Want to get away from it all and experience the land of Volcanoes in the middle of rolling green countryside surrounded by snow capped and rocky peaks such as Cotopaxi, Pasochoa, Corazon, Ruminahui, and Antizana mountains while being able to ride on the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest?. If this is the case, this is the ride for you. It combines many different ecosystems and gives you an experience of a lifetime. What makes this ride so unique is that you will be riding while you observe the different environments and ride in many types of terrain. On horse, you will be eyewitness of some of the wonders of Ecuador.
You start the trip staying at a very comfortable and beautiful Hacienda less than one hour drive south of Quito. The Hacienda is nestled amidst lush surroundings in the typical fertile green farmlands of the Ecuadorian Andean plain at a fairly high altitude. Expect cool nights around the fireplace. Guests of the Hacienda are accustomed to a warm, welcoming atmosphere with a personal touch.
In the days to come you will ride up and down the valleys and you will have spectacular views of the Volcanoes. You will find in the Paramo many native trees, plants and flowers and you might even catch a glimpse of the Andean condor. Riding from the west-chain mountains across the native tundra landscape to an altitude of 13,000 feet, we will ride towards the east-chain of the Andes and arrive at the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest, where you can experience an amazing diversity of ecosystems including cloud forests, productive valleys, and farms at the high altitude mountains.
All overnights are at beautiful haciendas, and during the day enjoy the rides on horses full of stamina. The only time you will be separated from your horse will be at the end when the horses will be transported back to the farm by truck.
Day 1: Transfer from hotel or airport for dinner and overnight to Hacienda La Alegria.
Day 2: Ride in the arena to try horses and get acquainted with the horse and tack that we will be using the next days. Lunch in the Hacienda house and later we ride around the neighboring Haciendas and the Viudita Mountain. Our acclimatization and first contact with the heights starts this first day. Acommodations: La Alegria Hours of Riding: 4 hours
Day 3: In the morning we enjoy a demonstration of the Chagras’ skills (the Ecuador Andes’ cowboys). After having lunch at Hacienda La Alegria we ride on what used to be the road to the coast. We ascend by the sides of Corazon to 3,500 meters and descend to the cloud forest. At the cloud forest we can observe a great biodiversity of plants and flowers, including giant gunneras, orchids, and birds such as the pava de monte (guan). In the late afternoon we arrive to Hacienda Bomboli 3,000 m (13,000 ft), and relax by the fireplace enjoying the sunset and watching the lights of the villages near the coast.
Option camping in Monte Oscuro, (Depends on the weather, min 4 pax)
Accommodations: Bomboli Hours of riding: 4 hours
Day 4: We leave behind the cloud forest and ascend to the Corazon Volcano up to 4,000 meters. From there we can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and we can also see the routes we will take the next day. Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests we initiate the descent toward the valley. Snack and continue to the valley. Late afternoon we arrive for a delicious lunch at the Hacienda house.
Accommodations: La Alegria Hours of riding: 6 hours
Day 5: We ride toward the west mountain range and through the valley toward Machachi. We stop at the Machachi market (on Sundays only), continue toward the Ruminahui skirts and stop at a beautiful Hacienda for lunch. We continue riding until we arrive to the Pedregal valley and stay overnight in a Hacienda at 3,500 meters.
Accommodations: Hacienda in the Pedregal Valley (near Cotopaxi) Hours of riding: 4 hours
Day 6: We get closer to the Cotopaxi Volcano; we enter the Cotopaxi National Park and visit the Inca ruins from Pucara of Salitre (Inca fortress built in the mountains). We continue ascending to the east side of the Cotopaxi, after lunch we continue until we arrive at the skirts of Quilindana. We ride in close proximity to berber breed wild horse herds that live in the park and are descendants of the horses brought by the Spanish in the 16th century. At the hacienda we learn how the chagras live and we may hear some traditional songs specific to the people of the mountains.
Accommodations: Hacienda Tambo Hours of ridings: 5+ hours
Day 7: Today we prepare our gear to transport it in our pack horses since we will be with no support vehicle for two days. We ride toward the south, and ascend to Morro Mountain 4,200 meters. At this point we have covered ¾ around the Cotopaxi Volcano. From there we can enjoy the view of the Latacunga valley with its roses and pines. It is possible to see a condor guarding its Paramo. We speed up and arrive to Hacienda Chalupas, have lunch and later fish trout for dinner.
Accommodations: Hacienda Chalupas Hours of riding: 5 hours
Day 8: This day is the most remote and far away from civilization. We ride through the Guagui Valley and Secas until we arrive to the Vicious Valley. We will possibly meet some chagras that are taking care of the cattle, and we might see some deer, wild pigs (they run faster than a horse), and spectacle bears. Today we have completed a circle around the Quillindana Volcano.
Accommodations: Hacienda at Vicious valley or camp site Hours of riding: 7 hours
Day 9: We start riding toward the west, pass the Muchana rock (kissing rock), and mudadero where we can see hundreds of alpacas grazing. We pass the innumerable Cajas, Sto. Domingo lakes and get closer to the Cotopaxi Volcano. We pass the lava rocks that had descended to the valley and is now static; then we arrive to the only structure that is our very comfortable and warm mountain refuge.
Accommodations: Tambopaxi Refuge Hours of riding 5+ hours
Day 10: Ride in the Lipiopungo plains (Cotopaxi base), feels like if you were riding on the moon’s surface. Here we do the highest gallop in the world. Pass to the highest point of our ride (4,200 meters) on the edges of the rocks of the Ruminahui Volcano. We continue our ride toward the green Machachi valley as always guarded by the volcanoes avenue. We cross the Machachi plaza where the horsemen are always welcomed; we pass the town of Aloag and arrive to Hacienda La Alegria for a pleasant dinner and rest time.
Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria Hours of riding 7+ hours
Day 11: Transport to the airport after breakfast.
Subject to change
Rates include: Accommodations - 9 overnight stays at six highland haciendas with 1 night at a mountain campsite, all meals featuring delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian foods and wines,
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