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Colonial Haciendas Trail

October Fiesta Trip

On this ride, now an annual event, we have combined our guests’ favourite routes, hacienda and visits plus, we also join the locals at a very traditional procession, party and lasso competition.
The tour includes:
• 8 days riding, including Cotopaxi National Park & the stunning pastoral Zuleta Valley
• 9 nights accommodation with en suite bathrooms. This includes staying at one of Ecuador’s most important historic haciendas & at a working farm
• Taking part in the procession & party (dancing to a local brass band around an enormous bonfire; plenty of fireworks and the traditional ‘vaca loca’ (firework display)
• Spectating at a lasso/roping competition – teams of 3 roping Spanish fighting bulls
• Guided visit around a top Andalucian horse stud farm
• Visit to condor project and a good chance of seeing wild condors
• Visit to the famous Otavalo market; visit to the second most important Inca site in Ecuador
• City tour of Colonial Quito (UNESCO world heritage site)


Day 1: COLONIAL QUITO
Guests are met at Quito airport or at their hotel by a guide and taken for lunch and city tour of colonial Quito (a UNESCO world heritage site) to view the exquisite architecture, visit the ornate churches and wander through the plazas. Overnight in a comfortable Quito 4 star hotel. L.
Day 2: ANTISANA FOOTHILLS & CONDORS
Guests are driven south‐east out of Quito to meet the horses and ‘chagras’ (Andean horsemen) for a introductory ride. Once guests are settled and comfortable with their horses we will ride out into the verdant Andean hills on a circuit ride (4‐6hrs). A picnic along the way, stunning views out across the valleys as we round every corner and each time we emerge from the native forests. Regularly we see the mighty Andean condor soaring overhead as we traverse the Antisana foothills and much closer, the hummingbirds flit between the branches. Overnight at a nearby converted Jesuit hacienda with beautiful gardens and shady verandas. B, PL, D.
Day 3: AVENUE OF VOLCANOES, HEART OF THE ANDES
After a drive south down the very appropriately named ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’ – with the chance of seeing many of Ecuador’s most impressive peaks including the erupting Tungurahua Volcano ‐ guests meet the horses. We ride on tracks between the pastures up into the native vegetation (rough grasslands, scrub and bushes) and then through a forest of towering pines to the entrance of Cotopaxi national park. Guests will visit Ecuador’s second most important Inca site to view complete Inca walls at a magnificent hacienda. Overnight is at one of Ecuador’s most important historic haciendas – the scene of several independence battles as well as the base over the centuries for many famous European explorers. B, PL, D.
Day 4: COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK & HIGH ANDEAN PLAINS
A long ride crossing the Cotopaxi national park entering by the south entrance and exiting through the north gate. Guests never forget the exhilaration of the long canters on the open, arid plains below the snow‐capped Cotopaxi Volcano. Riders pass close to this magnificent volcano, the highest active volcano in the world and also Ecuador’s second highest peak and then ride on across rolling hills towards Pasachoa. Overnight is at a very comfortable thatched roof lodge in a truly amazing location: surrounded by no less than four mighty Andean peaks. B, PL, D.
Day 5: WILD HORSES, LAVA FLOWS & INCA FORT
A ride back into the national park, through a different area crossing luna‐like landscapes, passing massive boulders thrown out during previous eruptions and, after cantering across an expanse of grassland, we visit an old Inca fort. Riding around curious‐shaped mounds produced by both glacial and volcanic activity, we come across some of the herds of wild horses that roam freely in the park, their long manes and tails flowing as they gallop alongside us. We stop for lunch in a stunning location, with curious llamas often near the restaurant and then enjoy an afternoon ride back for a second overnight at the lodge passing an area where we have sighted condors. B, L, D.
Day 6: ANDEAN GRASSLANDS
Another full day ride, we set out to the slopes of Sincholagua carpeted with the tall native grasslands and a host of brightly coloured wild flowers. We ford a river rushing down with the glacier snowmelt and, having crossed an old lava flow, ride up into a sea of grasses. The views across the floodplains and lava flows to the surrounding mountains beyond are breathtaking. The horses expertly negotiate steep slopes and rocky stream crossings and eventually, meeting a paved road, we leave the horses and return to spend another night at the Jesuit hacienda (day 2). B, PL, D.
Day 7: NOTHERN HIGHLANDS, TORCHLIT PROCESSION & PARTY
A drive north takes us quickly into very different scenery and we meet fresh horses in the Cayambe Valley and ride into the sleepy, pastoral Zuleta Valley. Jagged peaks and verdant valley floors have taken the place of the wide expanses of the previous days. We ride into a working farm – in time to see the afternoon milking (half the herd still milked by hand) ‐ and, while guests walk around the farm to admire the hacienda’s Andalucian horses or relax on the verandas, the grooms have enough time to feed the horses and get them safely away before the firecrackers start. The procession leads down from the adobe houses and ends up at the chapel on the hacienda where we are staying. The locals, particularly the ladies, still wear their brightly coloured local dress and they dance along the procession route behind a brass band. After Mass the party begins with an enormous bonfire being lit at nightfall and ends after a lot of dancing and some very special, typical ‘mobile’ firework displays. Overnight at the hacienda. B, PL, D.
Day 8: LASSO/ROPING COMPETITION, ZULETA VALLEY
This is the big competition day! After a short ride out into the beautiful valley to see the hacienda fighting bulls we arrive back at the hacienda in time to see the teams assembling and also to have some roping lessons. Each team consists of three ‘chagras’ (local horsemen) in their traditional dress. They have to lasso a feisty fighting bull that is released from the corral and get the animal on the ground. The quickest team wins, which bull the team has to lasso is a lottery so some unlucky teams will draw the most ferocious bull with the sharpest horns! The lively crowd ‐the ladies dressed in their typical embroidered blouses and bright, pleated skirts, is on hand to shout advice! The winners are given a trophy and then everyone enjoys a meal and some local firewater as the band plays on. A second overnight at the working hacienda, fireplaces in most rooms. B, L, D.
Day 9: SAN PABLO VALLEY & OTAVALO MARKET
A morning ride takes us through another part of the Zuleta Valley, past the meadows, cantering along grassy trails lined with eucalyptus and sisal plants, avoiding the pigs and donkeys tethered in the lanes to graze. This ride is a very firm favourite: we climb out of the valley, cross a plateau then descend into the San Pablo valley dominated by the lake and Imbabura – an extinct volcano that gave the province its name.
The last part of our ride is fascinating, taking guests past exotic tropical fruits and the adobe and thatch houses. After lunch we say goodbye to the horses and head to the famous Otavalo market. Guests will have time to pick up some of the varied handicrafts on offer and also take some great photographs of the locals in their very special typical dress before heading back to Quito for a farewell dinner. Overnight in Quito, same comfortable four star hotel as day 1. B, PL, D.
Day 10: DEPARTURE
After breakfast guests are taken to the airport in time for their outward flights. B.
END OF SERVICES.

THE TOUR COST INCLUDES:
Horses (normally two horses during the ride)
Bilingual guide and local guides & grooms (guests will not be required to care for/tack up the horses).
Saddlebags and ponchos for each rider.
Accommodation (9 nights), en suite bathrooms, very comfortable, often fireplaces in rooms.
All meals from lunch day 1 to breakfast day 10 (except dinner day 1), including elaborate picnics.
Quito airport pickup & drop off (certain conditions apply).
All national park, reserve, church/museum entrance fees and local taxes.
Private transport throughout.
NOT INCLUCED: personal expenses such as bar bills, gratuities.
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Colonial Hacienda and Inca Trail
Tour Code: IT-ECRT03
8 days / 7 nights ~$3,795.00
Dates: Available all Year

Trip Rating :
Difficulty : Riding Level (Click for legend) Lodging: Standard
Introduction
Day to Day Itinerary
Rates | Dates
Accomodation
October Fiesta Trip
Tack: ‘McClellan’ western style saddles with...
Horses: Local criollo crossed with Andalusian,...
Pace: Moderate with trots and canters
Walk, Trot, Canter,
Airport: Quito
Location on Google Map
Image Gallery
Image Slide Show
Customer Trip Rating
Climate
What To Bring
Travel Stories

Riding Level Explained
A Beginner
Beginner A rider who has limited experience, is unable to post the trot and does not canter.
B Novice
Novice A rider who is capable of mounting and dismounting unassisted, capable of applying basic aids, comfortable and in control at the walk, moderate length posting trots, and short canters.
C Intermediate
Intermediate A rider who has a firm seat, is confident and in control at all paces (including posting trots, two point canters and gallops), but does not ride regularly.
D Strong Intermediate
Strong Intermediate An intermediate rider who is currently riding regularly and is comfortable in the saddle for at least 6 hours per day.
E Advanced
All of the above, plus an independent seat, soft hands, and capable of handling a spirited horse in open country.
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