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The ride begins close to the glacier-topped Cayambe Volcano, to the north of Quito. Following tracks across farmland, you ascend through eucalyptus and pine forests to open mountain pastures. Continuing north from San Clemente you ride over a ridge and into the San Pablo valley towards Otavalo, home to the famous market which you will have the chance to visit.
The second part of the ride takes you to the highland village of Pinan on a 600 year old trading route. From Pinan the flora becomes more tropical as you pass bamboo, coffee trees and passion-fruit trees.
The final rides take you to close to the conical Cotopaxi Volcano. This is a remote place of seldom-visited plains high in the Andes. During the latter portion of the ride you may spot Andean wildlife such as condor, eagles & owls, hummingbirds and deer. If you are lucky, you may even meet some of the wild horses that roam the area.
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.
The horses used on the Pinan part of the ride are small sure-footed and ideally-suited to the terrain. During the rest of the trip, you ride Criollo crosses. They are fit and ideal for traversing 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, (the longest days consist of seven hours of riding).
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.
On some evenings you have comfortable rooms with private bathrooms, but on other nights the facilities are shared. The following is the usual order of accommodation, but this can and does sometimes change.
The first night is spent at La Finca, a small farm with three guest rooms and shared bathrooms. If the group size is larger, you will overnight at Hacienda La Merced instead.
The next night will be at Hacienda La Merced, a working farm in the pastoral Zuleta valley. Each of the seven guest rooms has its own bathroom.
The next night is spent in the hamlet of San Clemente, where you stay in a guesthouse owned by a local family.
Your fourth night is spent at Casa Sol in Peguche, just a few kilometres from Otavalo.
The next two nights are at a remote inn with three dormitory-style rooms and shared bathrooms.
Your next night is spent at Rio Lindo, a small lodge on a coffee plantation. There are four private guest rooms with shared bathrooms.
Your eighth night is at Chilcabamba Mountain Inn, with single, twin and double rooms and a bathroom per two rooms.
The next night is at Hacienda Los Mortiños, situated within Cotopaxi National Park. Here there are single, twin and double rooms and en-suite bathrooms.
Your final night is spent in a comfortable hotel in Quito with en-suite rooms.
Below are the set dates. Additional dates may be possible for groups of 2 or more (not April, 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 $350.00
SMALL GROUP SUPPLEMENTS apply which depend on the total number of people booked:
2-3 riders in group: $820.00
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT $495.00 (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. $33.33 each way per vehicle (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 at Cruz Loma Hotel, (Av. Gral. Ignacio de Veintimilla 464 y Luis Tamayo, 170150, Quito. Tel: +593 2250 5687). The precise collection 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 10 you are transferred back to Quito, where you overnight. On Day 11 your flight can depart at any time, although check-out is after breakfast.
This ride takes place in the valleys of the northern highlands, the remote Pinan region and in the foothills of Cotopaxi Volcano.
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.
The horses were extremely fit and happy in their work, they were so bombproof and didn't flinch at anything. The saddles were extremely comfortable with sheepskins for the long hours in the saddle. Sally is a really experienced horse woman and very accomodating. She has a brilliant knowledge of the local country, history and nature in Ecuador.
A challenging route, with plenty of riding and some long days in the saddle. This itinerary is designed to take in many of the highlights of Ecuador; the pastoral valleys to the north of the capital, the remote region of Pinan, the cloud forest and Cotopaxi National Park - an incredible experience.
This ride is at high altitude and we recommend that you arrive to Quito one or two nights prior to the start of the ride in order to acclimatise as much as you can.