Horseback Riding in Ecuador

Hacienda to Hacienda Ride

Overview

Ecuador’s stunning scenery, colorful culture, friendly local people and temperate climate combine to make it one of the most rewarding destinations in South America. The Hacienda to Hacienda Ride follows a stunning route through two distinct areas of the Andean cordillera with the ride taking place between the elevations of 8,000 and 14,000 feet.  In view of Cayambe and Cotopaxi, the ride crosses vast plains and passes through pastoral valleys, following the “Avenue of Volcanoes.”  See the local people working the fields in much the same manner as their ancestors and relish the chance to take ancient Inca trails and visit Inca ruins as you ride in Ecuador.

Along the way you will have the remarkable experience of staying in several very distinct historical haciendas (colonial manor farms) in Ecuador. The Hacienda Ride is a spectacular way to experience the beautiful scenery, and colorful culture Ecuador has to offer. Two sets of horses in different locations make it possible to see a larger part of the area and there are opportunities to shop for a wide range of ethnic handicrafts.

Stay at six separate accommodations, with their own culture and beauty. All are clean and comfortable, with authentic Ecuadorian charm.

Nearly all breakfasts and dinners will be at the haciendas; the majority of the lunches will be picnics. Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice, please be sure to note considerations on your reservation forms.

  • Overview:
    The horses are European imports (mostly English, Andalucian, Arab and Pasos) crossed with local ‘Criollo’ breeds. These fine horses are responsive and ideally suited for the terrain. There will normally be two changes to fresh horses during the ride. The McClellan saddle is used and the riding is mainly western style with neck reining, however, some horses do respond better to direct reining. The saddles have a deep seat but are much lighter than American western tack to allow riders to ride either English or Western style. Some English saddles are available upon request, but due to the long hours in the saddle and steep terrain they are not advised. Riding helmets are not required but strongly recommended. We encourage you to bring your own. You are not expected to groom or feed your horses. Grooms will accompany the ride.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Criollo crosses
  • Trip Pace:
    moderate, with long canters and gallops
  • Tack:
    McClellan or English
  • Weight limit:
    185 Ibs (riders up to 210 lbs must pay a fee)

Non-riders are very welcome. There's a variety of alternate activities available.

Quito airport or nearby hotel

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

The enchanting Andes

Heading northwards from Quito, after a quick stop on the equator line, you will meet the horses and, once everyone is comfortable, head out along the grassy lanes. Having admired the magnificent view atop a hill carpeted with wild flowers, descend to a family run Hacienda in a beautiful pastoral valley. This small working farm with a dairy herd and Andalusian (PRE) horses is the perfect location to leisurely drift into the relaxing Andean atmosphere. Once settled in at the Hacienda, guests can view the collection of Inca and pre-Inca ceramics discovered on site.
Overnight at a working Hacienda, six rooms.
PL, D (approx. 2hr drive, 4-5 hours riding)

Day 2

Patchwork fields, exotic crops, San Pablo Lake

Today, ride past tiny hamlets of adobe huts, the ladies in their brightly colored full skirts herding sheep and pigs. Ride through woodlands, and wind your way around the patchwork fields of quinoa, potatoes, maize, lupins and tree tomato orchards. There will be magnificent views of the jagged Mojanda summit as you cross the slopes of the sacred Imbabura Volcano – the focus of many pre-Inca legends. Nearing the Hacienda, you pass avocadoes, papaya, passion fruit and, riding into the Hacienda courtyard, graced with bougainvillea, the hummingbirds zoom past en route to the agapanthus. A blast of dazzling Andean color is provided on a visit to the famous Otavalo market.

Overnight at a Hacienda founded in the early 17th century
BB, PL, D (approx. 5-6 hours riding)

Day 3

Andean Condors & the beautiful, pastoral Zuleta Valley

After a fascinating demonstration by local master weavers and a chance to purchase top quality Andean handicrafts, ride out of the Hacienda. Climbing out the valley onto the plains, pick up the pace and, following agave-lined sandy tracks, ride through a landscape frequently described by guests as the most picturesque they have ever seen. Dramatic views of the hanging valleys and rocky ridges as we descend to lush meadows below passing ladies in traditional dress embroidering intricate blouses as they watch their flocks. Stop to see the pre-Inca earthworks dotted around this valley -one of the first highland areas settled, also often pausing in awe at the sight of a mighty Andean condor soaring overhead. Afternoon drive to a very comfortable country hotel located at the trail head of the next part of our ride. Jacuzzi & sauna, dinner & overnight at this very comfortable lodge.
Dinner & Overnight at hilltop country hotel; jacuzzi & sauna.
AB, PL, D (approx. 6 hours horse riding, 2.5hrs drive)

Day 4

The wild Andes, four magnificent volcanoes

First riding along lanes between the meadows, riders get used to their new horses. Alongside the gurgling river, the abundance of lush vegetation is quite surprising: montane bamboo, ferns and native trees dripping with orchids and bromelias. The birds such as woodpeckers and hummingbirds are wonderful to see, the vultures a little unnerving! As you leave the micro-climate of the river valley, extensive views open up before you. Surrounded by four Andean peaks – part of the Avenue of Volcanoes, you ride towards the iconic Cotopaxi Volcano. Riding onto rough grasslands in the Sincholagua foothills there is a good chance of seeing more Andean Condors as well as eagles, hawks, falcons and harriers. At the northern border of the Cotopaxi National Park you arrive at a modern hacienda, often greeted by the llamas. This idyllic location, with remarkable views of the marvelous Andean landscape is dominated by the perfectly conical shape of the snow-capped Cotopaxi Volcano, will be your base for 2 nights.
Dinner & Overnight at a Hacienda
AB, PL, D (approx. 6 hours horse riding)

Day 5

Open Plains & Wild Horses in Cotopaxi National Park

Ride into Cotopaxi national park on the adorable sure-footed criollo horses for some exhilarating canters across the wide, arid plains at the base of the Cotopaxi Volcano. The horses enjoy the open spaces but have such a calm temperament that they settle into a rhythm without trying to rush. Several herds of wild horses inhabit the park and to ride alongside these long-maned horses galloping freely across the rugged terrain is an unique experience. Part of this ride follows the main Inca highway which linked Quito with Cusco, Peru, then turn eastwards to follow the Inca route leading down to the Amazon. Pause to visit the remains of an Inca fort before continuing on through the gently undulating grassy hills, passing drumlins and moraine, crossing lahas and old lava flows before returning to the Hacienda via a canyon.
Dinner & 2nd Overnight at the Hacienda
AB, PL, D (approx. 6 hours horse riding)

Day 6

Rugged peaks and incomparable views

Head up the slopes of Rumiñahui Volcano (‘stoneface’) with an excellent chance of close encounters with the Andean condor, fox and deer. Pass polylepis trees (‘paperbark trees’), native shrubs such as chuquiragua and valeriana and a host of colorful wild flowers hugging the hillsides. Rising above 13,123 ft and experiencing one of the highest canters in the world, you’ll then ride on into a hidden valley, often seeing wild horses grazing close to the towering cliffs. The views are unforgettable and the picnic spot unmatchable. The trails, marked out by the wild horses, take you back down and on to a once important Jesuit Hacienda recently restored and now a delightful place to stay.
Dinner and Overnight at an old Jesuit Hacienda seeped in history
AB, PL, D (approx. 6-7 hours riding)

Day 7

Andean high pass & Avenue of the Volcanoes

The final ride takes you on an exhilarating canter across the flat expanses of Cotopaxi National Park, close to the volcano where we traverse old lava, volcanic ash and lahas. Then veer westwards and start a long ascent with outstanding views. Riding up through the native grasslands in order to reach the scree slopes and cross over into the Avenue of the Volcanoes, you leave the national park and often meet local horsemen (‘chagras’) checking their cattle – quite a sight, with their colorful ponchos, thick goatskin chaps and intricately plaited bridles. Their stirrups are enclosed – like clogs, and often carved into an animal head. Their lassos seem impossibly long to do anything with – but very necessary when working with their very feisty bulls: they lasso the animal then get as far away as possible! We leave the horses and are driven to a historic hacienda close to Quito Airport for dinner and overnight.
Overnight at a historic Hacienda in large gardens, close to Quito Airport.
AB, PL, D (approx. 6-7 hours riding, 2hr drive).

Day 8

Breakfast and Farewell

Following breakfast, you are transferred to the airport in time for your departing flights.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and may be changed at the guide's discretion due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Custom rides can be arranged upon request.

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Jan 22, 2022
Jan 29, 2022
Feb 19, 2022
Feb 26, 2022
Mar 5, 2022
Mar 12, 2022
Jun 4, 2022
Jun 11, 2022
Jun 18, 2022
Jun 25, 2022
Jul 2, 2022
Jul 9, 2022
Aug 13, 2022
Aug 20, 2022
Sep 10, 2022
Sep 17, 2022
Oct 1, 2022
Oct 8, 2022
Nov 5, 2022
Nov 12, 2022
Nov 12, 2022
Nov 19, 2022
Nov 26, 2022
Dec 3, 2022
Dec 19, 2022
Dec 26, 2022

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $4,175

  • Other Options
  • $315Applies to riders between 185-220 lb, to provide an additional horse, depending on availability.
  • Pricing Variation
  • $935

    Per person supplement if there are only 2-3 people on the ride

  • Single Supplement
  • $505
Additional Pricing Information:
Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time the deposit is paid.  


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Contact Megan Barrett

The trip was wonderful, it was good for the soul!  Sally is a wonderful guide (and person!) and taught me all about Ecuadorian plants, the Caras and Incans, Ecuadorian customs and much more!  The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful and the people we met were wonderful!  We rode to the Continental Divide, we galloped at 13,500ft (the highest canter in the world maybe?) and discovered secluded secret valleys that made us feel like the only people on earth.  The Haciendas were quaint and lovely, getting to know the owners and employees of the Haciendas was one of my favorite things.  All-in-all, I cannot say enough good things about this trip and about Sally.  She has wonderful horses, riding with her was a once in a lifetime opportunity-- but hopefully I will make it a twice (or thrice!) in a lifetime event!

Wood, 2022