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12 Days Wild Andes Expedition and Horse Riding Tour in Ecuador

Hacienda La Alegria, Barrio Rumipamba Aloag Machachi, Quito, Quito Canton, Pichincha, Ecuador

Adventurous Horse Riding Tour Ecuador

Hacienda La Alegria invites you to join their horseback vacation in the beautiful surroundings of the high Andes of Ecuador. This adventurous multi-day trip will take you to travel on horseback through the mountains, forests, and paramo (high grasslands) of the Andes. This ride is specifically designed for those looking for cultural immersion and adventure with long journeys and amazing scenery.

Key information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 209 pounds /95 kilograms
  • Tack Type: North American, English, McClellan cavalry, Chilean, and traditional Ecuadorian chagra styles
  • Horse Breed: Mixed Criollo (native South American), English thoroughbred, and Arabian stock

Highlights

  • 10 days of riding
  • Riding experience in the southern Andes
  • Approximate daily riding time: 4 to 8 hours
  • Airport transfer and other transfers by car
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
  • 11 nights’ accommodation

Skill level

  • Advanced

Styles


10 days with instruction
Airport transfer available:
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (US$50 per person)
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Accommodation

During this trip, you will spend your first, second, fourth, and eleventh nights at Hacienda La Alegria. After that, you will spend the third night at Hacienda Bomboli, the fifth night at Hacienda San Jose, sixth night in a hostal at the Quilotoa summit, the seventh night camping in Guambaine, the eighth night also camping in EL Salado, the ninth night at the Chimborazo refuge, and the tenth night in Banos.

Hacienda La Alegria

Hacienda La Alegria is a family-run horse and organic dairy farm located in the heart of Ecuador’s magnificent, Volcano Avenue. The Hacienda sits on 135 hectares, nestled in the fertile valley of Machachi, near the small village of Aloag. Built a century ago, the hacienda has retained its stately elegance and original character, as well as its exquisite surrounding gardens awash with colorful roses, native flowers, graceful trees and intricate outdoor stonework.

Filled with historic charm, the hacienda’s large rooms are filled with antiques that have been in the Espinosa family for hundreds of years. To reach the hacienda, one drives along a cobblestone road originally built by the Spaniards and Incas, lined with tall, majestic cedars, eucalyptus, and cypress trees as well as lush greenery.

Each of the 11 rooms at Hacienda La Alegria is different and decorated with Paty and Gabriel’s impeccable taste. The hacienda can accommodate up to 28 people in single, double, triple, and split-level family rooms which sleep five in comfort. The guest rooms have been tastefully restored with solid cypress floors and beams and modern en-suite bathrooms with plenty of hot water and powerful showers.

Program

Over the first days, you will have the opportunity to acclimatize to the altitude, weather, and new environment. You will get to know the horses well and start a relationship with them, as they will be part of the team for the rest of the ride. You will have the opportunity to try a variety of horses with different temperaments and traits. Together you will choose which group of horses that will accompany you, as you will have several spare horses on the ride. The route takes you close to the Illiniza, Quilotoa, Chimborazo, Carihuirazo, Igualata, and Tungurahua volcanoes, the last of which has been active for the last 16 years. During the ride, you also have the opportunity to enjoy two thermal springs.

Itinerary

Day 1: Quito

Arrive at the airport and transfer (one hour) to Hacienda La Alegria (2,890 meters). Spend the night at Hacienda La Alegria. If your arrival is on time, you can have your first-day ride.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria

Day 2: Machachi Valley - Volcano Avenue

In the morning after breakfast, you will try the horses and ride in a closed arena until you feel comfortable with your horse and tack. Day-two ride is acclimatization around the hacienda. You will see the green valley of Machachi and the soaring mountains of the Volcano Avenue where you will be riding during the trip. Arrive for a late lunch and an afternoon tour of Hacienda La Alegria's farming operations. Then, spend the night at the hacienda.

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

Day 3: Corazón

In the morning, you ride west toward the Corazón at 4,000 meters and descend to the cloud forest. You ride by three different ecosystems including the valley and paramo and then arriving in the cloud forest. In the cloud forest, you can observe a great biodiversity of plants and flowers, including giant gunneras, orchids, and birds such as the turkey of the forest (guan). In the afternoon, you arrive for tea at Hacienda Bomboli (3,000 meters), relax by the fireplace, enjoy the sunset, and watch the lights of the villages near the coast following a great meal.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda Bomboli
  • Riding time: 6 hours

Day 4: Quito

You leave behind the cloud forest and ride the old road that until 1960 connecting Quito with the coast. From there, you can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and you can also see the routes you will take the next day along the east mountain chain. Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests, you arrive at the valley for a snack. After that, you will feast on a delicious dinner at the hacienda.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria
  • Riding time: 4 or more hours

Day 5: Sigchos

This second part has a long journey on the saddle. You start the ride for one hour to the south of Hacienda La Alegria. You will be transferred by car to this point to start your six-day adventure in the southern Andes. Today, you will ride by the Inca trail, dirt roads, and paths that take you to Sigchos, the village that was known as the last home of the Inca general Rumiñawi. From this day on, you will ride through a dramatic landscape, including steep ravines and narrow passages.

Even though you can visualize where you are heading and it looks near, you will have to cross many mountains chains to get there. This area is a combination of forest, rocky peaks, and eroded land from the last centuries. After that, you will arrive at Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guesthouse, in time for a good meal, Jacuzzi, sauna, and rest. The horses will be having lush fields of fresh grass, the last for the remainder of the expedition.

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

Day 6: Sigchos to Quilotoa

After breakfast, you head south to the Quilotoa crater lake. The trail goes by the bottom of the Toachi Canyon where you will have lunch. There are few agricultural villages and houses, and the land is very dry and the soil is composed of pumice from the Quilotoa volcano that erupted 1,280 years ago.

The challenge will be to get to the Quilotoa summit at 3,800 meters above sea level, where your hostal is awaiting. At the cliff of the volcano, you will enjoy an amazing view of the breathtaking Quilotoa crater lake. Quilotoa is a crater lake caldera and the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The three-kilometer wide caldera was formed by the collapse of this dacite volcano following a catastrophic eruption.

  • Accommodation: hostal
  • Riding time: 8 or more hours

Day 7: Guambaine

Zumbahua is the next village at which you will start the trekking to the high Andes. You will then find a small isolated homestead of about 50 families. There are no roads and the only connection to civilization is by a three-hour path to Angamarca. You will see llama herds that are used as pack animals as well as sheep guided by children working as shepherds. This day will be an intense riding day and the climax of the adventure.

You will be the first tourists arriving in the area. After that, you will experience a camping overnight using one of the grass huts for a kitchen. Hacienda La Alegria is looking forward to helping the community to make a path to the east that will help the locals sell their products at a larger market and also get better prices on their products of cheese, potatoes, broad beans, and barley.

  • Accommodation: camping in Guambaine
  • Riding time: 7 or more hours

Day 8: El Salado

Early morning, you will have the opportunity to admire the extraordinary combination of the sunrise and the clouds arriving from the west cloud forest. You will encounter a dramatic change in the ecosystem paramo. Riding from the high mountains to the lowland valleys (3,700 meters), you will see thousands of small farms, a lot of them produce milk (50% of the milk produced in Ecuador is from farms that have less than five acres).

You will admire a ravine that originates from the Chimborazo volcano (6,300 meters, the highest volcano in Ecuador). Along the ravine’s river runs an old road built in 1830’s called Camino de Flores, being the first road to connect the highlands with the coast. In the afternoon, you will arrive at a hot spring where you will set up the camp and enjoy a nice barbecue dinner.

  • Accommodation: in Salado
  • Riding time: 7 hours

Day 9: Chimborazo and Carihuairazo volcanos to Urbina

Carihuairazo is a volcanic caldera adjacent to Ecuador’s highest mountain Chimborazo. It is located in Tungurahua province, 40 kilometers northwest of Riobamba and 22 kilometers southwest of Ambato. Chimborazo is a currently inactive stratovolcano in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD.

The expedition continues all day along the Chimborazo skirt. This will be a challenging ride with many different sceneries such as dry hills, swampy areas, and rocky hills. You will ride east, crossing into the eastern Andes mountain chain. This ride will follow the south Chimborazo skirt, with the Carihuairazo volcano on your left. The scenery changes from a desert full of running vicunas to swampy green paramo. The area is full of climber paths and you will finish the day on the east face of Chimborazo.

  • Accommodation: Chimborazo refuge
  • Riding time: 6 and more hours

Day 10: Igualata and Tungurahua volcanoes

The last day of your expedition will be the Tungurahua area that has been affected over the last 14 years by volcanic ash and periodic eruptions. This ride completes your journey through the east. You ride by fertile hills with potatoes, beans, and cash crops, on the side of the Igualata volcano. The landscape is dotted with mini-farms up to 4, 000 meters high.

You start from the downhill to the Chambo Canton and arrive at the Tungurahua volcano skirts. The volcano and the changes of the scenery from 4,000 meters to 2,400 meters high make an impressive scenery. Your horses will go back to the hacienda and you drive for 15 kilometers to Banos where you overnight.

  • Accommodation: in Banos
  • Riding time: 8 and more hours

Day 11: Quito

Visit Banos that is based on the skirts of the Volcano, a very unique city that is the entrance to the Amazon jungle region and well known for the thermal water springs and several adventure activities. You will be transferred by car to Hacienda La Alegria and then have lunch at the hacienda. You will stay overnight at Hacienda La Alegria and there will be no riding.

  • Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria

Day 12: Quito

You will be transferred to the airport after breakfast.

Horses and tack

At Hacienda La Alegria, the horses are very important to them. 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. The horses are exceptional. Hacienda La Alegria breeds their own horses and their ancestors are Berber (local horse), Andalusian, and Arabian breeds.

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. Hacienda La Alegria has a range of tack including North American style, English style, McClellan cavalry, Chilean, and traditional Ecuadorian chagra style with its intricate leather-work and saddle horn.

Location

This riding tour will take you to explore the Andes, Ecuador. You will begin your expedition at Hacienda La Alegria in Quito. You will then continue to ride to the Corazón, Sigchos, Quilotoa, Guambaine, El Salado, Chimborazo, Banos, and go back to Hacienda La Alegria. The Ecuadorian Andes run north to south and are comprised of eastern and western chains. Hacienda La Alegria is at the western chain. The southwestern Andes are in a well-known Indian region, isolated communities like Quilotoa, Sigchos, and Guambaine discovered in the middle of the Andes, following the same traditions and ways of life since the Colonial times.

Food

Hacienda La Alegria's meals are tailored for hungry travelers, riders, and hikers, and combine delicious Ecuadorian and international cuisine. Their visitor's book contains many compliments to the chef at La Alegria! Vegetarian / other special dietary options are available on request.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Alcoholic beverages

What's included

  • 10 days of riding
  • Airport transfer and other transfers by car
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners
  • 11 nights’ accommodation
  • Visit Banos on day 11

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$50 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.

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12 days / 11 nights
from --
Tuesday August 25, 2020
(12 days / 11 nights)

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