Exploring the biodiversity of the Ecuadorian Andes

Hacienda La Alegria is dedicated to low impact tourism. We offer a variety of activities for those interested the ecology of this immensely bio-diverse region.

At 2013 HACIENDA LA ALEGRIA  OBTEINED THE SMART VOYAGER CERTIFICATION  WITH 95.2 % AS WELL AS CALIDAD TURISTICA Q

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Ecotourism Activities

Hiking

La Alegria is ideally located for a hiking trip into the mountains. The hacienda is situated on the lower slopes of Volcan Corazon in the heart of the "Avenue of the Volcanoes", a spectacular valley dividing the eastern and western ranges of the Andes.

We can arrange accredited mountain guides if required, and can supply maps and directions for local peaks: Viudita (3760m), Corazon (4788m), Ruminahui (4712m) and Pasochoa (4250m). Viudita is a three hour round trip and is ideal for a morning or afternoon acclimitzation hike. Corazon is a long day hike from the farm for fit and acclimatized hikers. Because the physical distances between the mountains are much greater than in the European Alps or the Rockies, you might like to consider the option of combining hiking and riding.

We can also ride to Corazon, Ruminahui and Pasochoa, taking the horses up onto the paramo (high grassland) from where spectacular hiking is possible with the option of returning to the hacienda for a hot shower at the end of the day. Ascents of Illiniza Sur (5263m) and the classic cone of Cotopaxi (at 5897m the highest active volcano in the world) offer the possiblity of some adventurous riding combined with more serious mixed terrain climbing. Previous mountaineering experience is not necessary, but acclimitization on the smaller peaks mentioned above is essential (we speak from personal experience!) We work closely with accredited mountain guides for these trips and can arrange a riding / climbing itinerary to tackle these summits.

Cloud Forest

One of the unique features of the environment around Hacienda La Alegria is the endangered habitat of the Ecuadorian cloud forest. These subtropical montane rain forests used to cloak much of the steep western slopes of the Andes between 1,000 and 2,500 meters, but are now classified as threatened.

We are extremely fortunate to have an area of unspoilt primary forest close to La Alegria. These luxuriant forests rank among some of the most bio-diverse habitats on the planet, with an astonishingly profusion of plant life, including orchids, epiphytes ("air plants"), tree ferns, bamboo, wax palms, podocarpus and aliso. Bird-watching is popular, with hummingbirds, nightjars, and other exotic species present in the forest (Ecuador boasts more bird species than any other country).

We can either drive to the edge of the forest slopes and hike from there, or ride through the forest on horseback (within easy reach for a day ride.

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