to the working farm of Hacienda La Merced for dinner and the night.|
|Day 4||The ride today crosses the high grassland, the ‘paramo’, of the Andes and stopping to admire views of snow capped Cayambe Volcano. Ride down into the Cayambe valley and leave the horses, driving south across the equator to Hacienda La Carriona for dinner and the night.|
|Day 5||A short drive to meet new horses and set off riding towards Cotopaxi National Park, cantering across the grassy fields with the conical snow capped mountain in the background. Dinner and the night at Los Mortinos, a lodge with unbeatable views of Cotopaxi.|
|Day 6||Ride into the Cotopaxi National Park, maybe meeting the wild horses as you ride across the plains and old lava flow. A picnic lunch before you ride out of the national park to an old Jesuit Hacienda Santa Ana for dinner and the night.|
|Day 7||Breakfast and set off riding, fording a river and following dirt tracks down the valley towards civilisation. Leave the horses and transfer to Quito. Own arrangements for dinner, night in a Quito hotel.|
|Day 8||Breakfast and morning transfer to Quito airport.|
|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 for the rides is Quito, Ecuador's capital. There are flights to Quito from London with KLM via Amsterdam - usually overnight, arriving Quito early the next morning - and with several US airlines via the States - usually day flights, arriving Quito in the evening. For flights from London budget around £850 economy return.