Horse Drive and Colonial Haciendas
10 day program, 8 day ride
This extraordinary ride will introduce you to a side of our spectacular country that few Ecuadorians, let alone visitors, ever see. You will participate in a traditional "rodeo", literally "round-up", of fighting bulls in the remote fastness of the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes. This is not a spectacle organised for the benefit of tourists, but a time-honoured annual event in the calendar of a working ranch. You will ride with real chagras (Andean cowboys) whose life and work has changed little for generations. The spectacle of chagras at work, resplendent in their traditional ponchos and llama or goat hair chaps and intricately carved wooden bucket stirrups, will leave you with life-long memories of the "real Ecuador".
This program is for 2 to 8 riders. This ride will take place to coincide with the bi-annual cattle round-up - please phone or email Gabriel for details. Due to the inherently dangerous nature of equestrian sports we require guests to sign a liability waiver.
Arrival, transfer from airport to a hotel in the ancient city of Quito.
Visit the old city, explore around town squares and churches, learning about the colonial period.
Transfer to the Hacienda La Alegria, lunch, afternoon activities, dinner in a cozy dining room with fire place.
Night at Hacienda La Alegria
After breakfast, we will try horses and saddles in the paddock to get ready for a nice and comfortable ride throw the hacienda state, after lunch, we will walk to the hacienda surrounding to learn the geography of the area, followed by dinner.
Night at Hacienda La Alegria
Breakfast, prepare horses for our first long journey from Hacienda La Alegria eastward in the Andes, crossing the Machachi valley and volcano Rumiñahui to arrive to our overnight refuge at Cotopaxi National Park where we will have a hot shower and a delicious dinner by the fire, with the Cotopaxi volcano as our main scenery in front. Night in mountain refuge at 3750 meters
Breakfast, the challenge of the day will be to cover the northern base of Cotopaxi, heading east on a long journey that ends in the plains of the volcano Quilindaña, this valley was part of an old volcano where Hacienda Chalupas is based , our destiny for the two day “rodeo”.
Chagras from the haciendas of the area come to participate in the rodeo.
Night at Hacienda Chalupas to 3500 meters
After breakfast, we will get ready for an exciting day of work that starts with a chagras meeting on horseback, with their ponchos and warm fur chaps, forming a semicircle, where the chagra rodeo chief gives instructions for the day very similar to a military strategy.
Several groups of chagras will be distributed up-mountain to cover the largest possible area; this will take around 5 hours of work. Gradually the first groups of cattle will appear in the mountains, some animals will try to return to their hideouts which is when the strategy requires help from all the riders by shattering voices, horse canter, cutting the livestock possibilities to return to the mountain and drive them to the hacienda corrals. In the afternoon we will reach the corrals where chagras "work" with the cattle. They lasso and take them to the post to mark, deworm and then release them to the group where they correspond. At the end of the day chagras get together to sing their traditional music in which women, horses and bulls are the main themes. They drink their typical sugar cane liquor and dance to celebrate the completion of the day. Being part of these events certainly allows riders to immerse themselves in the Chagra culture and understand their life style. We will enjoy the warm fireplace and have dinner to recover our energy for the next day journey.
Night at Hacienda Chalupas
We will drive wild horses from the hacienda and take them to the corral. The horses, introduced by the Spaniards in the XVI century, remain as a unique and essential tool of work in these remote places. The aim is to cut the horses’ hooves and deworm them so that they are healthy. The hoof trimming is important because in these vast prairies there is no proper use of the hoofs which may harm the horse in its growth. The deworming reduces the burden of parasites, decreases the risk of disease and allows them to get the nutrients of the pasture in a better way.
We will have the opportunity to fish trout for dinner.
Night at Hacienda Chalupas
It is time to begin our return to Hacienda La Alegria. We must leave the mountain and head west on long trails of large wilderness areas with pine trees. We will continue along the warmer valley and stop for lunch, and hopefully see the giant volcano Cotopaxi from the south side. At the end of the afternoon we will arrive to Hacienda La Cienega (built in 1570, also former owners of hacienda Chalupas), now a luxury hotel that will allow us to rest after a long journey. Optional of the hotel facilities a relaxing massage.
Dinner and night at Hacienda La Cienega (3000 meters high)
We will ride north through the valley of Cotopaxi to the Valley of Machachi. The colossus volcano will be in the east by what we will have completed the ride around the Cotopaxi.
Late in the afternoon we will arrive to Hacienda La Alegria where a delicious meal will be waiting for us to celebrate with Champagne for completing our wonderful riding experience.
Nigth at Hacienda la Alegria
Transfer to the airport
This ride will take place to coincide with the bi-annual cattle round-up - please email us for details.
All meals are tailored for hungry riders and combine delicious Ecuadorian and international cuisine. Our visitors book contains many compliments to the chef at La Alegria! Vegetarian / other special dietary options on request.
Breakfast: coffee, tea, cocoa, oatmeal, eggs and/or French toast, natural fruit juice and fruit of the season.
Lunch: Trail days: high energy pack lunch (sandwiches, fruit, candy). Hacienda days: similar to dinner.
Dinner: typical Ecuadorian soup, chicken, beef, pork or pasta, vegetables, rice or potatoes, dessert. Vegetarian / other special dietary options on request.
Horses and tack
At Hacienda La Alegria our horses are very important to us. 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. If you have previous riding experience you will be given plenty of opportunity to canter.
We have a range of tack including North American style, English style, Mclellan calvary, Chillean and traditional Ecuadorian "Chagra" style with its intricate leather-work and saddle horn.
Send us an inquiry for prices and exact dates
· Min 4 riders not for beginners
· Private Ride 20% extra fee
What is Included?
· Seven days quality horseback riding at the Ecuadorian Andes with all the necessary equipment, as wool ponchos, rain ponchos and chaps, horsebag, helmets
· 9 nights, stays at highland haciendas
· 1 night at Quito, old city.
· 1 city tour
· 2 transfers
· National park fee.
· Bilingual guide (Spanish/English)
· Support vehicle, except day 6,7
· All meals feature delicious, gourmet international and Ecuadorian foods and wines
· Lunch boxes for days 4,5,8,9
· Your choice of hacienda design saddle, western, calvary (McLelan) saddles wool protected, as well as half chaps, full chaps, helmets, rubber boots, wool ponchos, rain ponchos, scarves. You may also bring your own equipment
· Level Strong
· 100% horseback trip (Once you start the ride you are not transfer by car on any day of the trip)
· Pace: Moderate, trots and canters
· High quality, easy to ride, trained horses full of stamina owned exclusively by Hacienda La Alegria
· High-quality, well-maintained equipment (tack, camping equipment, 4-wheel drive SUV)
· Visits to friendly haciendas throughout the countryside
· Views of 15 the highest ecuadorean mountains
· Hacienda La Alegria maintains close relationships with and supports two local, rural schools
· We promote the preservation of the local culture and educate visitors about the “chagras” (local cowboys) www.ecuadorchagras.com
· Hacienda la Alegria is environment-friendly (we produce organically, conserve energy and water, and compost)
· Tailor made rides
· Acclimatization at hacienda la
· Extra day at hacienda la Alegria US $240 (all included, ride, meals, o/n)
The following is a personal equipment list suggested for traveling in this circuit. Day temperatures can vary considerably in the mountains (65º F during the daytime, 30º F at night). Average temperatures will range in 50's.
Shirts: Cotton or wool, long sleeved or turtleneck
Sweater: Heavy wool or fleece sweater or vest
Trousers: Full length, wool, blend, or pile or other warm pants.
Underwear: Light-weight (polypropylene) thermal underwear, top and bottom
Headwear: bandana, and sunglasses.
Jackets: Insulated or Gore-Tex mountain parka for rain and wind (important)
Gloves: polypropylene, recommended water proof
Socks: Wool or polypropylene
Footwear: lightweight hiking boots
Cosmetic kit (reduce to minimum)
Sun-blocking lotions +30 and lipstick ointments (important)
Camera extra batteries