Ride Overview - Across the Andes Guesthouse Ride
A non-camping horseback riding vacation into the remote Andes, Ecuador ! This trail leads into the remote Andes found in the foothills of the perfectly conical, snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano. The heart of condor country. You will cross a huge variety of scenic terrain. Trails cross patchworks of tiny fields, lunar-like landscapes, and vast grassy plains. The pace is varied with plenty of chances for long canters across rolling hills and steadier paces over challenging surfaces. Breaks in the sea of high Andean grasslands are carpeted with wild flowers. You will ride through native and eucalyptus forests. Paths near old lava flows are dotted with rocks catapulted out of the erupting volcanos. Rivers are fed by melting snow. Nights are spent in a wonderful mixture of haciendas, inns, isolated farmhouses. Lodging is built from adobe with thatched roofs and original Inca stone. One night is spent in quaint hamlet cottages which support a truly excellent local community project. Your British born master guide has been offering this ride since 1996. This is an ideal equestrian vacation for experienced riders capable of riding over a multitude of challenging terrains and spending long days in the saddle (maximum 7-8 hours). RIDING IN ECUADOR
“Personally I really liked the place. It was very isolated so it really gave the impression of being just us in these fantastic mountains. Everyone there was lovely. The accommodation is simple but I have nothing to complain about – I was actually quite amazed by how comfortable it was considering how isolated we were. There were 2 massive fires to keep us warm, we were welcomed with a hot drink, the food was delicious, and we even had a private concert in the evening. Everything was clean and we were well looked after… The beds were comfortable and clean, we had the magic hot water bottle to keep us warm at night, and the showers were clean, with hot water….. love riding in remote areas…so I thought it was an absolutely magical place.” – S.A.
Ride Itinerary - Across the Andes Guesthouse Ride
After breakfast, you will be met at your hotel in Quito by your guide and driver. You will be driven ave Quito, driving north-east through a dry valley filled with acacia and cactus as well as avocado groves to Cayambe Valley (90 minutes); stopping as we cross the equator line from the south into northern hemisphere for a photo opportunity. We meet the horses and once guests are comfortable ride into the beautiful pastoral Zuleta Valley, to a working Hacienda for an overnight stay (5-6hrs). This valley and the Hacienda have been firm favourites with guests for many years. Guests enjoy an insight into Ecuadorian life on a working ranch, staying in a beautifully converted old building on a farm established in the 1500s, this area being farmed for centuries prior to that date. The ride is varied in pace and terrain – through eucalyptus forests, along dirt tracks, through a gorge and passing a 16th century Hacienda. A good chance of seeing the mighty Andean Condor. As always, the ‘chagras’ that work alongside the main guide are there to look after your horses as soon as we arrive. The dairy herd and Andalusian horses are close to our accommodation, the English-speaking owners are delightful and informative as they open their farm to us and show guests around and there is a museum of pre-Inca & Inca artefacts excavated at the Hacienda. Guests can walk around the farm or into the nearby village. 5 rooms, each with private bathroom.
Day 2Day 2: Ride out of the hacienda north-west to a superbly maintained hamlet (6-7hrs). Through another part of the picturesque Zuleta Valley sculpted at the end of the ice age by retreating glaciers. Then we climb out the valley, stunning views all around, through pine forests onto the slopes of Imbabura. The largest finch in the world and the brilliant mountain tanager flit around, depending on the time of the year, the vermillion fly catcher and the giant hummingbird can be seen. Other hummingbird species constantly zoom past us, including train bearers. Another delicious picnic along the way – a very varied menu including local fruits & salads, is enjoyed in a stunning location overlooking the valleys below. Along dirt tracks, cobbles, through woodlands then passing adobe houses we arrive at charming cottages and comfortable log cabins for overnight. This is an example of a very well managed community project; the local indigenous people are our hosts and, for those that wish, an opportunity to learn about the local culture – shamans, Andean calendar & fiestas and also their cooking. Delicious traditional food served at the home of a local family involved in tourism for many years.peaks very spacious and beautifully designed, located at the centre point between four mighty Andean peaks: – Ruminahui, Pasachoa, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi, an unbeatable location. A chance to exchange stories with a local hot cinnamon drink while watching the sun set on Cotopaxi. Single/twin/double rooms with private en-suite bathroom.
Day 3Day 3 After a breakfast, including fresh fruit and local flatbread, cooked in the oven outside the house, we ride out of the hamlet along cobbles and narrow dirt tracks, passing small farms, herds of animals, locals cultivating the fields in traditional dress. Through woodlands then over a ridge we arrive in the San Pablo Valley (6-7hrs). The land flattens out and riders have the chance of canters along the tracks as well as enjoying impressive views, both snow-capped Cayambe Volcano and the rugged peak of Imbabura on the horizon. Guests spot many ‘exotic’ plants including fields of lupins & quinoa, passion fruit, mountain papaya & ‘uvillas’. The wonderful hairy pigs are tethered to the sides of the tracks and we pass flocks of sheep– the shepherdess engrossed in the embroidery the area is famous for. We arrive in a typical village square and say goodbye to these horses as we will meet fresh ones tomorrow. A drive takes riders to the northern entrance of the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’, just north of Cotopaxi national park (2-2.5hrs). Overnight at a small inn in the Pasachoa foothills. Rooms with private bathrooms. B, PL, D. Day 4: A complete change of scenery! An exhilarating day starting with the chance to take a closer look at the famous Spanish fighting bulls as we ride through pastureland. Curiously, the fighting bulls were introduced by the Jesuit priests centuries ago to prevent their cattle being rustled. Then, riding into Cotopaxi national park, riders find themselves amongst important geological features produced by both ice age and volcanic activity (5-6hrs). Fast paced riding – long canters, across the flat grassy plains on ideal terrain, and as we speed through the rolling hills an almost guaranteed chance of meeting several herds of the wild horses that roam the park – the bold colts often running alongside us, long manes and tails flowing. We sometimes see deer and more and more frequently the Andean Condor is sighted soaring overhead. Crossing old lava flows, we then follow an old Inca route and ride on to a very comfortable lodge on a plain surrounded by four mightypeaks very spacious and beautifully designed, located at the centre point between four mighty Andean peaks: – Ruminahui, Pasachoa, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi, an unbeatable location. A chance to exchange stories with a local hot cinnamon drink while watching the sun set on Cotopaxi. Single/twin/double rooms with private en-suite bathroom.
After breakfast and preparing your luggage for the pack horses, you will begin your day’s ride to the head of Ventisqueros Valley. Along the way, you will stop for lunch. In the afternoon, the trail will take you to a little house in the remote valley where the delightful owners will provide lodging for 2 nights. Approx. 7 hours riding.
Day 5The longest ride of the trip– covering 45km (30 miles) through the northern section of national park and to the remote eastern flanks of Cotopaxi Volcano, far off the beaten track (7-8hrs). Flat plains, marshlands, volcanic rock fields, riverbeds are some of the distinct terrains we traverse. We follow an Inca route that led down to the Amazon for part of the way and the house we stay at tonight is a ‘tambo’ built with Inca stone –log fires and lovely staff ensure a warm welcome and once again guests can enjoy an incredible location. The Equator-line sky is packed with stars, including the Southern Cross. Twin bedded rooms (partitions dividing the sleeping areas), generator & candle lighting in this house, shared bathrooms.
Day 6A ride into the ‘paramo’ vegetation of Quilindaña mountain (6hrs). A circuit ride, usually accompanying the ‘Chagras’ – local horsemen that live and work in this area, while they go about their daily work. We may end up searching for cattle the chagras have been unable to locate in the far reaches of the hacienda lands, or helping the chagras bring cows down off the hills into the corral. The chagras have a specific dress – ponchos and goatskin chaps, ideal for the conditions. The fascinating tack has been specifically adapted over the centuries, since the Spaniards first brought horses to South America and the local horse has also developed into the ‘Ecuadorian criollo’ horse, ideally suited to the conditions.Return to this unique rarely visited Hacienda, literally at the end of a 4×4 track, for a second overnight. Twin-bedded rooms (partitions dividing each twin-bed sleeping area), generator & candle lighting in this house, shared bathrooms
Day 7Riders often wake to stunning views of the close-by Cotopaxi & Quilindana Volcanoes and also the glacier on Antisana Volcano on the horizon. Riders have a chance to inspect the hacienda stone and turf corrals used for the feisty fighting bulls before we set off through another part of this wilderness. The route is about 40km (7hrs), taking us close to the foot of Cotopaxi Volcano via a wide, glacier formed valley. The terrain is amazingly diverse: across rough ‘paramo’ grassland, fording rivers, traversing boulder fields and wetlands; then back onto the plains for some long canters across the huge expanses of open terrain of the national park. En route, we pass a restored hilltop Inca fort. Arriving at the park exit guests leave the horses and are driven back to Quito for an overnight stay. Single, twin/double/triple rooms with en suite bathrooms
Day 8: Following breakfast, end of services. Guests can book transport with us to the airport or we can arrange extensions for them, for example Amazon lodges & Galapagos Island cruises
*Due to the varying weather conditions in the mountains (seasonal changes east, west of Cotopaxi Volcano), flexibility is needed. We have several other excellent alternatives if a change to the itinerary needs to be made.
Ride Details - Across the Andes Guesthouse Ride
Dates: November, December
Best Months to Ride: June – September. Peak season is October to December.
Riding Days: 7
Daily Riding Hours: up to 7
Riding Ability: STRONG INTERMEDIATE: Able to canter in open spaces and ride on steep slopes and tricky terrain. Need to be riding fit – long days in the saddle with some tough riding. Comfortable in leading horse (but not normally over long distances). Please consult with us if you have any doubts.
Altitude: It is very important that you are acclimatized to up to 13,000 feet/4000 meters. Please check with your doctor regarding this altitude.
Weight Restrictions: 187 lbs. (extra charge over 187 lbs. for extra horse)
Horses: English, Arab, Pasos crossed with Criollo
Group Size: 2 – 8
Weight Restrictions: 187 lbs. (extra charge over 187 lbs. for extra horse)
Horses: Creollo, Peruvian Paso
Saddles: McClellan with sheepskin covers.
Accommodations: haciendas, farmhouses and inns
Post-Ride Tours: Amazon Rain Forest, the Cloud Forest, or the Galapagos Islands
Price: $2,885.00 per person, single and double occupancy. $835.00 small group fee may apply
Included: horse, spare horse(s) taken, guide and local groom(s) who saddle and unsaddle the horses, 3 meals per day (from lunch day 1 to breakfast day 8), snacks and water on rides, 7 nights’ accommodation, national park/private reserves etc. entrance fees, transport of bags between lodgings and all local taxes. Saddlebags and ponchos (wool & rain) provided for each guest
Not Included: airfare, dinner on day 7
Across the Andes Guesthouse Ride: Gallery
Across the Andes Guesthouse Ride