Volcanoes & Vistas, Ecuador
11 Days , 10 Days Riding
- following old Inca routes, ride through patchwork fields and local villages
- long canters across the wilderness
- a chance of seeing the wildlife of the seldom-visited open plains of the high Andes
‘Thank you so much, I have had a fantastic time in Ecuador, and much of that was down to your care and planning – and of course your fantastic horses’ Anna, December 2016.
A challenging route through stunning scenery and over incredibly varied terrain, including fast paced riding across the arid plains of Cotopaxi National Park and traversing the incredibly scenic Northern valleys. We are often fortunate enough to see the magnificent Condors and canter alongside herds of wild horses.
‘Very enjoyable thank you. Great variety across the three sections of the ride.’ Tony, December 2016.
Guests are met at their hotels and driven across the equator line to the famous Otavalo market. We go on to ride out of the San Pablo Valley and down into the pastoral Zuleta Valley). Along grassy lanes and through eucalyptus forests, we ride into a Hacienda (working farm) passing their magnificent Andalucian stallions posing for us in their fields.
A long circuit ride in the magnificent Zuleta valley with superb views of this stunning countryside and the surrounding jagged peaks. As well as a host of other birds including the tiny hummingbirds, we often sight the mighty Andean Condor soaring overhead, admiring it’s huge wingspan. A chance of some canters on the sisal-lined tracks as well as the perfect opportunity to see local life as we pass small adobe huts, the very friendly locals still dress in their vibrant coloured traditional clothing.
We ride southwards out of Zuleta Valley and into the Cayambe Valley, the skyline dominated by the glacier covered Cayambe volcano (6hrs). More opportunities for canters as we ride across plains and along grassy tracks. We ride through enchanting Eucalyptus forests and as we cross the Pesillo plains locals often ride past us, the ladies riding in pleated skirts, babies swaddled on their backs, feet in wooden clog-like stirrups. Today there is a great photo opportunity when we cross the Equator line.
An early start, going southwards along the side of the eastern Cordillera of the Andes, into the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’. A first taste of the distinct Andean ‘paramo’ vegetation, the views are spectacular; looking out across the green valleys to the many rocky summits beyond.
We ride out of the farm and climb towards ‘Muerto Pungo’ Lake along dirt tracks through a sea of grass, again with incredible vistas. The views extend to distant snow capped volcanoes and to Quito; peaks such as Antisana, Sincholagua, Pichincha, the Iliniza twin peaks and Cotopaxi Volcano come into sight. Riders will see a fascinating old lava flow and its exit hole.
Riders consistently proclaim this route one of the most spectacular & rewarding of all the rides they have done. Far off the beaten track guests can enjoy the tranquillity of this seldom-visited, breath-taking paramo. The ‘chagras’ guide us through this landscape as they spend their lives up here so can carefully lead us along the barely visible trails. Our path takes us through the foothills of the extinct Sincholagua volcano, reaching 4000 metres altitude then descending.
An exhilarating day riding through part of Cotopaxi national park amongst important geological features produced by both ice and age and volcanic activities. Fast paced riding – long canters across the flat grassy plains. Crossing old lava flows, passing a reconstructed Inca fort, will follow the old Inca route and ride on to a charming old adobe and thatch farmhouse for overnight.
Guests get the chance to take a closer look at the famous Spanish fighting bulls as we ride through the Hacienda grounds. Skirting Ruminahui rocky summit we continue on into the national park. Passing native Andean forests we descend into an enchanting hidden valley, the route flattens out and often see at close range deer, condors and wild horses. The pace quickens as we ride across plains and end the ride at a Hacienda close to Cotopaxi Volcano.
The longest ride of the trip– covering 45 kms (30 miles) through the northern section of national park and to the remote eastern flanks of Cotopaxi Volcano, far off the beaten track. 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 out of Inca stone.
Riders often wake to stunning views of the close-by Cotopaxi & Quilindana Volcanoes and also the glacier on Antisana Volcano on the horizon. The route will be almost as long as yesterday’s taking us along narrow tracks through the rough grasslands, across several streams, through wetlands and then onto sandy tracks for some more long canters across the huge expanses of open terrain. Descending into the very aptly named ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’ guests leave the horses and are driven back to Quito for an overnight stay.
Following breakfast, guests are accompanied to the airport in time for their outward flights, or are picked up at their hotel to continue on extensions.
Fully inclusive package including: horse, spare horse(s) taken, guide and local groom(s) who saddle and unsaddle the horses etc., 3 meals per day (from lunch day 1 to breakfast day 11, excluding dinner day 10), snacks and water on rides, 10 nights’ accommodation, national park/private reserves etc. entrance fees, transport from & back to Quito (normally from/back to your hotel, depending on hotel location), transport of bags between lodgings and all local taxes. Saddlebags and ponchos (wool & rain) provided for each guest.
Riding ability: intermediate and above – able to canter in open spaces and also be prepared to ride on steep slopes and tricky terrain. Guests need to be riding fit – long days in the saddle with some tough riding. At various points guests may be leading their horses (but not normally over long distances). Please consult with us if you have any doubts.
Guides: expert rider leading the trip, bilingual with much experience. Also at least one skilled, local horseman accompanies the group.
|2015 Scheduled Dates|
|14-01-2015 to 24-01-2015|
|04-02-2015 to 14-02-2015|
|17-06-2015 to 27- 06-2015|
|22-07-2015 to 01-08-2015|
|05-08-2015 to 15-08-2015|
|19-11-2015 to 29-11-2015|
|16-12-2015 to 26-12-2015|