As we 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. We cross extensive farmland; with our sturdy and well-trained horses we climb to altitudes exceeding 11,000 feet (3900m) and ride down to hidden valleys, where we are able to experience the Andes mountains.
The only form of transportation during your trip will be your horse. They will be your partner throughout this whole adventure.
Day 1: Hacienda La Alegría
Arrive to the Hacienda and ride at the paddock to get acquainted with the horses and tack that we will use during the ride. Then we ride around the neighboring Haciendas. Our first experiences 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 2: Insilivi
We will start the ride an hour south of Hacienda La Alegria and begin our adventure south of the Ilinizas Volcanoes. We will observe a less agricultural and drier ecosystem always accompanied by friendly locals eager to help travellers. We will observe small farms with a variety of crops and a few dairy cows. We will ascend from the small valley to the ridge with scenery of rock peaks and mountains that make up the Quilotoa volcano.
We will also observe dozens of canyons flowing into a large one that was formed by the Toachi River during the eruption of the Quilotoa volcano. We will ride along ancient mule tracks, which were used for hundreds of years by the Incas, colonists, alcohol smugglers, and merchants. Nowadays its use is almost entirely by the local farmers. We stop on the way for lunch and then continue our ride until we find a tiny town called Insilivi, composed of two main streets and about 50 houses. Here we will find a comfortable hostel to spend our first night at the mountains. After freshening up we will have the option to walk a few blocks and see the valley from a viewpoint that will allow us to observe the arrival points for the next few days. At the hostel we will be able to enjoy a hot tub and steam room, a delicious dinner and rooms with a fireplace.
Accommodations: Inn at Insilivi
Riding time: 4- 5 hours
Day 3: Sigchos
Today we will continue ridding down the path to the Toachi River and Canon. It is hard to understand how these paths were built hundreds of years ago. They go up high in the mountain ridge and are used by the small farmers to transport water by mules and donkeys to their farms. We will see a very rural landscape mostly with subsistence agriculture. As we make our way to the canon we will appreciate the geographical barriers that the canon walls create between the small towns forcing locals to travel for hours. People still talk about the old gold mines that were here in times of the Spanish colonization. we will make our way up to the Hacienda San Jose which is located at a higher point and looks like an oasis because of its trees and green pastures, after lunch we continue the ride to Hacienda San Gabriel (part of San Jose), we will have a impressive scenery from the mountain and at the afternoon we will have the opportunity to have a sun set with a nice view to the west, were the sea is at 140 kilometers. We will have a delicious dinner and lead our horses to graze in the pastures at night.
Day 4: Chugchilan
Today we continue our way toward the western mountain chain. As we ride we will enjoy the view of the eastern chain where the Illinizas volcanos predominate. We will ascend to the edge of the mountain range, which on a clear day allows us to appreciate an endless horizon up until the coastal area. We will pass by ancient observation points called “pucaras” which were built by the Incas in the two ranges of the Ecuadorian Andes to protect the empire. As we descend we will stop by at one of the artisanal cheese factories. Here we will learn about cheese making, the local traditions, culture and their lifestyle. We will then arrive to Chugchilan, a small town with important tourist activity based on the beauty and popularity of the Quilotoa Volcano and its canons. At night we will enjoy a lovely dinner and stay at the Inn, that is well recognize as a eco-logde
Accommodations: Inn at Chugchilan Black Sheep Inn
Riding time: 4 hours
Day 5: Quilotoa
Today is a special day because our goal will be to reach the great volcano with its unique emerald blue lagoon that was formed at its crater. We will descend to one of the canons and then ascend to the edge of the volcano, which is a part of the ride, which we assure, will leave you speechless for several minutes. We will ride for an hour and a half following the path at the edge of the crater, until we reach hostel along the edge of the crater. After leaving the horses and freshening up we will have the chance to walk towards the edge of the crater and explore the lake. After dinner we will spend the night at one of the accommodation.
Day 6: Hacienda La Alegría
After breakfast and a visit to the viewpoint of the lagoon, we will be transferred by car back to Hacienda la Alegria (2.5 hours) where we will prepare our way back to your next destination.
- Clothing:Shirt: Cotton or wool, long sleeved or turtleneck
Sweater: Heavy wool or fleece sweater or vest
Trousers: Full length, wool, blend, or pile or other warm pants.
Underwear: Light-weight (polypropylene) thermal underwear, top and bottom
Headwear: bandana, and sunglasses.
Jackets: Insulated or Gore-Tex mountain parka for rain and wind (important)
Gloves: polypropylene, recommended water proof
Socks: Wool or polypropylene
Footwear: lightweight hiking boots
Cosmetic kit (reduce to minimum)
Sun-blocking lotions +30 and lipstick ointments (important)
Camera extra batteries