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Ecuador: Cloud Forest and Volcanoes 2022

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127
ECUADOR

This ride provides the opportunity to experience the beauty of the mountains and valleys of the Ecuadorian Highlands. As we ride, chagras (cowboys of the Ecuadorian Andes) will guide the way and share their lifestyle, traditions and impressive horsemanship skills.  We also ride in the vicinity of the Corazon, Illinizas and Quilotoa volcanoes. It is the perfect combination for those looking for adventure, cultural immersion and natural beauty.

Another feature of this ride is the variety of ecosystems that you 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 rocky peaks and at its base, 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.

 

 

Departure & Return Location

Mariscal Sucre  International Airport in Quito, Ecuador

 

Dates and Rates

TBA

Price Includes

  • 7 days horseback riding at the Ecuadorian Andes with all the necessary equipment, such as wool ponchos, rain ponchos and chaps, horse bag, helmets
  • 8 nights: 4 nights at hacienda la Alegria, 4 nights at different haciendas
  • All meals feature delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian food, wine and beer included
  • Your choice of saddle, wool protected, as well as half chaps and helmets
  • Bilingual guide (Spanish/English)
  • All transportation in destination location

Price Excludes

  • all flights
  • tips and gratuities
  • private expenses
What to Expect

The first day of the trip is designed for you to get used to the altitude, to chose your horse and be introduced to the chagras, the Ecuadorain cowboys. During the course of your journey, you will come to appreciate the traditions and customs of the chagras.  Their skill on horseback and knowledge of the Andean paramo is legendary. Our hosts at Hacienda La Alegria enjoy 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 this journey through this landscape of 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 interesting 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, you can learn about medicinal plants and trees that are native to the area, and learn about the life of those living in the this remote part pf the world.

On 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.

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 chilly wind—all within the space of a few hours. The The highlands can experience all four seasons within the same day. As we ride through the paramos, you will see the great llama used for packing. 

The horses are all owned and trained by Hacienda Alegria and you will be carefully matched with your horse who will take you through the week. These horses are sure-footed and powerful mountain horses that are uncomplicated and a pleasure to ride. 

 

  • ride high quality beautifully trained local horses full of stamina and owned and trained exclusively by Hacienda La Alegria
  • become acquainted with the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest, an endangered ecosystem, with its distinctive flora and fauna
  • ride in the vicinity of the famous volcanoes : Corazon, Illinizas and Quilotoa
  • learn about the local culture and in particular about the “chagras” (local cowboys) and their horsemanship traditions
  • travel from the eastern to the western Andes Mountain Chain experiencing the rolling hills and high altitude fauna typical of the Andes enroute to the Quilotoa Crater Lake
Itinerary

Day 1Arrival

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

Day 2La 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 3Bomboli

Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests, we will have a nice view of the “V olcano A venue”. 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 V olcano 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

Day 4Alegria

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. Ecuador has mega-bio-diversity on plants and flowers. 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

Day 5Isinlivi

We will start the ride one hour south of Hacienda La Alegria; 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 Isinlivi.
From here it is possible to admire the nice scenery from 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.
The ride continues thru several hills, arriving to a small village called Isinlivi founded in 1857. Here we will find our Lodge for the night, which was started by an entrepreneur from the UK 16 years ago and is now owned by a Dutch couple.
Accommodations: Lodge at Isinlivi
Riding hours: 5 hours

Day 6Quilotoa

We will start the ride one hour south of Hacienda La Alegria; 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 Isinlivi.
From here it is possible to admire the nice scenery from 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.
The ride continues thru several hills, arriving to a small village called Isinlivi founded in 1857. Here we will find our Lodge for the night, which was started by an entrepreneur from the UK 16 years ago and is now owned by a Dutch couple.
Accommodations: Lodge at Isinlivi
Riding hours: 5 hours Day Six- QUILOTOA
In the morning, we will take a small walk to get the horses on a hill a viewpoint of the Canyon formed by several eruptions of Quilotoa volcano. We will then start our ride up hill to reach the Quilotoa crater lake Volcano.
Crossing a few villages and paths we discover the same agriculture from hundred years as lupins, potatoes, quinoa and barley. Volcano pumice and dry soil hinder agriculture thus, just a few people live on this region.
Quilotoa volcano erupted 1,280 years ago, the volcano summit is at 4,000 meters above sea level, where our Lodge 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. The water color changes with the light.

Day 7Sigchos

Today is a long journey on the saddle.
We ride to Sigchos, the village that was known as the “last home” of the Inca general Ruminahui.
After breakfast, we head north by the ridge of Quilotoa Crater Lake. The trail goes across the highest mountain heading north-west.
There we will find some small dairy farms and a couple of artisanal cheese makers, we will stop for a short visit and cheese taste. We will buy some cheese to mature (ageing) on our cave at Hacienda la Alegria.
Arriving at the afternoon to Hacienda San Jose, a working dairy farm and guesthouse, in time for a good meal, Jacuzzi, sauna and a comfortable night. Our horses will have lush fields of fresh grass.
Accommodations: Hacienda San Jose
Riding hours: 7 hours

Day 8Planchaloma-Alegria

We will ride through a dramatic landscape, including steep ravines.
Even though we can visualize where we are heading and it looks near, we will have to cross several mountains chains to get there. This area is a combination of forest, rock peaks and eroded land from the past centuries
The last day riding at the region will pass through several narrow paths well known as Inca path.
We will make our way back to Hacienda La Alegria by car for dinner and overnight at home.
Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria
Riding hours: 6 hours

Map

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