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Horse Riding Holiday in Ecuador

Hacienda La Alegria is located south of Quito in the verdant valley of Machachi. As it is surrounded by eleven volcanoes, this region is referred to as “The Volcano Avenue”. The horses will be your partner throughout this adventure. You will thoroughly explore and experience the grandeur of the Andes, from the west to the east mountain chain, and the last 4 days on the west, marveling at the diversity of flora, fauna, and landscape. And, of course, you will have the opportunity to admire the majestic Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano on Earth.

Key information

  • Tack type: North American style, English style, Mclellan calvary, Chilean, and traditional Ecuadorian “Chagra” style
  • Horse breed: mixed Criollo (native South American), English Thoroughbred, and Arabian stock


  • Pace: moderate, trots, and canters
  • High-quality, easy-to-ride, trained horses full of stamina
  • High-quality, well-maintained equipment (tack, 4-wheel drive SUV)
  • Visits to friendly haciendas throughout the countryside
  • Visits and horseback rides to 8 of the highest Ecuadorian mountains
  • Learn about the “chagras” (local cowboys) during your stay
  • 11 nights accommodation
  • Meals

Skill level

  • Intermediate


10 days with instruction
Group size: 2-8 participants
Airport transfer available:
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (US$ 100 per person)
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Hacienda La Alegria is a family horseback riding farm in the heart of Ecuador’s “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. It is situated 45 minutes south of the historic colonial city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

It offers traditional hospitality with a touch of luxury at the beautiful hacienda. It caters to independent travelers and larger groups and can tailor a package for most requirements. Above all, La Alegria is specialized in horseback vacations amid the majesty of the high Andes of the Equator.

Hacienda la Alegria is environment-friendly (it produces organically, conserve energy and water, and compost waste). Smart Voyager certified, Calidad Q.


After the Hacienda La Alegria team has prepared for the main part of the ride, you shall start towards the mighty Cotopaxi. You will visit the colorful animal and produce market of Machachi on your way where you can enjoy the unique beauty of an Andean market as well as have the opportunity to buy any handicraft or leather-work you find interesting.

You will then continue the trip to Cotopaxi, the tallest active volcano in the world (5,987 m). Cotopaxi’s impressively symmetric cone will guide you past its surrounding hills. You will ride around the massive rocks of Rumiñahui into the plains near Cotopaxi.

These same grasslands are home to Andean deer, spectacled bears, Andean fox and pumas, as well as a variety of birds like the guarro (Andean eagle), curiquingeu (cara-cara), the kilico (falcon), chugshi (owl), bandurrias (black ibis), Urco paloma (seagull), ducks, and the majestic condor. In warmer ravines, you’ll also see colorful hummingbirds sipping nectar from flowers.

As you ride through the Andes Mountains, you will experience a diversity of geographical landscapes and climates. Be prepared for a period of intense equatorial sun followed by chilly Andes wind—all within the space of a few hours. The locals say that the highlands experience all four seasons within the same day.

You cross extensive farmland; with sturdy and well-trained horses, you climb to altitudes exceeding 12,000 feet (4,200 meters) and ride down to hidden valleys, where you are able to experience the exhilaration of full gallops at high altitudes. It is in these valleys of Machachi where men, shaped by the land, together with their horses, have tamed the wild bulls and produced the culture of the paramo, a world apart. Long after your return to Hacienda La Alegria and the end of the journey, your memories of this rugged but beautiful world will linger as a lifetime ride.


Day 1

Arrive at the hacienda for dinner and overnight, if you arrive early you can ride for 2 or 3 hours, with no extra charge.

  • Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria

Day 2: Hacienda La Alegria

Ride in the arena and get acquainted with the horses and tack that we will use during the ride. You then ride around the neighboring haciendas. Your first experience at altitude starts this first day. Lunch in the hacienda house, visit the milking barn and aging cheese cave, and enjoy the hot tub and fireplace.

  • Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria
  • Riding hours: 4 hours

Day 3: Cloud Forest

Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests, you will have a nice view of “Volcano Avenue”. From there, you can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and you can also see the routes you will take the next day at the east mountain chain. You will ascend by Corazon Volcano up to 4,000 meters and descend through the Cloud forest reserve.

In the cloud forest, you will be able to observe a great biodiversity of plants and flowers, including giant guneras, orchids, and birds such as the turkey of the forest. In the afternoon, you will arrive at Hacienda Bomboli at 3,000 m, and relax by the fireplace enjoying the sunset and watching the lights of the villages near the coast, you will arrive at teatime, then enjoy a great meal.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda Bomboli
  • Riding hours: 6 hours

Day 4: Hacienda La Alegria

In the morning, you will walk at the hacienda gardens to learn about orchids and cloud forest plants. You will ride uphill admiring the forest and the hundreds of flowers and plants; you will use the old road that was built in 1873 to connect Quito with the coast. Arrive at Hacienda La Alegria for lunch, relax, and enjoy the hot tub and the fireplace.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria
  • Riding hours: 4 hours

Day 5: Ruminahui Volcano

You ride to the west mountain range and through the valley toward Machachi. Stop at the Machachi market (on Sundays), continue toward the Ruminahui, and stop at a beautiful hacienda for a snack. Continue riding until you arrive at the Pedregal Valley and stay overnight in a hacienda at 3,500 meters.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda at Pedregal Valley (near Cotopaxi National Park)
  • Riding hours: 8 hours

Day 6: The park

You enter the Cotopaxi National Park, ride towards the Sincholagua volcano, make a large loop downhill to the valley, and after a snack, you continue crossing the different lava flows, ascending north of Cotopaxi up to 4,100 meters to the highest plains, where you complete the "highest canter in the world." You ride in close proximity to Berber wild horse herds that live in the park and are descendants of the horses brought by the Spanish in the 16th century.

  • Accommodation: Tambopaxi refuge
  • Riding hours: 6+ hours

Day 7: Hacienda La Alegria

Ride at Ruminahui continuing west, pass to the highest point of your ride (4,250 m) on the edges of the rocks of the Ruminahui Volcano. You continue the ride toward the green Machachi valley as always guarded by the "volcanoes avenue." You cross the Machachi plaza where horsemen are always welcomed; pass the town of Aloag and arrive at Hacienda La Alegria for a pleasant dinner and enjoy the hot tub and rest with the memories of the long journeys in the mountains.

  • Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria
  • Riding hours: 5+ hours

Day 8: Isinlivi

You will start the ride one hour south of Hacienda La Alegria; transferred by car to this point to start your 4-day adventure in the southern Andes. You will ride by the Inca trail and dirt trails that will take you to Isinlivi.

From here it is possible to admire the nice scenery from one valley to another. The colors and the mountains make the changes from “Paramo” to eroded land full of different color patches. At the distance, you will see the Eastern Mountain Chain.

The ride continues thru several hills, arriving at a small village called Isinlivi founded in 1857. Here you will find your lodge for the night, which was started by an entrepreneur from the UK 16 years ago and is now owned by a Dutch couple.

  • Accommodation: Lodge at Isinlivi
  • Riding hours: 5 hours

Day 9: Quilotoa

In the morning, you will take a small walk to get the horses on a hill a viewpoint of the Canyon formed by several eruptions of Quilotoa volcano. You will then start your ride uphill to reach the Quilotoa crater lake volcano.

Crossing a few villages and paths, you discover the same agriculture from hundred years ago as lupins, potatoes, quinoa, and barley. Volcano pumice and dry soil hinder agriculture thus, just a few people live in this region.

Quilotoa volcano erupted 1,280 years ago, the volcano summit is at 4,000 meters above sea level, where the lodge is awaiting. At the edge of the volcano, you will enjoy an amazing view of the breathtaking Quilotoa Crater Lake. The 3-kilometer-wide caldera was formed by the collapse of this volcano after the last eruption. The water's color changes with the light.

  • Accommodation: Quilotoa Lodge, next to the crater lake 4000 meters high
  • Riding hours: 5 hours

Day 10: Sigchos

Today is a long journey on the saddle. You ride to Sigchos, the village that was known as the “last home” of the Inca general Ruminahui. After breakfast, you head north by the ridge of Quilotoa Crater Lake. The trail goes across the highest mountain heading northwest.

There, you will find some small dairy farms and a couple of artisanal cheese makers, you will stop for a short visit and cheese taste. You will buy some cheese to mature (aging) in the cave at Hacienda la Alegria.

Arrive in the afternoon at Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guesthouse, in time for a good meal, Jacuzzi, sauna, and a comfortable night. The horses will have lush fields of fresh grass.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda San Jose
  • Riding hours: 7 hours

Day 11: Wingopana - Alegria

You will ride through a dramatic landscape, including steep ravines, the Hacienda starts at 3900 meters and will ascend to 4000 meters high. Even though you can visualize where you are heading and it looks near, you will have to cross several mountain chains to get there. This area is a combination of forest, rock peaks, and eroded land from the past centuries.

Tasting blueberry wine at a small operation on the mountain makes a special day. You finish the ride on the sacred Wingopana Rock at 4000 meters. You will make your way back to Hacienda La Alegria by car for dinner and overnight at home.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria
  • Riding hours: 6 hours

Day 12: Hacienda La Alegria

Breakfast and end of the services. Transfer to the airport.

Horses and tack

At Hacienda La Alegria, horses are very important. Most have been bred here on the farm from mixed Criollo (native South American), English Thoroughbred, and Arabian stock, resulting in a near-perfect combination of toughness, agility, calm temperament, and “mountain sense”. Beginners and experienced riders alike have found them easy to ride, willing, and good-mannered. If you have previous riding experience you will be given plenty of opportunity to canter.

It has a range of tack including North American style, English style, Mclellan calvary, Chillean, and traditional Ecuadorian “Chagra” style with its intricate leather-work and saddle horn.



All meals feature delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian food, with wine and beer included.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

  • Optional riding training at Hacienda La Alegria

What's included

  • 10 days of quality horseback riding in the Ecuadorian Andes with all the necessary equipment, including wool ponchos, rain ponchos and chaps, horse bags, and helmets
  • 11 nights with all meals, 3 nights at Hacienda la Alegria, 3 nights at other haciendas and lodges, excellent food, good lodging and impressive scenery, no refuge, no sleeping bags
  • Bilingual guide (Spanish/English)
  • Support vehicle on part of the ride
  • All meals feature delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian food, wine, and beer included
  • Lunch boxes on 5-day rides
  • Your choice of wool-protected saddles. You may also bring your own equipment

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Transfers to airport / Quito
  • Local taxes and tips
  • Small group fee (300 USD per person)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving directions from Quito

  • From Quito, take the Simon Bolivar Highway toward the south.
  • Once you reach the town of Tambillo, continue south by the E35 (Panamericana Sur).
  • Then take a right at the turn-off toward the Santo Domingo / Coast highway, E20.
  • Drive for two kilometers toward Santo Domingo.
  • Then take a right when you see a hardware store called Disensa.
  • Go straight for 1.5 kilometers.
  • You will reach a small town called Rumipamba.
  • Take a left.
  • After 400 meters, you will see a large stone arch.
  • Turn left through the arch and continue straight until you reach a yellow house which is La Alegria.

Arrival by bus

Buses leave Quito on average every ten minutes and take approximately one hour to Aloag. You should take the Trolebus in Quito and get off at La Villa Flora station. At that station, you have to take a green bus that says Mejia and get off when you reach Aloag or the junction to Santo Domingo. There, you take a white and green pickup truck. They are close to the gas station and tell them you want to go to Hacienda La Alegria. That should be 3 USD. All the drivers know where it is.

Airport: Mariscal Sucre International Airport Airport transfer available: Mariscal Sucre International Airport (US$ 100 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 14% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid on arrival.
12 days / 11 nights
from --
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 2 participants


Arrival: Tuesday November 5, 2024
Departure: Saturday November 16, 2024

Tour information

Suitable for families with children 12 years and older with good riding skills and capacity for long journeys. 15% discount for children up to 15.

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