Cattle Roundup 'El Rodeo' - Ecuador
- join in with the camaraderie of the local chagras
- learn to lasso and round up fighting bulls
- ride across old lava flows near the magnificent snow capped Cotopaxi Volcano ( the highest active volcano in the world)
The cattle roundup is the most important event that takes place in the vast cattle ranches (‘haciendas’) of the Ecuadorian Andes. It involves the ‘chagras’ (Andean cowhands), riding their horses up into the mountains to round up the fightingbulls and herd them down into the corrals. It is an incredibly exciting riding experience for competent riders only -with plenty of adrenalin flowing while riding across steep and rough terrain surrounded by the most stunning scenery imaginable.
In the morning, drive from Quito. We will go to the Hacienda, high in the Andes (approx four hours, through part of Cotopaxi national park). Lunch on arrival at the hacienda. Free afternoon to relax & take in the magnificent scenery. After dinner, guests will get to hear about the ‘Rodeo’ (so called as once the cattle are in the corral they circle, always in the same direction – ‘rodear’: to go round).
The rodeo begins! Riders will head to “El Ami” area in the foothills of the Quilindaña peak where guests will have their first encounter with the fighting bulls. The task will be to surround the bulls and herd them to the corrals, letting as few as possible escape back into the hills. This will normally take all morning. After lunch at the hacienda, the rest of the afternoon will be dedicated to work in the corrals branding and selecting. If interested, guests can be shown how to lasso.
Early in the morning riders will mount up and assemble then go to the corrals, where “la bomba” is formed (the long line of riders) to receive instructions from the hacienda owner and mayodomo (hacienda manager). After taking a ritual drink out of a horn, the chagras will receive details of who is to ride to where and everyone will head to “El Ami grande” where the older and fiercest animals of the hacienda graze, these also have to be herded into the corrals. In the afternoon superb photographic opportunities as the chagras work in the corrals.
Chagras, guides and guests ride to an area of Quilindaña mountain where numerous herds of fighting bulls and wild horses graze. These are new corrals which makes it much harder to get the animals into them. If successful, the animals will be branded and the horses’ manes cut. If time, in the afternoon riders will head out again into the San Agustin hills in search of bulls that escaped in the morning.
This is an important day as a large percentage of the hacienda’s bulls are in this part of the ranch. Working alongside the chagras we need to get a maximum number of bulls into the corrals. After such a hard day there is a delicious barbeque back at the Hacienda & the chagras usually really start to party – local songs accompanied by guitars. They are such warm, friendly people that guests are quick to join in, share drinks & sing along.
Guests will ride close to the magnificent snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano, with the chance of stunning views as they cross old lava flows. Another important day as ‘Yanachiza’ - this part of the ranch, is by far the largest area to collect bulls in one day: there is a lot of ground to cover. Working alongside the chagras the pace is often fast & the chagras work hard to stop the cattle turning & fleeing back up into the hills.
Today the work will be centred in the corrals, where the hacienda owners choose the animals they wish to be sold. In the morning, if the chagras head out into ‘paramo’ grasslands again, guests can join them looking for the bulls that were not brought down off the hills during the last few days. Afternoon return by vehicle to Quito, for overnight at a comfortable Quito hotel.
Guests will be taken to the airport in time for their outward flights or to Quito to continue their journey.
Included: transport from Quito and all services mentioned in the itinerary (horses, guides, grooms, food, equipment and accommodation, all taxes).