Volcano Ride Quilotoa

7-day ride, total 9-day program

Experience the beauty of the Ecuadorean Andes on horseback.

This ride brings us new experiences and a chance to contemplate the beauty of the mountains and valleys of the Ecuadorian Highlands everyday.  As we ride, friendly chagras (cowboys of the Ecuadorian Andes) will guide our way and share with us their lifestyle, traditions and impressive horsemanship skills. Our ride includes rides by Corazon, Illinizas and Quilotoa volcanoes. It is the perfect combination for those looking for adventure, cultural immersion and natural beauty.

One of the unique features of our ride is the variety of natural environments we will experience during the trip. We will begin our ride by visiting the endangered habitat of the Ecuadorian cloud forest. These subtropical Montagne Cloud forests used to cloak much of the steep western slopes of the Andes between 1,000 and 3,000 meters, but are now classified as threatened ecosystems. In the second part of the ride we will head towards a higher altitude and experience a more arid volcanic environment filled with canons, rock peaks and at the bottom the Toachi River. We will climb mountain ridges and switch from the eastern to the western Andes Mountain Chain experiencing rolling hills of high altitude fauna typical of the Andes as we make our way to the spectacular Quilotoa Crater Lake.

How do we do this?
Our base will be Hacienda La Alegria, which is situated south of Quito in the verdant valley of Machachi. This region is referred to as “The Volcano Avenue” as dozens volcanoes surround it.
Your horse will be your partner throughout this adventure and our team, who will make you feel part of the family, will guide you all the way. We will thoroughly explore and experience the grandeur of the Andes, marvelling at the diversity of flora, fauna, and landscape.

The start of your adventure
The first day of the trip is designed for our guests to get used to the altitude, to chose your horse and be introduced to the chagras’ lifestyle.

Indeed, you will come to appreciate the tradition and customs of the chagras’ (cowboys) abilities in La Alegria.  In their goatskin chaps and woollen ponchos, they welcome guests to 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 homes each month.   They are the inspiration for our journey, framed by ancient volcanoes, highland plateaus, and rivers that flow down the massive Andes towards the Amazon and the Pacific.

The first part of the ride includes acclimatization at the Hacienda and the cloud forest. At the cloud forest you will enter a completely different environment and see an exciting change in the surrounding vegetation; from a lush native tundra landscape of the high attitude to an impressive sub-tropical vegetation. Here, nestled deep in the mystical cloud forest, learn about medicinal plants and trees that are native to the area, and be regaled by tales of the remote life of living in the Cloud Forest.

Around the cosy fireplace of the hacienda, 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.
As we delve further into the mountains
After acclimatization at the hacienda as well as riding to the cloud forest we will be prepared for the second part of the ride and we shall start our journey towards the mighty Quilotoa Crater Lake

The second part of our trip we will ride through the western Andean paramo, an Andean ecosystem that encompasses approximately 12,500 square kilometres.  Rolling hills of high altitude grasses, through little flowers that protect themselves from the cold with furry leaves, ravines that create microclimates that sprout a surprising variety of life; it is a wondrous place for both new and experienced visitors.

As we ride through the Andes Mountains, you will experience a diversity of geography and weather. Be prepared for a period of intense equatorial sun followed by chill Andes’ wind—all within the space of a few hours.  The locals say that the highlands experience all four seasons within the same day. As we ride through the paramos, you will see the great  llama used for packing.

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 lifetime ride.


Day one on Saturday- ARRIVAL

Depending on your arrival hour you can have a short ride at the hacienda, dinner included
Accommodations: La Alegria


Ride in the arena and get acquainted with your horse and tack that we will be using the next days. We will ride around the neighboring Haciendas at the west Andes. This day is key to acclimatize with the altitude and environment as well as your horse and tack. Then we will have lunch in the Hacienda house, visit the milking barn, the aging cheese cave, and finally you can enjoy the hot tub and fireplace.
Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria             
Riding hours: 4 hours

Day three-BOMBOLI

Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests, we will have a nice view of the “Volcano Avenue”. From there we can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and we can also see the routes we will take the next day at the east mountain chain. We will ascend by Corazon Volcano up to 4,000 meters and descend through the Cloud forest reserve.

At the cloud forest we 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 we will arrive to Hacienda Bomboli at 3,000 m, and relax by the fireplace enjoying the sunset and watching the lights of the villages near the coast, we will arrive at teatime, then enjoy a great meal.
Accommodation: Hacienda Bomboli     
Riding hours: 4 hours


In the morning we will walk at the Hacienda gardens to learn about orchids and cloud forest plants. We will ride up hill admiring the forest and the hundreds of flowers and plants; we will use the old road that was built in 1873 to connect Quito with the coast. Arrive to Hacienda La Alegria for lunch, relax and enjoy the hot tub and the fireplace.
Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria     
Riding hours: 6 hours


Today is a long journey on the saddle. We will start the ride one hour south of Hacienda La Alegria; we will be transferred by car to this point to start our 4-day adventure at the southern Andes. We will ride by the Inca trail and dirt trails that will take us to Sigchos, the village that was known as the “last home” of the Inca general Ruminahui. From this day on we will ride through a dramatic landscape, including steep ravines and narrow passages.

Even though we can visualize where we are heading and it looks near, we will have to cross many mountains chains to get there. This area is a combination of forest, rock peaks and eroded land from the past centuries. We will arrive at the Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guesthouse, in time for a good meal, Jacuzzi, sauna and a confortable night. Our horses will have lush fields of fresh grass.

Accommodations: Hacienda San Jose
Riding hours: 8 hours


After breakfast we head south to the Quilotoa Crater Lake. The trail goes across the highest mountain heading west. There we will find some small dairy farms and a couple of artisanal cheese makers. As we descend to the Canyon the environment becomes arid and desolate. The soil is composed by pumice from the Quilotoa volcano that erupted 1,280 years ago. In the afternoon we will arrive to the Quilotoa volcano summit at 3,800 meters above sea level, where our hostel is awaiting. At the edge of the volcano we will enjoy and amazing view of the breathtaking Quilotoa Crater Lake. The 3 kilometer wide caldera was formed by the collapse of this volcano after the last eruption.

Accommodations: Quilotoa Hostel, next to the crater lake
Riding hours: 8 hours

Day Seven – INSILIVI

In the morning we will take a small walk to take the last photos at the viewpoint of the crater lake. We will then start our ride down hill the volcano via a beautiful old trail. It will take us half day to descend the Canyon, crossing a few villages that remind us of old images as those from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Volcano pumice and dry soil hinder agriculture thus, just a few people live on this region. The ride continues thru several hills, arriving to a small village called Insilivi founded in 1857. Here we will find our Hostel for the night, which was started by an entrepreneur from the UK 16 years ago and is now owned by a Dutch couple.
Accommodations: Hostal at Insilivi            
Riding hours: 4 hours


The last day riding at the region will pass through several narrow old paths ascending to the high Andes paramo. From here it is possible to admire the nice scenery form one valley to another. The colors and the mountains make the changes from paramo to eroded land full of different color patches. At the distance we will see the Eastern Mountain Chain. We will make our way back to Hacienda La Alegria.

Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria
Riding hours: 6 hours


Breakfast and finish of our services
Transfer to airport