Historic Haciendas

Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador: (IT-ECRT13)
URL: https://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/ecuador_historic_haciendas.aspx

Introduction
Highlands Riding Tours Ecuador
Through a collage of tiny fields of every green imaginable and into the cobbled courtyard of the most important, best preserved Hacienda of the northern Highlands.

Staying at secluded colonial country houses, set amid beautiful gardens in idyllic locations, riding through valleys and along grand avenues into the cobbled courtyards, guests are transported back in time to the arrival of the first Spaniards on horseback in the 1500s and early 1800s, when Simon Bolivar was undertaking epic rides during the independence era – both events that reshaped the South American continent.
Andean Condors soar overhead, wild horses gallop alongside, and there is a chance of spotting the Andean Spectacled Bear, as well as a wealth of bird life.

Nights are spent peacefully in front of log fires, in antique-filled rooms at exclusive Historic Haciendas. Comfortable suites each have their own unique appeal, with the rambling manicured gardens a delight to wander through.

Accomodation


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

Description
The accommodation provided in this itinerary are of a very high standard with charming interior designs. You will be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep in pleasant, tranquil surroundings.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1, 2 & 3: Hacienda in Zuleta Valley
Night 4 & 5: Hacienda in Porvenir



Hacienda in Zuleta Valley
This beautiful estate is owned by the descendants of former Ecuadorian president, Galo Plaza. The hacienda offers all the comforts of a well-establish hotel. Here you are a guest of the Plaza family and you are welcomed as such.
All rooms are located in the main building (dating back to 1691) and come with a fireplace as well as a private bath tub (with hair dryer and toiletries). Rooms are decorated with hand-embroidered linens and feature beautiful garden views. On cold nights, we provide you with a hot water bottle in your bed, to keep it warm. There is wireless internet in all rooms to keep you connected to the outside world, if you wish to.  
You will be invited to relax at your leisure in the cozy reading and living rooms, which have entertained their own entourage of famous visitors including past presidents and dignitaries. 



Hacienda in Porvenir
This Hacienda used to belong to the Jesuits, a religious community that was established in the area in the 1600s. In 2012, the current owners renovated the hacienda into a lovely hotel, making sure to keep the original architectural style.
Nowadays, the hacienda accommodates guests in one of the 7 cozy bedrooms. Each room is equipped with private facilities. Free Wi-Fi access is available in common areas.

Room Occupancy
If you are willing to share but we are unable to find a roommate for you, a  single supplement fee usually applies.



Meals
All meals are included from lunch on Day 1 to lunch the last day.

After a full day riding, as well as an excellent lunch (most days a picnic, but quite a menu, never just a sandwich), a great variety delicious home cooked dinners that reflect the very diverse Ecuadorian cuisine are served. All menus are prepared with excellent Ecuadorian produce -from the highlands, the coast and the Amazon. The dishes are not spicy but a local hot sauce is never far away!

Dietary Restrictions
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 Terrain
This ride follows trails through verdant valleys of patchwork fields then onto the open plains to gallop with the wild horses below the snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi Volcano.

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
During this trip, riders usually stay with one to two horses (as long as the rider is happy!). Our intention is that riders can actually build a bond with their horse and enjoy not only the landscape and ride but also the company of their horse – but some riders like the idea of trying as many horses as possible – let us know. As always one or more spare horses will accompany us in case a change is needed. The horses we use are the local Ecuadorian Andean Criollo breed crossed with numerous other breeds (English, Spanish, Peruvian, Arab…) producing a steed ideally suited to the terrain and with a wonderful temperament. Criollo breeds have developed from horses that were first brought from Spain in the 17th century, developing very different characteristics in each region, depending on terrain and the needs of the local horsemen.
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 sheep skin atop. It is easy to ride ‘english style’ on these saddles, as well as western. Each saddle has saddlebags & a poncho. ‘English style’ (two hand direct reining) & neck reining (western ‘one-hand’ indirect rein riding) are both used. People adapt very quickly but the guide and ‘chagras’ are on hand to give some advice. This tack is very suitable for long days in the saddle.

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.
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.

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.

Itinerary


Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Note: This sample itinerary is subject to changes at the tour operator's discretion due to unforeseen reasons such as weather, track conditions...

Day 1: Pastoral Valley 
A 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 Andean Valley. This fertile glacial valley was chosen centuries ago by early settlers and riders can inspect the earthworks the pre-Inca groups left behind in the meadows of the Hacienda we are riding to. This Jesuit-founded Hacienda, with its courtyards, manicured gardens and elegant rooms, has been developed into the leading country house in the highlands, and its hospitality is second-to-none.
Riding approx. 3-5 hours
Meals included: Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 2: Agave Avenues & Fields
After breakfast, we ride out into the picturesque valley. Along agave-lined tracks, we pass fields of lupines, quinoa and beans. A chance of some canters along the way for those that wish – the length and pace of the ride depends on the group. After a delicious al fresco lunch in the shade of eucalyptus trees, we head back to the Hacienda arriving along an impressive driveway, imagining seeing all those figures so important in shaping Ecuador, who passed by this avenue centuries before us. Steeped in history and playing a huge role in Ecuador’s development since the 1500s, over pre-dinner drinks the owners will gladly chat to you about the Hacienda and its past.
The Hacienda boasts a fine kitchen garden and most dishes on the menu involve the fresh produce grown here and the delicious milk and cheeses produced in their dairy.
Riding approx. 4-6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 3: Imbabura Volcano & Andean Condors
This morning, we ride out through another part of this scenic valley – frequently described by guests as the most beautiful they have ever seen. Passing thatched Adobe cottages, with children chasing the pigs and ladies in their traditional dress peacefully embroidering while watching their sheep graze, we gain height to fully appreciate this landscape, sculpted at the end of the Ice Age by retreating glaciers. A common sight is the mighty Andean Condor soaring overhead, with its 3.2metre (10 ½ feet) wingspan meaning that guests give up following the bird long before they put in a single wing beat! Arriving back at the Hacienda, guests can visit the condor project, the pre-Inca earthworks, ladies making exquisite embroideries and a whole host of other activities before settling in front of the open log fire for a relaxing evening.
Riding approx. 4-6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Zuleta Valley


Day 4: Andean Bear & Change of Scenery
We start the day by going bear watching! The Andean Spectacled bear inhabits the Hacienda native scrublands and is sighted more and more frequently. Usually the first sign that we are getting close to this timid omnivore is a destroyed puya plant – the bear’s favourite food. Often an Andean Condor circles overhead and, closer to us, a hummingbird zooms past – the largest and smallest of the bird species in the space of a few minutes! A visit to the cheese factory follows, or a shopping opportunity at the Hacienda store of embroideries and handicrafts. Alternatively, you may wish to simply or relax on the verandas and soak in this tranquil Andean life.
We then drive to a different Hacienda packed with roses. Following lunch, guests can tour the rose plantation and showroom. An equator line visit for those that wish, and then a complete change of landscapes as we approach Cotopaxi National Park. Overnight is at another long-established Hacienda sitting on the edge of Humboldt’s “Avenue of Volcanoes”.
Riding approx. 1 hour
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Porvenir


Day 5: Cotopaxi National Park & Wild Horses
A complete change of riding scenery as we meet the horses again and ride onto the plains of Cotopaxi National Park. Surrounded by four magnificent peaks: Rumiñahui, Pasachoa, Sincholagua and the dominating iconic snow-capped Cotopaxi, we follow the main Cusco-Quito Inca route, then pass an old Inca fort as we turn eastwards towards the Amazon. Enjoying some faster-paced riding across the open grasslands as we speed through the rolling hills, we are sure to come across several herds of the wild horses that roam the park – the bold colts often running alongside us, long manes and tails flowing. Turning for home, we cross volcanic features such as old lahas and lava. Errant llamas often appear and, back at the hacienda, alpacas are busy mowing the lawns. Fresh local trout will be one of the local ingredients on tonight’s menu, along with ceviche and soup. 
Riding approx. 4-6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Hacienda in Porvenir


Day 6: Secret Valley
On our last day, we ride into the wilds of Rumiñahui Volcano, another excellent location to spot condors, deer, and foxes and the Ecuadorian Hillstar – a high-altitude hummingbird.  We start with some invigorating canters across the flatlands close to Cotopaxi Volcano, then the pace steadies as we climb above 4,000 metres (13,123 feet) through the high ‘paramo’ grasslands to ride into a valley at the base of Rumiñahui peak. This route remains a firm favourite among guests and, along with a delicious picnic spread on a colourful Andean cloth, being hidden in this peaceful valley encircled by high peaks creates a magical way to round off the riding tour.
As we ride back down via a different route, 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’ (local horsemen) and known by few. Guests leave the horses and are taken to Quito/Quito Airport, to fly home or embark on another adventure in this amazing little South American gem.
Riding approx. 4-6 hours
Meals included: Breakfast & Picnic Lunch


Non Riders:
Many alternative activities to horse riding are available on this tour, guided by expert: botanical walks, bird watching, mountain biking...and more!


Rates and Dates for Historic Haciendas

Rates include:

Accommodations, All meals with water, 6 riding days with English speaking guide, Transfers & Private reserve and National Park 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
    20216 day trip, AP$4260
    • Weight supplement (over 85 kg, 95 kg max.)$300
      Single supplement - please inquire$0
      Small group supplement (1-3 pax) - please inquire$0

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 Description
2021 Transfers from/to Quito airport included
2021 Extra night in Quito - please inquire
2021 Non-rider - please inquire

Season Seasons  Min / MaxReserve
A 2021 01/01 - 12/31 6d / 5n 6 day trip, AP 4 /12 Reserve

Dates Note: Shorter tour also possible - please inquire
This trip is available any time on demand

Rates do not include:

Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, Gratuities & 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 Historic Haciendas (IT-ECRT13):

We are maintaining our policy of FLEXIBILITY in number of days and accommodation to meet the requests of each group. Exceptional last minute postponement policy in place.

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.

Strict staff protocol:
- 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.

Extra handwashing points:
As well as carrying gel hand sanitizer to be used by staff and guests, there will be extra handwashing points throughout the tours.

Requirements of guests:
- 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.
- Guests will be asked to frequently wash their hands/apply gel throughout the tour
- 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 you are travelling to get to us here in Ecuador, make sure you are up to date on your countries travel protocols, and ask us about ours. 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:
Airport: Quito
Transfer:

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. However, you should keep in mind that weather can change quickly. Most days, we ride valley to valley and each valley/plain with its own microclimate.
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 (November to April in most areas) the rain does not fall daily and is hardly ever for a prolonged span of time. Afternoon showers may occur by when the day's ride is usually over.

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

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

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

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

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

This list is only a guideline for you

 

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

 

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

 

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