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Taking the old cattle road of Almeida's province, near Bogotá, you will experience almost all the different climates and vegetation existing in Colombia in five days, from the cold mountains near Bogotá at 2.800 m.a.s.l. (meters above sea level) to the burning plains of Casanare at 300 m.a.s.l., descending by the Royal Road made in cobbled stone, crossing the midlands and tropical forest to finally find the magnificent landscape and wildlife of the huge eastern plains of Colombia - Llanos.
You will be staying in various accommodations during this tour
During the expedition, accommodation is in rural hotels, simple but comfortable, clean, and with good food available. Accommodation is normally on a double basis, and single accommodation is normally available for a small extra charge. During the day, you go mostly through unpopulated places without the possibility of finding a bathroom.
At night, you will stay at cottages without luxury but with the essential amenities. Actually, there are no bathrooms throughout the tour. A Caballo por Colombia recommends the use of wet wipes which are then recycled in bags for subsequent transfer. There is intimacy because the fields are spacious and you can walk to get to be alone.
After collecting all riders in Bogotá, you will drive to Machetá, a town located one hour and a half from Bogotá, where you will spend the night at a nice small hotel with a relaxing pool of thermal water. The drive will be besides the old Camino Real (Royal Road made of cobbled stone by Indians and slaves during the Spaniard colonial period) used for hundreds of years to comunícate the highlands with the Casanare llanos.
This road was used to bring cattle on foot from the plains of Casanare to Sisga until the midlle of the 20th century, in a two-week walk. The trip was so hard for the animals that they had to put on their feet a kind of shoes (cachangas) made of fique (a vegetable fiber) so they could finish. The mountains are astonishing and the change of vegetation and climate almost every hour is very special.
After a short visit to a coffee plantation besides the hotel, you will continue descending to Tenza valley following the Camino Real, with a spectacular view of the mountains and the towns of Guateque, Somondoco, Guayatá, and Almeida, a region well known for emeralds mines. Lunch will be at a local's house in the countrysude, traditional homestyle food and in the afternoon after washing the horses in the Somondoco river, you will get to a nice hotel besides Chivor dam where you can enjoy the pool.
You will cross the 15 tunnels besides Chivor dam by car (horses in a truck) enjoying a beautiful view of the dam and surroundings and mount again to take an old trail through tropical forest used in the past by guerrillas and paramilitary to avoid main roads. You will enjoy lunch at a local's house with very interesting stories to hear about the violent past times. In the afternoon, you will cross the Upia river on horseback and arrive in a farm to have a delicious local meal (ternera a la llanera) and a concert of typical music played by local musicians.
You will head to Monterrey through a beautiful valley and have lunch besides a river with a natural pool, sometimes can be very hot in this point at noon. In the afternoon, you will cross the hills that separated you from the huge oriental grasslands that go deep into Venezuela (around 400.000 square kilometers, 200.000 square kilometers in Colombia) and have one of the most wonderful views of the trip from these hills to arrive in the afternoon to a comfortable hotel with a wonderful pool.
You will ride through the open Sabanas of Casanare. Leaving behind the mountains you crossed the previous days with a faster pace and you will start observing the llanos wildlife and vegetation to arrive in the evening to a large ranch (hato) where you will spend the night and have the opportunity to practice sleeping in a hammock as you learned on day three.
You will wake up early to enjoy a magnificient llanos sunrise, have breakfast, and ride along with llaneros in their cattle work routine, observing during the ride different species of birds and wildlife (ant bears, deer, wild pigs, chiguiros, and caimans). After this unique experience, you will stay another night in the hato and enjoy a show of typical dance in the evening.
You will head from the hato to Yopal in the morning to visit local tack shops and chinchorrro manufacturing workshops, have a goodbye lunch at a famous local restaurant, and return from Yopal to Bogota in the afternoon by plane (dinner not included).
This is the end of this great adventure.
The horses are the result of a careful selection for more than 30 years, and all of them have some Colombian Criollo in their blood, even the Anglo-Arabians used in 80 and 120-kilometer endurance rides, and of course Anglo-Arabians crossings with Colombian Criollos for intermediate riders, which makes them particularly suitable for several days, long-distance rides. Horses of their breed have on their left forearm the mark of the heart that has been used in cattle and horses in family haciendas for more than 150 years. 90 percent of their horses descend from Paka, Icaro, and Salalah el Dakar.
Paka (63 percent Thoroughbred and 37 percent Criollo) was a wonderful endurance mare, daughter of Pluma (25 percent Thoroughbred and 75 percent Criollo), an outstanding polo mare, and Many Names, a beautiful jumping Chilean Thoroughbred. Paka won many competitions in the Colombian endurance calendar between 2003 and 2005 when she got lamed in one foreleg's joint and was dedicated to breeding, she died in 2019 at the age of 22. A Caballo por Colombia has eight sons and daughters of Paka and 21 of their current horses have some of her blood.
Icaro (50 percent Thoroughbred and 50 percent Shagya) was the son of K.S. Tradition, an outstanding Shagya bred in the U.S. and Demigod, a Thoroughbred also bred in the U.S. by Eduardo Gaviria, both imported to Colombia by him, a very well-known Colombian breeder who had a horse breeding farm in Ocala, Florida. He was the breeder of Real Quiet, winner of two of the three races of the American triple crown in 1998. Icaro is registered in the Venezuelan Association of Arabian Horse Breeders under the number SHA 080. He was tamed in 2012, did some endurance rides, and was a stallion until 2014 when he was castrated and we had to put him down shortly after that because a mare kicked him and broke one of his front legs.
Salalah El Dakar (Sally) was a very nice and gentle pure Arabian, bred in California. Imported to Colombia in 2006, she competed in endurance and did many rides with A Caballo por Colombia, unfortunately, died in 2019 at the age of 18. She had an abortion in 2017 and never recovered. Sally is registered in the American Arabian Horse Breeders Association under the number 0606222 and in the Colombian Association of Arabian Horses Breeders under the number CSB 302-07.
The routes are considered difficult, ideal for experienced riders (strong intermediate and above) with good and demanding horses, suitable for several long journeys. Journeys vary between six to nine hours on horseback. Participants in any adventure activity as horseback riding are active people and consequently candidates to suffer accidents. Hospitals will not be quickly available during part of the rides and rescues or evacuations may not be immediate.
Ensuring a real adventure experience, controlling the risks inherent to it, is one of the main concerns of A Caballo por Colombia from the physical safety of the participants to the reliability of the food. To mitigate the risks implicit in the activity, they train the guides permanently and give the participants instructions on safety before the rides. Some key aspects regarding security they take into consideration are:
They review the routes a few days before the rides to confirm the adequate security conditions of the areas to visit and the state of the roads. They use communication elements (two-way radios and satellite tracker) to maintain permanent contact with the support vehicle, assistance company, and authorities.
They work with partners who are aware of the importance of hygiene in the processes and the quality of the raw materials used and their team previously verifies compliance with these conditions in all places where food is consumed during the activity.
The group will meet in Bogota on the first day. Your route will start from Macheta all the way to Chivor, Sabanalarga, Monterrey, Tauramena, Yopal, and finally back to Bogotá.
All meals and drinks during the riding program, except for meals on days one and eight and alcoholic beverages, are included in the price. Your lunches will be lunchbox or homestyle meals at local's houses and your dinners will be in hotels or lodges. Breakfasts include eggs, bread, arepas (kind of corn cake), coffee, tea, chocolate, milk, and fruit or juices of tropical fruits, in which Colombia has a wide variety and availability throughout the year (pineapple, papaya, melon, soursop, feijoa, mango, grapefruit, passion fruit, lulo, etc.).
For lunch, you will carry sandwiches, accompanied by potato chips, various drinks (soda, beer, and water), and brownies or cookies for dessert. For dinner, depending on the place, it is possible to have at least two menu options normally including beef or chicken with potatoes, salad, and fruit. If you are a vegetarian, simply let A Caballo por Colombia know to prepare meals without meat. For other special diets, please let them know before.
El Dorado International Airport
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