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Guide Sally has been leading tours in Ecuador since 1996 when she moved from England having been completely taken aback by the wildness and beauty of the Andean landscape.
This route takes you from the fields and valleys of the northern highlands, to the rugged landscapes of Cotopaxi National Park. Along the way you will experience varied scenery, see rural village life and visit local markets in parts of Ecuador which has changed little over the centuries.
The northern highlands are intensely rural, characterised by verdant valleys, flower farms, eucalyptus plantations and sugarcane fields. During the second part of the week you negotiate the high páramo and ride into the wide-open spaces of Cotopaxi National Park in the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’. Cantering across the plains below the snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi is a hugely exhilarating experience.
Nights are spent in historic haciendas, many dating back to the 17th and 18th century. Relax in front of open fireplaces and enjoy the fine period detail, atmospheric courtyards and flowering gardens.
The pace is mixed, with plenty of long flowing trots and canters where the terrain allows. The horses are keen and fit, but happily settle into a wonderful rhythm. The Colonial Hacienda route is at altitude and so for the sake of the horses, it is not suitable for riders who wish to gallop flat out for long periods.
Descended from the Spanish Conquistadors' stock, the horses are Criollo crosses. They are fit, sure-footed and ideal for the terrain of the high Andes. They are specially selected, well-trained and good natured.
You should be a competent and confident rider in control of your horse at all paces in open and difficult terrain. There are also some steep slopes to negotiate. Due to the high altitude it is important that you have good overall physical fitness as well as riding fitness for the long hours in the saddle.
Western tack is used, South American style US-cavalry saddles with sheepskins provided. If you prefer to ride in English saddles, this may be possible but it must be requested in advance.
The weight limit is 85 kg in riding gear. By prior arrangement it may be possible to accommodate riders up to 100 kg subject to payment of an additional horse supplement. Please enquire for availability.
During the ride you stay in comfortable hacienda accommodation, many were once the homes of noble Ecuadorian families. The guest rooms have private bathroom facilities, mostly with showers rather than baths. Your overnight stops range from historic 17th century estates and impressive country houses converted into hotels to charming working farms.
The food is plentiful and freshly prepared. Breakfast is typically coffee, eggs, bread and seasonal fruit. Lunches are usually saddlebag picnics taken on the trail and may include dishes such as cold chicken, empanadas and rice salad. Often there is delicious tropical fruit on offer, like mango, granadilla and guaba. Dinner is often three courses, featuring dishes such as locro de papa (a soup made with potato and cheese), chicken stew or steak, followed by caramel flan, dulce de leche or rice pudding.
Below are the set dates. Additional dates may be possible for groups of 2 or more (not May or mid-October to mid-November). Please enquire for details.
INCLUDES Accommodation; riding; most meals
Riders 85kg and over pay an extra horse supplement of $280.00
SMALL GROUP SUPPLEMENTS apply which depend on the total number of people booked:
2-3 riders in group: $870.00
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT $550.00 (refunded if we find you a sharer)
PAYABLE LOCALLY Tips; drinks; meals in Quito other than breakfast
NEAREST AIRPORT Quito
TRANSFERS Transfers from Quito airport to Quito city are currently c. $38.89 each way per vehicle (1-2 passengers) (2020 prices still to be confirmed). The transfer from Quito to the start of the ride departs early morning so you will need to arrive in Quito at least the day before the start of the ride.
The collection point for the ride is the city of Quito. Airport transfers and pre ride accommodation are not included, but we can make these arrangements for you if you wish.
You will need to overnight in Quito for at least one night prior to the start of the ride, because the collection on Day 1 is after breakfast. This will also help you to become accustomed to the altitude.
The meeting point on Day 1 is in the Mariscal part of Quito, usually the Casa Aliso Hotel, (Francisco Salazar E 12-131 y Toledo, 170109, Quito. Tel: +593 22 528 062). Collection is usually around 07:30, but the precise time will be confirmed in your final travel documents. From here you are driven to the starting point for the ride.
After finishing riding on Day 7 you are transferred back to Quito, where you overnight. On Day 8 your flight can depart at any time, although check-out is after breakfast.
This ride begins close to Otavalo in the highlands north of Quito and ends in the wilds of Cotopaxi National Park.
As a general rule, the dry season is from June until the end of September. From November until the middle of March you can expect sunny mornings but occasional afternoon rain.
Wonderful holiday. The horses were beautifully trained and well loved. I rode 4 horses in all, my favourite being Capuli. Ecuador was absolutely beautiful and amazing to see from the back of a horse.
Vivien ,HampshireOverall rating: 5/5
High altitude canters, seeing local life in tucked-away villages and blasting across the plains of Cotopaxi with volcanoes towering above. These memories of riding in Ecuador will stay with you many years after your holiday has come to an end.
This ride is at very high altitude and we do recommend that you arrive to Quito for a night or two prior to the start of the ride in order to acclimatise as much as you can.