Cotopaxi Adventure Ride

Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador: (IT-ECRT04)
URL: https://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/ecuador_cotopaxi.aspx

Introduction
Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador
A route that takes riders into the remote Andes in the eastern foothills of the perfectly conical, snowcapped Cotopaxi volcano, across the seldom-visited plains in the National Park and also through the stunning verdant valleys of the Cayambe-Zuleta-Imbabura area north of Quito. A very good chance of seeing the mighty Andean condor as well as a host of other birds while traversing the pastoral valleys and then the open plains. We cross a huge variety of scenic terrain, firstly riding across the patchwork of tiny fields on dirt tracks then riding through luna-like landscapes, picking up speed on vast grassy plains. The pace is varied, including plenty of chances for long canters across rolling hills mixed with a steadier pace over more challenging surfaces. Where there is a break in the sea of high Andean grasslands, the ground is carpeted with wild flowers and we pass through primary woodland with native trees and shrubs and also eucalyptus forests. We cross old lava flows dotted with rocks catapulted out from the erupting volcano, where only lichens grow and ride through rivers fed by snowmelt. As well as being surrounded by majestic Andean peaks, the glacial retreat -followed by the volcanic activity, have helped sculpt the area producing intriguing landscapes.

Nights are spent in a wonderful mixture of haciendas, inns & isolated farmhouses, built of a variety of materials including adobe with thatched roofs and original Inca stone. One night is spent in little cottages in a hamlet, supporting a truly excellent local community project. Due to the varying weather conditions in the mountains (seasonal changes east & west of Cotopaxi Volcano), flexibility is needed. We have several other excellent alternatives if a change to the itinerary below needs to be made.

A ride for experienced riders capable of riding over a multitude of challenging terrains and spending long days in the saddle (maximum 7-8 hours). We strongly advise a few days acclimatization prior to the tour and, to this effect, can arrange activities such as few days ‘de-rust’ riding or a variety of ‘non riding’ activities such as a visit to the famous Otavalo market.

Accomodation

Accommodations
This is a progressive ride, so nights will be spent in different locations.

Description
At the end of each day's riding adventure, we overnight in a wonderful mixture of haciendas and farmhouses selected especially for your cultural enjoyment.
Wi-Fi is available at almost all lodgings and while coverage is usually very good, we cannot guarantee it.

Accommodation Itinerary for Cotopaxi Adventure Ride - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1: Hacienda in Zuleta valley
Night 2: Indigenous Community near Ibarra
Night 3: Lodge on Pasachoa foothills
Night 4: Country Inn in Cotopaxi NP
Night 5 & 6: Hacienda in Quilindana
Night 7: Hotel in Quito

Accommodation Itinerary for Volcanoes & Vistas Ride - subject to changes based on availability
Nights 1 & 2: Hacienda in Zuleta valley
Night 3: Indigenous Community (San Clemente) near Ibarra
Night 4 & 5: Hosteria in Pinan
Night 6: Lodge in Puelo
Night 7: Lodge on Pasachoa foothills
Night 8 & 9: Country Inn in Cotopaxi NP
Night 10: Hotel in Quito



Hacienda in Zuleta Valley
This Hacienda belonged to the Order of the Mercedaries, until the late nineteenth century. The Guest House is located in the heart of the farm's productive activities; so that one can see from a window or from the garden daily tasks and if desired can be part of them.
The old rooming house of the farm’s employees has been restored to welcome our guests, with emphasis on comfort. As a fitting tribute to those characters who have made the history of mountain farms and have been part of everyday life of this estate until today, we wanted to identify each room with the name of each of these workers. Each of the 5 room is furnished with older wooden furniture and comes with private facilities. Fireplaces are available in most rooms. Wi-Fi is available in public areas and is free of charge. 



Indigenous Community near Ibarra
Following the desire of local families to welcome travelers, some families have decided to host travelers into their home. The village is located at an altitude of 2.800 m (approx.. 9.200 ft) above sea level.

Hotel in Otavalo
This charming colonial style hotel offers 12 uniquely decorated rooms with private bathroom and balcony overlooking the green inner–courtyard. with wooden floors and wooden beds. The inner patio filled with plants gives you a colonial feeling and lets you escape from the busy streets. There is free Wi-Fi access at this property.



Lodge on Pasachoa foothills
Built from local materials, this lodge is located at 3480 meters above sea level. It accommodates guests in comfortable rooms with rustic-style décor, equipped with private bathrooms as well as a wood burning stove, along with cozy ponchos and thick duvets to keep off the mountain chill. The main lodge is welcoming, with cozy nooks to relax, books to curl up with, and stunning views of Cotopaxi on a clear day. At night, you can sit by the campfire and gaze at the stars. There is free Wi-Fi access at this property.



Hacienda in Pedregal
The Hacienda offers 14 rooms, each with a unique decor and equipped with a heating system (stove or electric heaters), private facilities with hot shower and free Wi-Fi.
Another accommodation type at the Hacienda are the machai rooms which are designed to simulate sleeping on an Andean hut, but with all the comfort you need. Each of these 8 machai rooms have estera walls and doors and can accommodate two people and share 4 bathrooms and 3 showers (hot water).

Hacienda in Quilindana
This Hacienda is located inside the Cotopaxi National Park and is part of a major conservation program that aims to protect local endangered wildlife. It sits on the slope of the Cotopaxi Volcano, at an altitude of 3,600m. The main house dates back to Inca times, when it was used as a Tambo (sort of Inn). Although the original building was destroyed by the Spaniards, it was rebuilt following the same ancestral methods.
Here, you will be accommodated in one of 6 machai room with thatched roofs and matting made estera walls and curtains as doors. The Machais share 3 bathrooms and 3 showers (hot water).



Country Inn in Cotopaxi NP
This lodging offers bright and spacious rooms with large windows overlooking the mountains. Each room has its own bathroom, free Wi-Fi access and a stove to keep you warm on chilly nights.

Hotel in Quito
This hotel is housed in a Spanish-style villa that keeps its colonial charm. The decor combines Ecuadorian handicrafts and furniture, hand carved in fine local woods.
The 20 guestrooms all come with private bathroom, telephone, television, Wi-Fi access and a digital safe.

Refuge in Piñán
This refuge, located at an altitude of 3112m high, was built with ancestral techniques meant to respect the environment. Its adobe walls and thatched roof keep the heat of the stoves and the fireplace in the circular room overlooking the Piñán River. There are 4 rooms with a total capacity of 20 people. Bathrooms are shared an include hot water. There is no Wi-Fi available at this lodging.

Lodge in Puelo
The lodge is located at 1890m high and is surrounded by a 7 hectares farm on the shores of Cristopamba river. It consist in a three floor house with 8 bedrooms with shared facilities (6 showers) and two extra rooms in a little wooden cabin with another toilet facility. There are also common rooms where guest can relax and enjoy the view. The lodge's garden is full of beautiful flowers and attracts many birds. There is no Wi-Fi access at this property.


Room Occupancy
Single occupancy is possible, but is limited in availability. If you are willing to share but we are unable to find a roommate for you, a single supplement fee usually applies.
Only a few of the accommodations have triple occupancy rooms available. If requested, we will confirm with you at time of booking what is possible.



Meals
On the Cotopaxi Adventure Ride, all meals are included except for dinner on Day 7.
On the Volcanoes & Vistas Ride, all meals are included except for dinner on Day 10.

Whether staying in a hacienda, hotel or rural ranch, the food will be hearty, filling and not over-spiced. Guests are offered a mixture of traditional Western food alongside local dishes (such as empanadas - tasty savory turnovers stuffed with meat or chicken). Delicious local produce such as cheese from Ecuador's Zuleta Valley and delicious tropical fruits (papaya, mango and custard apple) are often available.  

Picnic lunches are freshly cooked and never consist of just a sandwich.
At dinner, the starter is often a tasty highland soup made with prime local ingredients including beans, pulses and vegetables.

Beverages
Extra snacks and bottled water also provided each day. Guests must buy their own soft drinks & alcoholic beverages.


Special Diets
We can easily cater for vegetarians or any other dietary requirements as long as we are warned in advance.

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.
Guests are strongly advised to bring and use their own helmet.

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 
We use McClellen saddles, a Western’ type saddle with low rounded pommel (no horn) and a thick sheepskin atop. It is easy to ride ‘English style’ on these saddles, as well as Western. The horses are 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.

Emergencies
In case of accident, our guides carry a mobile phone so that they can contact assistance (local emergency services/back up vehicle/our Doctor in Quito) – the mobile phone coverage is generally excellent but very limited on a few days; the backup vehicle will be in the vicinity.

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


Please, note that the sample itineraries below are subject to changes at the tour operator's discretion due to unforeseen reasons such as weather, track conditions...

Sample Itinerary: Cotopaxi Adventure Ride - subject to changes

Day 1 (Saturday): Northern Highlands Heritage
An early morning departure from Quito sees us heading northwards through a dry valley filled with acacia and cactus, as well as avocado groves. Passing the snow-capped Cayambe volcano straddling the equator line, we meet the horses and – once guests are comfortable – ride into the beautiful meadow-filled Zuleta Valley. This fertile glacial valley was chosen centuries ago by early settlers and riders can see the earthworks the pre-Inca groups left behind and, at the working Hacienda we are riding to, view their pottery excavated on site. This valley and the Hacienda have been firm favourites with guests for many years. The English-speaking owners are delightful and informative as they open their farm to us and show guests their Andalusian horses and the dairy herd.
Riding approx. 4-5 hours
Meals included: Tea, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 2 (Sunday): Sacred Imbabura & Cultural Experience
This morning, we ride out through another part of the picturesque valley. Along agave-lined tracks, we pass fields of lupines, quinoa and beans. Then, we climb out the valley: stunning views in every direction of this landscape sculpted at the end of the Ice Age by retreating glaciers. We continue onto the slopes of Imbabura and enjoy a delicious picnic in a breathtaking location looking out over the ridges of mountains hiding the Amazon beyond.
We eventually arrive at charming cottages with beautifully kept fruit, herb and medicine gardens. This is an example of a very well managed community project; an enchanting local indigenous family hosts us and, for those that wish, there is an opportunity to learn about the local culture – including shamans, the Andean calendar & fiestas, and their cuisine.
Riding approx. 6-7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Indigenous Community near Ibarra


Day 3 (Monday): Ride to San Pablo Valley
After a delicious breakfast, including a variety of fruits and local flatbread freshly baked in an outside oven, we ride out of the hamlet along cobbles and narrow dirt tracks. Negotiating several steep gorges, passing herds of animals and locals cultivating the fields in traditional dress, we leave the valley behind us. Emerging from woodlands, we glimpse the San Pablo Lake below. The land flattens out and riders have the chance of canters along the tracks as well as enjoying the impressive views of the surrounding peaks: snow-capped Cayambe, the rugged summit of Imbabura and, on the horizon, Mojanda. We say goodbye to the horses as we will meet fresh ones tomorrow and exchanging hooves for wheels we cross the equator line, by-pass Quito and arrive at the trail head just north of Cotopaxi National Park, ready for another adventure tomorrow.
Riding approx. 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Inn on Pasachoa foothills


Day 4 (Tuesday): Cotopaxi National Park & Wild Horses
A complete change of scenery as we ride along a wide riverbed and onto the plains of Cotopaxi National Park. Riders find themselves amongst fascinating geological features produced by both glacial activity at the end of the Ice Age and following volcanic activity. There is now some fast-paced riding across the open grasslands between drumlins and volcanic cones as we approach the impressive Cotopaxi Volcano. As we speed through the rolling hills, there is an almost guaranteed chance of meeting several herds of the wild horses that roam the park – the bold colts often running alongside us, long manes and tails flowing. We then follow the main Cusco-Quito Inca route and ride on to a very comfortable modern Hacienda in an idyllic location -surrounded by four magnificent Andean peaks: Rumiñahui, Pasachoa, Sincholagua and the snow-capped Cotopaxi. 
Riding approx. 5-6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Mountain Lodge in Cotopaxi National Park


Day 5 (Wednesday): Inca Trails in the Andes
The longest ride of the trip – covering 45km (30 miles) through the northern section of the national park and to the remote eastern flanks of Cotopaxi Volcano, far off the beaten track. We often spot deer and foxes as well as eagles, hawks, falcons, harriers and caracaras overhead. Plains, wetlands, volcanic rock fields and rough grasslands are some of the distinct terrains we traverse and, for part of the way, we follow an Inca route that led down to the Amazon. Emerging into another river valley, the Hacienda we are heading to comes into view amongst the hills. The log fires and delightful staff ensure a warm welcome at this outpost built with Inca stone. Guests can enjoy the tranquility of this unique location and, as night descends, the Equator-line sky fills with stars, including the Southern Cross. 
Riding approx. 7-8 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at a remote Hacienda


Day 6 (Thursday): Chagra Life in the Paramo
A ride into the ‘paramo’ vegetation of Quilindaña mountain – the area between the farmed land and the snow – accompanied by the Chagras, who are the local Andean horsemen. We are going to ride high up into the hills to try and spot the Andean Spectacled Bear that has been seen in this area more and more frequently. Often, we come across this omnivore’s favourite plant and excitement builds as we realise a bear was eating here recently. We may end up searching for cattle the Chagras have been unable to locate in the far reaches of the Hacienda lands, or helping herd cows down off the hills into the corral. The climate can be quite harsh certain times of the year and the Chagras have a specific dress – wool ponchos and goatskin chaps, ideal for the conditions and also hard-wearing tack including intricate, plaited bridles and clog-like stirrups. Since the Spaniards first brought horses to South America the local ‘Criollo’ breed has developed into a resilient and determined horse suited to the tough conditions.
Riding approx. 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at a remote Hacienda


Day 7 (Friday): In the Volcanoes Shadow
Riders often awake to stunning views of the close-by Cotopaxi & Quilindaña Volcanoes, as well as the Antisana glacier on the horizon. Having had a chance to inspect the Hacienda walls of Inca stone and turf corrals used to contain the feisty bulls, we set off through another part of this wilderness – most likely encountering some of these bulls, deer and foxes along the way. The route is about 40km (25 miles) long, and takes us close to the foot of Cotopaxi Volcano via a wide, glacier formed valley. The contrast in terrain is incredible: across rough ‘paramo’ grassland, fording rivers, traversing pumice and boulder fields and wetlands; then back onto the plains for some long canters across the huge expanses of open terrain of the national park. En route, we pass a restored hilltop Inca fort. Arriving at the Hacienda close to the national park exit, guests leave the horses and are driven back to Quito for an overnight stay.
Riding approx. 7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
Overnight at Hotel in Quito


Day 8 (Saturday): Departure
Following breakfast, end of services. Guests can book transport with us to the airport or we can arrange extensions for them, for example Amazon lodges & Galapagos Island cruises.
Meals included: Breakfast



This is a longer tour, combining the first part of Colonial Haciendas route and a visit to the famous Otavalo market then linking into the Cotopaxi Adventure Ride itinerary.

Sample Itinerary: Volcanoes & Vistas Ride - subject to changes

Day 1 (Saturday): Across the Equator Line to Cayambe Volcano
After an early breakfast, we depart across the equator line for the Cayambe Valley where we meet the horses. Once guests are comfortable with their mounts, we ride onto the Pesillo plains below the magnificent Cayambe Volcano, then descend through forests into another valley. Encircled by meadows, we cross the valley to arrive at a working Hacienda (ranch), usually having to wait on the dairy cows ambling back to their fields before being able to ride into the courtyard.
Riding approx. 4 hours
Meals included: Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 2 (Sunday): Zuleta Valley
Today’s ride is varied in pace and terrain as we tour another part of the valley. Along dirt tracks, passing 16th century Haciendas first established by the Mercedian and Jesuit religious orders, we canter along agave-lined avenues and climb up narrow tracks with outstanding views out across this valley carved out at the end of the Ice Age. As always, the ‘chagras’ that work alongside the guide are there to look after guests’ horses as we stop and spread out a colourful tablecloth beneath the branches that is soon filled with all manner of local delicacies. Returning to the Hacienda via a different route, guests can take a tour of farm with the owners or wander into the nearby village to view the embroidery that has made this valley famous.
Riding approx. 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 3 (Monday): Ride to Indigenous Community
Both the dairy herd and Andalusian horses are just outside the six guest rooms – what a sight upon opening the curtains! Time to visit the collection of Inca and pre-Inca pottery excavated on site before we depart for a very different overnight stay. Riding out the valley to the north, passing Adobe houses and also pondering the pre-Inca earthworks in evidence, guests are treated to yet more dramatic views, the skies often adorned by an Andean Condor. We reach the Imbabura Volcano foothills, arriving at charming cottages – our home for the night. This is an example of a beautifully managed local Indigenous project and, for those that wish, there is the opportunity to learn about the local culture from our hosts – shamans, the Andean calendar, fiestas and also the cuisine.
Riding approx. 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in Indigenous Community near Ibarra


Day 4 (Tuesday): Into the Wild Paramo
We leave our trusty steeds for a few days and head out by vehicle to meet fresh horses at a trail head that will lead us into a very remote hamlet midst acres and acres of rolling hills and wild grasslands.  Few venture across the ‘paramo’ (high Andean vegetation, above the cultivated areas) to this outpost little changed over the centuries but the journey is well-rewarded – not a dwelling in sight for miles around, a tranquility seldom found in this century and an unpolluted night sky filled with stars.
Riding approx. 7-8 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hosteria in Piñan


Day 5 (Wednesday): Piñan Lake & Paramo
Setting out through a sea of ‘paramo’ grasses, we ride to a hidden lake. We pass native trees, branches laden with bromeliad and orchids, as we follow narrow tracks to the water’s edge. The terrain is quite tough but our sure-footed local Criollo horses are ideally suited to this ground and have no problem. After a walk on the lakeshore, we return to our Hosteria for a late lunch and a relaxing afternoon. Guests can cross the little bridge to walk around the hamlet – each group of family huts is surrounded by a traditional stick fence. At the tiny school, a game of football is often underway and it is not long before we are joining in.
Riding approx. 4-5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hosteria in Piñan


Day 6 (Thursday): Cloud Forest & Coffee
Leaving the mountain settlement behind us, we ride westwards down towards the coast, into the cloud forest. These ancient routes were chronicled in the early 1600s by European explorers as used by the coastal people coming to the highlands to trade and barter. We cross highlands with views out over the hills far into the distance. As soon as we start our descent into the cloud forest the vegetation changes noticeably, and we ride past stands of bamboo and start to see more tropical plants such as passion fruit and citrus. Leaving the horses to return to the highlands, we are driven to the lodge with a lush, jungle-like garden and coffee trees. With the cicadas, crickets, frogs and birds expect a noisy evening as we roast our own coffee ready for breakfast.
Riding approx. 7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Cloud Forest Lodge


Day 7 (Friday): Tropical to Temporate
Although covering a relatively small size, the Ecuador Cloud Forests are considered the one of the richest biodiversity hotspot on the planet, containing approximately 15 -17% of the world's plant species and nearly 20% of its bird diversity. The dawn chorus and the frequent flashes of brightly-coloured feathers in the undergrowth testify to that fact. After breakfast and time for a quick walk, perhaps harvesting some coffee beans, we head off to the famous Otavalo market  – a shopping and a photography opportunity – and then on to meet the horses just south of Quito, close to Cotopaxi National Park. We ride to a delightful inn surrounded by unbelievable mountain scenery for a delicious, home-cooked dinner and overnight.
Riding approx. 3-4 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Mountain Inn in Chilcabamba


Day 8 (Saturday): Cotopaxi National Park
We ford a river and traverse the remains of a lahar – one of the many classic volcanic features that we will see along with glacial features over the next few days. Huge boulders thrown out during an eruption litter the area around Cotopaxi Volcano. Reaching the pasturelands of a private hacienda – carefully avoiding the fighting bulls that have made this ranch famous – there is a chance to speed up as we head towards the national park. Keeping a look out for the Andean condors often soaring overhead, we once again cross the river and arrive at a Hacienda almost equidistant between four major Andean peaks, the snow-capped Cotopaxi filling most of the building’s big picture windows.
Riding approx. 5-6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at remote Hacienda


Day 9 (Sunday): Wild Horses & Open Plains
A faster ride today as we enjoy long canters across the plains of Cotopaxi National Park; there are all too few open spaces left with ideal ground to enjoy such exhilarating riding, but these grasslands are certainly one of them. Usually the wild horses join in, an unforgettable experience as these herds gallop across the pastures alongside us, long manes and tails flowing. The ‘lunar-esque’ landscape is fascinating as we approach the magnificent Cotopaxi Volcano along an old Inca route – the main ‘highway’ between Cusco and Quito. On another Inca road heading down to the Amazon, we pass a reconstructed Inca Fort. Following a picnic lunch, we turn for home, the setting sun lighting up the glacier.
Riding approx. 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at remote Hacienda


Day 10 (Monday): Stunning Secret Valley
On our last day of riding, we ride up into the Rumiñahui foothills, another great place to spot condors, deer and foxes, and affording ever more fantastic views. We start with some invigorating canters across the flatlands close to Cotopaxi Volcano, then the pace steadies as we climb above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) through the high ‘paramo’ grasslands to ride into a valley at the base of Rumiñahui peak. This route remains a favorite among guests and a magical way to round off the tour.
The highest canter in the world is an exhilarating experience, forming an indelible memory as we cross the undulating hills following narrow tracks mapped out by the ‘chagras’ and known by few.
Riding approx. 7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast & Picnic Lunch. Dinner not included tonight, you can dine at the hotel or we can make restaurant recommendations
Overnight at Hotel in Quito (Guests can be taken to a hotel near Quito airport, extra charge may apply)


Day 11 (Tuesday): 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.
Meals included: Breakfast


Rates and Dates for Cotopaxi Adventure Ride

Rates include:


Cotopaxi Adventure: Accommodation, Most meals with juice and water included, 7 riding days & National park/private reserve entrance fees
Volcanoes & Vistas Ride: Accommodation, Most meals with juice and water included, 10 riding days & National park/private reserve entrance fees
Riding helmets upon prior request (but we do recommend that you bring your own), wool ponchos, saddlebags and half chaps available on request.

Packages and Options




* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 Description
2020 Transfers not included. Best to take a taxi to your hotel
2020 Extra night in Quito - please inquire

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 11/21 - 11/28 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Cotopaxi Adv... 4 /8 Expired
B 2020 11/21 - 12/01 11d / 10n 11 day trip, AP- Volcanoes &... 4 /8 Expired
B 2020 12/23 - 01/02 11d / 10n 11 day trip, AP- Volcanoes &... 4 /8 Expired
A 2020 12/27 - 01/03 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Cotopaxi Adv... 4 /8 Expired

Dates Note: Prices changing in July 2019

Rates do not include:


Cotopaxi Adventure: Alcolholic beverages, Dinner on Day 7, Gratuities, Transfer from Quito & Medical insurance (mandatory)
Volcanoes & Vistas Ride: Alcolholic beverages, Dinner on Day 10, Gratuities, Transfer from Quito & Medical insurance (mandatory)

Note:

Due to COVID-19 Corona virus pandemic and certain travel restrictions we are applying some temporary policy changes to some of our tours.

For Cotopaxi Adventure Ride (IT-ECRT04):


Exceptional last minute postponement policy in place.

Guests health and safety are our #1 priority. We are continually monitoring the state of COVID-19 and the subsequent necessary action required. As soon as we can safely do so, we would like to once again offer rides tours in Ecuador. To ensure safety during tours, and to give you peace of mind, we have drawn up a special sanitary protocol which will be adjusted as more scientific information comes to light.
Our team dealing with transportation and the horse riding tours is very small, further reducing contact with people. The amount of staff at the hacienda is also small so there will be very few people on the property where you will be staying.
Our team will keep an appropriate distance, except for when it is entirely necessary (ex. To help onto your horses or with tack) and will follow all regulations and advice from health officials as they develop.

Strict staff protocol:
Our staff, Hacienda & hotel staff and transport staff will be held to the highest sanitation standards including more frequent: hand washing, wiping down of all surfaces in the accommodation, cleaning/sanitizing of tack, and changing of linens.
Staff will be wearing a mask at all times when interacting with guests, food, linens, tack and other items that the guests will be in contact with. Disposable gloves will be used and frequently changed between each task to reduce cross contamination.
Staff who demonstrate even mild/potential symptoms will be asked to stay home and their work area will be cleaned immediately after their departure.

Requirements for guests:
1- Before entering transport and the hacienda guests will be asked to disinfect their shoes with alcohol provided in spray bottles and apply hand sanitizing gel. This also applies to arrival at the hacienda after each day outside riding.
2- Guests will be asked to frequently wash their hands/apply gel throughout the tour. As well as carrying gel hand sanitizer to be used by staff and guests, there will be extra handwashing points throughout the tours.
3- Guests need to bring their own masks and sanitiser.
4- Before departure to the hacienda, guests will be asked to have their temperature checked and to fill out a short health survey. In the case that a guest has symptoms the group will be asked to reschedule their ride, so as to not risk exposure to our team.
5- In the case that someone develops symptoms, the ride will be immediately stopped and the guest will be isolated from the group. We will assist in helping the guest get to the nearest private hospital where they may be assessed and treated if necessary. In the case of rapid symptoms and loss of breath, an oxygen tank will be kept at the hacienda, in transport/back up vehicles.

In the case that you are travelling to get to us here in Ecuador, make sure you are up to date on your countries travel protocols. Be sure to take extra sanitation steps throughout your journey to ensure your own health and safety.


For more information please visit our COVID-19 Updates page at https://www.hiddentrails.com/article/covid19update.aspx

Other Info
Meeting: Quito - Cruz Loma Hotel
Airport: Quito
Transfer: Pick up and drop off at Quito Hotel Sierra Madre

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. Due to the afternoon rains, camping is inadvisable from May to October so the overnight stops on the adventure rides are altered to eliminate camping. There will be rain ponchos available for each guest!


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:
Guests are kindly requested  to bring a minimum of personal belongings with them. Pack animals or vehicle support transports our luggage each day! Luggage storage can be organized in Quito during the ride if necessary. All bed linen and towels will be provided in the haciendas, but you should bring your own personal towel of there is camping or rustic lodges during your itinerary. You will be provided with rain ponchos for adverse weather, saddle bags, and chaps / half chaps (limited, available on prior request) and riding helmets if you prefer (but we recommend bringing your own). Please bring enough film and batteries especially film/cartridges/memory cards for equipment. Please note 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! Although Ecuador has one of the best records in Latin America for safety we advise that you please take the minimum valuables and avoid wearing expensive watches/jewellery in public, use the hotel/hacienda safety deposit box, use money belts (while riding, valuables can be handed in to the guide for safe storage), while in Quito city please use taxis at night don't go walking about on your own if it can be avoided!

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

 

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