Explore the drama of mountain landscapes by horseback.
Ecuador offers the highest altitude of any Equitours ride. Your horse will take you up to 14,000 ft. beneath the symmetrical cone of Cotopaxi in the stunningly beautiful Andes Mountains There are still wild cattle here and until recently the bulls were highly prized for bullfighting which was a poplar national sport though it was banned a few years ago. There are also wild horses to be seen and the bird life of the mountains here is fascinating. At the start of the ride in the lower farming country around Quito riders stay in picturesque haciendas built centuries ago in Spanish colonial times. Higher in the mountains you stay in modern hotels with superb views.
The Sacred Valley Ride in Peru also climbs very high into the Andes and the well trained Peruvian Horses will carry you smoothly on the mountain trails. You will be amazed by how developed the Inca civilization had become. The buildings they erected with massive blocks sometimes weighing a hundred tons are fitted closely together without the use of mortar. Agriculture was very highly developed and they carefully terraced irrigated fields at different levels on steep hillsides for crops like potatoes, maize and quinoa. They modified the genetics of crops over the years to choose the best producing seeds at different altitudes. A side trip to Machu Pichu gives a fascinating view of this magical city which remained undiscovered for centuries after the fall of the Inca Empire.
The Alpujarra Ride in southern Spain where the Moors held sway until 1492 takes you into some rugged mountain country where remote villages still have a life much like that of centuries ago. Some aqueducts built by the Moors are functioning today to irrigate the small terraced fields on the hillsides. Mules and oxen are still being used to work the fields and pull the wagons. You will ride through forests of chestnut, almond, pine and olive trees with the snowcapped mountains of the high Sierras not far away. In another area of Spain the Bandit Trail takes you high into the formidable peaks of the Pyrenes Mountains which form the border between France and Spain. This wild region where sheep and cattle graze was the 17th century hideout of the Catalan Robin Hood, Serrallonga, and his outlaw band, famous in Spanish folklore for robbing from the rich to give to the poor.
The Bitterroot Ranch near Yellowstone Park in Wyoming is located where the plains meet the mountains. It borders the Greater Yellowstone wild area of six million acres so that it is well situated for wilderness pack trips. Some of the mountain passes are over 11,000 feet and the snow is often too deep to traverse them until July. The views from these high points on “the roof of the world” are breathtaking and one can often see other mountain ranges over a hundred miles away. These trips give one the feeling of independence as you can be self-sufficient for days far from civilization carrying all you need for many days on the pack animals. The ranch also has a permit allowing its cattle to graze in the mountains of the adjacent national forest in the summer. Guests often help move the cows in the high country and to check for wolf and bear kills.