13 day program, 10 day ride
We begin our adventure at Hacienda La Alegria, which 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, elegant and original character as well as its exquisite surrounding gardens awash with colourful roses, native flowers, graceful trees and intricate outdoor stone work. 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 Spanish and Incas and lined with tall, majestic Cedars, Eucalyptus and Cypress trees and lush greenery.
Hacienda La Alegria’s mission is to provide the finest eco-tourism adventures and horseback riding in the country; offer activities and guided excursions geared for non-riders to expert horsemen, as well as children; present a warm and inviting atmosphere in our historic Hacienda; offer personal attention while helping you feel like family; and share our exceptional horses with you for guided day rides and overnight multi-day rides from 1 to 14 days.
This ride is specifically designed for those looking for a cultural immersion and adventure. On the first days riders will have the opportunity to acclimatize to the altitude, weather and new environment. Riders will get to know our horses well and start a relationship with them as they will be a team for the rest of the ride. They will have the opportunity to try a variety of horses with different temperaments and traits; together we will choose which group of horses will accompany us. We will ride to the surrounding haciendas, volcanos and mountains. Visit an indigenous market where riders will have the opportunity to see animals, crops and handicrafts as well as the chance to do some shopping. On the fifth day we will head towards the cloud forest. We will visit and spend the night at the Boboli Reserve. As we ride through the narrow cloud forest paths we will be surrounded by literally thousands of plant and animal species, very different from the ones you will be seeing the next days in the high mountains. One can’t help but be amazed by the sheer biodiversity of this area. Many riders have exhausted their cameras’ memory chips and batteries in an attempt to record these sights.
From the Cloud forest we will head south towards Hacienda La Cienega, passing by many productive haciendas and incredible sceneries of the Andes. La Cienega is a unique and one of the most beautiful haciendas in the country. Built in 1570, this hacienda will not only mesmerize you with its splendor but you will feel the energy of a house full of legends and history. From that day on we will have Cotopaxi as our companion and begin the 360° loop around this colossal volcano. We will ride through the Andean Paramo for the next days and its rolling hills of high altitude grasses, wild flowers, ravines that create micro climate, it is a wondrous place for both new and experienced visitors.
As we ride through the paramos of Cotopaxi we will see many other ancient, dormant volcanoes such as Antizana, Illinizas, Pasochoa, Sincholagua, Morurco and off in the distance Chimborazo and Tungurahua. On our way east we will camp one night at Hacienda Pansache. Although we will be in what can be considered the middle of the Andes, our campsite has a little house where you can enjoy the comfort of a warm fireplace and a delicious dinner. From there we will ride towards the Chalupas Caldera and then north to the National Park. What makes this part of the trip special is that it is a very inaccessible part of the mountains. The lack of roads makes it difficult for people to contact this side of Cotopaxi. The Chagras you will meet along the way have very traditional life styles, the paramo is almost untouched and you won’t see signs of urban development. It is almost as if you could go a couple of centuries back and live in the mountains with no signs of modern civilization. A complete adventure! As we ride north towards the end of the trip will reach Cotopaxi National Park, which encompasses more than 33,000 hectares of natural reserve. Here you will enjoy the highest gallop in the world at 4200 meters above sea level! We will spend the night at a comfortable refuge (Tambopaxi) inside the National Park.
On the last part of our journey we will return to Hacienda La Alegria crossing the Ruminahui Volcano. We will cross the Machachi Central Plaza, the capital city of the Chagras and continue towards La Alegria where we will cheer for completing and incredible and adventurous journey, thank mother earth for allowing us do it and riders will have the opportunity to relax and enjoy our facilities. To end this beautiful journey, on the last day the riders will visit Colonial Quito where they will be guided through the beautiful city, enjoy great meals and sleep at a beautiful hotel. Long after our return to Hacienda La Alegria and the end of our journey, our memories of this rugged but beautiful world will linger as a life time ride.
RIDING DAYS DATES 2014