Colonial Haciendas Trail

Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador: (IT-ECRT03)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/ecuador_colonial_haciendas.aspx

Introduction
Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador
A journey on horseback through landscapes made for riding, including routes and lodgings exclusive to Ride Andes. Guests canter along ancient Inca highways and Spanish colonial routes, between the best preserved ‘haciendas’ (grand colonial farming estates) of South America, in two stunningly beautiful, yet very distinct areas of the Andean highlands. Breath-taking views as we cross vast plains and ride through pastoral valleys in a fascinating region dramatically sculptured by both glacial and volcanic activity. A picture postcard as we turn every corner: hanging valleys, perfectly conical hills, wild flower covered grassy slopes, crater lakes and rocky summits. We follow the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’, skirting the towering, snowcapped peaks of Cayambe and Cotopaxi (the highest active volcano in the world) and wandering through the maze of patchwork fields below.

The days are packed with rides varied in both pace and scenery and with visits along the way to local indigenous markets and craft villages where the customs and rhythm of life have changed little over the centuries.

Nights are spent in haciendas – historic country houses & working farms, some dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Warmly greeted by the owners, guests can relax in front of open fireplaces and enjoy the fine period detail, atmospheric courtyards and flowering gardens. The colonial haciendas that open their doors to us are unique and hold an important place in the history of Ecuador. Hundreds of years after they were first built, the haciendas continue to welcome visitors to Ecuador as they once did to such famous guests as Simon Bolivar!

Accomodation

Accommodation
:
Every night at hacienda or hotel will be in private rooms with en suite facilities, often with a fireplace!
Some of the hacienda's you will stay overnight are:
Hacienda Pinsaqui
Hacienda Cusin
Hacienda La Merced
Hacienda La Cienaga
Hosteria Chilcabamba (Mountain Inn) or Hacienda Los Mortinos
Hacienda Santa Ana


** Haciendas are subject to change!

Package Includes: 7 nights, 7 breakfasts (cooked), 7 lunches, 6 dinners (not in Quito, help given in choosing from excellent variety and quality of restaurants). A variety of snacks and also bottled water are provided each day.

Package Excludes: All personal expenditure such as bar bills, laundry and telephone calls, national park entrance fees (Cotopaxi currently US10), international airport departure tax (currently US25) payable on departure

In the case there are less than 4 riders (2+) signed up for a trip departure, clients can decide to pay the small group supplement to keep the itinerary the same or we can make some changes to the itinerary in regards to the accommodations to keep same trip rate.
If you chose to go with the edited itinerary, here are the haciendas (all with private bath) that will be kept included:
Hacienda Pinsaqui or Hacienda Cusin
Hacienda La Merced
Hacienda La Merced Yurag
Hosteria Chilcabamba or similar (no Hacienda San Agustin/Inca ruins visit)

This trip includes and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Riding Experience
This trip has been designed for good intermediate riders and above. You need to be able to canter in open spaces and also be prepared to ride on steep slopes and tricky terrain. Guests need to be riding fit – long days in the saddle with some tough riding. At various points, guests may be leading their horses (but not normally over long distances).
Enjoyment from the rides can be greatly increased if you are physically fit and your riding muscles are toned.

Rider responsibility
It is understood that guests booking this trip, are in a suitable condition to participate, not riding against any physician's advice and that guests know of no reason why they should not be participating in such a tour. Guests will be required to sign a waiver of liability at the start of the tour.

Pace
The pace is very varied due to the great variety of terrain. Each day there are opportunities for fast-paced riding and on the last few days of the scheduled departure itineraries, there is ample opportunity for long canters, depending on the guests' wishes. The rides in Ecuador - due to the altitude - are not suitable for guests wanting to ´gallop flat out´ for most of the day.
All rides of more than 2 hours include regular breaks and all-day rides normally include a lunch break of approximately one hour.

Horses
The horses are mainly ‘Criollo’. These horses are ideal for the terrain we ask them to ride over and often crossed with warm/hot blood lines (English, Spanish, Arab, Pasos) for a taller, more responsive horse. They are specially selected, well trained and good natured. Our horse are usually between 14.2 and 15.2hh. Riders normally change to fresh horses at least once during the trip.
It is incredibly important that you provide us accurate riding ability details – we try to put a lot of work into selecting suitable horses for each rider.

Tack
‘McClennan’ western style saddles with sheepskin seats (easy to ride English style), horses used to neck reining and English style ‘2 hands’. English and western style bridles available (let us know your preference: direct rein or neck reining).

Guides
Guests are always accompanied by a guide (bilingual: English/Spanish) who has many years’ experience of riding. In addition, at least one ‘groom’ is present –usually a skilled local horseman. Both guides and grooms have excellent local knowledge and are good riders. There is also additional ground staff. Professional guides speaking other languages are available on prior request.

Weight restriction
Due to the altitude & difficult terrain a weight supplement applies to provide riders of 85-100kg (185-220lbs) and over with two horses.  Agreement prior to booking is necessary.

Altitude
We strongly advise a few days acclimatization prior to the ride. We recommend at least 24 hours in Quito/at same altitude as Quito prior to day 1 of the tour as the riding portion of the trip starts at 2800 meters high (same altitude as Quito).
Guests rarely experience any problems, but please note that we ride above 3000 meters and sometimes even above 4000 meters. Guests must seek medical advice if they have any doubt as to whether they are able to be at these altitudes.

Insurance
Guests are responsible for having an adequate, valid insurance policy including cover for all the sporting activities that they are likely to participate in. This is mandatory.

Non-Riders
If non-riders wish to accompany the tour, alternative activities can be organized for them and on most days, everyone can meet up for mid-day meals.

Itinerary

Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Meal Key for Itinerary: AB = cooked breakfast, L = lunch, PL = picnic lunch (different menus, never just a sandwich), T = tea, D = dinner.

DAY 1: OTAVALO MARKET & INTRODUCTORYRIDE.
Guests are met in Quito by their bilingual riding guide and driven into the northern highlands of Ecuador. We drive through an arid valley with avocado orchards then into the very picturesque Imbabura province: ‘the land of the lakes’. Visit to the famous, very colourful Otavalo craft market. Then a short drive to meet the horses and ride to a historic hacienda frequented by the great South American liberator, Simon Bolivar.
The ride (4hrs) along tracks passing woodlands, tiny fields and hamlets takes us to the Hacienda. We often see the very friendly but dignified locals in their immaculate traditional dress working in the fields using hand tools or cattle to plough the land. These tiny fields are surrounded by stone walls and earth banks topped with sisal plants and an array of wild flowers. The bilingual guide assisted by a ‘chagra’ (expert local horseman) are on hand to help guests.
Members of the charming family (horse fanatics themselves!) that have owned the hacienda for many generations greet us warmly. With its courtyards, ornate fountains, terraces and gardens graced with citrus, palm and monkey puzzle trees it is an ideal location to leisurely drift into the relaxing Andean atmosphere. After a welcome drink in the cozy bar accompanied by the music of an excellent Andean band and a delicious, traditional dinner (a la carte). Overnight at this 18th century hacienda, fireplaces in most rooms. PL, D.

DAY 2: SACRED IMBABURA & SAN PABLO LAKE.
We leave this historic hacienda - once a very important weaving centre, on horseback and ride on to another colonial hacienda built in 1602 (5 hrs). We ride past tiny hamlets of adobe huts, through woodlands, cross rocky gorges and wind our way around the patchwork fields of quinoa, potatoes, maize and tree tomato orchards. Magnificent views of the San Pablo lake and the jagged Mojanda summit as we ride across the slopes of the sacred Imbabura Volcano (extinct) - the focus of many Inca legends. As well as seeing a great variety of exotic Andean fruits and other crops, we meet the locals in vibrant traditional dress going about their daily tasks, the children shepherding the unruly pigs and sheep - trying to keep them off the crops. Late PM: wander through the beautiful flowering gardens admiring the avocado trees, bromeliads, orchids and kitchen garden with passion fruit, tree tomato and a host of other interesting plants. And a very special visit: drive through small villages with thriving cottage industries, to visit a family of local weavers. This family still produces exceptionally fine, unique rugs using the ancient pre-Inca backstrap loom that most weavers have abandoned in favour of more modern looms. The wool is still dyed using plants and then hand spun as the family sticks rigidly to the traditional weaving processes.< Overnight at this early 17th Century (1602) hacienda adorned with local crafts and antiques. Fireplaces in most rooms. AB, PL, D.

DAY 3: PASTORAL ZULETA VALLEY
A stunning ride into the beautiful pastoral Zuleta Valley (6-7hrs). Along country lanes then through eucalyptus forests, we rise out of San Pablo Valley enjoying wonderful views across the lake to the hills of Mojanda and also of Imbabura volcano, riding onto the plains beyond for some fast-pace riding. Views of Zuleta valley, the verdant gorges and the ‘paramo’ (the unique Andean habitat of high grasslands) as we pass dewponds and hedges of spikey agave (sisal) atop mud walls. Following sandy tracks, we then descend into the Zuleta valley with dramatic views across to the hanging valleys and rocky ridges above. With views of the ancient tumili and earth pyramids erected by the pre-Inca population we ride on to a working farm in the middle of this tranquil valley seldom visited by tourists. A chance of seeing the mighty Andean Condor as well as other species such as hummingbirds and bright scarlet flycatchers. Andalusian horses, fighting bulls and a dairy herd are among the farm inhabitants. PM: Guests can walk into the tiny village and see examples of the hand embroidery that has made the valley famous and also enjoy exploring and observing the activities on the working farm. Overnight at the Hacienda. Fireplaces in most rooms. AB, PL, Tea, D.

DAY 4: THE SNOWS OF CAYAMBE & THE EQUATOR LINE.
A chance to get to know about the Andalucian breed, the farm owners will chat with you about their champion horses. We then ride out into another section of the farm along grass tracks, soon gaining height, leaving the valley floor there are spectacular views: north down the Zuleta valley to three peaks on the horizon, in Columbia and west across the array of patchwork fields every imaginable shade of green to Imbabura peak. Here, condors are seen close up more and more frequently. Then leaving the farm we ride up out of the valley through a large eucalyptus forest. A different experience to the previous rides - cantering along the shady tracks between the rows of tall eucalyptus. We often meet the locals with small herds of sheep, goats, pigs and cattle. Emerging from the forest onto the plains, snowcapped Cayambe comes into view. We ride onto the Pesillo plains and arriving in the Cayambe Valley dominated by this Volcano, which straddles the Equator Line, we leave the horses at a typical village square complete with ornate gardens, church and school. A short drive brings us to a beautiful old hacienda for a delicious home cooked 3 course lunch of traditional dishes in beautiful surroundings. The number of visitors allowed to visit this hacienda is strictly limited and, as well as the fine antique furniture, is packed with arrangements of fresh roses – 1000s of roses: we also visit a nearby rose plantation (time permitting). We then cross the Equator Line with time to stop for photos, and travel by vehicle (2hrs), bypassing Quito, to a Hacienda with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath and the possibility of massages (extra charge for massages). Overnight at the Hacienda. AB, PL, D.

DAY 5: THE REMOTE FOOTHILLS OF SINCHOLAGUA .
The day starts with a drive to meet the horses. Leaving the farmlands behind, a spectacular ride awaits (7hrs), across the Sincholagua foothills to the northern edge of the Cotopaxi national park. We start with some canters through dramatic Andean scenery, then traverse a series of huge gorges along tracks and riding across the remote ‘paramo’ wilderness. We then descend and, once on the pasturelands, enjoy some exhilarating canters across the pastures and ride towards Cotopaxi National Park approaching the perfectly conical shape of the snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano (the highest active volcano in the world). Sincholagua, a rocky summit that dominates the skyline, clearly marks the continental divide – the precipitation that falls the western side, runs down and ends up on the Ecuadorian coast in the Pacific Ocean, while that of the eastern sides eventually joins the Amazon and goes on to the Atlantic Ocean, via Brazil. Having avoided the fighting bulls (the hacienda we cross is famous for its feisty Spanish bulls!), we turn westwards, cross a river and arrive for the night at a Hacienda*, surrounded by mighty Andean peaks -an absolutely stunning location. AB, PL, D. *The accommodation on day 5 will be at a new Hacienda or a Mountain Inn. The decision will be based on the number of participants (one has too few rooms for larger groups). Both lodgings are situated in idyllic locations with stunning views, cozy rooms and excellent food.

DAY 6 –COTOPAXI NATIONAL PARK & WILD HORSES
A day riding in the wild open expanses of the Andean highlands enjoying the open terrain, no sign of habitation and spectacular views of the close by Cotopaxi snowcapped volcano.
We ride into Cotopaxi national park to canter across the wide, barren plains at the base of the Cotopaxi Volcano. Several herds of wild horses inhabit the park and to ride along side these long-maned horses galloping freely across the rugged terrain is an unique experience. Part of this ride follows the main Inca highway which linked Quito with Cusco, Peru, as well as the Inca route leading down to the Amazon. We ride to the old Inca fort that guarded this supply route. The ground is covered with tiny pumice stones and lichen on this arid plain created by lava and ash from Cotopaxi volcano. We then ride across a very surprising ‘luna landscape’ – huge boulders and hard baked ocre-coloured mud, between fascinating glacial and volcanic features and onto rolling grassy hills for more fast paced riding. After a picnic lunch amidst this stunning scenery, we ride out of the national park to a recently converted old Jesuit Hacienda seeped in history and now a very comfortable highland hacienda. AB, PL, D.

DAY 7: VALLEY DESCENT
Guests ride out of the lodge along dirt tracks, ford, a river and head down a very scenic valley northwards towards civilization and Quito (5-6hrs). We pass polylepis trees (‘paperbark trees’) and alisos and other native trees & plants as we cross wooden bridges, ride through streams and along sandy tracks. A chance of some final canters across the pastures, avoiding encounters with the fighting bulls. We often meet the local horsemen (chagras) checking the cattle and have also frequently seen Andean Condors on this route as well as eagles, hawks, kestrel, fox and deer. Descending into the valley along a lane bordered with native trees & shrubs humming birds, finches, flycatchers and many other bird species flit tree to tree in front of us. Meeting the cobbled roads guests say goodbye to the horses and are driven back into Quito (75 minutes). On the way to the hotel we will take a quick detour through Colonial Quito. Overnight in a comfortable hotel in Quito. AB, PL.

DAY 8: DEPARTURE.
Following breakfast, guests are accompanied to the airport in time for their outward flights, or are
picked up at their hotel to continue on extensions. BB. End of services.

Itinerary is subject to changes.

See Special Christmas Tour


Rates and Dates for Colonial Haciendas Trail

Rates include:

7 nights accommodations at select haciendas and city hotel, all meals except for last night in Quito, juices and water, English speaking guide with 6.5 horse riding days, saddlebags and poncho for each guest.

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    A
    20198 day trip, AP$3795
    • Small group supplement (2-3 riders only), pp$790
      Weight supplement (over 85 kg, 95 kg max.)$350
      Single supplement$550

Rates Note:

Please Note: If there are LESS than 4 riders signed up for a date at 1 MONTH prior to departure, we will adjust the itinerary to better distribute costs or opt to pay group supplement to keep original.

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Rates Note:

Please Note: If there are LESS than 4 riders signed up for a date at 1 MONTH prior to departure, we will adjust the itinerary to better distribute costs or opt to pay group supplement to keep original.


Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionUS$
2019 Transfer from Quito Airport, pp, roundtrip (unguided) $100
2019 Transfer from Quito Airport, pp, roundtrip (guided) $150

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2019 08/10 - 08/17 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 09/07 - 09/14 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 10/05 - 10/12 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 4 /8 Expired
A 2019 11/23 - 11/30 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 4 /8 Reserve
A 2019 12/14 - 12/21 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 4 /8 Reserve
A 2019 12/21 - 12/28 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 4 /8 Reserve
A 2019 12/28 - 01/04 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP 4 /8 Reserve

Dates Note: Private rides can be organized throughout the year on non scheduled dates.
Prices changing in July 2019

Rates do not include:

Transfers, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, gratuities, personal expenses, laundry costs, surcharge for a second horse support for riders over 85kg/188lbs, medical insurance (mandatory)

Other Info
Meeting: Quito Hotel
Airport: Quito
Transfer: Quito hotel Sebastian on Day 1

Climate:
                                                Quito area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

66

66

66

66

66

67

67

68

68

67

67

66

Average Low Temperature (°F)

49

49

49

49

49

48

47

48

47

48

48

48

Average High Temperature (°C)

19

19

19

19

19

19

19

20

20

20

19

19

Average Low Temperature (°C)

9

10

9

10

9

9

8

9

9

9

9

9

Source: NOAA


Seasons
The climate in the Ecuadorian highlands allows us to offer rides all year round. During the day the temperatures can rise to 28C (82F), although most days start with a crisp morning of 8 to 10C (46 to 50F). The night time temperature can be as low as 4C (39F). These day to night temperature changes are most marked from June to November. From December to May the days remain cooler and the nights warmer. Even in the rainy season (October to May in most areas) the rain does not fall daily and is hardly ever for a prolonged span of time. Afternoon showers may occur, by when the day's ride is usually over.


Special note – Altitude sickness
Please note that during riding tours we will be at over 2,600 meters / 8,500 feet above sea level and on certain tours over 4,000 m / 13,000 feet. The rides are designed to allow guests to gradually acclimatize but guests may feel some effects of altitude during the first few days (possible headaches and occasionally slight dizziness). It is vital that you follow the guides advice, let your guide know if you are feeling unwell, that you take things easy and do not over-exert yourself. Alcohol intake should be reduced and guests should be sure to drink plenty of bottled water. Aspirin can be taken to help - as long as you are not allergic.

What To Bring:
A medical kit both for horse & rider is carried on all outings however short. Most saddles have saddlebags for a few personal belongings. Pack animals are used and/or support vehicles to carry most of the equipment. Suitcases are fine, it is much better if they are ‘soft’ bags rather than hard suitcases and we ask gusts to keep luggage to a minimum – 1 reasonable sized bag (25kg/ 55lbs max)
All the hotels have telephones and on certain rides mobile telephones and/or radios are carried.
Guests are kindly requested on all rides to take a minimum of personal belongings with them. Pack animals or a vehicle bring on guests belongings to the Haciendas. Luggage storage can be organised in Quito during the ride.
All bed linen and towels will be provided on the tours.

Equipment provided by Ride Andes (where applicable):
- Wool ponchos
- Chaps/ Half Chaps (a few pairs are available on prior request).
 
Please bring enough film and batteries especially film/cartridges/memory cards for more modern equipment.  (We advise 400ASA for 35mm cameras.)  The backup vehicle can carry video cameras for guests but the vehicle will not be with the riders all the time. At altitude batteries tend to run down more quickly.

VALUABLES
Although Ecuador has one of the best records in Latin America for safety we advise:
-please take the minimum valuables and avoid wearing expensive watches/jewellery in public.
-please use the hotel/hacienda safety deposit box.
-please use money belts and do not leave valuables 'on show' or in back/outside pockets.
-while riding, valuables can be handed in to the guide for safe storage.
-in Quito, taxis should always be taken at night.

Ride Andes cannot accept any responsibility for loss/theft during your stay in Ecuador.

This list is only a guideline for you

 

Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Riding chaps-full or half length
Stretch trousers/jodhpurs. We advise you against wearing denim jeans or baggy trousers. (Lightweight jodhpurs may be too thin.) Thin 'longjohns'/stockings/stretch lycra-style cycling shorts are useful under trousers/jodhpurs.
Change of trousers
Strong boots (boots/riding boots with rubber soles - you may have to walk on rough terrain)
Riding helmet  (mandatory)
Woollen scarf
Riding gloves
Wide brimmed hat ('Stetson' style, available in Quito)
Long sleeved cotton shirts
Fleece jacket
Warm, waterproof jacket (for camping tours: suitable for cold evening temperatures)

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Evening wear (trousers, shirt and sweater for the hotels)
Runners or canvas shoes (for evenings & market visits - comfortable, low/no heels)
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect repellent
Personal medications
Sore cream (for an emergency)
Sewing kit
Camera and enough extra films and batteries
Daypack
Sun glasses with strap
High protection sunscreen and lip balm 
Flashlight