Quilotoa Loop Ride

Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador: (IT-ECRT11)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/Ecuador_Quilotoa_Loop.aspx

Introduction
Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador
As we ride through the Andes Mountains, you will experience a diversity of geographical landscapes and climates. Be prepared for a period of intense equatorial sun followed by chilly Andes’ wind—all within the space of a few hours. The locals say that the highlands experience all four seasons within the same day. We cross extensive farmland; with our sturdy and well-trained horses we climb to altitudes exceeding 11,000 feet (3900m) and ride down to hidden valleys, where we are able to experience the Andes mountains. For this ride we have the opportunity to ride at the Quilotoa crater lake area, this is a unique experience that is accomplish by the rugged terrain that is around the volcano terrain.

Indeed, you will come to appreciate the tradition and customs of the chagras’ abilities. In their goat-skin chaps and woolen ponchos, they welcome tourists and demonstrate their centuries-old tradition of herding cattle. The chagras’ skill on horseback and knowledge of the Andean paramo are legendary. Together with your horse and guide, you will experience the beauty of Ecuador like never before and create memories that will last a lifetime!

As an optional extra two day ride before the regular trip begins, we offer a ride through the narrow cloud forest paths, surrounded by literally thousands of plant and animal species. One can’t help but be amazed by the sheer biodiversity of this area.

Accomodation

Accommodations
This is a progressive ride where nights are spent in different locations. 

Description
Hacienda Alegria has very nice and comfortable accommodations. The accommodations along the way are more basic, but all authentic and comfortable. There are 2 people per room with private showers in every accommodation.

Night 1: Hacienda La Alegria
The Hacienda was built in 1910 in Franco Italian Style and has been renovated and restored. It is made out of adobe and stones and its walls are over 80 cm thick! It is nestled amidst lush surroundings in the typical fertile and green farmland of the Ecuadorian inter Andean plain at an altitude of 2880m (9449 ft).
The Hacienda is a family-run organic farm and the hospitality of the Espinosa household is remarked upon by visors who return year after year. You will be welcomed with a roaring log fire in the sitting room, and in your bedroom when the nights are cold.
The farm can accommodate up to 24 people both in the farmhouse and a recently completed extension. The extension has been tastefully restored with solid cypress floors and beams and modern en-suite bathrooms with plenty of hot water and powerful showers. Split-level family rooms sleep five comfortably. Wi-fi internet is available at this property.

Night 2: Llullullama Lodge at Insilivi
This Eco Lodge offers cozy accommodation in the heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. It is housed in an old farmhouse that has been renovated with respect to the environment. The Lodge offers a wide variety of rooms, each simply decorated with local artifacts. There are common areas with fireplaces as well as a terrace offering beautiful mountain views, where guests can relax and chat with fellow travelers.
There is no internet at this property.

Night 3: Hacienda San Gabriel (part of Hacienda San Jose) in Sigchos
The accommodation features simple rooms with a variety of arrangements (single, double, twin, triple or quadruple). Facilities include free Wi-Fi access and an indoor swimming pool.

Night 4: Black Sheep Inn at Chugchilan
This eco-friendly lodge is perched on a hillside, offering stunning views of the surroundings. The rooms are simply decorated with local artifacts and are kept warm thanks to wood-burning stoves. Showers are gravity fed and provide hot water all day long. Wireless Internet is available in and around the Main Lodge.

Night 5: Samay Kirutoa Lodge at Quilotoa
This lodge offers comfortable accommodations with spectacular mountain views. There are only 7 rooms and each are simply decorated with respect to the surroundings. There is a garden where guests can relax and free Wi-Fi internet is also available.


Cloud Forest Add-on:
Night 1: Hacienda La Alegria
Night 2: Hacienda Bomboli
Night 3: Hacienda La Alegria

Hacienda Bomboli
This property offers basic accommodation for up to 16 guests. It is set in a beautiful rainforest and each room has its own bathroom with hot water. Due to its remote location, cell phone service is very limited and there is no electricity. The house is kept warm and lit with fireplaces and candles and your hosts even puts a warm water bottle in your bed before you go to sleep.

There is access to free Wi-Fi almost everywhere and laundry services are available at Hacienda La Alegria for a small gratuity.

Room Occupancy
Single supplement is mandatory is we cannot find another rider to share.


Meals
All meals are included from lunch on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 6 (or Day 9 if doing the Cloud Forest add-on). Meals are featuring delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian food. You will never go hungry with 3-4 courses offered per meal. Soups are a specialty in the highlands that we will use to warm our bodies after a good ride. Main courses can be chicken, pork, beef, trout, tilapia, pasta and more. Don't forget to save room for dessert! This trip includes some wine/ beer with dinner.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to most dietary restrictions with prior notice.

This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Horses

Our horses are very important to us. We have more than 35 riding-horses as well as about 30 mares and foals. Most have been bred here on the farm from mixed Criollo (native South American), English Thoroughbred and Arabian stock, resulting in a near perfect combination of toughness, agility, calm temperament and “mountain sense”. Beginners and experienced riders alike have found them easy to ride, willing and good mannered.
We are happy to follow the Natural Horsemanship principles when training our horses.

Tack
There is a range of tack including North American style, English style, McClellan cavalry, Chilean and traditional Ecuadorian "Chagra" style with its intricate leatherwork and saddle horn.

Host
Your host Gabriel comes from a family steeped in equestrian tradition. His grandfather bred racing horses close to Quito and his father, was a keen polo player.
Gabriel and Paty's three daughters are all keen riders, and the enthusiasm of the whole family is reflected in the quality of the horses at the farm. We are proud to share that Gabriel was recently nominated as MAESTRO GUIA ECUESTRE -- there are currently only 3 in the world with this title.

Itinerary

Quilotoa Loop Sample Itinerary- subject to changes

Day 1: Arrival
Arrive to the Hacienda early morning (around 9:30am if you want to get in 3-4 hours of riding) and ride to get acquainted with the horses and tack that we will use during the ride. Then we ride around the neighboring Haciendas. Our first experiences at altitude starts this first day. Lunch in the Hacienda house, visit the milking barn and aging cheese cave, and enjoy the hot tub and fireplace.
Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria
Riding hours: 4 hours

Day 2: Insilivi
We will start the ride an hour south of the Hacienda and begin our adventure south of the Ilinizas Volcanoes. We will observe a less agricultural and drier ecosystem, always accompanied by friendly locals eager to help travelers. We will pass small farms with a variety of crops and a few dairy cows. The rough conditions of the land have forced farmers to move to cities for temporary jobs until the time of harvest. We will ascend from the small valley to the ridge with scenery of rock peaks and mountains that make up the Quilotoa volcano. We will also view dozens of canyons flowing into a large one that was formed by the Toachi River during the eruption of the Quilotoa volcano. We will ride along ancient mule tracks, which were used for hundreds of years by the Incas, colonists, alcohol smugglers, and merchants. Nowadays, its use is almost entirely by the local farmers. We stop on the way for lunch and then continue our ride until we find a tiny town called Insilivi, composed of two main streets and about 50 houses. Here we will find a comfortable hostel to spend our first night in the mountains. After freshening up, we will have the option to walk a few blocks and see the valley from a viewpoint that will allow us to observe the arrival points for the next few days. At the hostel we will be able to enjoy a hot tub and steam room, a delicious dinner, and rooms with a fireplace.
Accommodations: Inn at Insilivi
Riding time: 4-5 hours


Day 3: Sigchos
Today we will continue riding down the path to the Toachi River and Canyon. It is hard to understand how these paths were built hundreds of years ago. They go up high in the mountain ridge and are used by the farmers to transport water by mules and donkeys to their farms. We will see a very rural landscape mostly with subsistence agriculture. As we make our way to the canyon, we will appreciate the geographical barriers that the canyon walls create between the small towns, forcing locals to travel for hours. People still talk about the old gold mines that were here in times of the Spanish colonization. We will make our way up to the Hacienda San Jose which is located at a higher point and looks like an oasis because of its trees and green pastures. After lunch we continue the ride to Hacienda San Gabriel (part of San Jose). We will have a impressive view from the mountain in the afternoon to watch the sun set to the west where the sea is 140 kilometers away. We will have a delicious dinner and lead our horses to graze in the pastures at night.
Accommodations: Hacienda San Gabriel
Riding time: 4-5 hours


Day 4: Chugchilan
Today we continue our way toward the western mountain chain. As we ride we will enjoy the view of the eastern chain where the Illinizas volcanos predominate. We will ascend to the edge of the mountain range, which on a clear day allows us to appreciate an endless horizon up until the coastal area. We will pass by ancient observation points called “pucaras” which were built by the Incas in the two ranges of the Ecuadorian Andes to protect the empire. As we descend, we will stop by at one of the artisanal cheese factories. Here we will learn about cheese making, the local traditions, culture, and their lifestyle. We will then arrive to Chugchilan, a small town with important tourist activity based on the beauty and popularity of the Quilotoa Volcano and its canyons. At night we will enjoy a lovely dinner and stay at the Inn, which is recognized as an eco-lodge. 
Accommodations: Inn at Chugchilan (Black Sheep Inn)
Riding time: 4 hours


Day 5: Quilotoa
Today is a special day because our goal will be to reach the great volcano with its unique emerald blue lagoon that was formed at its crater. We will descend to one of the canyons and then ascend to the edge of the volcano, which we assure, will leave you speechless for several minutes. We will ride for an hour and a half following the path at the edge of the crater until we reach hostel.  After leaving the horses and freshening up, we will have the chance to walk towards the edge of the crater and explore the lake. After dinner we will spend the night at one of the accommodations.
Accommodations: Inn at Quilotoa
Riding time: 4 hours


Day 6: Return to the Hacienda
After breakfast and a visit to the viewpoint of the lagoon, we will be transferred by car back to the Hacienda (2.5 hours), where we will have lunch and prepare our way back to your next destination.

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Optional Add-on: 3-day Ride to Cloud Forest (add-on before Quilotoa Loop)

Day 1: Arrival
Arrive to the Hacienda early morning (around 9:30am if you want to get in 3-4 hours of riding) and ride to get acquainted with the horses and tack that we will use during the ride. Then we ride around the neighboring Haciendas. Our first experiences at altitude starts this first day. Lunch in the Hacienda house, visit the milking barn and aging cheese cave, and enjoy the hot tub and fireplace.
Accommodations: Hacienda La Alegria
Riding hours: 4 hours


Day 2: Cloud Forest
In the morning we ride west towards the Corazon to 4,000 meters and descend to the cloud forest. At the cloud forest, we can observe a great biodiversity of plants and flowers including giant guneras, orchids, and birds such as the turkey of the forest (guan). In the afternoon, we arrive for tea at Hacienda Bomboli (3,000 m). Relax by the fireplace, enjoying the sunset, and watch the lights of the villages near the coast following a great meal.
Accommodation: Hacienda Bomboli
Riding hours: 6 hours

Day 3: Machachi Valley
We leave behind the cloud forest and ride the old road that until 1960 connected Quito with the coast. From there we can appreciate the green and fertile Machachi Valley and we can also see the routes we will take the next day along the east mountain chain. Crossing extensive pastures and eucalyptus forests we arrive to the valley at time for a delicious late lunch at the Hacienda.
Riding hours: 4 hours
Accommodation: Hacienda La Alegria


Rates and Dates for Quilotoa Loop Ride

Rates include:

Accommodations at different haciendas, all meals and wine with dinner on some nights, 5 days horseback riding with all the necessary equipment (wool ponchos, rain ponchos and chaps, horse bag, helmets), bilingual guide (English/ Spanish)

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    A
    20196 day trip, AP$1800
  • B
    20199 day trip with Cloud Forest add-on, AP (8 riding days)$2250

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionUS$
2019 Transfer from Quito w/ return (1 - 4 passengers) per car
This is a "Group Rate" - to be paid locally
$100
2019 Extra day with meals and riding at the hacienda, dbl, pp $220
2019 Extra night (B&B- no riding) $75
2019 Small group supplement (2 pax only), pp $150
2019 Single supplement, where applicable $150

Season Seasons  Min / MaxReserve
A 2019 01/01 - 12/31 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 4 /10 Reserve
B 2019 01/01 - 12/31 9d / 8n 9 day trip with Cloud Forest... 4 /10 Reserve

Dates Note: Hacienda closed from Dec 21 to Jan 3

Rates do not include:

Flights, departure tax, transfers, insurance, personal expenses, gratuities

Other Info
Meeting: Aloag
Airport: Quito
Transfer: Quito (airport, hotel, or bus stop)

Climate:
                                            Sigchos‎‎ area
 

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

69

68

68

67

66

65

65

66

67

69

70

69

Average Low Temperature (°F)

49

49

49

49

49

48

47

46

46

47

47

48

Average High Temperature (°C)

20

20

20

19

19

18

18

19

19

21

21

21

Average Low Temperature (°C)

9

9

10

10

9

9

8

8

8

9

8

9

Source: NOAA

 
Seasons
Day temperatures can vary considerably in the mountains (65º F during the daytime, 40º F at night). Average temperatures will range in 50’s.
Temperatures in Cotopaxi National Park and the surrounding region vary little throughout the year. The average daytime temperature is 45° F (7°C). Seasonal variations and night-time temperatures range between freezing 32°F (90°C) and 68°F (20° C).

Visitors are recommended to bring several layers of clothes including a warm sweater and protective rain-wind jacket, hat and gloves.
The rainy seasons run between January and May and October and November. The main dry season of June to September though the strong winds are known to occur. December also has a short dry season and the time around Christmas is normally considered the best weather of the year.

What To Bring:
Our partner can supply: wool ponchos, rain ponchos, rubber boots, full chaps, horse bag, and helmets. For camping equipment they can supply sleeping mats and sleeping bags- although they highly recommend you bring your own as theirs are more worn out. Please let us know if you'd like to borrow any of these items.

Clothing
Shirt: Cotton or wool, long sleeved
Sweater: Heavy wool or fleece sweater or vest
Trousers: Full length, wool, blend, pile or other warm pants.  
Underwear: Light-weight (polypropylene) thermal underwear, top and bottom
Headwear: Helmet (provided), bandana, and sunglasses.
Jackets: Insulated or Gore-Tex mountain parka for rain and wind (important)
Gloves: Wool, waterproof highly recommended
Socks: Wool or polypropylene
Footwear: waterproof lightweight hiking boots.
Sun-blocking lotions +30 and lipstick ointments (important)

Accessories

Sunglasses
Sunblock +30 and lipstick ointments (important)
Flashlight with extra batteries
Washcloth
Camera extra batteries
Binoculars

There is no set weight limit for your luggage as it will be transferred by car.