Cotopaxi Volcano and Haciendas

Subject to volcano activity

 4 day ride

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. We will thoroughly explore and experience the grandeur of the Andes, from the west to the east mountain chain, marvelling 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.

Our adventure

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 woollen ponchos, they welcome tourists   and demonstrate their centuries-old tradition of herding cattle. The chagras’ skill on horseback and knowledge of the Andean paramo are 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.

We will ride through the Andean Ecuadorian paramo, an Andean ecosystem which 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 micro climates that sprout a surprising variety of life, it is a wondrous place for both new and experienced visitors.

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

At the mountains

After we have prepared for the main part of the ride, we shall start towards the mighty Cotopaxi. On sunday we will visit the colourful animal and produce market of Machachi on our way, where you can enjoy the unique beauty of an Andean market as well as have the opportunity to buy any handicraft or leather-work you find interesting. We will then continue our trip to Cotopaxi, the tallest active volcano in the world (5,987m. 19342 feet). Cotopaxi’s impressively symmetric cone will guide us past its surrounding hills. We will ride around the massive rocks of Rumiñahui into the plains near Cotopaxi.

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 12,000 feet (4,200m) 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 our return to Hacienda La Alegria and the end of our journey, our memories of thisrugged but beautiful world will linger as a life-time ride.

***As an optional extra two day ride before the regular trip begins, we offer 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.