Ride Overview - Cotopaxi Trails Ride
An adventurous horseback riding vacation in Ecuador! This ride is designed for those looking for cultural immersion, adventure and amazing scenery. The route takes you close to the Illinizas, Quilotoa, Chimborazo, Carihuirazo, Igualata and Tungurahua volcanoes. The Tunguruahua has been active for the last 16 years. You will take remote trails to the isolated communities of the Quilotoa, Sigchos and Guambaine. The people follow the same colonial traditions. During the ride, you will to enjoy two thermal springs. Challenging narrow mountain trails ascend to the altitude of 13,900 feet.
Your lodging includes a family-run horse and organic dairy hacienda. Located in the heart of Ecuador’s magnificent Volcano Avenue, the hacienda is nestled in the fertile valley of Machachi. Built a century ago, the rooms have retained its stately elegance and original character. The surrounding gardens are awash with colorful roses, native flowers, graceful trees and intricate outdoor stonework. Lodging also includes camping at a mountain refuge deep in the mountains. The horses are exceptional locally bred Berber, Andalusian and Arabian breeds. RIDING IN ECUADOR
“The setting is beautiful. The owners are fantastic, always looking for ways to surprise and please guests. The staff is knowledgeable and responsive and the horses well-trained. What more could we want? We’re sure to return!” S.F. U.S.A.
Ride Itinerary - Cotopaxi Trails Ride
Arrive in Quito and transfer to the Hacienda.
After breakfast, you will try your horse in a closed arena until you feel comfortable with your equine partner and tack. Today’s ride is an acclimatizing ride around the hacienda’s surroundings. You will observe the green valley of Machachi and the soaring mountains of the Volcano Avenue, where you will be riding during the next days. After a late lunch, you will have a tour of the farming operation.
Your trail will lead you to the Corazon Mountain (13,213 feet/4,000 meters) and then descend into the cloud forest. You will ride through 3 different ecosystems from the rich valley basin to the paramo (high tropical forest) to the mystical cloud forest. While in the cloud forest, you will be able to observe the great biodiversity of plants and flowers, including giant guneras, orchids, and birds such as the turkey of the forest (guan). In the afternoon, your group will arrive for tea at Hacienda Bomboli (12,467feet/3,000 meters), then enjoy the sunset, enjoy a great traditional meal and finally enjoy the sparkling lights of the coastal villages.
An old trail which connected Quito with the coast will lead you along the green and fertile Machachi Valley where you can see the eastern mountainous routes that your ride will take the next day. Crossing extensive pastures and pungent eucalyptus forests, you will arrive in the valley for a snack. Your day ends at with a delicious dinner back at the Hacienda.
Today, you will experience a long journey in the saddle. You will be transferred by car to the starting point of your 6-day adventure in the southern Andes. An ancient Incan trail will take you to the historic village of Sigchos, the “last home” of the Incan General Ruminahui. From this day on, you will ride through a dramatic landscape including steep ravine trails and narrow mountain passages. Even though you can visualize where you are heading and it looks near, your horse will have to cross many mountains to get to your destination. The landscape is a combination of thick forest and craggy rock peaks. You will stay at the guesthouse of Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm. Your evening includes a good meal, jacuzzi, sauna and rest.
After breakfast, your trail heads to the Quilotoa Crater Lake. Along the way, you will reach the basin of the Toachi Canyon where lunch will be served. Next, you will pass picturesque farm villages. The land is arid as it is composed of pumice from the Quilotoa Volcano that erupted 1,280 years ago. The challenge is to get to the Quilotoa Summit at 12,467 feet/3,800 meters above sea level where your hostel is waiting. On the cliff of the volcano, you will enjoy the amazing view of the breathtaking Quilotoa Crater Lake. Quilotoa is a crater lake caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The 3 kilometer wide caldera was formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following a catastrophic eruption.
This day will be an intense riding day and will be the climax of your adventure. Zumbahau is the next village from which you will start the trekking to the high Andes. Along the way, you will pass a small isolated homestead of about 50 families. Roads have disappeared since the only connection to civilization is by a 3-hour path to Angamarca. Here you will see llama herds that are used as pack animals as well as sheep guided by shepherd children. You will be some of the first tourists to the area. You will camp overnight and use one of the grass huts for a kitchen. Our presence helps the community to forge a path to the east that will help the locals sell their products at a larger market and also to get better prices on their products of cheese, potatoes, broad beans and barley.
Early in the morning, you will have the opportunity to admire the extraordinary combination of the sunrise and the clouds arriving from the west cloud forest. Your ride will then encounter a dramatic change of the ecosystem “paramo.” Riding from the high mountains to the lowland valleys (12,300 feet/3700 meters), you will view a panorama of thousands of small dairy farms. 50% of the milk produced in Ecuador is from farms that have less than 5 acres. A deep ravine that originates from the Chimborazo volcano (20,600 feet/6,300 meters, the highest volcano in Ecuador) will come into view. Along the ravine’s river is an old road built in 1830’s called “Camino de Flores.” This was the first road to connect the highlands with the coast. In the afternoon, you will arrive at a hot spring where you will set up the camp and enjoy a nice BBQ dinner. Carihuairazo is a volcanic caldera adjacent to Ecuador’s highest mountain Chimborazo. Chimborazo is a currently an inactive stratovolcano in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD. Your expedition continues along the Chimborazo skirt. This will be a challenging ride with many different sceneries from arid soil to swampy areas to rocky hills. You will then ride east, crossing into the eastern Andes Mountain chain. This ride will follow the south Chimborazo skirt, with the Carihuairazo volcano on your left, the scenery changes from a desert full of running vicunas to a swampy green paramo. The area is full of hikers’ paths and you will finish the day on the east face of Chimborazo. You will overnight in a Chimborazo refuge.
The last day of your expedition will be the Tungurahua area that has been affected over the last 14 years with volcanic ash and periodic eruptions. This ride completes your journey through the east. You will ride by fertile hills with potatoes, beans and cash crops, on side of the Igualata volcano. The landscape is dotted with mini-farms perched 13,213 feet/4000 meters above sea level. Your trail will descend to the Chambo canon and then to the Tungurahua volcano skirts. The volcano and the changes of the scenery from 13,123 feet/4000 meters to 7,784 feet/2400 meters is impressive. The horses will go back to the hacienda and you will stay in Banos.
This is a non-riding day. You will tour Banos which is based on the skirts of the volcano, a unique city that is the entrance to the Amazon jungle region and well for thermal water springs. You will then be transferred by car to the Hacienda La Alegria for lunch and lodging.
Transfer to the airport after breakfast.
Ride Details - Cotopaxi Trails Ride
Dates: January 15th – 22nd, March 26th – April 2nd, June 18th – 25th, August 6th – 13th, October 22nd – 29th
Best Months to Ride: June – September. Peak season is October to December. Meeting Place: Quito Airport
Riding days: 9
Maximum Daily Riding Hours: 4 – 8+
Pace: Moderate, trots and canters
Horses: locally bred sturdy trail
Saddles: Argentina, Western, Calvary, McClellan with sheepskin covers
Riding ability: ADVANCED: Confident and in control at all paces including posting trots, two point canters and gallops in open spaces. Comfortable in the saddle for 6 hours or longer. Capable of riding across rivers and along narrow ascending and descending trails. Capable of leading horses along narrow trails.
Health Concerns: Highest elevation: 13,900 feet. Please talk to your doctor about altitude sickness prevention and required vaccinations.
Group size: 2-12
Hotel/s: Haciendas and camps
$2,180.00 per person, double occupancy
$150.00 single supplement
*The Chagra Parade is a commemoration of Cotopaxi`s last eruption and about 2000 Chagras participate by horse. This ride is specifically designed for those looking for a cultural immersion and adventure. The parade ride adds one-night stay to the package. You will ride with one to two thousand horses and be a part of the parade. The food, music and colorful dresses make this environment very festive.
Includes: 11 nights’ lodging, all meals/wine, lunch, 11 days horseback riding, all necessary equipment, 1 market day, 1 Quito tour day, horse, guide
Not included: airfare, airport tax, local taxes, gratuities, transfer to and from the airport ($100 roundtrip)
ANNUAL TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL:
Cotopaxi Trails Ride: Gallery
Cotopaxi Trails Ride