We feature three exciting trail rides in Ecuador, the Colonial Hacienda, Andean Adventure and Volcanoes & Vistas rides. Each one boasts fantastic riding on well-schooled horses, spectacular Andean scenery and a good dose of adventure. The guides and horses are the same, but the routes vary.
On our Colonial Haciendas ride, as with the other two trips, you explore both the northern highlands and Cotopaxi National Park. There is also the opportunity to visit the colourful market at Otavalo and a beautiful rose plantation. This itinerary features the most luxurious accommodation, in grand haciendas with lovely gardens and comfortable en-suite guest rooms. The riding is still wonderful, but the locations are not quite as remote as on the Volcanoes & Vistas and Andean Adventure trips. This combined with the non-riding trips means this itinerary probably feels the most like a holiday.
If you are struggling to choose between the three trail rides, because there’s a minimum number of two guests, sometimes your choice will have to come down to which dates are confirmed to run. But if there are multiple dates to choose from, or you are travelling with 1 or 2 other riders, then you’ll be lucky enough to have the choice of all three!
During my trip to Ecuador in September 2013 I was lucky enough to do the Colonial Hacienda ride. Here is the ride report from my visit.
During the first part of the ride we explored the pastoral hills and valleys of the northern highlands. I loved seeing how local life goes on; visiting the bustling Otavalo market, seeing people out in the fields ploughing or planting in colourful clothes and groups of children walking to school. We rode through eucalyptus forests, saw Spanish fighting bulls and visited young Andalucian horses out in the paddocks.
Next we journeyed into Cotopaxi National Park, following tracks along steep hillsides and up in the the paramo (high Andes) beyond. Here I enjoyed some of the most exhilarating riding of my life, as we cantered on the plains below a snow-capped Cotopaxi volcano. We even saw the wild horses out roaming the area.
On the accommodation front we were thoroughly spoiled, staying in a range of luxurious country haciendas, many of which date back to the 17th and 18th century. Each hacienda is unique, but all hold an important place in the history of Ecuador. You stay in comfortable guest rooms, each with individual styles and an en-suite bathroom.
Our first night was at Pinsaqui, one of the oldest haciendas, ideally located close to Otavalo and its famous market. Next we stayed at Hacienda Cusin, a beautifully restored 17th century Andean estate with amazing gardens and innumerable rooms to explore. Hacienda La Merced – one of my favourites – is a working farm in the Zuleta valley, famed for its Andalusian horses, Spanish bulls and guest rooms chock-full of character. Our next night was at Hacienda Los Mortiños, located within Cotopaxi National Park, boasting a stunning location with amazing views to the Cotopaxi volcano. The final night before returning to Quito was spent at Santa Ana, a luxurious Jesuit hacienda nestled between the Pasochoa, Ruminahui and Sincholagua Mountains.
At In The Saddle we’re not really supposed to have favourites, but I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Ecuador. If you’re a competent rider who likes quality horses and scenic riding, then these rides should definitely on your wish list. I really can’t think of any reason you wouldn’t enjoy an adventure in Ecuador.
If you’re interested in a trip to Ecuador then you might like to read my Colonial Hacienda ride blog. If you are keen on extending your time in Ecuador then the Galapagos are absolutely incredible and you can read my Galapagos Islands report here.
Abbie Wood – September 2013