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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”. Uniquely, the only form of transportation during your trip will be your horse. They 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, 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

  • Rider Weight Limit: 95 kilograms
  • Horse Height Range: 145-160 centimeters
  • Tack Type: Saddles are comfy endurance
  • Horse Breed: Hacienda La Alegria has a mix of criollo, Arabian, Spanish and Belgian breeds

Meet the instructors

Gabriel
Read more

Highlights

  • Daily ride: 4 - 6+ hours
  • Ride to Cotopaxi, one of the tallest active volcanoes in the world
  • Suitable for children of 12 years and older with good riding skills
  • Visits to friendly haciendas throughout the countryside
  • Service of a support vehicle on a part of the ride
  • All meals, wine, and beer included
  • 7 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


6 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Spanish
Group size: 2-12 participants
Airport transfer available:
Mariscal Sucre International Airport (US$ 50 per person)
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Accommodation

During the tour, you will stay at Hacienda La Alegria, Hacienda Bomboli, a hacienda at Pedregal Valley, and Tambopaxi refuge.

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

Highlights of the horse riding holiday

  • 100% horseback trip (once you start the ride you are not transferred by car on any day of the trip)
  • Pace: Moderate, trots and canters
  • High quality, easy to ride, trained horses full of stamina owned exclusively by Hacienda La Alegria
  • Optional riding training at Hacienda La Alegria
  • High-quality, well-maintained equipment (tack, camping equipment, 4-wheel drive SUV)
  • Visits to friendly haciendas throughout the countryside
  • Visits and horseback rides to 9 of the highest Ecuadorian mountains
  • Hacienda La Alegria maintains close relationships with and supports two local, rural schools
  • Hacienda La Alegria promotes the preservation of the local culture and educates visitors about the “chagras” (local cowboys).
  • Hacienda la Alegria is environment-friendly (Hacienda La Alegria produces organically, conserves energy and water, and composts waste). Smart Voyager Certified, Calidad Q.

About this holiday

The first day of your trip is designed for you to get used to the altitude and the new ecosystem as well as choose your horse and be introduced to the chagras’ lifestyle (local cowboy).

Indeed, you will come to appreciate the tradition and customs of the chagras’ abilities in La Alegria. In their goat-skin chaps and woolen ponchos, they welcome tourists and demonstrate their centuries-old tradition of herding cattle.

The chagras’ skill on horseback and knowledge of the Andean paramo is legendary. Hacienda La Alegria enjoys a special relationship with the chagras, participating with them in rodeos and festivals and visiting them in their mountain homes. They are the inspiration for our journey, framed by ancient volcanoes, highland plateaus, and rivers that flow down the massive Andes to the Amazon.

You will ride through the Andean paramo, an ecosystem that encompasses a vast expanse of 12,500 square kilometers. Rolling hills of high altitude grassland with little flowers that protect themselves from the cold with furry leaves and ravines that create microclimates that sprout a surprising variety of life, it is a wondrous place for both new and experienced visitors.

Around the cozy fireplace of the hacienda and over delicious Ecuadorian food, you will reminisce about the day’s events and discuss local traditions, especially those related to the chagras. You will also talk about the itinerary for the rest of the trip and prepare for what is to come.

As an optional extra two-day ride before the regular trip begins, Hacienda La Alegria offers a ride through the narrow cloud forest paths, surrounded by literally thousands of plant and animal species. One can’t help but be amazed by the sheer biodiversity of this area.

In the mountains

After you have 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. Here, you can enjoy the unique beauty of an Andean market as well as have the opportunity to buy any handicraft or leatherwork you find interesting.

You will then continue the trip to Cotopaxi, the tallest active volcano in the world (5,987 meters). Cotopaxi’s impressively symmetric cone will guide us 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 (sea gull), ducks, and the majestic condor. In warmer ravines, you’ll also see colourful 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 then cross extensive farmland; with the sturdy and well-trained horses, you climb to altitudes exceeding 12,000 feet (4,200 meters) and ride down to hidden valleys, where we 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 your journey, your memories of this rugged but beautiful world will linger as a ride of a lifetime.

Itinerary

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 you will use during the ride. You then ride around the neighboring haciendas. Your first experiences at altitude start 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: The Cloud Forest

Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests, you will have a nice view of the “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.

At 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 meters, 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. You stop at the Machachi market (on Sundays), continue toward the Ruminahui, and stop at a beautiful Hacienda for a snack. You continue riding until you arrive to the Pedregal valley and stay overnight in a Hacienda at 3,500 meters.

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

Day 6: Cotopaxi National Park

You enter the Cotopaxi National Park, ride towards the Sincholagua volcano, and make a large loop downhill to the valley. 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.

  • Accommodations: 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 meters) 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; you 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: Transfer to airport or Quito

After breakfast, Hacienda La Alegria finishes its services.

Instructors

Gabriel Espinosa

Location

This horse riding holiday takes place in Ecuador. You will ride to Cotopaxi Volcano and visit some haciendas along the way.

Food

Meals during the holiday are included. All meals feature delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian food, 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

What's included

  • 6 days of quality horseback riding in the Ecuadorian Andes with all the necessary equipment, including wool ponchos, rain ponchos and chaps, horse bag, and helmets
  • 7 nigths accommodation with all meals (3 nights at Hacienda la Alegria, the rest at other hacienda and lodges with excellent food, good lodging, and impressive scenery, no refuge, no sleeping bags)
  • Service of a 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 rides 3-5-6
  • Your choice of wool-protected saddles. You may also bring your own equipment.
  • Suitable for families with children 12 years and older with good riding skills and capacity for long journeys

What's not included

  • Transfers to the airport or Quito
  • Local taxes
  • Tips

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 airplane

  • Please book your flight to arrive at Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO). Hacienda La Alegria offers airport transfers for 50 USD for 1 to 4 persons each way.

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.
8 days / 7 nights
from --
Pricing information
  • For two participants only, you can go on with a small group fee of 150 USD per person.
  • A single supplement is available at 150 USD.
  • 15% discount for children up to 15.
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 2 participants

Friday August 23, 2024
(8 days / 7 nights)

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