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: Hotel in Otavalo
Night 4: Lodge in Pasachoa foothills
Night 5: Hacienda in Pedregal
Night 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 near Ibarra
Night 4: Hotel in Otavalo
Night 5 & 6: Refuge in Pinan
Night 7: Lodge in Puelo
Night 8: Lodge in Pasachoa foothills
Night 9: Hacienda in Pedregal
Night 10: Night 7: 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 in 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 El Tambo 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).

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 and extra charges will apply. If you are willing to share but we are unable to find a roommate for you, the single supplement fee 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 the last day.

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.

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
‘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


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): Ride to Zuleta Valley
After breakfast, guests are met at their hotel in Quito by their guide and driver and leave Quito, driving north-east through a dry valley filled with acacia and cactus as well as avocado groves to Cayambe Valley (90 minutes); stopping as we cross the equator line from the south into northern hemisphere for a photo opportunity. We meet the horses and once guests are comfortable ride into the beautiful pastoral Zuleta Valley, to a working Hacienda for an overnight stay. This valley and the Hacienda have been firm favourites with guests for many years. Guests enjoy an insight into Ecuadorian life on a working ranch, styaying in a beautifully converted old building on a farm established in the 1500s, this area being farmed for centuries prior to that date.
The ride is varied in pace and terrain – through eucalyptus forests, along dirt tracks, through a gorge and passing a 16th century Hacienda. A good chance of seeing the mighty Andean Condor. As always, the ‘chagras’ that work alongside the main guide are there to look after your horses as soon as we arrive.
The dairy herd and Andalusian horses are close to our accommodation, the English-speaking owners are delightful and informative as they open their farm to us and show guests around and there is a museum of pre-Inca & Inca artefacts excavated at the Hacienda. Guests can walk around the farm or into the nearby village. The hacienda has 5 rooms, each with private bathroom.
Riding approx. 5-6 hours
Meals included: Tea, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 2 (Sunday): Zuleta Valley to Indigenous Community
Ride out of the hacienda north-west to a superbly maintained hamlet. Through another part of the picturesque Zuleta Valley sculpted at the end of the ice age by retreating glaciers. Then we climb out the valley, stunning views all around, through pine forests onto the slopes of Imbabura. The largest finch in the world and the brilliant mountain tanager flirt around. Depending on the time of the year, the vermillion fly catcher and the giant hummingbird can be seen. Other hummingbird species constantly zoom past us, including train bearers. Another delicious picnic along the way (a very varied menu including local fruits & salads) is enjoyed in a stunning location overlooking the valleys below. Along dirt tracks, cobbles, through woodlands then passing adobe houses we arrive at charming cottages and comfortable log cabins for overnight. This is an example of a very well managed community project; the local indigenous people are our hosts and, for those that wish, an opportunity to learn about the local culture - shamans, Andean calendar & fiestas and also their cooking. Delicious traditional food served at the home of a local family involved in tourism for many years.
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 breakfast, including fresh fruit and local flatbread, cooked in the oven outside the house, we ride out of the hamlet along cobbles and narrow dirt tracks, passing small farms, herds of animals, locals cultivating the fields in traditional dress. Through woodlands then over a ridge we arrive in the San Pablo Valley. The land flattens out and riders have the chance of canters along the tracks as well as enjoying impressive views, both snow-capped Cayambe Volcano and the rugged peak of Imbabura on the horizon. Guests spot many ‘exotic’ plants including fields of lupins & quinoa, passion fruit, mountain papaya & ‘uvillas’. The wonderful hairy pigs are tethered to the sides of the tracks and we pass flocks of sheep– the shepherdess engrossed in the embroidery the area is famous for. We arrive in a typical village square and say goodbye to these horses as we will meet fresh ones tomorrow.
Riding approx. 6-7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hotel in Otavalo


Day 4 (Tuesday): Cotopaxi National Park
A complete change of scenery! Riding into Cotopaxi national park, riders find themselves amongst important geological features produced by both ice age and volcanic activity. Fast paced riding – long canters, across the flat grassy plains on ideal terrain, and as we speed through the rolling hills 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 sometimes see deer and more and more frequently the Andean Condor is sighted soaring overhead. Crossing old lava flows, we then follow an old Inca route and ride on to a very comfortable lodge.
Riding approx. 5-6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Lodge in Pasachoa foothills


Day 5 (Wednesday): Ride around Cotopaxi
The longest ride of the trip– covering 45km (30 miles) through the northern section of national park and to the remote eastern flanks of Cotopaxi Volcano, far off the beaten track. Flat plains, marshlands, volcanic rock fields, riverbeds are some of the distinct terrains we traverse. We follow an Inca route that led down to the Amazon for part of the way and the house we stay at tonight is a ‘tambo’ built with Inca stone –log fires and lovely staff ensure a warm welcome and once again guests can enjoy an incredible location. The Equator-line sky is packed with stars, including the Southern Cross. 
Riding approx. 7-8 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Pedregal


Day 6 (Thursday): Ride with the Chagras
A ride into the ‘paramo’ vegetation of Quilindaña mountain. A circuit ride, usually accompanying the ‘Chagras’ – local horsemen that live and work in this area, while they go about their daily work. We may end up searching for cattle the chagras have been unable to locate in the far reaches of the hacienda lands, or helping the chagras bring cows down off the hills into the corral. The chagras have a specific dress – ponchos and goatskin chaps, ideal for the conditions. The fascinating tack has been specifically adapted over the centuries, since the Spaniards first brought horses to South America and the local horse has also developed into the ‘Ecuadorian criollo’ horse, ideally suited to the conditions.
Riding approx. 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Quilindana


Day 7 (Friday): Cotopaxi & Quilindana Volcanoes
Riders often wake to stunning views of the close-by Cotopaxi & Quilindana Volcanoes and also the glacier on Antisana Volcano on the horizon. Riders have a chance to inspect the hacienda stone and turf corrals used for the feisty fighting bulls before we set off through another part of this wilderness. The route is about 40km long, taking us close to the foot of Cotopaxi Volcano via a wide, glacier formed valley. The terrain is amazingly diverse: across rough ‘paramo’ grassland, fording rivers, traversing 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 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



Sample Itinerary: Volcanoes & Vistas Ride - subject to changes

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.

Day 1 (Saturday): Ride to Cayambe Foothills
After breakfast, guests are met at their hotel in the Mariscal district of Quito by their guide and driver and leave Quito (around 7:45 am), driving north-east to Cayambe Valley (90 minutes); stopping on the equator line for a photo opportunity.
We meet the horses and, once guests are comfortable, we ride onto the Pesillo plains below the magnificent Cayambe Volcano. An interesting route between cultivated fields, with wide grassy lanes lined with agave plants enabling guests to get used to their horses and tack on easy terrain. There is always two guides (bilingual & local) and we take at least one spare horse in case a guest would like to try a different horse.
A good chance of sighting the Andean condor over the next few days.
Overnight at a charming house on a small farm, a beautiful location in the Cayambe foothills – snowcapped Cayambe peak as a backdrop.
Riding approx. 3-4 hours
Meals included: Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 2 (Sunday): Zuleta Valley
Ride into the beautiful pastoral Zuleta Valley, to a working Hacienda (ranch) for overnight. This valley and the Hacienda have been firm favourites with guests for many years. Guests have an insight into Ecuadorian life on a working ranch, living in beautifully converted old building on a farm established in the 1500s, this area being farmed for centuries prior to that date.
The ride is varied in pace and terrain – through eucalyptus forests, along dirt tracks, through a gorge and passing a 16th century Hacienda. A good chance of seeing the mighty Andean Condor. As always, the ‘chagras’ that work alongside the main guide are there to look after your horses as soon as we arrive.
The dairy herd and Andalucian horses are close to our accommodation, the English-speaking owners are delightful and informative as they open their farm to us and show guests around and there is a museum of pre-Inca & Inca artifacts excavated at the Hacienda.
Riding approx. 6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 3 (Monday): Ride to Indigenous Community
Ride out of the hacienda northwards to a superbly maintained hamlet. Through another part of the picturesque Zuleta Valley -sculpted at the end of the ice age by retreating glaciers. Then we climb out the valley, stunning views all around, through pine forests onto the slopes of Imbabura. The largest finch in the world and the brilliant mountain tanager flit around and, depending on the time of the year, the vermillion fly catcher and the giant hummingbird are sighted. Other hummingbird species constantly zoom past us, including train bearers. Another delicious picnic along the way (a very varied menu including local fruits & salads) is enjoyed in a stunning location, overlooking the valley. Along dirt tracks, cobbles, through woodlands then passing adobe houses we arrive at charming cottages and comfortable log cabins for overnight. This is an example of a very well managed community project, the local indigenous people are our hosts and, for those that wish, an opportunity to learn about the local culture - shamans, Andean calendar & fiestas and also their cooking. Delicious traditional food served at the home of a local family involved in tourism for many years.
Riding approx. 6-7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight in Indigenous Community near Ibarra


Day 4 (Tuesday): San Pablo Valley & Otavalo Market
After a breakfast, including local flatbread cooked in the oven outside the house, we ride out of the hamlet along cobbles and dirt tracks, passing small farms and traversing fields and woodlands - a fascinating insight into local life. Varied paced ride, with the chance of canters along the tracks. Over a ridge and into the San Pablo valley, views of the San Pablo lake below as we ride towards Otavalo. Guests spot may ‘exotic’ plants including fields of lupins & quinoa, passion fruit, mountain papaya & avocadoes. The wonderful hairy pigs are tethered to the sides of the tracks and we pass flocks of sheep– the shepherdess engrossed in the embroidery the area is famous for. Arriving at a small hotel full of character near Otavalo, for overnight we say goodbye to these horses as we will meet fresh horses tomorrow. A late afternoon visit to the nearby famous, Otavalo market, bursting with vibrant colours & relaxing on the terraces before dinner and overnight.
Riding approx. 6-7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hotel in Otavalo


Day 5 (Wednesday): Ride to Mountain Lodge
From the hotel, north-westwards, across the valley to meet the local criollo horses at Cochapata (60 minutes, very dependent on track conditions) and ride into a remote highland village. We leave the farmland a long way behind us - a stunning route into the vast ‘paramo’ with miles of swirling grasslands. Usually seeing Condors, caracaras, eagles and huge hawks as well as deer. A lake comes into view in the distance and then the village alongside a mountain river.
We ride up to 3600 metres, then descend to the sleepy village at 3300 metres for overnight, guests have never had problems as they are already acclimatized and the horses are doing the work!
Overnight at the lodge, in excellent, spacious dormitory rooms.
Riding approx. 7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Mountain Lodge in Pinan


Day 6 (Thursday): Highlands Ride
After a hearty breakfast, often with pancakes and always with lots of delicious fresh fruit, a circuit ride taking in the beautiful lake in an idyllic location in the rolling hills. We ride along narrow tracks through the grasslands, passing native shrubs and trees draped with vines and filled with bromeliads and orchids. These ancient routes were used at least 600 years ago and chronicled by early European explorers– as people from the coast came up along these ancient trading routes into the highlands to barter for goods.
A snack break at the wide beach by the lake and returning to the lodge for late lunch. A relaxing afternoon, visit to the fascinating community, feeling like a huge step back in time: the village being established centuries ago due to its position on the coast-sierra trading route and the houses still being built traditionally with adobe. The locals are delighted to show us their houses and way of life, an absolutely unique experience. A second overnight at the lodge with great views over the river and down to the community.
Riding approx. 4-5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Mountain Lodge in Pinan


Day 7 (Friday): Back to the Valley
We ride out of Pinan valley, via a very different route: down into the cloud forest with a very distinct flora and fauna to the previous days riding - riding into an area of more tropical flora and then seeing montane bamboo, coffee trees, passion fruit and many other tropical trees and fruits. We start by riding across the open rolling hills of the grass covered ‘paramo’ of Andean highlands with magnificent views of the surrounding peaks, then descend through thick forest of bamboo.
We leave the horses, meet a vehicle and a quick drive to Rio Lindo lodge, surrounded by coffee & banana trees. A swim in the water hole, a coffee tour and a chance to roast your own coffee or just relaxing in the hammocks, taking in the sounds and sights of the cloud forest are all on offer. Followed by a delicious home-cooked dinner with local ingredients and falling asleep to the sound of the gurgling river and cloud forest noises.
Riding approx. 7 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Lodge


Day 8 (Saturday): Pasachoa ride to Cotopaxi area, Avenue of the Volcanoes
After an early breakfast, departure by vehicle. A fascinating drive out of the cloud forest -passing passion fruit plantations, and over a pass in the western cordillera then driving south through the central valley with very varied scenery along the way. Mid morning break and arriving for a light lunch just north of Cotopaxi national park.
We meet fresh horses and ride up a valley, along an avenue of native trees, emerging onto plains, with magnificent views of the surrounding volcanoes. We cross pasturelands – carefully avoiding the fighting bulls that have made this hacienda famous, a chance to speed up as we canter across the grasslands. Keeping a look out for the Andean condors often sighted here, we cross a river and arrive at an inn full of character, built of adobe and thatch, with stunning views of Cotopaxi Volcano and other Andean peaks that surround the plain.
Riding approx. 4-5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Lodge in Pasachoa foothills


Day 9 (Sunday): Cotopaxi National Park
A faster paced start today (option of slower ride for those who wish) – lots of long, steady canters across the plains of Cotopaxi national park, below the snow-capped peak. Usually the wild horses join us, an unforgettable experience as these herds– long manes and tails flowing- gallop across the grasslands alongside us.
The topography is fascinating as we approach the magnificent Cotopaxi volcano– moraine, old lava and rock flows, huge boulders catapulted from the volcano – features created by both glacial and volcanic activity. We ride up into the Ruminahui foothills, another great place to spot condors, deer and foxes and affording ever more fantastic views.
We ride to a relatively new country lodge, family run and very personal service, for overnight. A wonderful end to the ride at the-is incredible location, equal distance between 4 great Andean peaks, including Cotopaxi.
Riding approx. 4-5 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Pedregal


Day 10 (Monday): Sincholagua Peak
An adventure into the high ‘paramo’ grasslands on this our last day of riding. This route remains an absolute favourite and the 7 hour ride ‘on top of the world’ a wonderful way to finish this tour.
We start with some fast paced riding across the flatlands close to Cotopaxi Volcano then the pace steadies as we ride up to 4000metres in the Sincholagua foothills (luckily the horses are doing all the work). The highest canter in the world is truly exhilarating. We cross the undulating hills covered in high grasses following narrow tracks used  by the ‘chagras’  -very few manage to ride up into this enchanting area except the local horsemen.
Leaving the open expanses and descending into the cultivated areas, we say goodbye to the horses and are driven back to Quito for overnight.
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

The above sample itineraries are subject to changes at the tour operator's discretion.


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



  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    A
    20208 day trip, AP- Cotopaxi Adventure Ride$2885
    • Small group supplement (2-3 riders only), pp$635
      Weight supplement (over 85 kg, 100 kg max.)$350
      Single supplement$365
  • B
    202011 day trip, AP- Volcanoes & Vistas Ride$3950
    • Small group supplement (2-3 riders only), pp$820
      Weight supplement (over 85 kg, 100 kg max.)$440
      Single supplement$495

* 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 09/05 - 09/12 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Cotopaxi Adv... 4 /8 Expired
B 2020 09/19 - 09/29 11d / 10n 11 day trip, AP- Volcanoes &... 4 /8 Expired
B 2020 11/21 - 12/01 11d / 10n 11 day trip, AP- Volcanoes &... 4 /8 Reserve
A 2020 11/21 - 11/28 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Cotopaxi Adv... 4 /8 Reserve
B 2020 12/23 - 01/02 11d / 10n 11 day trip, AP- Volcanoes &... 4 /8 Reserve
A 2020 12/27 - 01/03 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP- Cotopaxi Adv... 4 /8 Reserve

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